Skip to main content

Too many citizens, and particularly politicians, prostrate themselves to Wall Street’s bronze idol. They revere financial titans who pay themselves and their minions millions to manipulate money and gamble recklessly. This false idolatry produced a nation gripped by massive unemployment, a nation in which destructive income inequality has risen beyond robber baron levels, a nation where politicians genuflect to money changers, not majority citizens. Salvation is not more failed trickle-down economics or more deregulation so that Wall Street can resume unfettered wagering. Redemption is political and economic systems devoted to serving the common good, not the affluent few.

Americans have been worshiping a bull. Too many citizens, and particularly politicians, prostrate themselves to Wall Street’s bronze idol.

They revere financial titans who pay themselves and their minions millions to manipulate money and gamble recklessly. Politicians gave tribute to the financiers with tax breaks and bailouts when the bankers’ bad bets threatened to bankrupt their institutions.

This false idolatry produced a nation gripped by massive unemployment, a nation in which destructive income inequality has risen beyond robber baron levels, a nation where greed has been perverted from sin to good, a nation where politicians genuflect to money changers, not majority citizens.

Salvation for the majority is not more failed trickle-down economics or more deregulation so that Wall Street can resume committing unfettered wagering. Redemption is political and economic systems devoted to serving the common good, not the affluent few.

These concepts -- that governments should protect majorities and that the international financial collapse is an opportunity to transform the system into one supporting a more fraternal and just human family -- are contained in a report released last week by the Pope’s Council for Justice and Peace. It says:

“The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence.”

Those values mandate economic and political systems that transcend “personal utility for the good of the community,” the report says, then adds:

“The primacy of the spiritual and of ethics needs to be restored and, with them, the primacy of politics, which is responsible for the common good – over the economy and finance.”

This is exactly what the 99 percenters -- the Occupy Wall Street activists of every faith -- have been saying. They want systems that work for the vast majority of citizens, not just the 1 percent at the top.

A day after the Pontifical Council reported that inequitable distribution of wealth has increased both between individuals and nations, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office documented a massive spike in income inequality within the United States from 1979 to 2007.

The household income of the nation’s richest 1 percent grew 275 percent during that nearly 30-year period, according to the CBO report.

By contrast, the income of the middle class rose by one-seventh of that -- 40 percent. For the poor, the increase was one-fifteenth of that for the rich -- only 18 percent over 30 years.

The result is that the richest 20 percent of households got more money in those 30 years than the entire bottom 80 percent.  That is redistribution of wealth – moving it from the poor and middle class to the richest.

The CBO study cites several factors contributing to the rising inequality, including federal tax policy. The CBO says tax policy fed inequity as the incomes of the wealthiest rose astronomically and their federal tax burden shrank.

This pattern is consistent internationally. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development determined that from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s income inequality increased in three-quarters of the 30 developed countries studied.

If basic morality fails as a reason to reverse these trends, then the Pontifical Council suggested another. Such inequality leads to instability and violence:

“If no solutions are found to the various forms of injustice, the negative effects that will follow on the social, political and economic level will be destined to create a climate of growing hostility and even violence, and ultimately undermine the very foundations of democratic institutions, even the ones considered most solid.”

So far, the violence surrounding the 99 percenters in the “Occupy” movement has come from the government and police and not the other way around, thus the photos and videos of defenseless women pepper-sprayed by an officer in New York and a bleeding, critically-injured Iraq war veteran struck down by police in Oakland.

Historically, it wasn’t always that way. During another spike in the nation’s history of income inequality, in the first two decades of the 1900s, violence was turned on the rich. An anarchist shot robber baron Henry Clay Frick and bombings terrorized industrialists. As the socialist movement surged, Andrew Carnegie wrote that the gulf between rich and poor threatened the survival of capitalism.

Also ignoring morality, just consider that income inequality impedes economic development. An International Monetary Fund study found high levels of inequality retards economic recovery while relatively equal income distribution supports sustained growth. Numerous academic studies have reached the same conclusion – inequality diminishes economic expansion, for many reasons, including its tendency to provoke political and social unrest.

Yet conservative politicians continue to demand changes that would make matters worse. Candidates Herman Cain and Rick Perry, seeking the Republican nomination for president, have proffered flat tax plans that would compound the burden on the middle class and poor. On being informed that his would increase income inequality, Perry said, “I don’t care about that.”

When Democrats on the debt-reduction super committee suggested raising $1.3 trillion in tax revenues, including levies on the rich, a measure consistently supported by huge majorities of the American public, Republicans summarily rejected the proposal, calling it absurd.

The answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” in this case is clear. The only gospel story in which Jesus engaged in violence is the cleansing of the temple of moneychangers. Morality demands an end to Wall Street worship and a new era in which both politics and financial markets work for the majority, for the common good.

Originally posted to Leo W Gerard on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 06:21 AM PDT.

Also republished by Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos and Street Prophets .

Poll

Shouldn't true capitalists support a system that decreases income inequality because that system is better for the market?

22%8 votes
77%27 votes

| 35 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Yep and We Solved This for Half a Century. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, Marie

    The 1% can't help themselves from taking all the candy in the jar, so it's very simple, you have to limit how much candy they can take with them at a time.

    Moral protest is great for waking the 99% up to pressure our representatives to restore the solution they once gave us, but it won't move the 1%.

    That's why individual taxes have to rise far above 50% for the top marginal rates. When that was done businesses didn't offer today's gigantic compensations, and that left money in the business for better worker compensation, investment in long term stable growth, better prices for suppliers.

    And the rich as a whole did not gather up most of the nation's wealth, most of it was held among the common people.

    NFL Capitalism. The best football teams face the steepest progressive taxation of new talent and revenues. They can always win another game but it becomes impossible to win the entire sport. That's what we have to return American governance to accomplishing: maintaining markets, and preventing markets themselves from being the object of competition and a prize that can be won.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 06:38:13 AM PDT

  •  another name for wall street bull: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Major Tom

    mammon.

    our one demand? return what was stolen.

    by stolen water on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 07:05:22 AM PDT

  •  what would jesus do? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Major Tom

    overthrow wall street!

    our one demand? return what was stolen.

    by stolen water on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 07:07:03 AM PDT

  •  Excellent essay. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Tom, buckybadger1988

    More jobs equal less debt, even our kids can understand that.

    by TomP on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 07:24:53 AM PDT

  •  Head of State Dynasties (0+ / 0-)

    are difficult to create/establish under conditions of reasonably equitable wealth/income distribution.  But once entrenched don't go away easily.  The British monarchy hasn't had to use force capture the crown since Henry VII.  Abdul-Aziz only captured his in 1902 (and has yet to run out of sons that can be crowned).  Poor Mubarek and Ghaddfi thought they could achieve what Abdul-Aziz,  Or even the Hussein bin Ali legacy in Jordan.  Guess they overlooked the fact that those were the 19th century exceptions.    

  •  Somewhat similar to recent Real Estate Worship. (0+ / 0-)

    To borrow well over 3 times one's annual income to buy a house because it is guaranteed to double in value in 3 to 5 years (depending on location, location, & location) takes a religious fervor. Who says the USA is not a Religious Country?

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 10:32:37 AM PDT

  •  And to illustrate your point (0+ / 0-)

    There is photographic evidence

    Well here they are, at the Wall Street bull statue thing, praying to Jesus for money. .... “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”
    http://wonkette.com/...

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 10:51:19 AM PDT

  •  So, to quote the Pope everyone should, (0+ / 0-)

    "examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence.”

    This is so true. This is something that the Tea Party extremists, with their "toll road philosophy" doesn't get.  We all have to work together in order to coexist.

    I am glad to see the Church is standing up for the people, maybe I have not been paying attention lately, but sometimes they seem too silent on every issue except abortion.

    Thank-you for posting this. I listen to the Ed Schultz radio show once in awhile and I have heard you speak up for workers and average people. Thank-you for what you are doing.

    Thanks for all you have done to speak out for middle class  people.

  •  This hasn't been seen, read and commented upon. (0+ / 0-)

    I am so sorry to see that your well-considered essay - a work that makes a strong, intelligent and savory ideological contribution to the OCCUPY movement - has not been well-read nor well-commented upon.  It really deserves to be re-posted, and I'm sending a note to the eds. to do so.

    In the Sixties, we had volumes of dialectic from many great writers and intellectuals to get through before, during and after the marches, the sit-ins, the be-ins and the love-ins.  Reading how-to guides were required in order to endure.

    I fear this movement will become radicalized and violent, discredited before it has accomplished much just through its intellectual vacancy:  OCCUPIERS do not simply sit and sing enough. They march and chant far too much for the powers-that-be to tolerate them for long.  

    Too many Libertarians want to eliminate the Fed, and that idea's just poppycock.  The Federal Reserve is a system that works well - but it needs guidance of ethics and morality.  Goldman, Sachs itself needs strict oversight (and its very own watchdog) over the derivatives and the huge, skeezy private deals it makes between secret counterparties that skirt all international ethics.  The magnitude of the evil they alone have perpetrated is extraordinary.  

    God's work, indeed - more likely the devil's own!

  •  Anybody Remeber The Classic... (0+ / 0-)

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 05:30:17 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site