This weekend the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall will be dedicated in Washington, D.C.
The original ceremony was intended to coincide during the 48th anniversary of the "I Have A Dream" speech,
which was itself delivered during the 100th anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation,
but Hurricane Irene postponed the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument dedication in August.
Yet I find it interesting and extremely congruent that the dedication will now take place in the backdrop of the Occupy Wall Street protests where Americans across the country are gathering together to cash the very same "promissory note" that Martin Luther King sought to make good upon in his call for racial and economic justice in accordance with the "unalienable rights" of "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" promised to all Americans by our glorious Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
King's words in 1963 echo loudly in Zuccotti Park and across the country:
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
Martin Luther King Jr. did not intend these statements as literal demands for money, but merely called for a level playing field of opportunity. He called upon our political and financial elites to recognize how an existing corrupt system hinders economic security, the same way that Martin Luther led a fight to get political and financial elites of the 16th century to recognize how an existing corrupt system hindered spiritual security. This fight was the Protestant Christian Reformation.
I think it's now time for a Protestant Capitalist Reformation.
For folks who are unfamiliar with the history of the Protestant Christian Reformation or need a refresher on the story around the 95 theses
the gist of Martin Luther's protest against the Roman Catholic Church of the 16th Century was this: the Church was accused of engaging in crony Christianity in the practice of the sale of indulgences whereby the rich and well-connected who sinned would be able to buy spiritual salvation and avoid sacrifice by virtue of their monetary contributions to the Church. Meanwhile, the common Christian who sinned without the money or stature to acquire indulgences had a much harder path to spiritual salvation and much harsher sacrifices imposed by the Church.
Martin Luther responded to this by founding a church based upon the notion that spiritual salvation was given freely by God to Christians.
I find this similar to the founding of this country based upon the notion that our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were given freely by our Creator to the American people.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Yet this notion that we Americans have natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is under attack by the agents of crony Capitalism, the large corporations and the corrupt politicians who enable them, united in greed and self-interest, who would turn the United States of America from a democratic republic to a kleptocratic oligarchy.
We must fight this. Whether it is through the Democratic Party founded by the author of the Declaration of Independence or through the Occupy Wall Street movement, we must fight this with everything we have.
And as we fight this, we must be ever vigilant to not let go unchallenged the slander from those who would seek to declare this movement somehow inherently anti-American or even anti-Capitalistic.
I do not protest Wall Street greed or crony corporatism or public corruption because I am an anti-Capitalist. I protest all of these things as a Protestant Capitalist American seeking to reform the existing political economic system so it lives up to the promise of this nation's founding document's promise of equal opportunity.
Stay tuned as I present what I think the 95 Theses of Protestant Capitalism should be in a future diary and feel free to add your thoughts on what those should be in comments.
But just for a preview, here are my first 10 Theses of Protestant Capitalism:
1. Corporations are not persons included among "we the people" referenced in the ordaining and establishing of the United States Constitution.
2. Corporations have not been endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, in contrast to human persons entitled to these things under the Declaration of Independence.
3. Corporations are not persons protected under the Bill of Rights or guaranteed due process from state deprivations of life, liberty or property under the 14th Amendment.
4. Corporations are state-created, state-sanctioned business organizations of capital, not independent citizens.
5. The alternative to a corporation-centric economic system is not the communist state-centric system, but instead the partnership system.
6. The partnership is the legal and economic construct for organizing capital that is most compatible with limited and responsive government, the principle of moral hazard, and social justice.
7. Corporatism and communism are not mutually exclusive, and in fact can be extremely compatible, as demonstrated in the political economy of the People's Republic of China, a country which the United States should NOT strive to emulate in its economy or otherwise as long as its citizens are deprived of basic human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
8. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
9. This higher consideration for labor is not demonstrated in a political economy that devalues the rights of laborers to organize and imposes a system of taxation upon which capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate than labor gains (income).
10. The abolition of slavery was not just a moral issue, but an economic one, in that it for the first time established a labor interest superior to that of a capital interest and imposed a federal minimum wage.
p.s. My sincere and deep apologies if any Catholic brothers and sisters take offense at this diary or my association of the Occupy Wall Street movement with Protestantism. Although I am a Protestant (Methodist), I have a great reverence for the Catholic Church and its social justice teachings and often find myself and my beliefs reflected much more by Catholic values than I do the values espoused by some other Protestant sects. I merely use the 95 Theses example as a historical event that led to a movement protest that reformed the world as I think the Occupy Wall Street protests might as well. This explanation also goes for any non-Christians reading this diary who may taken unintended offense here. My apologies and God bless.