Saturday, May 10, 2008


I filled up the gas tank yesterday. It was unsettling standing there at the pump watching the numbers turn. The price wheel turns a lot faster than the gallons wheel these days of $3.84 per gallon. The cost of gas means something else must be foregone. The stores seem to be feeling the pinch. When I go shopping during the week, I practically have the place to myself. Clerks look bored, and it's uncomfortable to note that they watch my every move for lack of something better to do. I have always hated being "on stage".

My discomfort is insignificant compared to other fallout from the escalating price of oil.

In California a Franciscan farm that produced organic butter and milk while providing drug and alcohol rehabilitation for the homeless residents who run the farm will be closing its doors, victim of the high price of grain which is part of the fallout of the high price of oil.

The farm has been operating since 1954, when it was bought to provide food for St. Anthony Dining Room, a San Francisco soup kitchen. It reinvented itself a number of times before becoming a drug rehab center and working dairy farm in 1970. It houses 48 residents who are in 12-step recovery which includes demanding physical labor.

Closing the farm and a 30-bed women's shelter in San Francisco will save $2 million a year in an annual Franciscan Order budget of $19 million. That's significant. Perhaps it can be argued that $2 million can be used to help a lot more people than 78. Still, labor beats handouts every time in the grand scheme of social reform. This farm sounds like a program that needs to continue. Perhaps God has a miracle in store.

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