Archive for March 8th, 2004

Working Together

Monday, March 8th, 2004

Reposted from Yellowtimes.


 

Why Good Things Happen to Bad People

 

John Brand, D.Min., J.D.

Let me define my terms. By “good things” I do not mean ideals valued among the noblest of human principles. Included among such majestic goals would be the dispensation of justice based on equity, the rightful distribution of goods, the pursuit of philosophy, the arts, and the profoundly spiritual.

By “good things,” in this column, I imply what our materialistic society values most highly: conspicuous consumption, tax evasion by the super rich, awarding non-competitive government contracts, golden parachutes, obscene stock options, off-shore companies, accounting finesses, and sundry other such exploitive gambits. In short, by “good things” I mean the advantage the favorite few exercise over the masses.

By “bad people” I do not mean those caught “in flagrante delicto” in extracurricular, sexual adventures. Heavens to Betsy, even a larger number of priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams than we are wont to admit would have to be called bad by that standard. “Bad people,” in this column, are folks who pontificate about petty, moralistic issues but are quite willing to eliminate the protection of the “Bill of Rights” for all those with whom they have serious disagreements. Bad people are those who crow about democracy but disregard and even undermine the constitutional balance of powers.

“Bad people” manipulate the system to satiate their rapacious appetites. They are folks amassing large bank accounts by devious means. They hold powerful, judicial positions based on passing a litmus test. They exert tremendous political influence flaunting any sense of social responsibility.

How does it happen that the above listed good things accrue to such bad folks? To put it briefly, the spin masters have been able to make three lies sound virtuous and cause the virtuous to sound evil.

The first mendacity is that the present form of capitalism has been sold as the elixir of the good life for one and all. However, it is beneficial only for those who prostitute themselves at the altar of selfishness, mendacity, greed, and rapacity. Those of us who tenaciously believe that justice and equity, decency and a sense of morality are the foundation of an enduring civilization find ourselves at odds with the prevailing debauchery.

We have been sold a bill of goods making us believe that when the rich get richer, a cornucopia of untold goodies will cascade upon the economic landscape. Let Kenneth Lay steal billions and uncounted benefices will descend upon the masses. The fact is that tens of thousands have lost their pensions and other thousands of creditors might be paid pennies on the dollar. Not much has trickled down. Kenny Boy’s billions are probably stashed away in Swiss bank accounts beyond the reach of the IRS. His conversion of funds has not found its way into the economy! At least, that is my view.

But how do the above listed good things happen to bad people? Mind you, it is all legal because America’s Caesars had their minions pass acts making these chicaneries to fall within the pale of the judicial system.

That brings me to the second lie the spin masters have sold America. We are made to think that we are governed by a Congress elected by the people. But is it not fact that many who are elected are but mercenaries in the service of the bad? Congressional toadies then enact legalisms cloaking corruption with the mantle of legality.

American pharmaceutical companies fleece the people. Surely that does not come as a surprise to anyone. Yet, are we seeking to control these vultures who enrich themselves at the expense of the sick? No, we make it easier for the bad to let their thieving fingers dig ever deeper into the pockets of the masses. Now it is even suggested that we allow insurance companies to get into the act of providing prescription drugs.

The Austin American Statesman on Jan. 25 informed that after passage of a tort reform act promising that malpractice premiums would be reduced, most carriers decided not to reduce these premiums. Bad folks running the insurance companies will have a lot of good things happening to their shareholders and executives. If you think that the insurance companies will decrease prescription drug costs, I think I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge at a good price.

Did Congress really come down on such vultures who precipitated the Savings and Loan scandal a few years back? It does not seem so. “Respected” brokerage firms and mutual fund handlers are now found wanting. Some have paid fines for their acts of malfeasance seem large to the average person but to them are mere pocket change for the brokerage houses. They are the descendents of their voracious sires.

Most of us think a prostitute is a person who sells her or his body for sexual services. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has a second definition: “2. A person, as a writer, artist, etc. who sells his services for low unworthy purpose.” Selling one’s vote in Congress to benefit the bad is, in my opinion, selling oneself for an unworthy purpose. Of course, that assumes that worth embraces the values of a civilized culture. However, if worth is described as enriching the rich, etc., then our Congressional leaders are not prostitutes. However, I still hold that righteousness and justice are essential elements of worth. Accepting that premise, there is little difference between the woman who solicits Johns providing sexual favors for money and the folks who solicit corporate funds promising the votes demanded by the lobbyists in service of their masters.

The spin masters have us believe that we have a democracy to export to the world. How can we export what we do not possess?

Now comes the final lie. These three mendacities are not listed in any specific order. The three essentially goose-step to the same marching band blaring out tunes composed by “Corpgreed, U.S.A.”

America’s popular religion is the third leg of the tripod spelling out the coming doom of freedom. While a small number of religious leaders embrace the Biblical essence, the vast majority of American clergymen are nothing more than voodoo priests. Voodoo uses charms and fetishes to influence the gods so “the arrows of outrageous fortunes” will do no harm. Voodoo is not concerned about justice and righteousness, morality and the quest for truth.

The substantive Biblical message is its insistence that we walk “righteously and speak uprightly,” that we “despise the gain of oppression, who wave away a bribe instead of accepting itÖ” (Isaiah 33:15) I could cite passage after passage emphasizing that the Biblical tradition is concerned essentially with the large issues of righteousness and justice. Amos summarizes it so well, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

I am not suggesting that the Biblical God is not concerned about personal morality. But of equal importance, if not more so, is social righteousness and cultural justice. The voodoo priests of present-day, evangelical “Christianity” make people believe that if we eliminate abortions, end homosexuality, pray in public a few times each day, walk down the aisle and confess Jesus as Lord, and add a constitutional amendment about marriage, America will be a land overflowing with milk and honey. The only comment I can make is “Baloney!”

Not all the thousands upon thousands who ever walked down the aisle in response to Billy Graham’s invitation to accept Jesus have caused the enactment of equitable health care (not even for children), a fair minimum wage, or eliminated deals between the Pentagon and the defense contractors. I don’t think God is too pleased with that record. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)

Our egotistical, voodoo religiosity will only hasten the disaster foreshadowed in Ezekiel 7:23-27: “The king shall mourn, the prince shall be wrapped in despair, and the hands of the people of the land shall tremble. According to their way I will deal with them; according to their own judgments I will judge them.” (v. 27) It does not take a genius to figure out what end is in store when the triad of injustice, mendacity and greed engulf a nation.

So, “good” things come to “bad” people because they have perverted the very essence of humane values and organized a society of bestial values. However, history provides evidence that the alphas do not have the last word. Regretfully, bad people are not influenced by historical evidence.


John Brand is a Purple Heart, Combat Infantry veteran of World War II. He received his Juris Doctor degree at Northwestern University and a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry at Southern Methodist University. He served as a Methodist minister for 19 years, was Vice President, Birkman & Associates, Industrial Psychologists, and concluded his career as Director, Organizational and Human Resources, Warren-King Enterprises, an independent oil and gas company. He is the author of Shaking the Foundations.  You are welcome to write John Brand.  

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