Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Proverbs 22:16 commentary; oppressing the poor

16 ¶ He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

This is a particularly potent verse for us today as government and large corporations attempt to destroy the small business owner who, in the past, provided most of the jobs in this country enabling the common man, the poor man, to improve his lot in the world, even to start his own business. The opportunity of the poor to have a better life physically on this earth doesn’t come from government or General Electric but from the shop down the street or the builder across the county, most of whom have a net personal income of $200,000 or less per year give or take a few thousand and don’t have millions to play with and don’t own yachts or take vacations around the world whenever they feel like it, and don’t hobknob with kings and princes.

In a book about American History after the Civil War during what was called The Gilded Age when robber barons made great fortunes heretofore unheard of in America, a politician from Texas named John Reagan, who served in many positions elected and appointed in both the United States and the Confederate States of America and then again in the United States government, made this statement, “There were no beggars till Vanderbilts and Stewarts and Goulds and Scotts and Huntingtons and Fisks shaped the action of Congress and moulded the purposes of government. Then the few became fabulously rich, the many wretchedly poor, and the poorer we are, the poorer they would make us.”(1)

Certainly, Mr. Reagan may have exaggerated about their being no beggars in America before that but his point is well made. The ability of a few men to garner fabulous fortunes at the expense of the vast majority of people in the country, manipulating government and controlling political action that has become a part of our republic since the end of the Civil War, is not the America of the founding fathers. It’s not even Capitalism. It is certainly not Christianity. It is a distortion based on manipulation, exploitation, and greed.

Over the last 30 years as more and more of the nation’s wealth is being gathered into the hands of fewer and fewer people with the government itself being the greatest predator of all taking in 200 billion dollars a month of our money, 20 billion of which goes to pay interest on federal debt, the so called American Dream of people from the working class having a way to improve their lot in life, own a home, and send their children to college for them to get a better start in life, even the idea that my children will have a better life than even I did, has been trashed by tax policies and regulations favoring the super wealthy and large, international corporations, both of which are great contributors of vast sums of money to political campaigns through various means, often circumventing laws.

The Middle Class lost their deductions on things like interest paid on auto loans and soon will probably lose the deduction on income tax for home mortgage interest. What were once good paying jobs have been moved overseas and foreign workers are exploited in ways we abandoned here a century ago. Notice I did not say “our jobs” because the job is the property of the employer as my black conservative friend, Milt Thomas, has pointed out in his online blog. If it was your job you would have taken it with YOU.

By all statistics available, that I’ve seen, though, the average American is becoming poorer and his or her children will have a lower standard of living than he did. The rise in the American standard of living since World War II has long since stopped and we are now headed the other way.

The poor are indeed oppressed all over the world. In the welfare state the government gives them no incentive to lift themselves up. This isn’t done out of compassion. Its done out of a desire to keep them in a state of constant servility as a voting bloc. The poor worker is exploited by the corporate employers as the difference between top executive pay and the average worker which was at the rate of 125x in 1962 according to is now between 300 and 500. Liberals want the government to exploit the poor and Conservatives want the dirty deed done by private corporations and men of wealth.

But, God has made it clear that there will be a judgment coming for those who oppress the poor and who make the way smooth for the rich to do so. We have an ethos today in our country where making billions of dollars is an admirable thing, that fantastic wealth accumulated by people and corporations that work hand in hand with government, obtaining such wealth by fraud and deception is okay because, after all, if they can get their hands on it, it’s their money. It has even been reported that a great many farm subsidies don’t go to Mom and Pop farms but to farms whose owners make more than $200,000 a year in declared net income.

When a man like billionaire financier Warren Buffet can boast, even if intending to point out a wrong, that his housekeeper pays more income taxes than he does or that Bill Gates, the computer magnate, can brag that there is no way he could ever spend all of his money on himself, and when men like the Koch Brothers, the energy giants, or financier George Soros can spend millions to influence elections and yet ten million people can’t find jobs that can SUPPORT them and many are giving up hope of ever having gainful employment again then something is seriously wrong with our country.

When our politicians argue endlessly about cutting spending and raising the debt limit and stand on ideology rather than service to the people and yet Business Insider tell us that if we just returned to the spending levels of 2007 and stayed there the budget would be balanced by 2019, something sickening is going on in this country. Our government itself claims that 10 billion dollars has been stolen or misused in Iraq but that another 8 billion is LOST, as in CAN’T BE ACCOUNTED FOR, and yet they fight over a few million dollars in emergency unemployment benefits, something is truly broken in this country.

God has given the Christian warnings about depending on riches.

1Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

He has given the Christian warnings about greed.

1Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

He has warned the rich who exploit the poor and I include our government in this because our government is not under the operation of God but under the operative control of Satan, the god of this world, who uses men to pass laws and regulations so that they can, when they leave office, become paid lobbyists for these corporations. Do you actually think a person who is planning on spending a career working as a lobbyist for a large concern is going to pass laws that benefit YOU and ME while he is in office? Are you that naïve to think he or she will honor the Constitution with a big, fat paycheck waiting for him if he doesn’t? For instance, it is reported that Dennis Hastert, former house speaker and lobbyist for foreign governments and private corporations to the US government, each month receives $40,000 from the taxpayer for office space, cell phones, staff, and even an SUV while presumably he receives hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions from those he lobbies for. So, this warning applies to any Democratic or Republican politicians as much as it applies to corporations like drug company Novo Nordisk accused of cheating employees out of overtime pay or billionaire Raj Rajaratnam who cheated ordinary investors to American company owners who don’t hire Americans but pay lower wages to foreign workers in order to avoid hiring here and yet want to bring their income back into this country without paying taxes.

In the Tribulation letter written to the Jews who trusted Christ in the first century and for those who will when the church is removed, God says;

James 5:1 ¶ Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. 4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. 5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. 6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

Read the Proverb again and think on it. Judgment is coming.

(1) Robert H. Wiebb, The Search for Order: 1877-1920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967), 8.

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