Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Saturday, 06 December 2008


By Jim Jordal

 Cry aloud, don't spare, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and declare to my people their disobedience, and to the house of Jacob their sins.

Isaiah 58:1 (WEB)

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

These Bible verses indicate that it is God’s will that people having knowledge of oppressive and unjust laws and unethical and abusive business practices should speak out in favor of the poor who often cannot speak for themselves, and are discounted or ignored even if they do. It’s sad but true that the poor and other groups at the margins of society have little voice in what happens to them—witness the recent sub-prime debacle and its results in many of the poor losing their homesteads—for many the major source of any net worth they might have.

With that in mind, let’s consider what one prominent person recently said about people who give voice to complaints about their victimization by powerful and unethical economic and political forces.

Former Senator (1985-2002) Phil Gramm of Texas, now a John McCain economic advisor, placed his foot squarely in his mouth with his recently reported comments that we are "a nation of whiners" and that we are victims, not of an economic recession, but of a "mental recession."

The occasion for his views was an interview with on July 9 in which he attempted to explain the McCain economic philosophy and downplay current reports that the economy might be in recession. He said "You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession" and "We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just have this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

Senator McCain immediately distanced himself from these comments, explaining that Gramm spoke only for himself. And Gramm later excused himself by claiming that he meant the nation’s leaders when he spoke of whiners. But he also stated: "I’m not going to retract any of it. Every word I said was true."

It never ceases to amaze me how supposedly bright, educated, prominent people can come out with such misdirected statements. Millions of Americans are now losing their homes, their entire net worth, their jobs, their respect, their families, their health, and even their lives. So how can anyone complaining of these events possibly be labeled a whiner?

Gramm’s past record reveals a cozy relationship with the investment banking and mortgage industries. As a U.S. senator between 1985 and 2002 he was one of five cosponsors of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which shares some of the blame for allowing the Enron scandal to occur. Gramm was also active in the congressional effort that rolled back certain state rules prohibiting predatory lending tactics aimed at enticing ignorant borrowers into high cost mortgages. And while he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs he received one million dollars in campaign contributions from the securities and investment industry. (Information taken from Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia).

So it’s small wonder that he would attempt to minimize the real effects of the damaging rules he helped create. When investment mortgage banking money controls the congressional committees in charge of supervising their actions, it shouldn’t surprise us when things go wrong for mortgagees and borrowers in general.

To me it’s sad that the common people who are so often victims of these nefarious schemes are so slow to awake to what’s being done to them. We continue to believe the lies and half-truths told us by our leaders, and the promises of almost-sainted economists and icons of business that things will get better if we only continue to go deeper into debt for things we do not need.

Why must we continue to elect politicians who supposedly represent all the people, but in reality support mainly the programs wanted by their wealthy and powerful friends? This is not democracy—it’s plutocracy, in which the rich control the political and economic processes of the nation for their own benefit.

Perhaps the general public may not soon awake, but we in the struggle against poverty should certainly be acutely aware of the situations we face as we attempt to undo the generations of neglect and injustice that now produce massive suffering in many sectors of American life. God doesn’t like this; neither should we. Therefore we must give voice to the words of God against injustice and oppression wherever they exist

Last Updated ( Saturday, 06 December 2008 )