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Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 14 March 2013


By Jim Jordal

 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good from you.  For among my people are found wicked men: they watch, as fowlers lie in wait; they set a trap, they catch men.  As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and grew rich.  They are grown fat, they shine: yes, they overpass in deeds of wickedness; they don't plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless, that they may prosper; and the right of the needy they don't judge.

Jeremiah 5:26-28 WEB

In this passage from Jeremiah God speaks concerning the evil deeds of the Assyrian domination system that held Israel captive centuries ago. But it has great relevance today because the greed and arrogance behind these practices has never changed and still afflicts us today.

After several decades of serious study on poverty and its roots arising from unjust American economic and political structures I’ve reluctantly come to the sobering conclusion that our present power structure has no intension of ever allowing widespread poverty to end. Yes, I said "allowing" because poverty would end if the power structure would allow it to by ceasing to create and support policies that so clearly cause poverty. Prominent figures in the power structure agonize and commiserate over individual cases of suffering and deprivation and spout endless political generalities about how good it would be if poverty disappeared. But to discern true intent we must look at outcomes, and the lack of politically viable strategies having any real possibility of reducing poverty reveals the ingenuousness of our posturing.

Poverty results from choices made by our society. As Dr. Phil says so often: "You choose the behavior and then have to face whatever consequences follow. If you don’t like the consequences, then change the behavior." We claim to hate the consequences of poverty while at the same time refusing to change the political and economic behaviors that cause it. That’s the humorous definition of insanity: continuing to do the same things over and over while expecting the situation to change.

Our society chooses to give the best gifts to owners of capital and those with ability to manipulate money. To facilitate this value we create and maintain structures and institutions serving to shield the manipulators of money from any adverse consequences. That poverty results from this unholy mix is explained as an unfortunate consequence of the necessary operation of a free market capitalistic economic system.

An example of how our society shields money manipulators from any negative consequences of their actions is what happened as the economy crashed in 2008. During the years preparatory to the crash money manipulators in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms made hundreds of billions from their "casino" capitalism. So profit was privatized into the hands of a few, not socialized into the hands of the people. But when the financial ship began to sink the reverse happened: Government turned from privatization to socialization as losses were transferred to the people in the form of bailouts and various aid programs for threatened financial institutions.

If its right for the people to bear losses incurred by careless capitalism then it also ought to be right for the people to share in their profits. But no, that’s not how it works. Manipulators of money get the gains and the public takes the losses despite all the political posturing about fairness and justice.

Power brokers have no intention of ending poverty because they profit from it. Continuation of their excessive lifestyles depends upon the labor, suffering, and financial contributions of billions of "little" people. So the real goal is not abolition of poverty, but the strategic necessity of persuading the impoverished masses to passively accept their "normal" role in the economic structure. That’s where the propaganda of "deserve" comes in, like "you deserve your poverty because you are…." Unfortunately, that lie is also often supported by powerful religious figures who lend Divine support to the clearly errant concept.

That’s why charity is safe, but advocacy is dangerous. Charity looks good and even makes us feel good, but it never ends the problem. Charity says feed them where they are; advocacy says seat them around the table of plenty. But if the poor become seated around our table then they may come to see how completely we have excluded them from the other good things of life. They may begin to comprehend their loss, not only of economic justice, but also of social, political and cultural equity.