A Call for Social Justice

The United Nations, which marked a "World Day of Social Justice" on Sunday is calling for a "new era" in which all the people of the world have access to basic services and "decently" paying jobs.

According to the U.N., 80 percent of the world’s people lack “adequate social protection.”

To eliminate the problem, the U.N. is trying to establish what it calls a global "social protection floor." Such a “floor” would guarantee food security, health services for all, and old-age pensions for the 80 percent of the world’s people believed to lack such protections.

In his message urging “social justice for all,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “No one should live below a certain income level, and everyone should have access to essential public services such as water and sanitation, health and education.”

Juan Somavia, the U.N.’s International Labour Organization (ILO) director-general, said the recent protests in the Middle East show the linkage between social justice and national stability. “What happens in the future will very much depend on whether the connections are recognized and acted upon.”


Involve Your Kids in Charitable Giving

The habits of future charity givers depend on what they see their parents and grandparents give.

Northwestern Mutual Senior Vice President Meridee Maynard has some helpful pointers that can get families pointed in a more altruistic direction.

• Involve kids in conversations about your charitable giving.

• Develop giving goals as a family.

• Choose a charity to financially support as a family. Model—and explain—how the family will budget to meet that giving goal.

• Show kids that money isn’t just for spending. Use a four-bank system for saving, spending, investing and giving.

• Encourage kids to develop realistic personal giving goals to support a cause they believe in.

• Explain to teens the concept of tax benefits related to charitable contributions.

If kids see, talk and hear about their parents’ charitable giving, they'll be more likely to follow suit. If they remain in the dark, the spigot can tragically run dry when those kids grow up.

—Brian O'Connell, thestreet.com


US lawmaker: International Aid recipients face sacrifices

Countries that get US aid, such as Pakistan, will have to shoulder more of the burden for their own growth as Washington eyes deep cuts in overseas assistance, a top US lawmaker warns. ”Greater sacrifice by aid recipients is required to sustain the generosity of the American people," said Representative Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Subcommittee that manages US aid flows.

"For example, Pakistan, which receives $1.5 billion per year in civilian aid alone, has one of the lowest effective tax rates in the world. Fewer than 3 million of the 175 million Pakistanis pay any taxes, and tax evasion is particularly high among the wealthy, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace," said Lowey.

Her message echoed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call in September 2010 for the US ally to increase taxes on its wealthiest earners. "It's one of my pet peeves: Countries that will not tax their elite, who expect us to come in and help them serve their people, are just not going to get the kind of help from us that historically they may have," said Clinton.



It all comes down to having a sense of purpose

Angelina Jolie is to blame, really. Because of something she said to me in India four years ago, I have quit my 13-year career as an entertainment journalist, have given away almost everything I own, and at 43, have joined the Peace Corps.

I was seeking something authentic when I arrived in India, and I got more than I bargained for. A reported 43 percent of Mumbai’s 18 million people live in slums, and the depth of poverty is soul-sickening.

By the time I met with Angelina Jolie, I felt raw and rattled, and I was eager to learn how she coped with this kind of suffering in her role as a U.N. ambassador. She said it was painful, yes, but it wasn’t debilitating because she was active. Her work was bringing attention to crises in the world.

“If I couldn’t do that, I don’t know how I’d be around it, because I’d feel helpless,” she told me as we drove through the city. “You know, we all go through stages in our life where we feel lost, and I think it all comes down to having a sense of purpose.

“When I was famous for just being an actress, my life felt very shallow. Then when I became a mom and started working with the U.N., I was happy. I could die and feel that I’d done the right things with my life. It’s as simple as that.”