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Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015


By Jim Jordal

You’ve all heard it, and maybe you’ve even said it: “We’ve got to squeeze more profits out of this operation.” That’s the value that drives most business decisions and much of our economy today. But seldom do we look at the final costs of such thinking in terms of what really matters---human quality of life.

Squeezing out profits means reducing as much as possible the costs of factors of production: resources, labor, capital, and enterprise or entrepreneurship. These factors are the inputs necessary to transform raw resources into desired output. Since labor is the factor least able to fight back--- now that unions have been squashed--- it’s easiest to cut. So wages get pushed down to the poverty level while returns to management and owners of capital skyrocket.

But captains of industry don’t seem to understand that if wages are low enough to flat-line consumer demand, how will they sell their goods? Almost daily the financial news reports “Big Box” retailers closing or selling their stores because their market share is down. Their answer is of course to create new consumers through advertising and the opening of new markets.

Squeezing out profits also means sacrificing the environment. Economists use the term “externalities” to describe how big business uses our air, water, and land as virtually free dumping grounds for their waste products. The external part of this means that they don’t pay the costs of their disposals---we do. And “climate deniers” refuse to accept any truth in global warming, mostly because if they did they might be taxed on their air and water-borne carbon deposits.

 Squeezing out profits also means “devising evil by law” as the Psalmist says. The newest entry in the race to devise evil by law is the up-to-now fairly secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This potentially damaging new trade association consists of 12 Pacific rim nations gathered by the Obama administration and big global corporations into a new NAFTA-like organization aimed at enhancing trans-Pacific trade. You probably haven’t yet heard of this because of the secrecy imposed by its proponents as they attempt to gain permission to “Fast-Track” it through Congress, meaning with little discussion and no amendments before it takes effect. Its most objectionable provisions in essence give large corporations more power than sovereign governments because they could bring suit against governments for taking any action---consumer protection, child labor, environmental regulations---or anything else that might threaten corporate profits. No wonder it’s been kept so secret!

Squeezing out profits also means squeezing out justice, or true judgment. In God’s eyes, justice simply means each person’s right to be treated fairly and equitably, not only in courts of law, but in economic markets and in daily life.

And finally, squeezing out profits means we have largely squeezed God’s law from our national thinking. We have declared unreasonable and obsolete the teachings of Jesus that “A man’s life consists not in the abundance of things he possesses,” and “what shall a man be profited if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

And who gets blamed for the chaos and destruction now creating massive poverty, the virtual destruction of the middle class, and the literal rape of the earth? Not the individuals sitting atop the power and wealth pyramid who make the decisions, but the insatiable demands of the all-mighty, absolutely impersonal “market.” The market has no conscience or moral code. It operates based upon the principle of “what is, not what ought to be.” So it can blithely crush labor, pollute the environment, devise continuous evil, squeeze out justice, and destroy as unimportant “the bodies and souls of men” as Revelation charges.

The many crises we face are God’s wake-up call, but we don’t seem willing to awaken. That’s where the religious establishment comes in. Rather than condoning the destruction of individuals and families, why don’t we make even a small attempt to speak truth to power? It might do some good!