Monday, April 18, 2011


In this Lent to Easter season of death and resurrection we should make a personal and national examination of conscience on how we’ve spent the Ten Talents given America. [This year Passion Sunday falls the day before Tax Day.] A never ending succession of wars has plagued and employed us since the last World War. Have we tried to resolve conflicts, or have we enkindled them? Have we put our federal income tax dollars to productive use, or destructive military purposes? Has the financial industry that oversees all our enterprises and war involvements worked for the common good, or enthroned the greed of personal gain as lord on high?

Wars of less and less necessity culminated in the invasion of Iraq. Our litany of political/financial problems escalates uncontrollably now on our entering the so called War on Terror—a war with no end in sight, perpetuating the business of war. War has become our most important product. We seem chained to its mechanisms of power and profits, and insensate to the terrible damage it causes. We argue whether we can afford our own government healthcare, as people in other countries are blown apart by our investment in war. Our budget battles are already lost because the financial leaders that back up the war industry are frontline sentries in all congressional skirmishes. Our balance of trade is toppled in an emphasis on weapons exports.

During the opening salvos in the War on Terror, President Bush encouraged us to go out and spend money. We’d just lost our shirts in Wall Street’s burst internet bubble, the Enron debacle, and almost simultaneous destruction of the Trade Towers by Saudi terrorists. Where was this spending money to come from? We were encouraged to dig deep into credit cards, and our already over-inflated home equity. In the years from 2000 to 2003 mortgages and re-mortgages increased four-fold! 1 Common folks were fooled and headed towards foreclosure. The big banks broke their fiduciary contract with America, ate up everyone’s equity and devalued mom & pop retirement funds. [For some blow by blow accounts see 1 and 2 below.]

Their clever hocus-pocus speculations nearly bankrupt us all in 2008. The financial marketplace fell apart. They then pleaded “too big to fail” {instead of contrition} demanded a government bailout {in place of penance} and continued their wayward ways, awarding themselves record bonuses a year later. Political leadership in league with speculative bankers, and the mythology that there is no cost to wars fought off-budget, have put the whole country into the giant budget hole in which we now find ourselves.

What remedy can there be for this spiritual & fiscal malaise? Greed must be recognized as the other potent hidden hand in the marketplace. Greed must be named the sin, and socially dysfunctional crippling force, that it is. There is a concept in law, and Christian morality, of restitution. Those, esp. at Wall St. level, who’ve profited any more than inflation from their investments in this past decade of unjust wars, and dual burst financial bubbles, should seriously consider giving back to society their gains, ill-gotten or not. [See below for some of the practical political measures being developed to address our dollars & war national deficit problems. 3, 4, 5 ]

For the rest of us, if we admit to some of these apparent failings, what has been our complicity in all of this? Take a good look at complacency, apathy. Most of us in our own ways have experienced these, here in the land of the Ten Talents. No more burying gold futures in the ground--crying Lord, Lord, or surfing web & cable TV--while the bombs we build fall on peasant villages, and our abortion machines continue to extinguish unwanted lives.

t will take a whole nation of contrite and re-committed individuals working together for the common good to turn this bottomless pit war economy into a peace-full productive economy. Confession and restitution is good for the soul. It will take shared sacrifice and not be easy, but in this Holy Week we are assured, by our Creator who sent His Son to die for us, that through sacrifice, even death, there is new life. The miracle of Resurrection! A new life in God’s nonviolent merciful love is the new covenant. This makes even a peace-directed, compassionate, balanced national budget possible.

1 “ Inside job “ [DVD]. Available at local library.
[United States] : Sony Pictures Classics, 2011.
Subjects • Documentary.
Summary: An analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which, at a cost of over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, traced is the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. Narrated by Matt Damon.

2 The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (Hardcover - Mar 15, 2010) {Available at local library and Amazon}
3 Some hope on the horizon—for a common sense national budget. U. S. Congressional Progressive Caucus --80 Members; FY 2012 Budget Proposal§iontree=5,70

Bring back the local bankers invested in their communities. Banish the international CEO bankers, who claim the rights of individual citizens for their mega-corporations, so that their money can control our political institutions.
"But woe to you rich for your consolation is now." Lk 6:24
"I repeat what I said: it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mt: 19:24

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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