Sunday, June 30, 2013
Greed and Jesus: Conservatives and the Rich
Just Don’t Get It
Cognitive dissonance is a person’s brain trying to decipher two contradicting realities. An example of this is often seen in an abusive relationship, where the man/woman obviously understands there’s abuse from their significant other, yet they love them anyway. Often their brain will then develop excuses for such action. It’s their fault or the other person has just been under a lot of stress. The reality is their brain simply cannot accept two different realities that contradict, so it creates another. This is never more prevalent than when it comes to conservatives and Christianity, the benchmark for which their entire movement is based. Still, they push policies that contradicts much of what Jesus taught.
Their entire economic policy states that we need to give more to those that have in order for the rest of us to enjoy the windfall of their generosity through increases in revenue. Let that sink in for a second. An economic policy based upon this notion: “If we feed greed more it will then benefit the rest of society.” When has greed ever benefited a society? So what does the Bible say about greed? “He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) It becomes a driving obsession to acquire still more. Once the acquiring has happened, then comes the need to protect what has been acquired. This is selfishness and it is sin, as it is written: “There was a man all alone, he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. 'For whom am I toiling', he asked, 'and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?' This too is meaningless – a miserable business!”(Ecclesiastes 4:8)
Once the greed-driven have acquired and protected everything in sight, they begin to covet still more. They are not satisfied with all they have; their eye is on all that they don’t have, as it is written, “Then Jesus said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”. (Luke 12:15) This coveting begets more greed, the greed begets more selfishness, and the selfishness begets more coveting and so on to madness. “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:12) By this point, there is no room left for God. Money is now the master of the house, as it is written, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
Seems pretty straight forward. Greed is perpetual, and it feeds on itself, generating ever increasing amounts or degrees of greed and selfishness. The more one has the more they want. Isn’t that what we’ve seen in the last 30 years? Isn’t this what “Trickle Down Economics” has given us? In the last 30 years the Top 1% has grown exponentially, never more so than in the last decade. Yet what has it brought us? Economic failure caused by a cadre of millionaires crying out that they need even more. Many of the same businesses that proved in the 90′s, even with higher taxes, that they could yield historic growth are now fighting a return to those very same tax levels. They now claim economic prosperity isn’t obtainable at those “job destroying” levels of taxation. The fact is, they’re right. Their economic prosperity cannot be sustained at a higher level of taxation. The more we fed into this myth of Trickle Down Economics, the more lower taxes benefited them, the more they expect to expand their greedy nature. To raise their taxes would mean their giant profits would probably be taken down to just, well, big profits.
This isn’t about these businesses making profits, they can easily do that, but they want larger profits. What they had in the 90′s is no longer good enough, they want more. Of course it’s impossible to return to the very same tax rates that brought us the best economic growth in our history, because then their greed would have to return to a lower level, and as the Bible says, greed is perpetual and never ends. We gave them more and now their solution to fix our problems? You guessed it, they want even more! Isn’t that exactly what the Bible warns will happen? Did we not have wealthy Americans in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s? The answer is yes, they just weren’t as wealthy. Trickle Down Economics was the catalyst for the acceptance of greed. It gave those with the most more and any mention of taking it back is met with a horrific depictions of economic Armageddon.
Does it make any sense? Why would we face economic disaster by returning to tax rates that had no problem making millions of Americans a lot of money? The answer is simple: Greed. We’ve gave them access to reach unheard of levels of wealth. We’ve allowed them to see year to year profit as insufficient; they want larger profits. Success for next year is based on beating the success of last. As the Bible says, it is perpetual and never ending. How does this make any sense? Jesus warned that money is the root of all evil, and the apostle Paul wrote that the “love of money” is the cause of all evil. The Bible states repeatedly that greed leads to madness. Yet here we sit with one of the two most powerful political parties, in the strongest nation on earth, supporting an idea that we need to support greed or else face economic destruction.
And there you have it, cognitive dissonance. The reality is that exactly what the Bible said would happen did happen. Yet their political ideology completely contradicts the realities we’ve seen and those the Bible supports. They preach Christian values at the same time they advocate a policy that says giving into greed will benefit our society. They vehemently denounce abortion while advocating war and conquest, resulting in 1.2 million civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since 2001. So unborn babies get a great deal of attention in churches, but once you're born, you're screwed. The human brain simply can’t handle two conflicting realities, so it creates one of its own. The more we allowed the wealthy to have, the more they asked us to give. We did this to the detriment of our economy. If trickle down economics works, shouldn’t their success and our success mirror one another? As they gain, we gain. However, that isn’t what happened. The more they’ve gained, the more they wanted, and they've made sure they took it from everyone else.
Think of a small fishing boat. If weight is equally dispersed it’ll stay buoyant and afloat. But what if the weight shifts more forward or backwards, what happens? The boat becomes unstable. Now imagine if suddenly all the weight is shifted forward, what would happen? Simple – the boat will suddenly suffer instability, capsize then sink. As our nations’ wealth rushed to the Top 1% in the last decade, that’s exactly what happened, our boat capsized then sank. Does this contradiction between faith and political ideology suggest that conservatives believe Jesus supported greed? It looks to me like they believe he condemned homosexuals and demeaned women, and considered the poor as lazy people seeking a handout. So why not perpetuate the belief that He would have supported greed? Don’t let the Bible scriptures sway your views, it’s much easier to simply allow yourself to give into and concoct a delusional reality.
What conservatives have done is a complete distortion of the Christian faith. The so-called “prosperity gospel” doesn’t even fit into the very nature of what Jesus lived and died for. Every economic stance they support benefits the wealthy. How does it make any sense to have a portion of American society that pushes themselves as the Christian majority, the party of values and decency, and yet their entire economic stance contradicts what the Bible and Jesus says about greed? What conservatives claim to follow isn’t Christianity at all, and it sure doesn’t emulate Jesus. Remember what Jesus said about that, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”, meaning those who have the means to make a difference should do so unselfishly. Yet, to a conservative this is essentially “socialism”. It’s allegedly unfair. But isn’t Christianity about giving, loving, and helping those who cannot help themselves? These are the principles I try my best to live by as a Christian.
But I’m neither Republican or Democrat. I'm neither liberal nor conservative because I think there are good points to both sides. On one hand I could be considered conservative because I am in favor of small government and free enterprise. But I could also be considered liberal because I'm a firm believer in universal healthcare (no, not Obama-care because it seems woefully inadequate to the task), free higher education and a $12.00 per hour minimum wage. You know that the two-party US political monopoly lacks faith and morals. They envy the rich, and all of that rhetoric the “good” Christian Republicans use against people, yet none of it is true. Yet there they sit, a walking contradiction. A party who supports faith in God above anything and policies that favor greed over everything.
The Jesus I worship is a man who we should all strive to become because he is the Son of the Living God. Jesus was a man who didn’t judge, who stood for those who couldn’t stand for themselves, who never felt slighted or that life was unfair. Jesus was wary of people who spoke of God on their lips but lacked true faith in their hearts. He was a man who embraced everyone, even those who disagreed with him. A man who personified everything mankind should be. As for those conservatives, who knows what man they worship. If the policies they support are reflective of the faith they follow, it sure isn’t Christianity and that man sure wasn’t Jesus.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
I Was Just Wondering Why
More Christians Don't “Occupy”
In light of all the recent news reports about the rioting in Brazil and the civil war in Syria, I have recently concluded that an Occupy-style political movement is the next logical step in the evolution of the protests down there. A more illogical step would be an internal conflict as bad as Syria's has become, provided that the Brazilian government doesn't foolishly force the hands of the protesters to take more drastic action. This reminds me of the Occupy Wall Street movement worldwide. When “Occupy DC” got started on Oct. 6, 2011 at Freedom Plaza, I was there for the first three days before returning to Atlanta. But there is one thing I have noticed since becoming a part of this movement nearly two years ago. Trying to get a conservative American Christian to join the Occupy movement is like trying to get the Pope to convert to Judaism or persuading an orthodox Jew to convert to Islam. My informal research tells me that conservative Christians from other nations are far more politically liberal than their American counterparts.
Why is there such resistance by conservative American Christians to the Occupy movement? After all, aren't those in the Occupy movement trying to speak out for those in need and against an economic system based on greed? Why would any conservative American Christian not want to join a group that tells us that our future depends on how well we cooperate with each other? The same thing goes for the “We Are The 99%” movement, which I chronicled in my 2011 book, “Middle Class Manifesto”. I also can't imagine why any rational person would have a problem with people who are protesting against economic inequality and endless wars. And why would any American Christian not want to join a group that promotes a more participatory and balanced democracy than what we have now?
Lately, some writers from the Left have attributed the political convictions of American conservative Christians to their faith. So what we have is a group of people mixing their religion with their politics for personal gain. The problem with this line of reasoning is that there are conservative Christians who also promote social justice and support more liberal and even Leftist views. The majority of such Christians, however, are not American. This should give us a hint of why many conservative American Christians are not occupying today. The reason for why they are not occupying is not because of their faith but because of something else. But what would that something else be?
When one is raised as a conservative Christian in America, there are certain associations made with the faith. One such association is made between American patriotism and Christianity. We were taught since when we were born that our nation was founded as a Christian nation by Christian Founding Fathers. Therefore, the American way, at least back when America was still a Christian nation, is the Christian way, so to criticize our Founding Fathers is to ridicule God and protesting against this Christian nation of ours is tantamount to attacking the Gospel.
Any attempt at reconciling our nation's history with the notion that America was ever a Christian nation places enormous demands on one's logical skills. While it is true that many of our founding fathers were Christians, the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the America's indigenous people combined with our nation's abuse and persecution of Black Americans, both up through and after the Civil War up until the 1964 Civil Rights Act, along with our emerging empire and use of dictators as proxy rulers over other countries, make it problematic to reconcile our history with Jesus Christ. And even when our history is partially acknowledged by the conservative American Christians, there seems to be an emotional disconnect that protects such a Christian from the dissonance that would otherwise be clanging forth. That is, we might acknowledge some of the abuses in the past, but we can still seriously call ourselves a Christian nation and a "city on the hill" without batting an eye? In the end, what the patriotic American Christian is saying to the world is that, despite the evidence, we must feel good about ourselves. We demand our Constitutional right to self-exalt, forgetting Jesus' warning about this very thing when he said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but they who humble themselves will be exalted”.
And what goes for American Patriotism, goes for capitalism. After all, since capitalism is our economic system and we are a Christian nation, logic seems to dictate that capitalism has become God's preferred economy. We supplement this reason with some common sense, reasoning that since the greatest prosperity in the history of the world has been enjoyed by Americans and we practice capitalism, capitalism must be God's economy. Such an argument has a point. That is, we as a nation have experienced some of the greatest prosperity in the history of the world. But there is a problem lurking in the shadows. For just as we must acknowledge the high level of prosperity we have enjoyed, we must also ask a very damning question. That question is, when in the history of capitalism has it prospered without exploiting large numbers of people? Many times those who were exploited were hidden from the view of most Americans though their invisibility does not contradict the fact that they were exploited.
And so what caused the Occupy and the “99%” Movements to emerge in 2011 continues to this day, and that fact is that far too large of a percentage of Americans have now become the victims of the same capitalist economy that they helped create. All of our hard work was for nothing. In fact, it has backfired on us all in the worst possible way by making homeless people out of formerly middle class workers. This has angered a whole lot of people, and rightfully so since we are on the receiving end of economic and social injustice every time we turn around. As a result, we have the current Occupy/99% Movements. These movements are challenging American patriotism by opposing the endless wars for profit while challenging capitalism by insisting that people and their needs have priority over those profits. Thus, suggesting that being patriotic and practicing capitalism has spread more evil than good is to try to Occupy the Gospel because of the close association many conservative Christians have made between it and both patriotism and capitalism. They that do this are forgetting the historical reasons for Jesus' crucifixion. He preached against organized government, which infuriated the Romans, and against organized religion, which enraged the Jewish ruling council of that time. If Jesus came back today, the conservative Christians, Evangelicals, and Charismatics would crucify him all over again.
But there is still another reason why conservative American Christians have still not joined the Occupy movement. That is because the Occupy movement is seen as a protest movement that does not respect authority. From an early age, conservative American Christians were injected with spiritual steroids when being taught to respect authority, exclusively from Romans 13 of course while ignoring the 4 Gospels, so that we not only learned to respect authority, we were compelled to worship it. We see authority figures as our saviors, and that is idolatry! To challenge the authorities, as it states in Romans 13: verses 1-5, is to challenge God himself because it is God who has put in charge every authority figure.
A side effect of our hyper regard for authority can be seen in our preference for labels over concepts and thus for credentials over reason. For example, we have taught to so respect our conservative teachers that we now have great difficulty in distinguishing between between conservative theologies and conservative politics and between liberal theologies and liberal politics. As a result, some tend to uncritically accept the tenets of conservative politics, not because it is biblical, which it is not, but because it has the conservative label. Likewise others will automatically reject, and have a phobic reaction to, liberal and leftist policies because of that label. This knee-jerk acceptance of whatever is conservative and rejection of whatever not conservative enables authoritarianism. For examples of this we need only look to Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Kim Jong Un's North Korea, among numerous others. And just as self-exaltation is the reason why we equate American patriotism and capitalism with Christianity, so self-interest is the reason why we have a hyper regard for those in authority. That self-interest tells us to be good little boys and girls so that those in charge will reward us rather than spank us. And perhaps, it is a desire to remain children that leads us to authoritarianism's embrace over the self-rule that the Occupy and 99% Movements have been practicing. It is the desire to spend more time playing than making responsible decisions, to spend more time enjoying our trivial pursuits than being bogged down with the serious issues of life, and how we will be with one another that causes us to prefer rule by elites than autonomy. The reason why most conservative American Christians won't occupy isn't because of their faith, it is because of the extra ingredients added to their faith. Meaning, their faith is polluted with worldly things and concerns, another thing Jesus warned us about when he said, “A man cannot serve two masters. He will either cling to one and despise the other, or he will serve the other and reject the former. You cannot serve both God and materialism”.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Caring for the Poor and the Sick
Is Government's Biblical Obligation
Today I will be adding to last weekend's commentary about why universal health care is so important. This week I will take this discussion to the next level upward, how this applies to other governing authorities that include our health and general welfare. There is hardly a more controversial political battle in America today than that around the role of government. The ideological sides have lined up, and the arguments rage about the size of government: How big, how small should it be? But I want to suggest that what size the government should be is the wrong question. A more useful discussion would be about the purposes of government and whether ours is fulfilling them in a Christlike manner. So let's look at what the Bible says.
The words of the apostle Paul in the 13th chapter of Romans are perhaps the most extensive teaching in the New Testament about the role and purposes of government. Paul says those purposes are twofold: to restrain evil by punishing evildoers and to serve peace and orderly conduct by rewarding good behavior. Civil authority is designed to be "God's servant to do you good" as it is written:
“For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from the fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (Romans 13, verses 3-5, NIV)
Today we might say "the common good" is to be the focus and goal of government. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, just like the Declaration of Independence. So the purpose of government, according to the apostle Paul, is to protect and promote. Protect from the evil and promote the good, and we are even instructed to pay taxes for those purposes. So to disparage government per se — to see government as the central problem in society — is simply not a biblical position.
First, government is supposed to protect its people. That certainly means protecting its citizens' safety and security. Crime and violence will always be real in this world, and that's why we have the police, who are meant to keep our streets, neighborhoods, and homes safe. Governments also need to protect their people judicially, and make sure our legal and court systems are procedurally just and fair. The biblical prophets regularly rail against corrupt court decisions and systems, in which the wealthy and powerful manipulate the legal processes for their own benefit and put the poor into greater debt or distress. The prophet Amos speaks directly to the courts (and government) when he says, "Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts" (Amos 5:15 NIV).
But along with protecting, what should governments promote? The prophets hold kings, rulers, judges, and even employers accountable to the demands of justice and fairness, therefore promoting those values. And the Scriptures say that governmental authority is to protect the poor in particular. The biblical prophets are consistent and adamant in their condemnation of injustice to the poor, and frequently follow their statements by requiring the king (the government) to act justly. That prophetic expectation did not apply only to the kings of Israel but was also extended to the kings of neighboring lands and peoples. Jeremiah, speaking of King Josiah, said, "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well." Psalm 72 begins with a prayer for kings or political leaders: "Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king's son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor."
There is a powerful vision here for promoting the common good — a vision of "righteous" prosperity for all the people, with special attention to the poor and to "deliverance" for the most vulnerable and needy, and even a concern for the land. The biblical understanding of justice is that the procedures must be fair and it demands unbiased courts (Exodus 23:2-8; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; 10:17-19). That distributive justice, or fair outcome, is also a central part of justice not just from the hundreds of texts about God's concern for the poor, but also in the meaning of the key Hebrew words for justice. Time and again the prophets use the words “mishpat” and “tsedaqah” to refer to fair economic outcomes. Immediately after denouncing Israel and Judah for the absence of justice, the prophet Isaiah condemns the way rich and powerful landowners have acquired all the land by pushing out small farmers when he wrote:
“Now I will tell you what I am going to do in my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it. The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: 'Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants.' (Isaiah 5:7-9, NIV). It is important to note that even though in this text the prophet does not say the powerful acted illegally, he nevertheless denounces the unfair outcome.
The real truth is that fair outcomes do not always match equal outcomes. Indeed, the historical attempts by many Marxist governments to create equal outcomes have dramatically shown the great dangers of how the concentration of power in a few government hands has led to totalitarian results. The theological reason for that is the presence and power of sin, and the inability of such fallible human creatures to create social utopias on earth. Yet the biblical prophets do hold their rulers, courts, and judges, and landowners and employers accountable to the values of fairness, justice, and even mercy. The theological reasons for that are, in fact, the same: the reality of evil and sin in the concentration of power — both political and economic — and the need to hold that power accountable to justice, especially in the protection of the poor and the sick. So fair outcomes, and not equal ones, are the goal of governments. Governments should provide a check on powerful people, institutions, and interests in the society that, if left unchecked, might run over their fellow citizens, the economy, and certainly the poor.
If government is rendered unable to punish evil and reward good when it comes to the behavior of huge corporations and banks, for example, exactly who else is going to do that? And coming to a better moral balance in achieving fiscal responsibility, while protecting the poor, should be a bipartisan effort. The radically anti-government ideology of the current right wing Tea Party ideology is simply contrary to a more biblical view of government, the need for checks and balances, the sinfulness of too much concentrated power in either the government or the market, the responsibilities we have for our neighbor and the God-ordained purposes of government — in addition to the churches — in serving the common good and, in particular, to protect the poor and visit the sick.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Reflections On Being Put Out to Pasture Way Before My Time
Having just finished moving into my new subsidized housing unit, followed by a badly-needed 2-week vacation while I nursed my injured back, I think this would be a good place to pause and reflect on the recent occurrences in my life and my ministry. (Actually, it's God's ministry and not mine. I am merely a conduit through which his Spirit power can and does flow.) Although I seldom talk about myself on this website, this occasion can be one exception because it is so very relevant to what God has done for me in my life. If God can do all he has done for me and through me, then He can surely do it for you too.
I became disabled back in 2008 due to a mixture of medical issues that cropped up at about the same time. After being picked up off a sidewalk by paramedics due to a medical emergency, I spent the next 5 months in 2 different hospitals while my doctors put me back together again. Basically, God put me in his shop for an overhaul, sort of like restoring a vintage car or truck that still has plenty of good miles left. Prior to that, I was an IT worker and former computer shop owner, plus an electronics technician before that, for nearly 23 years. But I fell on hard times starting in 2008 right before the financial crash of that September. By the time I felt well enough to reenter the job market in 2010, it was too late for me and a multitude of others as well. I am in my 50's and a seasoned veteran of the technology business. Meaning, the corporate world thinks I'm too old and expensive to keep around. Why allow me to remain when they can hire 20-somethings right out of college for less than $20,000.00 a year? I have five degrees, diplomas or professional certifications hanging on the wall above my workstation here at home. In the old days, they were a ticket to my next job. Most recently, however, they have become liabilities instead of assets, which is why I was told, “You're overqualified” for every single position I applied for. It's age discrimination, pure and simple, and our country's lawmakers and judicial branch know it. By not doing their jobs by failing to stop this discriminatory practice, they condone its existence.
There was another factor coming into play here, and that was my credit – or more accurately, the lack of it. I had incurred well over $300,000.00 in hospital bills that I couldn't pay because I had no health insurance for purely economic reasons. Naturally, this pretty much trashed my credit, and that in and of itself pretty much ended my job search right then and there. The brutal reality is that if one has bad credit, obtaining a job – nearly any job – is difficult at best, and a complete waste of time at its worst. And that is exactly what I ran into, until I was eventually forced to end my job search for good. I didn't do that for 2 more years, up until about the first year that I was finally, and mercifully, put on disability. But this is not the end of the story.
I felt well enough to return to work at that point, but I was unable to do so. There are millions of older American workers like myself who have experienced the premature end of their careers. We live in the age of the disposable human being, and all of us are living proof. Between so-called “right to work” states like Georgia where I live, the systematic attenuation of the power of organized labor, and the mass outsourcing of formerly American jobs overseas for pennies on the dollar, the American worker has been hammered by a hostile and brutally competitive work environment. Is it any wonder that the sole reason that one out of every three people go to their jobs is only because they have to? Or, here's another factoid for you. One out of every four US workers over age 50 who are long-term unemployed will never work again. That's one fourth of all our grandparents, aunts and uncles. It is blatant, in-your-face age discrimination, and it is being allowed to run rampant while government regulatory bodies who are charged with policing this very situation look the other way, or are asleep at the switch.
After some careful evaluation of my situation and the circumstances in which I found myself, I decided that what I needed to do was to go back to school. So I went out and I landed interviews with a well-known local university and with 2 for-profit trade schools. The university refused to give me credit for my 2-year degree, nor for any of my professional certifications. I couldn't believe it, I was absolutely floored. Then I talked to the 2 vocational colleges I mentioned. Unfortunately my credit score wasn't high enough for me to qualify for a student loan at both places. And so the die was cast. I tried to go back to work and back to school only to come up short on both counts. All I wanted to do was to better myself, to become something more than I was, but I had been denied the opportunity to do so. This got me to thinking about a statistic I had used in my 2011 book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, which I wrote while all this was going on.
Back in the mid-1940's, at the end of World War 2, America had hundreds of thousands of returning soldiers from the battlefields of the Pacific and of Europe and North Africa. Their only two jobs skills were marksmanship with their weapons and hiking through all kinds of terrain for very long distances. So Congress passed the G. I. Bill, one of the smartest things (for Washington) they have ever done. It gave every returning infantryman, artillery and tank operator, Navy, Marine and Air Force service member a fully funded 4-year degree as a way to start their careers, and that's exactly what it did, resulting in the greatest economic boom seen up until that time. Well, if they could do this back then, why can't they do it now? Why can't Congress, the US business community and the Department of Education make a joint effort and bring this to fruition? People need jobs, they need to have an income and be self-sustaining. If our old jobs are gone overseas, then fine, train us to perform new ones instead of simply throwing us away! Hey, Congress and Wall Street, we are living, breathing human beings. We are not like a tank of gas in your car or truck. You can't simply use us until we are all used up and then just go get more, you can't treat people like that and get away with it for very long. Sooner or later, our patience will have run out, corporate America and Congress and all the rest of you too. What will you do then? What will you do when huge mobs of hungry and enraged people who can't feed themselves, let alone their families, descend upon your gingerbread mansions that dot the landscape at that private golf course you belong to? What will you do when we storm your high-rise condos and your gated neighborhoods looking for food and anything else that's not bolted down? And what will you 1% 'ers become as a result? That's right. Dinner.
But we can't afford to do that, I can already hear the arch-conservatives inside the beltway saying. We have a $17 trillion dollar deficit to make up. It's a financial emergency! And besides, that's socialism. Well, if this is socialism then so was the G. I. Bill, so was Medicare and Social Security, and so was the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. And Franklin Roosevelt, our president at that time, was no socialist either. What he actually was closer to being is what we would call a Progressive president using today's political terminology, or a Populist from 100 years ago during Teddy Roosevelt's presidency. And that brings me to my point.
I wanted to return to work, and I still do. I most definitely do not want to retire in my fifties as I am currently. I even refer to myself as “involuntarily retired” sometimes when I blog or post as I am now doing. But instead I find myself forced out of the job market, possibly for good. Do you know what this tells me? It tells me that my government would rather have me scraping by on a $10,000.00 annual disability income because, to their warped way of thinking, it's cheaper than paying me a living wage. Keep me idle until I eventually atrophy away from a lack of work. We don't want you around, I am being told by the powers that be, because you cost too much and because you are getting to the age when you might actually need to use that insurance coverage you have been paying for all this time. We can't take a chance on that occurring because then we would be spending money on you instead of making money – big money – from your labor.
OK then, all you 1% 'ers, if you don't want to do that, if you won't let me work here, teach me some new skills so I can work somewhere else instead. It's time to speak truth to power, people! Is there anyone reading this who doubts the accuracy of what I am writing? Then I will give you an example taken from the same 2011 book I mentioned just above. If the US military took all the money currently being spent on the pointless and obscenely wasteful war and occupation in Afghanistan for just one day, and then put that single day's expenditure into an interest-bearing account of most any kind, there would be enough money there to send every schoolkid in America – from pre-K on up – through 4 years of college, fully funded, even including their internet access, laundry, food and transportation, plus a new portable computer for each student. That's right, my dear readers, we can do this with only one day's total of the money spent in Afghanistan. So the next time you hear someone or read something that says we can't afford to retrain US workers who are long-term unemployed, you know that either it's untrue or that individual is one of those people who can't stand to see anyone else get ahead except themselves. And they are out there, of that you can be sure.
And so the answer here is crystal-clear. Put Americans back to work. Remember that everybody, no matter who they are or where they are from, has the right to a livelihood and to a living wage, enough for the basic sustenance of at least 1-2 people. And the Bible also says, “The worker is worth his wages”, meaning all workers are worth a living wage, starting in America and spreading world wide from there on outward. If there are no jobs for them, then train them for new ones. The possibilities are endless, and a living wage is Scriptural.
But what do we have instead? A hopelessly rigged economic and political system where no one but the top 1% get ahead, and the rich are most certainly not shy about it. Even healthcare suffers from this malady, having experienced a little of this myself. I get my prescriptions and go to my doctor appointments at a steep discount due to my being disabled. If I went back to work now, I would have to take a huge pay cut. So massive, in fact, that I would no longer be able to pay for my prescriptions. The reason is that if I go back to work I would lose those very benefits that help me sustain myself. In that case I would be worse off than before when I wasn't working. Ironic, isn't it? My medical problems are fine as long as I remain as I am, but if I return to work full-time then I can't pay my doctors and my pharmacist. That's the way the cookie crumbles in this upside-down, bass-ackwards world that we are all stuck living in. But it doesn't have to be this way. Having some form of national health insurance (such as single-payer Medicare) would remove the tremendous burden of providing health insurance from the backs of businesses and governments, not to mention individuals. It would give all American taxpayers and US businesses a big boost that would make America's economy robust again. Besides, the USA is the last developed country in the world that does not have health insurance for its citizens. It's about time that this is brought to an end.