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More Mishigoss and Mitzvahs

December 9, 2009

You can see on TV that there are an awful lot of meshugena celebrities living large in the U.S. but there are way more people, just hoping to survive the winter. It’s the time of year to stop focusing on Tiger and Kwame and instead turn this mishigoss into mitzvahs.


Just a year ago, everyone thought that Tiger Woods was not just a heckuva good golfer but a “good” guy as well. And Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, in large part because he was determined to finally bring our troops home after years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

            What a change a year makes. Media icons Tiger and Barack are featured together on the cover of Golf Digest this month but both are making headlines two different ways, Obama by deciding to add 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan for 18 months and Tiger by bashing his car into a tree on his way to his mistress and then a dozen other women claiming their piece of the Tiger-temptress media frenzy. There’s sure no loss of mishigoss these days.

            Here in Detroit, we have plenty of mishigoss masquerading as chutzpah. Kwame is back in town, back in court, just in time to learn that Detroit is again first and worst in the United States. The students of the Detroit Public Schools posted the worst scores in the 40-year history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress math tests. With role models like Kwame, is anyone surprised?

            So can you guess who said this? “I embarrassed her, I cheated on her, I lied to her, and I put her through Hell…I caused her an incredible amount of pain.” If you guessed Tiger, you’d be wrong. Yes, Kwame continues to embarrass himself and the City of Detroit. While we lose really “good” guys like ex-Detroit Tiger Curtis Granderson, who donated his time and money to charities and was a role model for lots of young people, we can’t completely lose Kwame. No matter how much he wants to leave us, the Detroit courts keep pulling him back to pay off the money he owes Detroit while he gets in more hot water in the press.  

            Meanwhile, back in D.C., 2000 pages of health care “reform” are bantered around and discussed by Democratic senators, deciding public option or no public option, and how they can get 60 senators to sign off on even more government bureaucracy. And in the White House, Obama is considering using $200 billion of repayed Tarp funds from banks to come up with more spending plans to get small business to increase hiring…code word…jobs. Yet, the U.S. debt clock has surpassed $12 trillion and the annual deficit has ballooned past $1.5 trillion. I've read some numbers that say if you take into account the total amount of personal debt and unfunded liabilities such as Social Security, the U.S. is leveraged to more than 350% to GDP. But if you don’t worry about budgets or sanity, it must be fun to spend billions of dollars on anything you feel like. It’s like having an unlimited equity line, with no limits and no payback dates.

            Unfortunately, like so many others, I just got a friendly letter by my non-local Citibank office, stating that though I have never missed a payment, I can no longer borrow anything from my home equity line because my home is not worth enough to borrow against. A few years ago, I could spend like Obama if I wanted on new cars, carpeting, a new basement, an HDTV, all because my home was worth something more than I owed on it.

            Those days are gone, unless you’re the good old USA and China is your godfather. Dubai, Spain, and Greece aren’t so fortunate, as banks are starting to pull the plugs on their lines of credit. And if you think 2010 is going to be another upward ride in the stock market and we won’t have some unexpected credit debacles, think again. Some more financial mishigoss is just over the horizon.

            I keep thinking, however, why worry about the next year, a few weeks before this one ends? Instead, it’s better to think about helping those in need, all of those charities and their good works, amidst the desperation they are facing, raising money in such dire times. It’s better to be thankful and think about two seventh graders who were touched by the story of Noah and sold donuts to raise $500 to the University of Michigan’s Cancer center. It’s a lot more hopeful to read that the University of Michigan named the Neuroblastoma Research Fund after Noah and is setting up a web page that will be dedicated to the “Power of Noah” that will have info about Neuroblastoma, Noah’s story, and ways to donate to the research fund online.

            It’s more humbling to think about a mother preparing her son for his passing and teaching him not to be scared. “I got to hold his hand,” Diana wrote on her Carepages website, “and be right there with him when he passed away. It was peaceful and the second most powerful moment of my life. The first was the day he was born….The Power of Noah lives on in each one of us.”

            So instead of worrying about all the mishigoss in Detroit and DC, think about kids without long to live and donate to the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital or Make-A-Wish with money or toys or books. Donate to the Salvation Army or give your time to do a mitzvah for someone else. If you’re Jewish, give to others in the Detroit area on Mitzvah Day, December 25th, helping others to have a better Christmas.

            The last two years, Judy and I donated our time to help the homeless with food and clothes in Detroit and Pontiac and I know I felt a lot better doing that than sitting home in my pajamas and watching TV. Yes, there’s a lot that I have taped on my DVR that I have to catch up on in my time off. But there are a lot more important things than watching TV.

            You can see on TV that there are an awful lot of meshugena celebrities living large in the U.S. but there are way more people, just hoping to survive the winter. It’s the time of year to stop focusing on Tiger and Kwame and instead turn this mishigoss into mitzvahs.

This is the time of year to take a few minutes to think of others. This is the right time of year to do a little mitzvah.


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