The theology of me
I’m watching the US politics of this debt crisis from New Zealand. It’s the center item of the news in New Zealand, Australia & the UK. There is a common saying outside the US, “When the US sneezes, the world catches a cold.”
We’ve watched the US congress infighting for weeks, especially within the GOP. These freshmen congress members (the Tea Party movement) pushing an idyllic uncompromising uninformed position. The tea party with no experience, no understanding of the global consequences, has been willing to bring the economic situation to the brink… to make their point, failing to do what democracies do – work to compromise. Even within the GOP they’ve shoved and pushed and threw their tantrums. In a global economy the interdependence and complexities are enormous. They’ve had the world waiting, powerless. As the world watches – it’s contempt grows for the spoiled American lifestyle of taxes lower than any other developed nation, and a government that spends more than it takes in. Our bloated defense system (this does not equally correlate to number of tanks, planes, soldiers, ships, etc… though we have a HUGE military force compared to anyone else on the planet) sucks money, we have the worst social support structures, yet we act as if our actions don’t impact the entire world. I heard someone say the rest of the world has taxation without representation because what the US does impacts all, but they have no say.
Now, why would I, on a Christian blog, talk about this – simple: I’ve continued to get emails from Christian friends who are celebrating and taunting the “daring of the Tea Party to put their foot down. I can’t figure out why. I’m sick – ashamed of the US congress for its infighting, and to say I live in the US. Finally, we’ve got some resolution to the crisis. It doesn’t solve the issues, but allows us to go into even more debt.
Yet, while it’s done, I’m done… The position of the Tea Party is to cut the social systems, and refuse to raise revenue. The bottom line… The President has been pushing that it’s time to close tax loops for the wealthy. The GOP pushing for the social support systems to be cut and no revenue to be raised. The Tea Party have taunted the “my rights” with “my money” and have had the working ad middle class pushing for the social systems to be cut… and not to raise revenue from the wealthy. Most selfishly say “MINE!” Some say allowing the wealthy and huge corporations creates “trickle down” for the whole country… The President has said he knows the complexities and to reach resolution there would have to be some cutting of social support structures, but there is a need to raise taxes.
I have some exceptions to those claims….
1. Trickle down – after 40 years – doesn’t work. The wealthy are making 40 x’s more (in level $) than they did 40 years ago. Middle class is making the same as they did 40 years ago (in level $). The poor are, well, poorer and even less powerless to get out of the slump. Hmmm. [Yes, I am aware of generational poverty – the answer to solve that is not more prisons… it will take some social support structures at multiple levels to fix this – not just holding a knife to teachers’ throats to fix it for us.]
2. The GOP members (mostly middle/working class people) support cutting the social systems (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) …until it will impact some one they love, know and are related to. Then they’ll blame the government for not helping and being there. They’ll be furious when mom or grandma can’t get the transplant, the surgery, the medicines she needs. Yet – what were they expecting when these systems were cut? What happens when they’ve cut social security and suddenly the very people who voted to cut these systems are the ones receiving the checks in a few years, the power bill goes up and they can’t afford to heat their home, much less play golf at the club?
3. The wealthy pay a tiny % of their income in taxes. They have financial loop holes that shelter them from taxable income. The poor don’t… The rough average for the lower income people pay 25% of their income in taxes. The wealthy pay 1-2-3% of their income in taxes. The defense is they pay more $ in actual dollars. But let’s step back… the working class – living month-t0-month pay what they can’t afford… the wealthy don’t pay what they could afford. The wealthy don’t change their behaviors, give up luxuries and certainly don’t go without insurance, etc. So the county – the wealthy live on the backs of the poor…something never seem to change. Stop and think about my last statement… Because of the theology of “me”, the wealthy live like the rich man who ignored Lazarus… the poor, Laxarus, pays to make the government go at a huge sacrifice (having worked hard (harder?) his entire life, while the rich who can give, don’t. Nice. We are in a situation where over 40¢ of every dollar the US spends is borrowed… we’re fiscally a mess. I will die an old man and the US will be in huge debt! We’ve increased the ceiling from $14T to $14.3T… it never ends.
*What is worse, is that the financial mess of 2008’s collapse was because of the entire make lots of money loop holes, designed by the rich, for the rich… the common people have paid for it; and in this slow recovery, the markets are going gang busters, the bankers make more than ever, the oil industry makes more than ever…the poor continue to pay. While on the oil companies, this is an industry the President wants to close loop holes on. They have record profits, yet enjoy sheltered tax systems. Yet, they drove a huge part of our economic woes. So, the common person pays, the oil industry and those with huge investments in it, go celebrate in Barbados.
There once was a man names Lazarus, who sat at the gate of a rich man…
4. The congress is so beholden to the lobby industry (corporations) that they are held hostage – support their powerful lobbies or they’ll take you down with their now unlimited support contributions to your opponent. So the tail wags the dog.
I’m afraid that the US public is so uneducated in the situation, the dire straights, the lobbyist system so powerful that no matter how well meaning any president might be, that our system is beyond saving… the corporate structure, soul-less, only cares about the 1/4 earnings… the system will nose dive to a crash and never pull up because we individually and collectively have become a selfish, greedy, gastro addicted culture that cannot behave otherwise….we are Babylon.
The greatest prophetic word I could ever state to those who recognize my indictment of the theology of “me” is to remind them of the Lazarus story and where God stands on the situation and what He says about those who live as the rich man, ignoring the poor during his lifetime. The funny part of that story… even in hell he had an arrogant superior, better than Lazarus attitude… “Have Lazarus dip his finger and….” still giving orders to servants in hell. Wow. So, my comment about how even in a nose dive, behaviors to pull us up will not change….