The Instinct to Political and Economic Suicide – Sympathy for the Devil

The Greek voters decided to go with the bail-out party rather than the “damn the torpedoes” left. There is a part of me that is happy for my retirement funds and a part of me that is disappointed that the people of Greece decided not to stick it in the eye of the European elite.  Sometime, somewhere, somehow some one is going to walk away from the the government/bank feudal overlords who have made it impossible to walk away while they ring every last cent from the working poor.

Russ Douthat puts it this way in his NYT column:

When a system the entire European establishment promised would deliver prosperity and stability delivers political paralysis and 20 percent unemployment, it becomes hard to convince voters that they have much to lose by listening to extremists and radicals instead.

Second, countries that vote to stay the course now may find that they lose their right to vote at all in the future. The answer to the current crisis, every eurocrat agrees, is further integration: In the words of Germany’s Angela Merkel, “not just a currency union,” but also “a so-called fiscal union, more common budget policies … [and] above all a political union.”

Unelected technocrats are calling the shots for the 27 nations of the Eurozone.

Now the only way to restore national sovereignty is to flirt with economic suicide, the devil himself, economically speaking.

Americans have an instinct toward sovereignty. But we found out during the 2008 crisis that the choice before us was to let the banks get away with it, actually pay their top brass more money, and allow them to consolidate power into now just five large banks instead of the larger number before the crisis so that “too big to fail” continues was a way of life — and all of this at taxpayer expense OR face economic ruin. The gun was to the head of the citizen.

In this situation many Americans felt themselves flirting with economic suicide. If the way to stop the madness was economic collapse for a time, so be it. Better be rid of these cannibals and take a trip through hell than pay one more bank fee. The New Hampshire motto sprung to life again – live free or die. The banks called out cards and the citizens folded. You can get some idea from this what was happening in Greece.

At some point dignity and honor are sufficiently trammeled underfoot that economic survival’s luster begins to tarnish. How far does the wage earner go before he finds that he is in fact a slave and is without choices? How long before he finds out that it can and will only get worse? Maybe at some point the citizen will pull the trigger and stop the madness of debt, higher taxes as a way of life, and the collusion of banking and government.

I have had many friends over the years who have committed economic suicide over a principle. They have had jobs and careers that went a step too far in demanding that they sell their soul to something destructive and dark, to participate in an act or loyalty that was so destructive of the human spirit, theirs and others, that they had to walk away.

Soon there might be enough of those people who had rather suffer in the fight for a new way than succumb to the darkness rolling in. Some Greek citizens saw the feudalism for what it was and simply said “no more.” Maybe the banks’ awareness that they are jeopardizing their own interests will warn them to pull back. Probably not. But who will wade into the waters?

Meanwhile the church is quiet over this new slavery. It rightfully deals with many of the moral issues that threaten human flourishing. But is virtually absent from this discussion. I wonder why.

 

 

Blaming the Greeks

In the press the Greeks are portrayed as those who deserve the pain of austerity – their early retirement age, socialized medicine, lax tax collection, corrupt politics, etc. And there is certainly truth in the portrait of Greece as a state that has a long track record of attempts to avoid economic realities.

The way out is bankruptcy. Why won’t Greece simply declare themselves bankrupt, unable to pay its debts? It obviously cannot print more money and inflate the currency because it is now a part of the Eurozone.

The reason it can’t declare bankruptcy is that the powers that be are forcing Greece to accept loans so that Greece can capitalized the banks which then turn around and loan that money back to Greece at higher interest rates. In other words, the way that Greece is right now is good for the banks. It is the individual taxpayer that must fund the loans through government debt, which we know in America through our own experience of indebtedness.

If governments declare bankruptcy, it is the banks that lose. The political clout of the banks keep governments from declaring bankruptcy and starting with a clean slate. Of course, there are pains that come with bankruptcy, but far less painful than the constant back and forth of loans which simply increases the government’s debts.

As you know, when individuals are in debt and can’t pay, they simply keep getting into more debt. They borrow money to pay back money they don’t have. Then they not only add more interest payments to their debt, as well as the principal of the loan, they also start paying penalties and fees. Most people are familiar with being late with a credit card payment, paying a fee for a late payment and then seeing the interest rate jack up from 12% to 21%. The bank actually ends up making more money through this indebtedness than if the borrower paid the full amount on time. The one thing they don’t want you to do is declare bankruptcy and ruin the Ponzi scheme. Banks make it impossible to get out of debt in a reasonable way. Once you are at a disadvantage, they move in for the financial payoff.

It is the person who is lowest on the totem pole who will bear the weight of these loan schemes. And everything is geared to that person not walking away from that debt. Once they do, the whole thing collapses. And having that person in that condition is in the banks interest to begin with, or at least banks as they now are, not as they at one time have been.

So, there is the pain of bankruptcy or the pain of increasing debt. Either way, Greece is going to be in pain. There is no way for this not to happen. But now that they are on the ropes, it is in the economic interest of other entities to keep then there. They make money off this misery. And the more down Greece is, the more money can be made from them.

Greece should declare bankruptcy. When you look at American finances, we are a bigger Greece. The size of our economy and our ability to kick the can down the road is greater. Our debt load is immense and the unfunded liabilities staring us down in the future are beyond our ability to pay. But it is in financial community’s interest for it to be this way. The taxpayer is bankrolling the excessive debt so that the banks don’t take a hit. It’s perfect for the banks. Of course, when it all collapses, they will collapse along with it. But immediate gain is a drug that they can’t turn down. And they will keep taking pops until Armaggedon.

The engine of capitalism is making loans of money for business ventures. This makes things possible that otherwise would not be possible. But it must be done carefully with appropriate restraints. Otherwise the financial markets will actually destroy the ability of business to do business. It is in the interest of the taxpayer to seriously regulate financial markets to put brakes on what becomes unfettered power and the ability to create feudal slavery.

 

An Incredible Story of Creative Response to the Food Deserts of the Inner City

On Book TV Will Allen recounts his career change from a former professional basketball player and executive at Procter & Gamble to urban farmer.   In 1993, Mr. Allen, CEO of Growing Power, bought a two-acre plot of land in close proximity to Milwaukee’s biggest housing project.  From this initial purchase, Mr. Allen created an urban farm that now grows forty tons of vegetables and raises 100,000 fish that can feed ten thousand people a year.

Growing Power is a non-profit that obtains urban plots of land to grow good food near those communities which live in the middle of food deserts, where there are no grocery stores.

Give Allen’s presentation a watch.

No Matter How Much Money We Pour into Education We Can’t Make Parents Care

I have been reading over Mitt Romney’s education plan. I can’t remember a candidate running for office who didn’t put education on the front burner and promise to change things for good. And still, here we are!!!

The reality is that no matter how many resources are poured into public education, there is no lever that can be switched on to make parents care. And that is the critical piece – a home where parents focus, set aside their personal needs, prioritize their lives, put down the booze, keep out of the malls, simplify and streamline life, manage their evenings as well as their days, and keep their kids on the education path. Can you buy something that will replace that? Can you overcome what happens when parents actually choose to work at cross purposes to a successful education for their children?

As in so many other things, the home has been loosed from its moorings to stable and attentive family units. What our kids are going through in our homes is the national crisis. What our kids have to see and endure as so many parents live out of control lives is the scandal. For 40 years as a Pastor I have seen what kids have to go through because the real kids are the adults.

According to  a recent demographic concerning some of the riots over tuition increases in Great Britain last year, the startling figure that I recall is that in over 40% of British households children have never seen an adult in the home get up and go to work. The welfare system is so out of control that personal responsibility for one’s own well being is no longer a major part of the national consciousness.

America, I believe, is increasingly aware that there is an end game here. Moral renewal is the need of the hour. It is not a matter of churches imposing their morality on society. It’s about society empty of moral nourishment and knowing it.

The Preacher Who Could Have Been Rich But Who Has Nothing to Sell

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that John Piper could have been a very rich man. Instead he works hard to offer the Gospel to all free of charge.

I have been scanning the web for some resources for use in church and ministry. There is a lot of good stuff. Lots. And it cost serious money to make that good stuff available – hours of labor, production costs, distribution costs, website costs, etc. It is not a moral problem to charge for the things it cost so much to “put on the table” to feed the flock.

But it sure is a moral surprise to see it offered for free by John Piper’s ministry. Donors make sure this can happen. And John makes sure it can happen by not being the middle man who takes the toll charge for all who want to ride on the road he opens up. He receives no royalties from his books. He lives on the salary the church pays him.

I won’t mention the names of other high profile preachers/teachers who don’t do this. And I know for a fact how enriching this is to some – I mean literally enriching. Their lavish lifestyles are all over the papers and a scandal to the Gospel. Piper’s  most famous book, Desiring God, is free as a PDF. What author takes his bestseller and makes it free??

The resources at desiringgod.org form a virtual library of Bible teaching and ministry – FREE TO THE USER.

This is how it ought to be. This is what one of this kind of influence should want to do.

For a period of time I was able to donate to desiring god to help get this done, and I am not even a Calvinist but an Arminian. Piper’s instinct is to move toward the Bible, raise it up as the very mind of God expressed to us, and therefore precious beyond any measure or imagining. His heart is as my heart. And then, in keeping with the grace he exalts, he offers it graciously free to all who would come, read, listen and watch.

Gold is Uncivilized – Warren Buffet

Buffet has let it be know that those who wish to return to the gold standard are uncivilized. This is as if the Wall Street and government collusion are civilized. In fact, the ability of governments to print money to prop up betting and failed banks is a civilized thing to do, as Buffet would define civilized. Look at what is happening across the globe in financial markets and see if you can call this the apex of progressive civilization. It is government’s willingness to manipulate the worth of money that is devastating so many.  It is war by another means – war on the poor and the powerless.

If I had to do ministry over again and work for social justice in my way, economic systems is where I would focus. The usual bugaboos of the church are racism and war. As I mentioned previously, while John Piper has written a book titled Bloodlines dealing with racism, someone should be writing a book titled Banklines.

The way it works is that the wealthy always have the right to more and should never risk a loss. Nothing new there, except that with the wonderful gift of technology they are able to manipulate at levels heretofore unimagined and they wonderfully spin the tale that it is the poor’s own fault.  After all, they say, this is capitalism with its invisible hand of risk and loss. The spin is at that the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are, in fact, pigs. They have it coming to them. Let austerity rule the day. But, in fact, the loss of banks who lent money to the PIGS needs to be shored up. No matter what, the banks should not lose money.

If Evangelicals want to speak truth to power, let them take on the entrenched interests of Wall St, the banks and governments. If they do, they will find out how powerful these entities really are.

Here is a video you might want to view. Go to the 12:42 mark.