A Warning To The United States From Someone Who Cares
One of the primary purposes of this ministry is to stand up to social injustice in all its forms. I firmly believe that any minister who does not do this is simply not doing his or her job while occupying the pulpit. In that case, all they are doing is collecting money every Sunday morning for the sake of profit and materialism, forgetting that Jesus preached against this very thing over and over again. But don’t take my word for it, it’s in all four gospels, go and read it for yourself. Although Jesus did take His ministry to the religious establishment of his day, which centered around the temple at Jerusalem of that time, he was rejected and ultimately executed by them just as the Old Testament prophets foretold. Instead, He went to the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalized people who otherwise had no voice at all. He ministered to the sick and to those who had nothing with the knowledge that the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ is far better than material possessions. I try my best to emulate this mind-set in my ministry in order that my words and actions may most accurately imitate Christ the Lord.
In today’s world there is social injustice everywhere you look. A veritable class war is ongoing here in the USA, throughout the Middle East, and in Europe that has the wealthy accumulating ridiculous amounts of wealth that are downright obscene, and all at the expense of the middle and working classes who are being economically decimated as a result. This illegal and immoral accumulation of wealth is unparalleled in world history. The signs and indicators of this obscene wealth that has fallen into the hands of an elite minority are everywhere. Mass unemployment is at every turn and stands at stubbornly high levels. If we look at the true levels of unemployment, which by definition must include those who are underemployed (working part time at one or more jobs when full-time employment is both desired and required), the true level of unemployment exceeds 19% in the US alone, not counting the rest of the developed world. Instead of creating more jobs that are the hallmark of any economic recovery, fewer and fewer people are doing more work for less pay. The rest of US and European workers are increasingly finding themselves out in the cold, often literally. In the meantime, those lucky individuals who still have jobs run the increasing risk of having their jobs out-sourced overseas for pennies on the dollar, or being replaced by workers from the third world who are being imported by none other than the federal government to work for wages that are a fraction of their American counterparts. As this is happening, the unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan plus the clandestine wars being wage on every continent, are costing the US government $6 billion dollars each week, money that could be much better spent here at home to create some badly needed new jobs.
Clearly this is unsustainable and will bankrupt the country, if indeed we are not there already. American capitalism and the American empire have nearly run their course as a result, and I maintain that capitalism as we have known it is on the deathbed of history where all empires from history go to when they die. America is in decline while the third world continues to develop rapidly. The economies of China, Russia, India and Brazil will all overtake the US economy by 2050 at the latest, with China in the lead (the Chinese economy will be the world’s largest by no later than 2020, a mere 8 years away).
This is a series of social injustices that could be ended by creating jobs through large public works programs to give US infrastructure a badly needed overhaul and by an accelerated and invigorated space program, mankind’s final frontier. Instead, American workers are being thrown away by multinational corporations as being no longer useful, especially older workers, resulting in a wave of homelessness not seen since the 1930’s. The majority of today’s homeless population is college educated, not stereotypical street bums. Not by a long shot. And that is a great social injustice.
The American empire is dying, of that we can be sure. The time to make alternative plans is upon us now. As the Great Recession grinds on, politicians in most industrial countries have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the supposed coming economic recovery. Some say the recession is over. Obama is in the group that claims we’re on “the road to recovery,” while other nations can only spot recovery “on the horizon.” Below are seven important social phenomena that point to a more realistic economic and political outlook.
1) Central Banks are Dumbfounded. The usual tricks that U.S. and European central banks use to avoid recessions are long-exhausted. Interest rates cannot get any lower. And because cheap money wasn’t working, the printing press was turned up a notch, into what the U.S. federal reserve calls quantitative easing — injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into the world economy, escalating an emerging trade war.
2) Trade War. For a global economy to grow, global cooperation is needed. But in a major recession all countries engage in a bitter struggle to dominate foreign markets so that their own corporations can export. These markets are won by devaluing currencies (accomplished in the U.S. by quantitative easing), installing protectionist measures (so that a nation’s corporations have monopoly dominance over the nation’s consumers), or by war (a risky but highly effective form of market domination).
3) Military War. Foreign war is a good symptom of economic decay. The domination of markets — every inch of them — become an issue of life and death importance. Wars have been unleashed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Pakistan. “Containing” economies like China and “opening” economies like Iran and North Korea become more urgent during a major recession, requiring brute force and creating further global instability in all realms of social life.
4) U.S. Economy at a Standstill. The most important consumer market in the world, the U.S. is a nation of nearly bankrupt consumers. Nearly thirty million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, while further job losses are certain, due to nearly every state’s budget deficit. The New York Times explains: “Now states are bracing for more painful cuts, more layoffs, more tax increases, more battles with public employee unions, more requests to bail out cities. And in the long term, as cities and states try to keep up on their debts, the very nature of government could change as they have less money left over to pay for the services they have long provided.” (12-05-10)
5) Bailout Capitalism. First it was the banks and other corporations that needed bailing out, and now whole nations. Western nations bailed out their banks by falling into the massive debt that they are now drowning in. Greece and Ireland have been bailed out, with eyes shifting to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The entire European Union is being called into question as the Euro takes a beating in the bailout spree. If the EU is dismantled, the shock waves will quickly reach other economies.
6) Bailout Repercussions. All western nations — including the U.S. and England — are grappling with their national debts. Rich bond investors are demanding that these countries drastically reduce their deficits, while also demanding that the deficits be reduced on the backs of working families, instead of rich investors. This is tearing the social fabric apart, as working and poor people see their social programs under attack. In Europe mass movements are erupting in France, Spain, Portugal, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, etc. Social stability is a prerequisite for a recovered economy, but corporate politicians everywhere are asking much more than working people are willing to give.
7) The Far Right Emerges. To deal with working people more ruthlessly, the radical right is being unleashed. In normal times these bigots yell furiously but no one listens. But in times of economic crisis they’re given endless airtime on all major media outlets. The message of the far right promotes all the rottenness not yet eradicated by education: racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, violence, and a backward nationalism that fears all things “foreign.” These core beliefs effectively divide working people so that a concerted campaign against the corporate elite is harder to wage. Meanwhile, labor unions, progressives, and other working class organizations are instead targeted. The above phenomena do not happen in a normal economic cycle of boom and bust. These symptoms point to a larger disease in the international economic system, a disease that cannot be cured by politicians who swear allegiance to this deteriorating system and to the wealthy elite who benefit from it. To ensure that the economic system is changed so that working people benefit, large-scale collective action is necessary, based on demands that unite the majority of working people: a massive job-creation program at the expense of Wall Street, no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a moratorium on home foreclosures, passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, and so on. With the unions in the lead promoting these demands, working people could put up a real fight.
The best solution that I can think of, then, that takes care of all this and more, is to come up with an innovative, effective and efficient nonprofit economy. Here are a few examples of what I mean: What’s the underlying cause of the skyrocketing prices of fuel, groceries, college tuition, and medical care including the cost of private health insurance? All of the above industries needed more operating capital to keep going due to rising prices for goods and services that they purchase. But even more basic than that – the least common denominator – is the current corporate business model, where the shareholders needs come first instead of the customers and employees of the firm. More profits must be generated for this cadre of people whose demands for ‘more’ are only exceeded by their self-importance. What if this weren’t true? What if the hundreds of billions in profits that each one of these enormous multinational corporations racks up each year were returned to the employees so they, and not the shareholders who don’t do a damn thing anyway, can share in the profits? If you multiply 500, the number of Fortune Magazine’s biggest corporations, by all those hundreds of billions in profits they each made, that comes to a sum of money so huge that my calculator won’t display the answer – it doesn’t have enough memory.
If the US wants to clean up its act, a nonprofit economy would be a very good place to start. Let’s spend this week thinking of all the things we could do for each other and the whole world with the money that, as I write this, is still being hoarded by the few. Let’s invent fair and equitable ways we can peacefully distribute it to the many.