Sunday, October 9, 2011


Dante poised between city of Florence and Purgatory [a seven story mountain in his Divine Comedy]--painting by Domenico di Michelino
When Bankers Rule

Modern society has made the bank account
the standard of values.
When the bank account
becomes the standard of values
the banker has the power.
When the banker has the power
the technician has to supervise
the making of profits.
When the banker has the power the politician
has to assure law and order
in the profit-making system.

When the banker has the power
the educator trains students
in the technique of profit making.
When the banker has the power
the clergyman is expected
to bless the profit-making system
or to join the unemployed.
When the banker has the power
the Sermon on the Mount
is declared unpractical.
When the banker has the power
we have an acquisitive, not a functional society. – Peter Maurin, The Catholic Worker, ~1932

 “Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”
Thomas Merton

We will take these steps to Wall Street and to the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC, in hopes of practical personal conversions leading to deep societal change.

What does America want and need for a peace that reaches even unto Wall Street, and a prosperity that dwells in every hometown?  
·         We need a surplus of creative jobs.  Congress should immediately pass the American Jobs Act, and Wall Street needs to embrace Socially Responsible Investment.    Having a moral code for investment keeps many more jobs at home, and less exploitation of the poor abroad.

·         Recent excessive profits {by the few at the expense of the many} require a system of taxation and philanthropy that redirects money for the common good.  This is complicated.  But capitalism has a proven capacity for unlimited greed wherein money does become the root of all evil.   Corporations are not people—they have no soul.  We need a balance which protects the over-avaricious from themselves, promoting investment in real long-term community needs, and drastically reduces speculation for momentary maximized profits.   Start with a return to pre Bush administration tax rates for those making more than $250,000 per year, and remove the Social Security cap that limits the contributions to the system by the wealthy.   The “Buffett rule” moves in this direction, and the responsible rich see benefit to the whole society from such measures.  “Clawbacks”, or better “paybacks,” should be implemented for those making excessive market gains over this past decade, while so many lost retirement fund investments.  Perhaps a special 15% flat tax IRS assessment on speculative investments for all who made more than one million per yr.   The devil is in these details, but we must struggle for more fairness--noblese oblige.

 ·         Specifically for young people we need to re-establish hope, service, and opportunity.  The Peace Corps should be brought quickly up to the 100,000 members envisioned in the early 1960’s [languishing since at 7000 or less]   This program has to have full staff and logistic support to equal the military’s.  AmeriCorps has to be similarly expanded.  National service in these, military, or competent community or faith-based  organizations needs to be a requirement of citizenship, for at least 2 years, for everyone at some point between 18 to 30 years old, and encouraged for older ages as well.   Then those so serving should receive full support for college education, as in the post WWII GI bill.  Forgiveness of student loans for those serving after  college also applies.

 ·         Teachers should become among the most competent, inspired, well-paid, honored members of our work force.   Standards should be high.  They should have been leaders in the above national service, and then receive the utmost encouragement from local, state, and national government.  There should be interchange between their teaching career, and creative business, research & development endeavors.

·         Re-establish the fairness doctrine for all large media corporations.  Both sides of each issue should be guaranteed a fair hearing.  In addition, the connection between politics and democracy has to be protected.  The first step among many, all national elections should be completely publicly financed.

·         End our wars of choice in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all troops and military hardware to be returned within one calendar year.   Stand down the standing army overseen by the military industrial complex.  Return our army to its duty of defending U.S. territory, and not the business of protecting international oil & other corporations.   A savings of 25% of our record military industry spending should be realized within 3 years [more later], and this re-invested in a creative local economy which provides for energy, education, health, food, clothing, housing, service, and national service needs with a new ecological focus.   Our improved self-sufficiency, yet recognized interdependence with the rest of the world, will lead to the best national security possible.

·         A pro-choice for war society will be a pro-choice for abortion and capital punishment society.  Violence becomes intrinsic and pervasive.  We are a much better people than this.  It’s difficult to work out in policy, but we must all begin to choose life, consistently, no matter what our backgrounds or political convictions.  God bless us, and grant us the grace to fully face our social issues, with the inspiration of God’s justice and mercy.

 “Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.”
Thomas Merton

“By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet. ”
Thomas Merton

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