25 September 2008

on the road again

I recall a Lutheran pastor observing that if we disobey the ten commandments we probably do not have to wait for Hell and Damnation. The society around us will respond if we commit murder, engage in false witness or otherwise disobey.

"Thou shalt not steal."

What do we call it when the gap between high level executive compensation and worker compensation grows exponentially? What do we call it when poverty in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico is horrible and the oil still flows? What do we call the use of undocumented aliens who pay our withholding taxes but never can claim their social security or refunds? What do we call a system that condemns young girls to forced prostitution in Thailand and kids to sweatshop jobs making rich kids' shoes in Viet Nam?

I call it theft.

We not only steal cattle we steal hope and lives. We steal the future. When we set up systems that finance 120% of the value of a property, so the housing market is hyper inflated by speculators, when we nationalize risk while privatizing profit for the very rich, we are stealing the future.

Consequences come will he -- nil he.

We will find someone to blame. That is why these are particularly scary times. Evil comes out when people are scared. The old Rom proverb is, "Never trust the Christians in the villages. They always seek someone outside to blame." Not much has changed since the Rom left their wagons and the villagers moved to cities. We still blame gays, Jews, Rom -- anyone we see as 'other.' It is a time to stop stealing from our future. We have been as a society, living on the greed, theft and speculation that have brought us to crisis. We have abandoned the idea of the common good and social contract.

We do not need a bailout, we need to hear Charles Dickens as he preaches social justice not as a function of government, but as a function of reformed men and women. We need to spend some time with the ghosts of Christmas and then wake up. We need to stop stealing the future, blaming the outcasts and using taxes to make the system look like it functions.


Fred Preuss said...

I never understood the point of that story.
The worst the Ghost of the Future does to Scrooge is show him his grave.
What does that mean? That if Scrooge gives all his money away he'll live forever?
We're supposed to be all choked up that someone stole his shirt from him after he'd died-of what possible use is his shirt to him dead?
At the end, whether he gave a lot of money away or not, he still died and he still had a grave. Both Scrooge and Tiny Tim are decaying in the ground.

JimB said...

Dickens use of his character's fear of dying alone and being remembered as a bad guy as a motivation for Scourge's change is not the whole point of the story.


Fred Preuss said...

Don't mean to be a nag, but then what is the whole point of the story?
Even if I have a good reputation with many people, all of those people will one day die themselves, taking their memories with them.

JimB said...


Dicken's point was that there are things we each value that are more important than individual wealth. Or so I read it.


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