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From the mouths of babes

Evan, 7 years old: "A boy in my class said that all the money his dad had was $2. And his dad gave it to him!"

This could be a seven year old misinterpretation. For example, I have $5 in my wallet right now but that’s it and I could see my seven year old saying, "This is Dad’s last $5 and he gave it to me!" The sad truth is that most of us are one paycheck away from being homeless. Good fiscal planning suggests keeping three to six paychecks in savings but if $2 is all you have and your son needs that for lunch then saving anything is going to be impossible. The problem snowballs. Let’s say the $2 dad wants to feed his family and didn’t turn to Fish. Instead he knows he gets paid on Friday and since this is Thursday, he skates a check at the grocery hoping it won’t clear until after his deposit. But the bank processes the check first. Now $2 dad is faced with a $36 fee from the bank plus a $25 fee from the grocery store. $61 vanishes from the budget which is already not making it. Now the next pay period will be even harder. This is the poverty cycle.

I read something astounding yesterday.

The world’s 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over

[Source,, World’s 100 richest earned enough in 2012 to end global poverty 4 times over]

Read that closely. One hundred people could change the world.

"The richest 1 percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process."

[Source,, World’s 100 richest earned enough in 2012 to end global poverty 4 times over]

More power to them! I would love to increase my income by 60%. I would love to taste the lifestyles of the rich and famous. However, read it closely. "[T]he financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process." Why? Because in the past 20 years the tax laws and other laws have been skewed in favor of the rich. It’s the opposite of Robin Hood. The rich are robbing from the poor to give to the rich. Cutting off welfare programs will not suddenly make the poor responsible and bring them out of poverty; cutting off welfare programs will make the poor dead…which I suppose does end poverty.

I did not mean to politicize this. My point was that a lot of people, normal people, are struggling. It is amazing that 100 people in the world could dramatically change that 4 fold. And yes, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and others are already donating their wealth for good. I hope we can reach a point where no child ever has to say "$2 is all my dad has" again.

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RIP Evelyn Sothman

My friend, my Knoxville "mom," has passed away.

To me she will always be "Mom" Sothman sharing the family’s dinner during my college years. She even brought me along to "family" reunions and gatherings of an unrelated family in LaFollette whom she met at a stay in the stay in the hospital. Evelyn Sothman shared video with me of one of the last caretakers of the Wonderland Hotel at Elkmont. Through her, and that smile she wore, I felt closer to the people and the kindness of East Tennessee.

I miss her. May Trisha, Chris and the rest of the family be happy knowing that their mother brought joy to those around her. My love and condolences to you all.


I am happy to have seen her recently. She was working the polls during the most recent election and I had a few moments to get a hug and catch up.

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Is your news complete?

Does reading news online, or even in a paper (or television), really give a clear picture of the story? Of course not. It gives a reporters impression of the story, sometimes reflects the political views of the paper or broadcast company, and can be intentionally misleading. I don’t think anything was intentionally misleading in these article but look at how information from 3 different sources changes your views of a story about a LaFollette man dying:

My introduction to the story by WBIR

In summary, the WBIR story reported a LaFollette man crash his car and died. He was not found for two days and was presumed to be drinking. 82 words in 5 paragraphs. The commenters were quick to bad mouth the obvious drunkard. I was left with the impression the car was in a ditch beside the road and people drove past ignoring the wreckage.

The 2nd story I read was by Knoxnews

The Knoxnews story had much more detail at 181 words in 7 paragraphs. Knoxnews revealed that the car was found over a football field’s length from the road. They gave much better detail about the way the accident happened, the age of the driver, the fact he was wearing his seatbelt, and even the type of vehicle. None-the-less, I finished the article with not much sympathy for someone drinking at driving on a Monday afternoon.

The final story by WATE was heart wrenching

The last story I read filled in some gaps and created great empathy for the family. WATE’s story at 81 words in 5 paragraphs was reported yesterday and did not mention the man’s death. It was titled "Search for missing Campbell Co. man with dementia" and was a plea for the community’s help in finding the missing man. WATE included the man’s age and description of his truck both of which matched the Knoxnews article. The WATE article had one comment from yesterday by the man’s daughter, Amber Sutton:

hey im johnny sutton’s daughter please keep me and my family in prays….i miss my dad…please come home safe and whoever is lookin 4 him i send all my thanks out

Her comment and the word "dementia" put Johnny Sutton’s story in a completely different light.

When you read news, do you take it for what the one source claims or do you seek the whole story?