How many more times will you take our money Wall Street? How many times have you taken it already? Let us count the ways:
1.) You crashed our economy because you weren't good stewards with the money we entrusted to you. You wasted it on casino style investments and pocketed vast sums of our money. You took our money.
2.) We bailed you out 100 cents on the dollar for taking our money. You took our money again.
3.) The money we used to bail you out is now debt on our books that we have to pay interest on, for God knows how long. Imagine that. We're paying interest on our money that we gave you free and clear, because you took our money and lost it, and we bailed you out. It gets mind numbing doesn't it? But we get it. You took our money again.
4.) Because we bailed you out for being awful managers of our money, we now have a massive debt, to the point where we can't even afford social safety programs for the poor, and the sick, and the unemployed, and the disabled, and the homeless, and the displaced worker. You're taking our money again, this time out of the mouths of our families, literally.
5.) Because of your greed, you now sit on Trillions of dollars and refuse to hire workers because hey, you have yours, except that it's ours. You're taking our money again.
How many more times will you take our money? Probably as many times as we let you.
But you see, we just can't let you steal our money any longer. We can't stand by and watch you take everything we've worked for. We can't let you steal food off of our children's dinner tables any longer. Nope. We're afraid it's going to have to stop. Our politicians won't do anything about it (you and your lobbyists and your campaign contributions own them). Our Law Enforcement agencies (The Department of Justice) won't do anything about it, you own them too apparently.
It looks like we're going to have to do it ourselves, peacefully, but in no uncertain terms. You see, a new awareness has begun. A new occupation has begun. It will not end until justice comes, to you. Count on it.
Dear Friends United for Peace and Justice,
At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed. --Deuteronomy 15:1-2
Moses was a wise but imperfect man, and the law that was handed to him was purposefully designed to create a more just society. Scholars debate the purpose of forgiving debts, but generally agree that it was a means to alleviate the suffering of the poor, remove societal inequity, and acknowledge that all our blessings ultimately come from God.
Clearly many debts are incurred because of misfortune. If your crop fails to produce, you may need to incur debt in order to provide for your family. Perhaps, you borrowed money in order to buy an ox, and the ox falls ill, or is killed by a lion before the fields are plowed leaving you with no means to pay. Those who provide the loans happen to be in a position of prosperity, which, in ancient times as well as modern, is partially a factor of luck. Having a few creditors and a large number of debtors creates disparity in a community, divisions between neighbors, and places the debtors in a type of bondage.
We see a similar situation with student loans in the modern day. Students, in an effort to improve themselves and earn a better salary take on loans in order to go to college. Through no fault of their own, the cost is increasing at a rate higher than inflation. The student applies herself, emerges from college only to enter a world where unemployment is high. Even if she is skilled, the wage that she can garner is low. Even worse, she may not find a job at all, but is still obligated to pay the loan. In the present economy, the fact that student loan defaults are increasing at a dramatic rate surprises no one.
The burden of these loans is not only borne by students but also by their families. Parents pay larger and larger shares of their income to help their children with student loans. The consequence of which is to crowd out spending on the necessities of life. The net economic effect of this debt burden results in a decrease in aggregate demand.
No jobs will be created until demand goes up. Any business owner will tell you that they will not hire someone until demand outstrips their capacity to provide their product or service. Period.
As Adam Smith observed, those who provide labor create the wealth. In our current climate, the wealth creators, those who actually do the work, are having their wealth transferred to the corporate aristocrats such as insurers and usurers. Declaring a Sabbath on student loans will help remove the yoke of debt that robs the wealth creators of the fruits of their labor. For the least among us, releasing them from debt will allow them to pay for medical care, make their next rent or mortgage payment, repair their car, or pay for heat in the winter. For those a little more fortunate, the release from debt will allow them to take the family on a vacation, put an addition on the house, or buy a new Geo Volt, thus stimulating the economy and creating jobs.
How do we do it? The answer is in HB 365. There are 365 days in the year, so the number of the bill is auspicious, for this is the year to declare a Sabbath Year on student loan debt. HB 365, sponsored by Hansen Clarke (D-MI) will have an immediate stimulative effect on the economy. Rather than a trickle down approach, which has proven to not work, this trickle up approach will benefit all Americans.
Christians, seize this opportunity to be heard. We need to act with one voice and demand a nation-wide forgiveness of student loans. A Sabbath Year will free up 1 trillion dollars of spending that will help spur the economy.
Here is how you can act. You can sign the petition. Write, call and e-mail your local representatives. Bring the subject up at town hall meetings. Here is all the information you need to contact your representative.
Let our voices rain down upon their heads, so that the flood of Noah looks like a spring mist.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. --Matthew 6:11-12
Mark in the Spirit
(Mark in the Spirit is a member of The Christian Left and occasional guest blogger, not to be confused with our own Rev. Mark Sandlin.)
Here on The Christian Left we have shown that the Spirit is often made manifest through human action. We are proving that there is such a thing as consciousness, and it is expanding, opening the possibility of a future based on love and compassion. We have done so and will continue to do so not only through our faith, but by deconstructing the myths that perpetuate injustice.
Through the global dialog and participation of thousands now, and millions in the future, we are reconstructing the core principles of our faith, those based on the gospel of Jesus, one founded on hope, love, and charity, healing, and building community.
Having initiated the process of deconstructing the idea in many people's minds of Christians as wild-eyed Crusaders, we as liberals are also confronted with secular myths, in particular the myths of war. Even ardent, good, honest, hard-working liberals carry myths to justify war. The most common myth of war is that it is inevitable. Christians have many historical examples of love conquering the mightiest foes. Christ himself advocated peace, and even healed the ear of the Roman that was hewn. Ghandi drove out the British without firing a shot. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a nation to confront the evil of racism. The lone Chinese man stopped a tank in Tianamen square holding nothing but a briefcase.
Our task, as those inspired by a bold vision of peace, is to provide a viable path to end war forever. This path must adhere to non-violent, Christian means, otherwise the end will be for naught. As we have deconstructed the good and the bad in the past of Christianity and constructed a new future advocating for the ill, the hungry, the war weary, the aged, and the children, we will deconstruct the past myths of war and create a future of peace.
A Practical Plan for Peace - Global Incremental Mutually Verifiable Arms Reduction (GIMVAR)
Ending war will entail assiduous and sustained effort from people in all areas of society. Without question, peace is predicated on a widespread, grassroots movement from all parts of the globe in all areas of political, economic, and civil society. On the surface, a global citizens movement demanding peace seems untenable. After all, so many conflicts rage across the globe. We have violence in every continent. The Saudi government sends troops invade Bahrain to suppress the people's call for justice. The Americans are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. Turkey is bombing the Kurds. We see war in Chechnya, and Somalia. We see the threat of war in Ossetia and Iran.
Nevertheless, wherever conflicts erupt the civilians want peace. One of the missions of this essay is to inspire Christians large and small, of all denominations, and of all nations to act upon that sentiment and take bold action to stop the wars in which their governments fight.
Global arms reduction has several components the most important of which is reducing the dollar amount of weapons exported and reducing the total volume of weapons produced. Massive, sustained citizen input will be required for these demands to even be heard by most governments. It is our job as Christians to make sure that they do.
To be successful, the transition away from a war economy will need to be incremental. Obviously, a huge shift in military power will create power vacuums that may cause some to see an advantage in another's weakness. Moving in a methodical, incremental fashion prevents a sudden shift in power and allows nations to make adjustments.
Secondly, those involved in the armaments industry will need to be incentivized to change their manufacturing and production to new industries such as green technologies, labor intensive industries such as organic farming, renovating homes to be energy efficient, the construction of green transportation and communications infrastructure. Providing a transition path for industry will reduce, but not eliminate, institutional resistance.
Verifying that those you fear are also playing by the rules is the critical component to the long-term success of this program for peace. As Reagan said, "Trust, but verify." Taking incremental steps, agreed upon by all parties, helps to improve the process of verification. Governments and inspectors can verify that all parties have met their obligations before proceeding to the next step.
Both incentives and punitive measures will need to be invoked to ensure that countries participating in the process toward peace satisfy the agreements they have made. Incentives could include interest free loans, or simply grants for building food security, or developing industry, or water conservation and soil preservation. Punitive measures could include economic sanctions, freezing of assets, or the denial of participation in athletic competitions.
Any punitive measures must be non-violent, for peace cannot be attained by violent means.
Arms reduction will need to first focus on heavy armaments such as jet fighters, bombers, tanks, personnel carriers, artillery, warships, submarines, and other heavy weaponry. These types of armaments can be most readily identified as having one and only one purpose: killing human beings.
Small arms will also have to be included. While one may argue that small arms are necessary to protect one's family, or to protect the people against the overreaching power of the state, reducing the number of small arms exported and imported is a critical component to attaining peace.
As Christians, we can choose to accept the myth that 'war is inevitable', or we can start taking concrete steps toward embracing our neighbors, loving our enemies, and eliminating the scourge of humankind – war.
Mark in the Spirit, Pen Name. Not to be confused with Mark Sandlin, per his request.
Today I stumbled across an old acquaintance from my camp counselor days and found out that she has two children with autistic spectrum disorder and a third with developmental delays. As you may or may nor know by now, I have a child with ASD as well. Apparently this old acquaintance is a frothing liberal just like me. This got me to thinking: Is it possible to have a special needs child and still be a Right Wing ideologue? And if so, how?
There are millions of children and adults with ASD in varying degrees of severity and dozens of other kinds of physical and mental afflictions. Many, if not most, require some kind of special attention, whether it be home based services like my son received, a special school or a home for adults that cannot care for themselves. These services require special training and is not necessarily something you can take a class or two or read a book to learn. Especially if the ASD is as severe as it was in the case of my nephew who had it much worse than my son.
So who pays for it?
Well, in my case, the State of NY picks up the tab in the form of Early Intervention. They provided a speech therapist, an occupational therapist (for fine motor coordination), a physical therapist (gross motor coordination) and a teacher that spent 10 hours a week with him. Now, I am a stay at home father (voluntary, TYVM) and I have the time this kind of help would require of me but I don’t have the training. The overwhelming majority of parents don’t have the luxury of having one parent at home and they certainly don’t have the specialized knowledge. So let’s say that you are a “small government” conservative that hates having your tax dollars spent on other people (because you are a dick). How do you go about taking care of your special needs children? These services would be quite expensive to pay for and medical insurance doesn’t cover autism last I looked. So what do you do? Let your child languish in the prison that is autism? Hope you find a private charity that just happens to provide ALL of the necessary services? Or do you rely on the government to build a system of professionals that can help parents and their children without incurring crushing debt?
What would be the pinion of a conservative? We don’t even need to ask. We know it. It’s already a conservative mantra that people without children shouldn’t have to contribute to public schools. Just like people with jobs shouldn’t have to help those without. Just like those who can eat three meals a day shouldn’t have to help those who can’t. Just like those who are Christian shouldn’t have to help those who are not. It takes exactly zero effort to extend that philosophy of greed and selfishness to not wanting to pay for special needs children if they don’t have one of their own. Some of them don’t even think autism is real.
The Conservative creed: I got mine, screw you!
Autism does not discriminate. So presumably half of all autistic children have conservative parents. Do they all throw their children to the wolves? Or do they turn to the government for professional help. I’m guessing they turn to the professionals since most of them can’t possibly afford to go it alone.
How do they reconcile that with their hatred of all things government? It’s easy enough to ignore all the stuff government does in the background. No one thinks about how clean the air and water is compared to 70 years ago. No one remembers that rivers used to routinely burst into flame from all the pollution. No one wonders what life would be like without firefighters and police. These services are essentially invisible to us and so the Right Wing pretends that they don’t exist or that they would be just fine if the government didn’t do it.
These are, of course, childish people putting their fingers in their ears and yelling “LALALALA! I HATE GOVERNMENT!”
But they can’t pretend the services for special needs is invisible. It’s right there, in their face, day in and day out. They KNOW that they need it and they KNOW that, without the government, They wouldn’t have it. Do they pretend that they are a special case? Or that it’s THEIR tax dollars, knowing full well that they’re receiving far more than they put in? Or do they just rationalize that they deserve it for being a good American and those lazy Negros welfare people shouldn’t get a dime for their welfare kids?
How do they choke down that kind of hypocrisy on a daily basis? How do they vote for politicians that they know, for a fact, want to cut the very services that they desperately rely on for their children?
Is it even possible to be that stupid?
So my question to you, the reader, is: Do you know any Far Right, Glenn Beck loving, Fox News watching, Tea Party loving parents that rely heavily on government services for their child and how do they rationalize it?
Leave your thoughts on Facebook here (public) or here (not so public).
Note from The Christian Left: Autism is a topic near and dear to our heart. We'll be re-posting this article periodically on our Facebook page. We plan to add some links below for Autism Resources on the web as we move forward. If you know of some, please post them in the comments of this article.
This article was republished by permission under a Creative Commons License.
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is a founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit.
Roger Smith has to tilt his head to shake the words out, as you can see. He is an organizing member of The Christian Left who also blogs at "Roger's Shrubbery."