Saturday, November 1, 2008

Checks and Balances

A man I love and appreciate recently emailed me admitting he had already voted with his absentee ballot. This man is a strong evangelical Christian. He was strong enough in his personal faith that he once considered entering church ministry. Later, he determined that God called him to the teaching profession, which he served as a divine calling. Now retired, after serving competently and admirably as an educator, he continues to serve through Christian counseling.
I know him well enough to know he is anything but an atheist, a socialist, or less than a thoughtful thinker. He came up the hard way. He got his education without many of the benefits many enjoy today. His life models personal commitment, impeccable integrity, and a devout faith in God. Still, he dares break with those narrow thinkers of the Christian Right, who devote legalistic attention to a narrow niche of hot button ethical issues with which they politically divide people, but overlook many other social practices condemned in the bible.
Maybe, he told me, “our country will do the right thing and elect Obama for President, and "redistribute" the wealth! Of course, I understood what he was saying. He was repeating (tongue in cheek) something that Barack Obama said, something that Sarah Palin and John McCain have consistently warped and twisted into anything but what Obama really meant.
He obviously did not mean Russian Communism/socialism. That‘s where equality means throwing the lion and the lamb both into the same cage to coexist. He knew that in such circumstances the lion comes out the [only] survivor 100% of the time. Thoughtful people, that are not out to intentionally slash and burn, understand that without referees, regulations, and game rules like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Wall Street Bear comes out of his cage of citizenship the winner every time.
The bible does talk about redistributing the wealth. In using the term you can mock and demean it, or you can understand my friend when he says “That is what is needed now.”
Commenting further, he talked about how others respond to him when he says “My Bible says we should be concerned about the poor and the down trodden.” He finds it puzzling and “amazing how when I say that, many of my Christian friends only hear, "take from me as a hard worker, and give to some lazy person".
I find such answers inexcusably lazy thinking and unconscionable behavior, at least for Christ followers. From the prophets of old, to the coming of Jesus, clear declarations of social accountability have guided people of faith. Amos long ago wrote, Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” -- skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.
Concludes the Prophet, The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done . . . they will fall, never to rise again” (Amos 8:4-7, 14). What has that to do with America and the Presidential Election this Tuesday?
If you think it does not correlate, then consider this recently revealed bit of statistic that reports this current year “2008 is the second 'gilded age' in 100 years.” That term “gilded age is defined simply as a time “where the top 5% own more money than all the other 95% put together.” That was what we had “in our country back in 1928” a year after my birth.
Those were the years of the Great Depression and Hoover Beef, when the Barons of Wall Street owned America, they thought, and arrogant financers controlled the market place, buying and selling unprotected laborers for the least possible amount, when men like my father--lifelong Republican that he was--humbly accepted employment under the New Deal of FDR.
Those were extreme times. I hope we never face them again. Still, in view of the social devastation in which we find ourselves, I am not surprised when I learn that I now live in the second gilded age. When 5% own more money than all the other 95%, it is time to reestablish the checks and balances, or else go back to pre-colonial days and once more submit to the monarchial whims of wealthy King George.
I’m not interested in accumulating any great fortune on Wall Street. I am investing heavily in the Kingdom of God. And, I find it a great misfortune for the wealthiest nation in the world to have so many vulnerable people in America being ignored while the rich get richer and the poor struggle even to exist.
I need some hope. Some checks and balances would help. I believe Jesus would be pleased with that, whatever one’s political party may be.


Anonymous said...

Ah, Socialism. It really sounds good until you are in it!

Government redistribution of wealth is not Biblical and is never even mentioned in the Bible. God's word does tell us to take care of the poor, but it is from the individual, not the government. The reason people don't take care of the poor themselves anymore is because the Socialists like the "Obamanation" convinced naive people that it was the government's responsibility. Now, when people have a need, they are told to get on one of the government charity programs. The government is completely incapable of taking care of the poor, yet they take huge amounts of money from everyone and "redistribute" it. To Whom? To themselves.

If the Socialists, i.e. Democrats, would leave our money alone we would be able to take care of the poor ourselves while at the same time providing accountability for that money. The lazy would not get the money because they would be seen for the users that they are. However, when the government takes our money and redistributes it, as if it was theirs, there is no accountability and much abuse of the system. Large amounts of money are simply wasted.

No Christian in their right mind should ever vote for "The Obamanation that Causes Desolation." And desolation is what he will bring. Mark my words!

Wayne said...

Dear Anonymous:

I asked for more checks and balances,neither socialism nor the unfettered greed of "free market" capitalism.

The use of the term "socialism" by Obama's opponents is vicious behavior, deliberate distortion, and patently false (calculated only to mislead).

Your use of "Obamanation" suggests your contentment with a very small minority (5%) controlling a political system that protects their owning 95% of the wealth. It further suggests avoiding the real issues at stake.

That is not government of-for-by the people, nor does it allow an equal playing floor for all the players (I've never been accused of being a "user"!

Many of the staunchest on Wall Street recognize the current debacle resulted from insufficient financial oversight (called fiscal accountability).

Anonymous said...

Funny. Your idea of "checks and balances" is like socialistic capitalism. It is short-sighted and selfish. When the Socialists like Obama get done, there will be nothing left.

In a free market system the system is self-correcting. In other words, the market was trying to correct itself when it began dropping from a Dow Jones Average of nearly 13,000 when the socialists decided that was not going to happen. I hate to say it but Pres. Bush acted like a socialist when he proposed the bailout, and congress too when they passed it.

The problem is that the US people both want and don't want a free market. We want the good side of a free market - everyone getting rich off the system, while at the same time not wanting the bad side - everyone paying the price of greed. In the US right now there are very few poor people. My guess is less than 1% of the population can even begin to claim poor status.

Have you ever been overseas? You may have seen the people who are actually poor. No, we in the US are not poor. Anyone with a better than average cardboard box over his head is richer than most of the people of the world, and there are few in the US who can actually claim not to have so much.

Your statistics ring so hollow. Yes, 5% control 95% of the wealth, but that 5% includes nearly the entire population of the US. Nobody in the US should be complaining right now. We lost a small fraction of our wealth, and we are complaining. I think people need to remember that it was the Republicans with their free market ideologies that allowed them to have the wealth to begin with. The reason we have money to give to the poor is because of the free-market system. Which other country gives so much?

Now, as for the poor, I agree with you that we in the US do not use our wealth wisely. We should be taking care of the poor. Unfortunately, the idea that the government will do it for us has blinded us to the fact that we have to do it ourselves, not abdicate the responsibility to the governemnt. Yes, we might get our hands dirty, but didn't Jesus spend time with the poor and the sinful?

You seem to have a misunderstanding of what socialism is. According to Merriam Webster Socialism is defined as follows:

"any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods"

If that does not describe Obama's stance on just about everything, I don't know what does. Face it, Obama is a Socialist. There is no getting around it, and you may not like it, but it is true.

If that is what you want then vote for him. It is afterall a free country, but be sure to remember this piece of wisdom:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship." (Attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, 1747–1813)

When the democracy is gone, who will you vote for then? Hitler? He too believed that certain parts of the population should die for the benefit of the economy. He too believed that the government was best capable of taking care of the poor, albeit by murdering them.

Or perhaps you like Stalin better? He was all for government control of everything - medicine, industry, speech, income.

Or does Castro fit you better? He promised the world to his followers, and the people of Cuba have free medicine, free food, a house for everyone, and equal wages. There are no poor in Cuba, at least compared to other Cubans. They have an equal playing floor. (Sorry, I forgot about the Christians who are denied access to everything including food and shelter. They live on the charity of other Christians. God provides for them.)

Wayne, I hope and pray your system never gets established in this country! We do not need Socialism. What we need is for the government to stop taking all of our excess and allow us, ourselves, to do what we are supposed to be doing.

Anonymous said...

One more thing.

I apologize if you felt I was calling you a user. That was not my intention.

The users I was refering to are those who abuse the system by taking what they don't need simply because they can. The government is not capable of weeding out these people, but other people are capable. That is what I meant by "users."

Wayne said...

Thanks for the clarification on users, both personally and generally. I determined long ago to be a giver rather than a taker, believing there are only 2 kinds of people.

Your take on users identifies a lot of up-and-out corporate users as well as a few down-and-out on welfare (not all of them are users, just vulnerable).

If we lived in a market of perfect saints, we could practice your libertarian anarchy and expect everyone to be self-regulating. That fact is that won't happen individually nor corporately, thus the need for checks and balances within the structure of mostly private ownership.

Wayne said...

I did not really support the Bush bailout; it helped the wrong people, which is why I fault his politic.

If your self-adjusting economy worked, there would be no S&L scandals, no Enron debacles, no Church Ext fraud. Fact is, there would be no need for police departments, food inspectors, and a whole lot more. Your thinking is completely naive as to human nature.

The fact is, we need police and if drivers can't do anything else, they will get a fuzzbuster to assist them in doing as they please.

Since Jesus showed great social concern for protecting the vulnerable et al, by your definition he must have been a socialist.

Thanks for your comments.......