Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Friday, 05 December 2008


By Jim Jordal

The big financial news (along with the rise in oil prices) continues to be the unprecedented massive bailout of Wall Street investment banks by the Federal Reserve System. It began with the $30 billion loan allowing Morgan Chase to buy out failing sub-prime giant Bear Stearns for $10 a share (it sold for $170 a year ago), and now has risen to several hundred billion in loan guarantees and Fed credits, all for investment houses and financiers who should have known better. But the bigger question is this: Do the financial powers influencing government policy care more about the titans of Wall Street than about the common people of Main Street?

A further example of how financial bigwigs care more for their Wall Street-pleasing profits than for the common people occurred recently when former General Electric CEO Jack Welch (known in the business world as "neutron Jack" because of his merciless slashing of budgets and workers in the interests of efficiency) heard that his hand-picked successor Jeff Immelt had announced to Wall Street that he could not meet current profit expectations. Welch angrily replied to the effect that if Immelt had given him such a message, he would have gotten a gun and shot him. Perhaps that comment was tongue-in-cheek, but the remainder of the message was not: executives must meet announced profit results whatever the cost. And this includes human suffering.

Interviewed on March 18 by Matt Lauer on the NBC’s Today, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson assured viewers that the main concern of government is to benefit Main Street America by stabilizing shaky financial markets to prevent the drying up of sources of credit. Propping up Wall Street investment banks is, according to Paulson, a necessary step in this direction.

Economic commentators are all in agreement: Drastic action is needed to bring the struggling economy back to normalcy. Unfortunately, what they mean by normalcy is the continued willingness of business and consumers to take on massive debt in order to produce or consume (or buy from China) endless quantities of mostly unneeded goods and services. In other words, the cure for the present financial debacle will result—not in some semblance of sanity in the markets—but in a continuation of the greedy, out-of-control behavior that got us in trouble in the first place. No real reform here.

And what of "normalcy" in government? Most likely it means the willingness to add trillions to the national debt to finance unnecessary wars, further impoverish the Third World through unfair trade policies, maintain a military budget that alone almost equals the entire military budgets of the rest of the world, and continue to ignore the cries of Americans without health insurance, living-wage jobs, and family economic security.

This nation has had enough of financial normalcy. What we need now is complete reform of unfettered capital markets (Yes, folks, contrary to what neo-conservative economists tell us, markets do not always effectively police themselves, the meltdown in the sub-prime market being only the most recent example). We need to take seriously the Jubilee concept of periodic rest as a relief from untrammeled, life-threatening producing and consuming. We need the Jubilee provisions for universal individual ownership of the nation’s wealth, periodic redistribution of such wealth, limitations on predatory lending, and the use of money as a medium of exchange rather than an instrument of economic control.

So do Wall Street titans care more about their own welfare that for that of the common people on Main Street? I think so. Yes, they pay lip service to the people’s needs, but if you look at outcomes rather than words you may come to the conclusion that this vaunted concern of the people is just rhetoric designed to delude us further as to the altruistic intentions of the financial giants. It lulls us to sleep while they further pillage our resources and our very lives.

Will we wake up anytime soon? Not unless we begin to realize that the financial debacles we continuously face are indications of just how far we have drifted from God’s will concerning economic justice for all peoples. God’s call is for us to operate according to His values, not those of mammon.

Last Updated ( Friday, 05 December 2008 )