US Poverty Rate hits almost 1 of 6 (16.666% of the population)
In case we think poverty is some obscure number for the lazy – poverty is making less than $11,139/year. Imagine trying to live on that as a single person? As a couple, living on $22,278… as a family of four, living on $44,556…that figure sounds like a lot, until you consider that (with no morbidities) they will have to pay $800/mo. for medical insurance. That’s $9600/year. When they have to pay $7200/year for food (before ever considering one .99¢ double stack from Wendies), and $1100/month ($13,200/year), and if they have ONE automobile (even if both work, and they have teen kids who probably work also) they’ll pay about $5,000/year to run and maintain a simple used car – they’ll never own a new car… that’s a life w/o any ordinary expenses like, uhm, school expenses and clothes, and life’s incidentals… of over $26,000/year, plus the $5,000 deductible on medical bills, so $31,000. Now consider house and appliance repair, replacement, maintenance, school fees, clothes, you get the picture. They have no money and nothing for retirement unless they get to work for a nationally traded corporation, and nothing for their kids’ school if they wanted to go to higher education, etc. Now consider an injury, even work related… they are at risk – complete risk of financial collapse, not just ruin.
Disagree with me? I urge you to read, Nickled and Dimed, Not Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. Mrs Ehrenreich is an above middle class white lady, educated and the privilege that most middle/above middle and upper class people enjoyed. She left her life to live as a poor person working to make it – to “get it”. Her lessons are worth note and should teach us – and I mean us – about the challenge of getting upwardly mobile. In the US there is a prevailing myth that hard work and dedication will yield advancement, and for a few (emphasis on few) it works and we get enough stories of this told, and celebrated to make the myth apparently reality. For most – well, it’s not. The truth is, if you are poor, you are almost destined to stay there.
This problem is not solved by mass redistribution. It’s not solved by trickle down economics – 40 years of this approach have astronomic wealth increase for the top 1-2%; nothing to loss for the middle class and huge increase of those poor.
The old argument of our GDP out paces our debt left us a long time ago… we’re losing and losing fast, and we’re handing (already) our children a dismal future that will look like Greece, Portugal and others… where HUGE decline in standard of living, lifestyle, government operations are wrecked. Look a this diagram:
If you don’t understand this – before the 2010 economic decline on that has been coming for a LONG time over multiple administrations, we began a HUGE portion of revenue being spent to simply service debt… SO almost 50% of our tax base pays interest ONLY and makes no advance on paying off the debt.
Yesterday, I watched a CBS interview with the CEO of Caterpillar (CAT), Doug Oberhelman, which employs an estimated 150+K people globally, almost 60K in the US, and is building 8 new plants in the US to invest in the US, though it could be more profitable building it overseas… His words were amazing and summed up like this: We will not survive, it’s bad – really, really bad if we do not a) increase revenue significantly, b) all chip in, especially the wealthy and c) face real entitlement cuts.
Watch the candid interview: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/13/eveningnews/main20105742.shtml?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo
Mr. Oberhelman is not an eccentric, which Warren Buffet is accused of when he speaks similarly. He a true American Captain of Industry and he’s worried, very worried. He says it like it is – there is a train wreck if we do not stop now, right now. I wish our GOP Senator David Vitter would watch this. His political grand standing for Louisiana’s hugely uninformed and uneducated in political reality majority laps up his stunts (e.g. wanting to boycott the President speaking to joint chambers of congress to go to a football party to watch the Saints …what a moron!)…then he wants to be taken seriously, and yes, the idiot will be re-elected. He lives in the 2d poorest state in the union, but knows where the bread gets buttered… votes from the under-informed, financed by the elite.
Tonight – watch Howard Schultz be interviewed by CBS News, another solid American Captain of Industry. See what he’s said before on the subject: http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2011/09/13/en_pelley2_0913new_620x414.jpg
So, again, why am I stumping this issue?
Because Jesus addresses money more than any other topic. The closest rival for his focus is down 3:1. Jesus tells about stewardship, heart values, being deceived and culturally addicted. He tells us about white washed tombs. He tells us to guard our hearts because you cannot serve two masters. He tells us that the blessings, gifts, abilities, privileges, advantages we have are NOT for us – they are for the body, for the Kingdom, for the Missio Dei (mission of God). Simply read the parables about what people do with their money, now it is stewarded and how Jesus deals with it. There is NO mincing of words…..
We must humble ourselves and continue to mature and wrestle ever deeper our character, our deeper levels of trust (or failing to trust) in Him, our little gods, our greed, our rights not surrendered as living sacrifices, the ways we continue to look more like the world than like Him. We must continue to be forged and mortify our flesh that we may be transformed (unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies…). We must, it is not optional sign up if you are a Christ centered one, and not one who uses Jesus as a consumer, choosing how much you want to obey, or…. not.
So, you want to be a disciple? You want to be IN God’s will: steward the treasury of the Kingdom for the Kingdom, not for yourself. There will be NO discourse standing before the throne on “but it was MY money that I earned”…. “I gave my ‘tithe’ and the rest was mine doesn’t work.
We know missionaries all over the world. At this point in life, I’m watching those who finish well. The ones I admire? The ones who paid the price for the King without regard for themselves… The ones who are single their entire lives, not because they felt they are gifted or called to be celibate – but ended up single because they were called to go – and they went and the context NEVER lent itself to marriage, to one who would join in and share the call (aka deployment orders from God), and they go into the sunset years alone, having only others who choose to care for them, or other single missionaries who are single also. We know a retired missionary in New Zealand who has since returned in this category. She lives very humbly and has not ONE gene of spite in her. She just returned from Canada – nice you say? She spent the last four years caring and nursing the dying friend, another single missionary who had no one to care for her in those last four years of life, walking with her towards death over FOUR years, watching her best friend decline and die. Those are my hero’s. They stewarded their lives and lived for Christ.
Radical? Yes. You’re not called to that? Okay. BUT – we are all called to properly steward every last ounce of every gift and advantage we have living it for the King. Anything else, any other god, He calls adultery and that is very evident how He feels about this (feels, as in emotions) from Genesis and Exodus through to Revelation.
Want to be spiritually mature? Memorizing another Bible verse is a nice start, if you’re in Awana! As children of Christ, we are told several times to grow up! We are told to mature in how we live, not how much information we catalog, but to integrate it and live it in our lives. Plainly spoken in love – we are in disobedience if we do not obey Jesus in this. Work on our language – fine. Work on our attitudes to trials – fine. Disobey in our stewardship and well, He’s pretty clear on this – and yes, I’m talking New Testament.
This applies to individual stewardship, to collective stewardship. It applies to how we deal with economics, how we deal with the poor, how we deal with success, how we deal with political power mongering. I’m not advocating wholesale entitlement. I am advocating benevolence (we can argue how we apply that best later – let’s settle the heart posture first). I am not advocating redistribution, I am instead advocating generosity till it hurts. There is a lot of room for that sacrifice for the top 1-2% of our society. I am not advocating run-away economic programs. I am advocating emasculating the lobbyist system in our nation where the one with the most money wins. I am not advocating liberalism, or conservatism, but a different Godly approach that will surely offend those on both sides. Jesus left us a great example of that when He modeled it as a person on earth.
Say no and…you can shut up when
- crime rates and the need for government programs increase for the unemployed
- when we need more police, prisons, courts to handle the increasing crime issues
- when the social fabric collapse continues
- when we continue to slide to Yesteryear as a global power
- when we lose our standard of living and resemble the despot wealth in the former USSR while the masses struggle to survive today
- when corporations wag the dog more than they do today
- when even more teachers are laid off, when more school education programs are stripped, more schools close, and education achievement in the US continues its decline
No tisking, no whining and when we leave this temporary blink of an eye existence, stand before Him and judgement is passed… well, no whining them either.
Like good evangelical black and white truth laid out? Hope you’re satisfied. I’m not.