Why God Hates Inequality
by Rev. Paul J. Bern
In a continuation of my ongoing efforts to bring Christianity, current events and a relationship with Jesus Christ into the 21st century, I wish to bring to your attention a newspaper headline posted earlier this week on Linked-In by a colleague of mine. The headine, which was reposted from www.popularrestance.org, reads, “Detroit Stops Residential Water Cut-Offs”, and a few selected highlights are as follows:
“Detroit — The city’s water department this week plans to step up enforcement of overdue business accounts to collect tens of millions in lost revenue, but it won’t shut off residential water until a proven safety net is in place. Although there are 26,000 residential accounts with outstanding balances, officials said they will target commercial accounts first. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is seeking compliance from 2,044 delinquent commercial accounts to avoid shut-offs. Those customers owe DWSD about $20 million, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for a new regional water authority set to go into effect in July…… There will be a point when the department does have to resume shutting off water to delinquent residential accounts, ….but after the shut-offs caused a national uproar last year, the city wants to be certain all eligible residents know about — and take advantage of — payment assistance programs…… The approach is in stark contrast to the widespread residential shut-offs that kicked off last March. The aggressive campaign angered residents, activists and civic groups, spurring protests over the city’s treatment of delinquent water customers……”
Formerly middle class people, and a whole lot of poor folks including people of color, are having their most basic rights taken away by runaway government and their out-of-control police departments. Access to running water is a fundamental human right. Period. End of story. To forcibly remove – by turning off or forcibly cutting off – anyone’s access to running water is a crime as far as I am concerned. The Bible says in the Book of Proverbs chapter 29, verse 7, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern”. That’s God’s take on poverty in a nutshell. “The poor you will always have”, Jesus said not long before His crucifixion, “but you will not always have me”. The poor are humankind’s responsibility, starting with the churches. Shelter falls into the same category as water – it too is a basic human right. Even the earliest humans from 100,000+ years ago slept in caves, long before the invention of written language, and before the discovery of fire and the wheel. Moreover, I wrote in my 2011 book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, which is still available in paperback from this website or as an e-book from Amazon (ISBN #9780615494036), that people everywhere have “The right to affordable housing and the fundamental right to shelter regardless of economic status. We have a responsibility as a civilized society to end homelessness.”
Here in the city of Atlanta where I live, there are lots of boarded up and abandoned houses (there’s plenty in the suburbs, too, but most of those aren’t on the bus line). There are also a lot of homeless people, mainly because Georgia is one of those states whose minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25 an hour. Any way you slice and dice it, a single person who makes minimum wage can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Georgia. So there are a slowly growing number of squatters who are living in these abandoned houses, nearly all without the benefit of water or electric hook-up. When the police catch them, and they do so routinely, they are taken to jail. OK, now let’s review this. The cops catch some luckless squatter, who is living in a house that nobody wants. Since that person is considered to be a trespasser under Georgia law, and since the majority of the squatters are also usually black, they are taken immediately to a county jail where it will cost the taxpayers upwards of $60.00 a day to detain them. So, there are some who think it’s better to spend $60.00 a day to house otherwise harmless petty criminals than it is to let them sleep in abandoned structures at night where they are bothering no one. No one seems to care about the fact that incarcerating these people is an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers. I understand that they’re trespassing on someone’s property, but if that is something that must be enforced then why is the structure abandoned and in disrepair? The answer, brothers and sisters, is greed. The property owners, many of whom live out of state and who want nothing to do with these properties because they owe back property taxes on them, will not hesitate to press charges against some poor homeless man, or a homeless single parent with small children, for sleeping on a front porch on a rainy night.
Indeed, the circumstances and situations that the middle and working classes in the US find themselves in today are a series of gross social injustices that demands a sharply focused and well-coordinated response from the entire populace, a rebuttal and decisive counterattack designed and intended to right, correct and re-balance US political power back into the hands of the overwhelming majority of American citizens to whom it rightfully belongs. There can be no doubt that class warfare has been declared in the US, perpetrated by the wealthy top 1% against the middle and working classes, for the sole express purpose of eliminating from society the Constitutional majority of working Americans, with the end result being the complete and merciless liquidation of middle and working class wealth, general prosperity, and even our health. This has been accomplished by the largest transfer of wealth in all of human history, and it has been manifested in three different ways. First, the employment of working Americans, particularly of the US working class, has been decimated by closing down manufacturing facilities and shipping jobs overseas to the third world for pennies on the dollar. Second, the retirement savings of the middle and working classes have been severely compromised or even liquidated altogether by the crooked and devious manipulations of Wall Street bankers, market speculators, hedge fund managers and corporate boards of directors who engineered the largest swindle in human history back in 2008. This criminal act resulted in the US government bailout know as TARP, an $850 billion bank robbery of the US Treasury conceived and carried out by the same Ponzi-schemers who ran the US economy into the ground in the first place. Third, the largest transfer of wealth in human history is being enforced by runaway prices for college and university tuition that are being deliberately engineered by wealthy elitists for the sole express purpose of putting higher education financially out of reach for an increasing majority of the ever-vanishing American middle class.
There are tens of millions of formerly middle class people – of whom I am one, I was in IT – from all across the country who find themselves in similar circumstances to varying degrees of severity. Many have not been as fortunate as me. They have lost jobs or entire careers like I did, been forced out into the street due to the epidemic of foreclosures throughout the land, had their cars repossessed, leaving them with no way to get to work assuming that they are lucky enough to still have jobs, and are hounded by collection agencies for debts great and small. They have no access to health care except to show up at the local emergency room with no way to pay the bill, putting them even deeper into debt than they already are. They have watched their pensions and their retirement savings evaporate due to market manipulations by unscrupulous “financial managers” who earn obscene bonuses whether they succeed or fail, and all at the expense of the small investors who have the most to lose. Either that or they have spent their savings during interminably lengthy periods of unemployment after their jobs were downsized or out-sourced overseas to the third world, never to return again. And their children, the ones lucky enough to be able to go to college, are graduating with crushing student loan debts that will take decades to repay if they can be repaid at all, depending on whether they can find suitable work or not. What good is a four-year degree if you wind up flipping hamburgers, selling shoes or digging ditches? Meanwhile, the best jobs, the best educations, and the best incomes are reserved for the wealthiest people and their families.
No more will we stand and stare or sit and grumble about having our houses, jobs, cars, savings, health, higher education and our retirements forcibly taken away wholesale while an ever greater portion of American wealth is concentrated into the hands of a small minority of multimillionaires. It is time for the middle and working classes to put our collective foot down and say ”no more”. The time has arrived for us to take back our country by any and all means possible. It is time for political power to be taken out of the hands of corporate America and their invading hordes of lobbyists who would presume to take over our country by means of economic warfare, and to place it back into the hands of “we the people”, the true owners of this great country of ours. And we will do so knowing that history and our founding fathers are on our side, because they left us with a sacred document known as the Constitution of the United States that guarantees us that right. Our free speech and freedom of expression that are guaranteed under the First Amendment, as well as our right to keep and bear arms and to form militias that are guaranteed under the Second Amendment, will not be compromised or trampled upon. We will demonstrate in the streets, we will besiege government buildings, we will bombard our congressmen and women with phone calls and emails, we will form new political parties, we will organize and build labor unions, we will blockade wealthy neighborhoods, we will organize peaceful public events and non-violent sit-ins, we will call general strikes and consumer boycotts, and we will not stop until the balance of power in this country undergoes a paradigm shift back into the hands of hard-working Americans, as well as the millions of people who want jobs and can’t find them.
Let there be no mistake, America is ripe for mass civil disobedience, even for outright revolution. The conditions and circumstances in which the middle and working classes find themselves has become intolerable. Personally, I am a very patient and thoughtful man. I work hard each day to be slow to speak and quick to listen because I know from experience that there is much wisdom to be derived from living my life this way. But by the same token, I am a Christian man and Web evangelist who stands against social injustice and economic inequality, and whose patience is at its end. Just as surely as Jesus preached against the political and religious establishment of His day, in like manner I will do the same in the present day in order to emulate the man I regard as my personal Savior. So, if you truly care about the deteriorating state of our nation, if you are really concerned about the issues that we are faced with collectively as a people, and if you want to make a stand against social and economic injustice, and since it’s in all our best interests to do so, you owe it to yourself to stand up in the face of power and say, “That’s it! You’re done!!” You know why? Because if Jesus Christ were to return this very day, that’s what He’d say. And the ones who are having the homeless thrown in jail for trespassing on their dilapidated properties would be the first ones Christ would send straight to hell.