Friday, December 9, 2016

Moral Economics

Well…Republicans won this round. Soon we will have a new President to adulate or hate. What Republicans do with this opportunity God alone can guess. Will Democrats use this as an opportunity to serve the common good or will they play the game of Party Politics? Duh… Who knows; I don’t.

What I do see is that we have a whole new set of demographics. People are demanding that we return to days of more nostalgic greatness. But, what does that mean? I‘m not quite sure who “we think we are or when that was. ” I’m less sure of who we want to be, and even less sure that “we” are even aware there is a world of people out there wanting a piece of “our greatness.” I doubt “we” even care!

I’m satisfied “they” come from less than what most of us take for granted. I’m also convinced they feel they deserve as much as we do to feel equally-well provided for and to live comfortably and safely. After all; who doesn’t? While many continue asking questions … demanding changes … I,  fwiw, agree!

So let me ask an economic question that calls for some moral reasoning (people are pretty well decided on what they agree or disagree about the great moral issues): Will you agree that a CEO be paid as much as the market will bear?

Some of you will quickly say “Yes, I believe in free enterprise.” I ask, “for whom?” Some [like me] hesitate answering before first considering contextual factors. Others could say, “No! That is the way of Pharoah vs The Exodus!”

This question actually came up in ‘06 when median family income was up 18%. Simultaneously, income was up 200% for the top 1% of the wealthiest families (War on the Middleclass/Dobbs/16/2006). It actually climbed to 400% in some cases.

Lou Dobbs, that staunchly Republican standby, reported CEOs at AT&T, BellSouth, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Lucent, Merck, Pfizer, Safeway, Time Warner, Verizon & Walmart) were paid an aggregate of $865 million in compensation over the previous five years, during which time shareholders lost $640 billion.

That widely researched statistic only verified the upward economic surge of the last forty-or-so years, during which time the gap between the haves and have not's widened even further, being funneled upward by a politically established, economically-motivated ripping of the American social fabric.

Becoming richer at the expense of the more vulnerable were the wealthy. The trend remains today, although sounding much like the Biblical stories of Lazrus and Dives, or the farmer that tore down his barns to build bigger ones. Yes, the masses still rant, rave, review, and revolutionize, doing it in forms both conversational and sometimes violent.

All the while, we brand demcratic dissenters as socially elite, liberal left, and mindless media. We call them disingenuous! They should work for a living like we do. We pronounce them liberal, left-wing idiots; some are religious idealists,  but all are products of what we think is an urban socialist society akin to Communism and greatly inferior to our rural-suburban politic. We really want them to know they cannot live at the expense of our supporting them governmentally, as if providing a social safety net is something deeply immoral.

I  believe what we really need is a radical return to the teachings of Jesus. For this, you can call me “an idealist,” a religious fundamentalist (code word for domestic terrorist), even a socialist, left-field liberal or anything but white, evangelical, and male.

It is true, I am a white male. I am also strongly evangelical. And yes, I believe we need to return to the core teachings of Jesus rather than teaching the false gospel some teach, as Scripture warns us. We need to again hear the words of The inclusive Christ, as opposed to exclusive; That One who taught us to love our enemies and treat others as we want to be treated. His principles are laid out in the Sermon on the Mount and in the four gospels, but they are affirmed and taught throughout the Scriptures.

The fact is, Jesus went to the cross rather than compromise his God-given mission. Among his final words on earth were those uttered to a dying thief as Jesus put off his own dying long enough to include one more unregenerate thief, comforting him with his own word, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

That was the inclusive attitude of the Jesus some of us call “Lord!” There is room at the cross for all of humanity. The way of the cross really does lead homeward. As such, it forms the heart and soul of the Christian gospel that Paul and others only helped interpret. Paul essentially instructed “you follow me as I follow Christ.”

Even the Old Testament Prophet looked forward [with gospel insight] trying to help his people honor God in a God-pleasing way (cf Isaiah 58, especially NCV). Their usual festivals and pilgrimages of ritualistic fasting, flagellating themselves et al, simply fell too far short of personally knowing and experiencing God. They needed to hear God say,

          “I will tell you the kind of special day I want: Free the people you

           have put in prison unfairly and undo their chains. Free those to

          whom you are unfair and stop their hard labor. Share your food

          with the hungry and bring poor, homeless people into your  own

          homes. When you see someone who has no clothes, give him yours,

          and don’t refuse to help your own relatives. Then your light will

          shine like the dawn and your wounds will quickly heal. Your God

          will walk before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from

          behind. Then you will call out, and the Lord will answer. You will

          cry out, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’”

Do I mistranslate this when I suggest that if one is pro-life; eg, one will not stop with simply protecting the pre-born fetus but hold all of life, sacred, and perhaps the end of life as well—a sacred and respected value--regardless of color, creed, culture, or …

The business man will begin treating employees as s/he wants to be treated and much more than a bottom-line commodity good only for trade for larger profit.

It could imply a game- change, even for House Leader Paul Ryan et company. If we act consistently with what we claim we believe, it will dramatically change our game plan and that will include dramatically improving the lives of multitudes of vulnerable people--including emigrants. It will change our relationships by envisioning for every other individual “an equal-opportunity to win”rather than the predatory currency of “I win you lose” hard-core capitalism (more gently called free market economy).

It means nationally we will tone down our nationalistic patriotism and recognize God’s Global Community as a human family where ALL are in the ballgame-of-life TOGETHER, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, ad infinitum.

In as much as you did not do it unto the least of these, Jesus concluded, you did not do it unto me. “How long will we ignore the one person in history who willingly gave himself that ‘we’ might ALL move forward?”

Could it be that our biggest problem is neither our political differences or our economic status but (horror of horrors) our own personal moral issue? Pondering this question from Warner’s World,

I am

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