Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Saturday, 26 April 2008


By Jim Jordal

For among My people are found wicked men;

They lie in wait as one who sets snares;

They set a trap;

They catch men.

As a cage is full of birds,

So their houses are full of deceit.

Therefore they have become great and grown rich.

They have grown fat, they are sleek;

Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked;

They do not plead the cause of the fatherless;

Yet they prosper, and the right of the needy they do not defend.

Jeremiah 5:26-28 (NKJV)

If you aren’t aware of the sub-prime mortgage scandal and the recent $30 billion bailout of mortgage giant Bear Stearns by the Federal Reserve System, you must be living in a different world. What the Fed feared was that Bear Stearns would go belly-up over its excessive exposure to failed sub-prime mortgages, and that their demise would quickly spread through Wall Street and then out into the economy in general. So the threatened bankruptcy of one of the financial titans of Wall Street was enough to stir up great concern both on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C.

But where was the concern among the nation’s legislators when the new personal bankruptcy legislation was passed in 2005 at the behest of the credit industry? There were a few peeps but not enough real concern as Congress seriously tightened bankruptcy laws relating to small-time debtors. The basic idea was that scofflaws and deadbeats would be reigned-in while legitimate bankruptcy filers would not be harmed. What happened, however, is that the ignorant and innocent got punished along with the guilty.

So the cards remain stacked against the little guy. With all the lip service paid by the credit industry to "public service" and helping common people to achieve their piece of the American Dream, it’s still all uphill for those falling into financial distress. The same companies that used high-pressure, predatory sales tactics to delude buyers into thinking they could afford too-expensive mini-mansions now stand ready to foreclose on the gullible unfortunates, blaming them for their poor choices and failed mortgages.

One cardinal rule of competitive free markets is that some players win and some lose. By their very failure losers help keep the economy strong and the market viable. But the whole concept is predicated upon the contest being held on a level playing field, with the government bearing primary responsibility for that fact. Equality of economic opportunity in the market is sorely threatened when political cronyism trumps honesty and when influence peddling seduces the legislative and regulatory roles of government.

Conservative defenders of the free market mechanism claim that markets are self-regulatory because they reward efficiency by increasing market share and punish inefficiency and poor choice by market failure. If it were really that simple, then Bear Stearns would be allowed to fail as a signal to others that excessive greed and poor economic choices can lead to bankruptcy.

So in the sub-prime mortgage debacle little guys get the message that their poor choices may lead to the embarrassments and long-term consequences of bankruptcy, while big players soon realize that government will protect them from the consequences of their folly. Is that a level playing field?

Granted that there is some wisdom in the Bear Stearns bailout because of the danger that wider markets may collapse as a result of that failure. But the same concern needs also to be given to debtors who now face loss of their homes, future credit woes, and deep psychological and emotional problems as a result of this debacle. Recent legislation purports to do just that, but according to many commentators it is "too little too late."

So what does God say? The above Scripture indicates that God considers it to be wickedness when powerful persons running corporations and business entities collude to "set snares" to entrap their victims, as was done by many mortgage companies in the booming real estate market of the recent past. As a result of their evil actions their "houses are full of deceit," and "they have become great and grown rich" by "surpassing the deeds of the wicked." Sounds pretty accurate, doesn’t it!

And their final and possibly most grievous sin lies in failing to "plead the cause…of the fatherless," and refusing to defend the rights of the needy to obtain justice. Think about it: What possibility is there for a family being foreclosed upon and facing bankruptcy to obtain any form of meaningful justice when confronted by confusing, arbitrary laws; powerful financial empires; glib and determined lawyers; a court system usually prejudiced toward those with power and influence; and even opposition from their own people, who say "They got what they deserved"?

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1978, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 April 2008 )