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Written by Jim Jordal   
Friday, 30 November 2007

CAPITALISM GONE CRAZY

By Jim Jordal

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: Surely the great houses will become desolate, and fine mansions left without occupants….[because] they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands.

Isaiah 5:7-12 (NIV)

Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

Ezekiel 34:18-19 (NIV)

 

It seems today that capitalism has gone crazy! Everything--the future, the environment, families, children, morality, religion, human souls and bodies--sacrificed to the consuming idolatry of profit, growth and development. Mammon triumphant!

We hear continually of the "bottom line" and its crucial importance to economic health. CEOs speak of profits and growth as if they were the mother lode of business effort. The bottom line trumps righteousness, justice, morality, decency and even life itself. And this sickness rapidly infects the remainder of the earth under the onslaught of globalization and rapid improvements in transportation and communication.

We see daily the disastrous effects of capitalism gone crazy. Detroit continues to produce gas-guzzling automobiles euphemistically termed "trucks" in order to escape rigorous gas mileage regulations. And they excuse this because it's good for profits. China floods the U.S. market with lead-laced toys, impure drugs, and tainted food--all to meet Wal-Mart's (and many others) demand for the lowest possible price. Greedy gold producers in the Amazon rain forest threaten the environment and indigenous cultures as they pollute rivers for hundreds of miles downstream with cyanide and mercury. And timber conglomerates all over the earth destroy needed forests in order to build ever-larger mega-mansions for the rich.

Is there no end to this madness? Are we truly in a "race for the bottom" regarding everything we value; all for the benefit of a small percentage of persons who crave wealth, power and the comfort of the "good" life? Is the craze for money and possessions; power and influence; and affluence and comfort really the true meaning of life? It is if you ask the people trapped by the seductive clutch of mammon. Oh, they'll say that it is not, but look at how they spend their time and their money and then you'll know.

The context for the passage from Isaiah (above) reflects God's extreme displeasure with His people Israel and their continued oppression of the poor in the search for wealth and comfort. The penalty was permanent deportation from the Promised Land for Ten-tribed Israel and a 70-year captivity in Babylon for Judah. The passage from Ezekiel reveals God's anger at national leaders (shepherds of Israel) for not only seizing wealth for themselves, but also for trampling and destroying what little remained for use by the common people.

Isaiah attributes these disasters to the fact that national leaders "have no regard for the deeds of the Lord; no respect for the work of his hands." Today we suffer the same malady as national leaders run roughshod over basic principles of human decency, freedom, and self-preservation. They pay no attention to what the Scripture they claim to believe says about rights of the poor or preservation of the earth. They consider only the welfare of the rich and powerful, failing to respond to the needs of people, who literally are "the work of his hands." So God tells us clearly why our political and economic freedom declines almost daily, but we are not listening.

So what is the real bottom line? Perhaps God's answer to the Rich Fool in Jesus' parable (Luke 12:16-21) by the same name is instructive: "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" When considered in the context of eternity, our fervent attachment to this world's riches assumes an awesome meaninglessness. So why then do we clutch our treasure so desperately?

Israel of old lost their freedom and their nation over this issue. What will be the cost to us today? Will it be our children, our homes, our prosperity, our nation, our security, or our lives? Are the supposed advantages of "hands-off" capitalism really worth the cost? Time will tell.

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 November 2007 )