Hey Pumpkin Heads

By Day

By Night

Halloween in my neighborhood is fun.  We live in a suburban area where the streets are well lit and the homes are close together.  That’s an ideal combination when you’re trying to collect lots of candy.  Every year my husband and I exercise our creative muscles and carve pumpkins, and we decorate the front of our house with skull lights, a hanging skeleton, and a string of Casper-the-friendly-ghost style lights.  Many of our neighbors do at least that much, but a few go all out.  One family builds and entire haunted house in their front yard, and we can hear kids squealing from inside it all night long.

For our efforts, we were treated to over 130 trick-or-treaters.  The costumes, for the most part, were terrific.  The kids all appeared to be having a ball, and why wouldn’t they be?  The weather was a balmy 60 degrees, the best I can remember in years.

Fairly early on, I noticed something that I hadn’t paid much attention to before, or even noticed.  This year, there were probably a dozen or so adults holding out bags along with the children.  In the past, I might see a couple of adults collecting for infants that they wheeled to the door in strollers.  It always rubs me the wrong way, but I’m not about to get into a heavy adult confrontation while a posse of 3-5 foot high, jubilant princesses, super heroes, grim reapers, and Draculas are squirming about.

When I was at work talking about this observation, my friend said, “Oh sure.  They do it for the money.”  She had to explain to me that now that dentists are giving cash for candy, adults are collecting as many pounds as they can.  My friend advised me to buy the cheapest candy that I could find, because it would all be going to the dentist dump anyway.  When I passed this new found wisdom onto someone else, she too seemed to be aware of the scam.  She said what she does is keep a roll of stickers for those grown-ups.  She passes them out with extra enthusiasm for the baby’s pleasure, while the adult’s smile thinly veils a sneer.

So my question is, is this wrong, or is this desperate?  Either way, it’s pathetic.

With a slight tweak in my thinking, this is all tying into the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon that’s sweeping our nation.  Poor is a bitch.  I grew up Welfare poor, yet compared to today’s poor, I’d be considered well off.  All the safety nets that got me through are gone.  I received free lunch tickets for meals at school, and they were full dinner type meals: meat loaf, sliced turkey, ham, real vegetables, a roll, and a dessert.  Whole milk was the only choice to drink.  The classrooms had all the supplies: books, pens, pencils, crayons, erasers, rulers, flash cards, etc.  The school bus was free.  The government gave my mother enough money to feed us, pay the rent, and heat the house.  I wore second-hand clothes, but I had a different outfit for every day of the week.  All but $50 of my beauty college education was free.  It was when I had just fifty hours of training to go that Proposition 13 passed into law, and funding for social programs began to disappear.  I was billed one dollar for each of the remaining adult-ed hours I needed to complete my cosmetology program.  I’m forever thankful that I wasn’t born later than I was.  I was fortunate…in a kid on Welfare sort of way.

Prop 13 passed in 1978.  Deregulation of the airline industry occurred that same year.  It seems to me that the spark that grew into the current economic conflagration can be traced to back then.  The who, when, and how we got to where we are today is significant because it didn’t happen over night, and it didn’t happen over one or two presidencies.  It’s taken decades for the middle class to be squeezed to the breaking point.

I wish I could magically transform the Wall Street 1% into the head of  a woman who feels the need to hawk Halloween candy just to get a few bucks.  I don’t need the mega-rich to walk a day in the woman’s shoes; I want them to spend 24 hours in her head.  We’d surly see change then.

Have a great week, and I’ll post again next Friday.

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