Unmasking problems

We’re about six weeks past Halloween and you might think all of the Halloween stuff in stores has been put away.  But it’s surprisingly easy to still find masks.   And masks are in some demand in Jefferson City because tomorrow night (Saturday, December 12), several hundred people are going to don masks and invade the Capitol.

I’m going to be one of them, which has meant Nancy has either had to find out where there are still masks for sale or she’s going to have to make one.   She had some ideas about where to find some to consider.


One store had some basic Lone Ranger-type masks (although if the Lone Ranger showed up in the gold one or the red one, he’d probably surely be lone).  They cost twenty-five cents each so we bought four.  Now we have to wonder whether it’s worthwhile to take a dollar’s worth of cheap masks back or just keep them around for grandchildren to play with.  Grandchildren are going to win. Unless—-

Another store had two bizarre creations, one looking like some kind of a feathered iguana mask and another that is a mass of feathers that a performer might wear in some weird Las Vegas stage show.   They cost enough that returning them for a refund is practical.

A third store had the mask that seemed appropriate. We’re not going to show it to you because then people at the Caring for Missouri event tomorrow night will know who the person is in that mask.   One good thing about it is that it does not rely on a cheap elastic band that could break at any moment—which is why we bought four of the first set of masks—and it fits over glasses that are necessary because I have to read some stuff.

The event starts at 7 p.m. in the Capitol rotunda.  Tickets start at $100.  Some folks think this is a pretty snooty event.  Others see it as an important way to raise money and to increase visibility for the organizations and their causes.  All other things aside, it’s intended to be a fun event for worthwhile causes.  Let’s talk about the causes.

We’ve talked about the goals of the Missouri Capitol Commission to raise money to preserve and restore Capitol art.  Regular readers of these posts know that’s a favorite issue for your faithful scribe.  But let’s focus on the other two groups involved: The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Missouri Association for Community Action.  Frankly, dealing with art issues pales in comparison to the issues these two groups deal with every day.

Let’s start with MACA, which reminds us that 932,066 Missourians live below the federal poverty line.  A total of 417,151 peopled have incomes less than half the poverty-line level. About one-third of those people are children.  What’s the poverty line?   The federal government says a Missourian who earns less than $11,700 a year is living in poverty.  A family of four with an income of #24,200 is living in poverty.  MACA counters those who dismiss such conditions by suggesting people just go out and get jobs with this statistic: Almost thirty percent of Missouri jobs do not pay enough for the wage earner to live above the poverty line.  Thirty percent.

Almost seventeen percent of Missourians have low food security because of their earning situation. That means they have to reduce the quality, variety, and desirability of the food they eat.  Missouri is one of ten states with a food insecurity level higher than the national average, and has the sixth highest percent of food insecure households.

MACA cites government figures showing almost 7300 people are homeless in Missouri; 652 of them veterans.

When it comes to providing help to those people, MACA doesn’t really care if the Caring For Missouri Capitol Masquerade Ball is seen as a snooty event by some people.

Most of those attending the event will probably be old enough to remember when “domestic violence didn’t even have a name, let alone a legal identity,” as the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence says on its webpage.  The Coalition recalls that rape was legal within marriage and wasn’t even a crime until the mid 90s.  There was no law allowing a judge to order an abusive husband and father to move out of the family living quarters.  Remember when reports that a husband was beating his wife were considered “family matters?”  The folks at the party were living at a time when there were no rape crisis centers, no shelters for battered women.

. There were no shelters for battered women in Missouri, no rape crisis centers, no hotlines, no task forces, no Coalition.  Missouri had no domestic violence shelters until 1976, no legal protections for domestic violence victims until 1979.  That was about the time the Coalition was created. Since then the number of domestic and sexual violence programs has increased tenfold.

The coalition, like MACA, is a presence in the Capitol during legislative sessions working for more protections for the poor and the abused.   In four decades of watching representatives of organizations like these, this observer saw nothing snooty about their work.  There was little celebration when an effort was successful because there is always another issue for the poor and the abused of Missouri.

Tomorrow night’s event will involve some food and music and a silent and not-silent (they hope) auctions of all kinds of things that we mentioned in an earlier entry here.  Some folks will be wearing formal attire. Others will be in business attire.  They’ll be dressed much better than most of the people this event is designed to help can afford to dress..

Tickets will be available at the door.  There are places where you still can buy a mask.

Got a quarter?   I’ll sell you one of mine.

Let me know what you think......