Poverty: we are grateful, we are generous

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011 file photo, Turkana people wait in a line to receive food during a famine from Oxfam in central Turkana district, Kenya. Calamitous famines appear to have vanished from the planet, but more must be done to eradicate all such scourges, including redrafting U.S. terror legislation that inhibits life-saving humanitarian work, according to a new report. The study, part of the 2015 Global Hunger Index published Monday, Oct. 12, 2015 says it's one of the "unheralded achievements" of the last 50 years: the elimination of calamitous famines that cause more than 1 million deaths, and reduction "almost to a vanishing point" of great famines, which cause more than 100,000 deaths. (AP Photo/Tobin Jones, File)
Turkana people wait in a line to receive food from Oxfam during a famine in Kenya in 2011. (Associated Press file)

“Good land, there isn’t any more. Money, there isn’t any. What is going to happen to my children and grandchildren? This is a big worry for us.

“A lot of people are leaving here to go to the United States – about 20 percent of our village has been there, for their children.

“Today, we have no water or tortillas, so we borrow from our neighbors. This is how we help ourselves. But up north, we wouldn’t know anyone. It’s humiliation, suffering to go there. That’s my view.

“Here, we are poor, but we know each other and love each other. For example, when someone dies, we all go to the funeral. We may not have anything, but we give something anyway.”

Susana Nabor was a doctor in a poor neighborhood near Cuernavaca, in southern Mexico, where I saw Third-World poverty for the first time in January 1991. She wasn’t a trained doctor; she made medicines from herbs, flowers and trees – things she and her neighbors could afford.

Susana told her story to 16 of us on a life-changing nine-day trip that included visits to pyramids and Mexico City. We represented CROP Hunger Walks in Michigan – an annual fundraiser and educational 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) event that fights hunger locally, nationally and worldwide. We not only saw poverty, we studied its root causes.

And we learned new definitions of love from Susana and others we met on that trip. When a neighbor ran out of food, everyone pitched in because tomorrow, you may be the one without. I have seen few examples of love in my life surpassing that.

What are the root causes of poverty? Have conditions improved across the world in the past 25 years?

According to Compassion International, a survey conducted in Niger in 2002 by the Office of the Prime Minister asked the poor of that country to describe poverty. Their answers provided the following:

  • Dependence, always having to seek out others or to work for somebody else.
  • Marginalization, a poor person who is alone, has no support, doesn’t feel involved in anything, or is “never consulted.”
  • Scarcity, having nothing to eat, lacking the means to meet clothing and financial needs, having nothing to sell.
  • Restricted rights and freedoms.
  • The incapacity to make decision, to feed or clothe oneself, or to act on one’s own initiative.

United Kingdom-based Christian Aid tells the stories of several children in poverty. Read their stories here:


The Washington, D.C.-based World Bank Group notes that poverty rates worldwide are improving:

  • According to the most recent estimates, in 2012, 12.7 percent of the world’s population lived at or below $1.90 a day. That’s down from 37 percent in 1990 and 44 percent in 1981. This means that, in 2012, 896 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day, compared with 1.95 billion in 1990 and 1.99 billion in 1981.
  • Progress has been slower at higher poverty lines. In all, 2.2 billion people lived on less than $3.10 a day in 2011, the average poverty line in developing countries and a common measurement of deep deprivation. That is only a slight decline from 2.59 billion in 1981.

Progress has been uneven:

  • East Asia saw the most dramatic reduction in extreme poverty, from 80 percent in 1981 to 7.2 percent in 2012. In South Asia, the share of the population living in extreme poverty is now the lowest since 1981, dropping from 58 percent in 1981 to 18.7 percent in 2012. Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa stood at 42.6 percent in 2012.
  • China accounted for most of the decline in extreme poverty over the past three decades. Between 1981 and 2011, 753 million people moved above the $1.90-a-day threshold. During the same time, the developing world as a whole saw a reduction in poverty of 1.1 billion.
  • In 2012, just over 77.8 percent of the extremely poor lived in South Asia (309 million) and Sub-Saharan Africa (388.7 million). In addition, 147 million lived in East Asia and Pacific.
  • Fewer than 44 million of the extremely poor lived in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia combined.

One man in Kenya, Peter Mumo, 25, described how he overcame poverty in his drought-prone country. Read his story here:


Poverty in the United States is very real, but on a different scale. Most nations do not have safety nets to keep poor people fed, clothed and housed. The United States offers food stamps, the Affordable Care Act and other forms of subsistence aid.

Without getting into the politics of those programs, they do help – as do private programs such as homeless shelters, food banks and charitable works by individuals, groups, churches and others.

Healthcare.gov lists these federal poverty level guidelines, updated for 2015:


  • $11,770 for individuals
  • $15,930 for a family of 2
  • $20,090 for a family of 3
  • $24,250 for a family of 4
  • $28,410 for a family of 5
  • $32,570 for a family of 6
  • $36,730 for a family of 7
  • $40,890 for a family of 8

Again, while poverty in the U.S. is real, these numbers are very different than the global scale – far more than $1.90 a day. Yes, the cost of living is much higher here, but we also have numerous resources that most people across the world do not.

At least once in your life, I’d urge you to visit a Third-World country – not just Cancun, but Cuernavaca. Get away from the tourist traps and see what the world truly looks like. I have never forgotten my 1991 trip. To this day I give thanks for food on my table, a roof over my head and a clean shower whenever I want one.

Here’s a few numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau for calendar year 2014, the latest available:

  • In 2014, the official poverty rate was 14.8 percent. There were 46.7 million people in poverty.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, the number of people in poverty at the national level was not sta­tistically different from the previ­ous year’s estimates.
  • The 2014 poverty rate was 2.3 percentage points higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.
  • Poverty rates went up between 2013 and 2014 for only two groups: people with a bachelor’s degree or more, and married-couple families.
Hunger Network of Cleveland volunteer Diane Zellmer, left, distributes free bread in a church basement on the city's west side  Friday, Feb. 6, 2009. Unemployment rose to 7.6 percent with the loss of 598,000 jobs in January increasing the ranks of families needing assistance. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Hunger Network of Cleveland volunteer Diane Zellmer, left, distributes free bread in a church basement on the city’s west side on Feb. 6, 2009. (Associated Press file)
  • For most groups, the number of people in poverty either decreased or did not show a statistically significant change. The number of people in poverty increased for unrelated individu­als, people age 18 to 64 with a disability, people with at least a bachelor’s degree and married-couple families.
  • The poverty rate in 2014 for chil­dren under age 18 was 21.1 per­cent. The poverty rate for people age 18 to 64 was 13.5 percent, while the rate for people age 65 and older was 10.0 percent. None of these poverty rates were sta­tistically different from the 2013 estimates.
  • Median household income was $53,657 in 2014, not statistically different in real terms from the 2013 median of $54,462. This is the third consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive years of annual declines in median household income. Among the race groups, Asian households had the highest median income in 2014 ($74,297). The median income of non-Hispanic White households was $60,256, and for Black households it was $35,398. For Hispanic households, the median income was $42,491.

Desiree Metcalf, 24, of Bath in western New York, provides a face to poverty in this country. NPR tells her story. Like many others who are poor, she doesn’t have just one or two problems, but a whole pile of them. She was raised by a single mother, who was also poor. Metcalf says they didn’t always get along. And things came to a head when she was 12 years old.

“My mom and I got in a fight and she told me she was going to kill me,” she recalls. “And I wrapped a belt around my neck and told her I would do it for her. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital and from there I went to foster care.”

That meant moving from home to home to home. Metcalf says she attended 26 different schools …

“I haven’t given up my dream yet. I just keep putting it on the back burner until it ain’t raining so hard, I guess,” she says.

Learn what her dream is, and the rest of her story, here:


There are many worthwhile organizations that help alleviate poverty, locally and worldwide. From CROP Hunger Walks to American Red Cross disaster relief to regional food banks (they always need donations and volunteers) to smaller local community efforts, opportunities abound.

CROPLogo2010HiRes.jpg (2400×1567)

A good friend collects clothes, food and personal items, rounds up a dozen or so friends and delivers them to homeless men in downtown Cleveland several times a year. He just sets up tables on the sidewalk, and more than 100 men come for a simple lunch, a sweater or coat, pants, shirt, socks and possibly a belt or sunglasses. I’ve gone with him twice so far. The men are grateful.

Americans are generous when disaster strikes – 9/11, hurricane Katrina and superstorm Sandy, Sandy Hook, the ice bucket challenge from last year, to name a few – but there are many causes and issues needing our support that don’t make national headlines.

Let’s serve because we can. Let’s serve because we care.

Silence: Listen to it

I open my eyes shortly after the sun comes up, never with an alarm any more. I silently put on my bathrobe and slippers and slide downstairs. I make coffee. While it’s brewing, I feed our two cats and open the blinds to see the sunshine (or the falling rain, or the gray clouds).

I fill a coffee mug, then sit in the living room with my Bible facing the narrow window. We don’t have a picture window in this house, and I miss that. I see drivers leaving the apartment complex across the street, heading to work. Several school buses rumble past, in both directions. A dad and a preschooler walk to the apartment complex driveway, where they wait for yet another bus to pick him up for a half-day of school. (I’ve seen the return bus about 11:30 a.m.)

All is silent. Just the motors of vehicles. Occasionally, the wind. After the morning rush, a jogger or a biker in the neighborhood. Alone with my thoughts.

On my second cup of coffee, I open my Bible and read a chapter. I try to focus on what I’m reading. Somedays, I do better than others. A friend is leading a Facebook Bible study, so that helps me concentrate. Sometimes, I’ll comment on his thread.

Alone with my thoughts. Sometimes, my mind wanders.

At least twice a week, I’ll put on some shorts or sweats and go for a walk or light jog, usually in a nearby park. I don’t own earbuds. It’s just me and nature and, not often enough, God. Again, my mind wanders. I do some of my best thinking and meditating on the trail.

Many times, I see deer. Twice, I’ve gotten so close to one or two deer that I could almost touch them. Literally. I don’t take a camera with me either, so you’ll have to trust me on this. My eyes are the best lens to the world I know.



This time of year, I watch the leaves turn color, then crunch them under my feet on the path. I keep walking when it snows. I can see a long way through the bare trees, and feel the sub-freezing air on my cheeks. I like that. In the spring, the trail floods with runoff from the rain, so I skip around puddles when I can and often get my socks wet. No matter. I keep going. In the summer, the path eventually dries and the leaves are full and green, rustling in the wind. I’ll work up a good sweat on the hottest days. I like that too.

I’ll say “good morning” to others I pass along the trail. I’ll see the same folks frequently, walking in ones or twos or threes, and we acknowledge each other. Each of us has a story. We walk on.

Silence. I rarely watch TV until late afternoon/early evening. In the meantime, I’ll find soft music on the radio or online. But not always.

These days, I have plenty of time for silence. Some days, too much. I want to go someplace, do something. Plenty of alone time. It’s good. I like it. Usually.

Many people complain how busy life is. I’ve never lived like that. One summer when I was in college, I came down with pneumonia. Even the sight of food made me nauseous. I lost 15 pounds in 10 days. I don’t recommend that diet. Ever since then, I get tired easily. I need my eight hours each night. During the day, if I go-go-go, I’ll burn out. I’ll get sick. I know this about me.

So, I pace myself. Some days, I feel left behind. Others, I am right where I want to be.

Even when I worked full-time and we were raising three sons, I awoke early (usually before the alarm went off) and spent some time alone with God. This gave me perspective. Start slowly, then build up to the day’s worries and issues.

Silence. God’s gift to me.

What have I done with silence? I write in a journal occasionally, have for years. Not proud of my writings recently – I complain a lot. I hope God understands.

Sometimes, I’ll go for a drive. Alone. Nowhere in particular. Or, maybe I will have a destination, not too far from home. My grandparents are buried in Cleveland, about an hour from here. I’ve been there a couple of times.



I’ll read a book, one I’ve read before off the shelf or one I haven’t from the library. Frequently, I’ll put on some soft music, curl up under a blanket and read – or, more likely, let my mind wander. I’m a slow reader.

That may not be silence, but it’s calm. Even when the cats jump in my lap or stare at me with big, drooping eyes. They like attention, and I like giving it to them.

Is silence golden? Sometimes. Not always. But it’s better than cacophony. Turn off the noise. Get off Facebook for awhile. Spend some time alone with your thoughts. You do have them, you know. And your thoughts matter.

I keep telling myself this. Maybe one day I’ll believe it.

Gun control: No wonder we can’t agree

CORRECTS REFERENCE TO HANDGUN AS FAKE - This Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 photo shows a Para 1911 45 caliber tan handgun similar to the fake gun taken from 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by Cleveland police in Cleveland. Two fatal police shootings in less than four months of young people holding lookalike guns in Ohio have raised calls for action to prevent such tragedies. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
This December 2014 photo shows a Para 1911 45-caliber handgun similar to the fake gun taken from 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by Cleveland police in Cleveland. (Associated Press file)

It’s no surprise Americans can’t find a solution to gun violence. Like an onion, this issue has many layers.

Layers include police shootings, race, mental health, suicide and urban vs. rural gun ownership. No one policy can possibly fit all scenarios. Instead of pointing fingers (or worse) and shouting hateful rhetoric, we must consider all sides with an open mind. Here’s one shot across the bow. (Pun intended.)

First, some perspective. The number of Americans who died from gunshot wounds in the past decade – more than 300,000 – exceeds the nation’s total combat fatalities in World War II, according to BuzzFeed News. And for every gun murder, there are almost two gun suicides, BuzzFeed notes. More on that in a minute.

And there are upwards of 310 million guns in circulation, nearly one for every U.S. resident – so banning guns isn’t going to happen.

Police shooting

In the Cleveland area, the November 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a pellet gun at a playground, by a city police officer continues to make headlines.

A person holds up a sign for justice for Tamir Rice during a news conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Cleveland. Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, said she wants the police officer convicted for killing her son, who was carrying a pellet gun that police say looked real. Tamir Rice was confronted Nov. 22 when officers responded to a 911 call about someone with a gun near a playground. Surveillance video shows him being shot within 2 seconds of a patrol car stopping nearby. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
A person holds up a sign for justice for Tamir Rice during a news conference Dec. 8, 2014, in Cleveland. (Associated Press)

Reports from two outside experts who examined the use of deadly force in the Tamir Rice case concluded that the shooting was “reasonable,” the county prosecutor announced last weekend.

Cleveland prosecutors hired the experts. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said a grand jury will decide whether Officer Timothy Loehmann – who fired the fatal shot – and his partner, Frank Garmback, will face charges in the now 11-month-old case.

One report is by S. Lamar Sims, senior chief deputy district attorney in the office of Denver District Attorney Mitchell R. Morrissey, who has worked on other officer-involved shootings. “The issue is, in short, could a reasonable police officer have believed Rice’s gun was a real firearm,” Sims wrote.

Sims concluded, “Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable, as was his response to that perceived threat.”

The other report is from former FBI agent Kimberly A. Crawford, who has taught classes in the use of deadly force. “The question is not whether every officer would have reacted the same way,” Crawford wrote in her report, which noted that Officer Loehmann had no way of knowing Tamir’s gun was fake. “Rather, the relevant inquiry is whether a reasonable officer, confronting the exact same scenario under identical conditions, could have concluded that deadly force was necessary.”

She concluded that it was.


Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers, 78, an African-American, has represented Omaha’s 11th District for 42 years – the longest-serving state senator in Nebraska history. He grew up and still lives in North Omaha, which is home to about 40,000 people and has an unemployment rate of about 25 percent – far above the statewide rate of 2.7 percent, the nation’s lowest.

Chambers discussed urban gun violence with The Trace, which formed earlier this year and calls itself a news outlet devoted to the prevention of violence:

Neb. state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha speaks before the Legislature voted 30-19 to override Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of a death penalty repeal bill, in a vote that made it the first traditionally conservative state to abolish capital punishment in more than four decades. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Neb. state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha speaks to the Legislature. (Associated Press)

“Not that long ago, there was a rash of underage drinking at various parties around Nebraska, so they put together a task force to find the adults who were sponsoring these keg parties. You know why? Because these parties involved white kids … But when shootings occur in the black community, all of the agencies turn a blind eye to it. I’ve been railing against it for a decade, and nothing is done.

“They talk about black-on-black crime. I say, communities commit crime among the people they live around.

“The media are of, by and for white people. Everything is done to titillate white people, to please them, to provoke them, but other groups are the subject matter: They are studied, dissected, analyzed and synthesized. And when the white people are done with them, they move on. But the problems remain.

“Not long ago they wanted to pass laws allowing guns in bars. I said, ‘Why do you white people need these guns anyway? Nobody is shooting you. Nobody is coming into your community. You want to carry from your car to your pickup truck? From your house to the mailbox? What are you afraid of?’ ”

Alissa Skelton, 26, a crime enterprise reporter for the Omaha World-Herald, told The Trace that gang members frequently get their guns through burglaries.

“Houses will get hit after they see someone going out to hunt, or if they know there are guns inside,” Skelton said. “People in west Omaha, which is a richer part of town, complain more about it, but I’ve seen reports, even in North Omaha, of people getting their guns stolen.”

Mental health

The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent with others. But far too many are violent with themselves. “If we were to cure mental illness, the suicide rate would go down by 50 to 75 percent,” Jeffrey Swanson, a gun violence researcher at Duke University, told BuzzFeed News.

The federal Gun Control Act, passed in 1968, prohibits gun ownership by people involuntarily committed for treatment for psychiatric illness, and those judged “mentally defective.” BuzzFeed notes two problems with the act:

  1. Many people at high risk of harming themselves are not committed involuntarily for treatment.

2. Federal mental health restrictions are lifelong. But the threat of suicide comes and goes – and usually passes, if it’s not acted upon.

Swanson suggests that we should temporarily restrict access to guns for people at immediate risk of harming themselves or others, until they have recovered.


The demographics of gun homicides vs. gun suicides is striking. Young black men are disproportionately likely to be both victims and perpetrators of gun murder, BuzzFeed News reports. But those who kill themselves with a gun are most likely older white men.

“Firearm violence is increasingly becoming an old white guy problem,” Garen Wintemute, an emergency room doctor at the University of California at Davis, told BuzzFeed.

Another note: The fatality rate for suicide attempts overall is about 9 percent; when a gun is used, that rises to 85 percent, BuzzFeed reports.

Urban vs. rural

“The gun rights climate is very interesting in Nebraska because there are a lot of hunters here, and the hunters want to keep the gun rights the way they are. They don’t view gun violence the way those in Omaha do,” said Skelton, the Omaha World-Herald reporter.

This is another reason why we can’t remove guns from homes. According to Gallup polls, rural Americans – about one-sixth of the population – are more than twice as likely to have a gun in their homes than those living in large cities. They also are six times more likely to hunt.

According to a USA Today article from February 2013, hunters and sport shooters say shooting is a way to get children out of sedentary lifestyles while teaching them responsibility, safety and respect for guns – the opposite of what they learn from violent movies and video games.

“I don’t think people like us are the problem,” said Louise Terry, a National Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation board member who grew up near Ithaca, N.Y.

“Guns are very safe,” agreed Jim Bowers, a retired Air Force veteran who teaches gun safety classes to youths near Fairmont, W.Va. “It’s the people that make them unsafe.”

Steve Sanetti, president and CEO of the Newtown, Conn.- based National Shooting Sports Foundation, said rural and urban Americans have different experiences around guns.

“If you are in a city environment, where all you see are the anti-personnel uses of firearms, you think guns are anti-personnel,” he said. “If you grow up in rural areas where guns are accepted, are part of life, used for recreation, sports, family gatherings – you see that there is nothing wrong” with owning a gun.

The solution

So, what’s the answer to “gun control?” Many feel that expanding background checks to include all gun sales can help reduce gun violence.

Under federal law, a background check is required each time a registered dealer sells a gun. But a background check is not required for private sales, which account for up to 40 percent of gun sales.

Because many gun deaths are suicides, arming “good guys” won’t keep the “bad guys” at bay. And guns are rarely used in self-defense anyway: Analyzing 14,000 incidents involving personal contact between perpetrator and victim from the National Crime Victimization Survey, a Harvard professor and an economist found that a gun was brandished in self-defense on only 127 occasions, BuzzFeed reported.

Finding ways to keep guns out of the hands of people who might hurt themselves or someone else is the answer. This involves understanding triggers, and acting quickly when those triggers are tripped.

Pete Rose: Hall of Shame to Hall of Fame?

FILE - In this June 3, 1981 file photo, Philadelphia Phillies' Pete Rose dives headfirst for third base during a baseball game against the New York Mets in Philadelphia. Even Rose, the man who made the headfirst slide fashionable, says there's a time and place to be prudent. As in, no need to get your nose bashed in at home plate. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, File)
While playing for the Phillies, Pete Rose dives headfirst for third base during a game in Philadelphia on June 3, 1981. (Associated Press file)

In his career from 1963 to 1986, most of it with the Cincinnati Reds, Pete Rose amassed 4,256 hits – the most in the history of Major League Baseball – played in 17 All-Star games, won National League batting titles in 1968, 1969 and 1973, and is the only major leaguer to play 500 games at five different positions – first base, second base, third base, left field and right field.

No one disputes that Rose is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Known as “Charlie Hustle,” the switch-hitter played with reckless abandon between the white lines.


Despite his prowess on the field, Pete Rose remains locked out of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. – because of what he did off the field.

He gambled on baseball games. While he played, and while he managed the Reds after his playing career ended. That’s a cardinal sin that the game has not forgiven him for.

His gambling, while a black mark on his record, did not affect his on-the-field performance (those banned for steroid use cannot claim that). It’s time to reinstate him to the game he still loves, and then enshrine him where he belongs – with the legends of the greatest game in America.

Rose stated his case on Sept. 24 to Rob Manfred, who became the Major League Baseball commissioner in January. Manfred is expected to announce his decision by the end of the year. Don’t expect the announcement before the World Series ends, since that would distract from baseball’s showcase event.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred talks to members of the media during a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Manfred talks to members of the media Aug. 27. (Associated Press)

Rose fans should not hold their breath, however. Last month, Manfred denied an application to reinstate former Chicago White Sox outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Shoeless Joe was banned for life for accepting money to change the outcome of baseball games. He was one of eight “Black Sox” players accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series – to, ironically, the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds won the Series, five games to three.

The parallels between Rose and Jackson are striking. Jackson, who played for Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago (all in the American League) from 1908 to 1920, finished his career with a .356 batting average, one of the highest ever. He earned his nickname “Shoeless” by playing a minor league game in his stockings because a new pair of cleats had given him blisters the previous day.

shoeless joe

“I copied Jackson’s style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He’s the guy who made me a hitter.” No less a superstar than Babe Ruth said that about Shoeless Joe.


According to www.biography.com, Jackson helped the White Sox win the 1917 World Series. Although the White Sox were a powerhouse at the time, owner Charles Comiskey underpaid his players and did not pay out promised bonuses. Upset, eight players, including Jackson, agreed to accept payment for throwing the 1919 World Series.

Jackson was promised $20,000, a huge payout since his annual salary was $6,000. Still, in the 1919 World Series, he batted .375. When it ended, Jackson received only $5,000 for his part in the fix, according to biography.com. When the fix was discovered, all eight players were brought to trial. All of them were acquitted.

However, baseball’s first commissioner, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis – appointed as a direct result of the Black Sox scandal – banned all eight players, including Shoeless Joe, from baseball for life. He remains banned to this day. (Jackson died in 1951.)

“Jackson’s fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning,” said Connie Mack, who managed Shoeless Joe in Philadelphia.

If current commissioner Manfred ruled against Shoeless Joe, how could he say yes to Rose? Jackson helped his team lose one eight-game series. Rose betted on numerous sports, including baseball, over time – and then for years denied betting on baseball while he played.

Attorney John M. Dowd, in his “Dowd Report,” investigated claims of Rose’s gambling. Dowd discovered, according to cheatsheet.com, that Rose bet on five to 10 games daily in basketball, football, hockey and baseball, at about $2,000 per game. He often was deeply in debt to bookies. Dowd presented his findings to then-commissioner Bart Giamatti in May 1989.

Former Cincinnati Reds' Pete Rose waits before being introduced as one of the  team's Franchise Four before the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Rose was named one of the Cincinnati Red’s four best players ever before the All-Star game July 14 in Cincinnati. (Associated Press)

Giamatti banned Rose on Aug. 24, 1989, declaring, “One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts.”

Rose immediately was fired as manager of the Reds, and he’s been a baseball outcast since.

Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are two of baseball’s best hitters, but you won’t find their busts in Cooperstown. Like many Americans, they bowed to the god of the almighty dollar. This is their sin.

Is that the unpardonable sin? It shouldn’t be. Manfred should reinstate them both. There are flawed people in the Hall of Fame. Let’s reward a lifetime of baseball achievement.