Saturday, January 3, 2009

This pushed America to the brink of financial disaster...

I'm no longer your mainstream Catholic. Our Sunday Visitor is a mainstream Catholic tabloid-style weekly newspaper often sold at mainstream Catholic parish churches after the weekend liturgies. Maybe I'm more mainstream than I thought, or maybe the Visitor isn't as mainstream as I thought. Because this reprint of one of their articles says a lot in a few paragraphs! Check this out:

What's pushed America to the brink of financial disaster was not all those illegals coming and "stealing" our jobs as busboys and janitors and underage laborers in meat-processing plants.

This was an inside job. It was made in America. It was all the hotshot brainiacs, our best college grads, the brokers and bankers pulling in bonuses that weren't just in the hundreds of thousands but in the millions.

These were the people who have been most blessed by this country's abundance, and these were the people most driven by greed. They weren't minimum-wage workers trying to put food on their table and give their children an opportunity to obtain a high school diploma. They weren't the day laborers on the city streets hoping for a job or the field hands bent double from hoeing the weeks on corporate farms.

These were the people who drove Manhattan delirious come bonus time, the folks who bid up the prices on luxury condos, who went to restaurants competing to serve the most expensive hamburgers in America, who vacationed at the toniest resorts and who, if they had children, sent them to only the best prep schools.

These were the people whose patterns of consumption were lauded in the Style section of The New York Times, the same paper that now excoriates them on the editorial pages.

These were the people who saw themselves as "Masters of the Universe, " and the irony is that some of these same folks--now working for the government--are supposed to be crafting the nation's exit strategy from this financial debacle.

We don't know where this will all end. The number of people who have lost their houses and lost their jobs is already a scandal, but what the future holds, we don't know. Will other financial institutions fall to earth? Will the taxpayers have to pay even more to cover up the bad decisions of the best and the brightest?

And will our nation with its trillions of dollars worth of IOUs to countries like China and Saudi Arabia--both made unbelievably wealthy by our voracious consumption beyond our means--have the fortitude to stick to our promises, pay our bills and not sacrifice the poorest among us while doing so?

Greed has permeated our society. In most cases, it led us to make some dumb financial decisions based on bad assumptions, and the results will be defaults on home mortgages and car loans and credit-card debt. But the greed of those most materially blessed who were leading some of our most powerful financial companies is what is most shameful, and has done the most harm.

I know people who are in this country illegally. They pay their taxes, they work two or three jobs at minimum wage and send money back home to support impoverished family members there.

Yes, they broke the law. Yes, a country has the right to enforce its laws and protect its borders.

But Americans have taken their eyes off the ball. We have not been done in by the strangers among us. We have been done in by our own.

Never has it been more true: We have met the enemy, and he is us.

19 comments:

QuakerDave said...

How thoroughly and utterly true.

And just keep in mind who it is that keeps repeating the meme that it's the "illegals," it's the "poor," it's the "unions" who are responsible for the this.

The Bootlicking Corporate media, whose bills are paid by their pimps and sugar daddies: the greedy types you're talking about.

Time for us to stop listening, and then spreading the truth.

Like this here.

Liberality said...

Thank you for stating such obvious truths. We are encouraged to pit ourselves against the poorest of the poor, as if they were responsible for our country's plight, when the real culprits are the rich and those who serve them most intimately, whether they be republicans or democrats.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is an excellent opinion piece. May God preserveus from scapegoating.

Tim said...

What an excellent (and bold) analysis of how we got ourselves in this mess. It's greed from first to last, from the heinous vilification of illegal immigrants to the implosion of gilded executive suites that accommodated shysters. The love of money IS the root of all evil. Ending this spiral will require more than nipping it in the bud. We have to yank out our nation's obsession with prosperity by the roots.

Thanks for sharing this, BE.

ThomasLB said...

The dirty little secret of the American economy is that it is totally dependent on a poverty class.

One-third of Americans live at or near the poverty line, but our economy requires even more poor people, so we import "illegal" labor and export jobs to overseas sweatshops.

Dianne said...

ahhhh yes! the 'Masters of the Universe'

as my friend Mark would say - they who benefited off the hard work of their union parents will now strive to crush the unions ...

Dada said...

TY for sharing this! You have me reconsidering my decision to forgo my first communion.

claire bangasser said...

I agree that it is not the poor's or the illegals' fault. It's greed, of course, but not only the traders' and bankers' greed. The rest of us are right there with them. We contribute to the mess in so many insidious ways -- our own addiction to credit and credit cards, for one.

Some political decisions got us into it as well. The belief in the 'market', that sacred cow. The lack of regulations, giving tax cuts to the rich...

Yes, the piece you mention is good. Still I see so much more than that in me and around me.

Thank you for the good discussion.

Mary Ellen said...

I've never heard of Our Sunday Visitor before, for some reason they don't sell it or have it near our church. It truly is a great article and so true. It's not the Middle East terrorists who will destroy us, they can only kick us when we are down. The real terrorist is the corporate greed and the politicians who are being paid off by them.

With our economy what it is, we are one natural disaster or man-made disaster from going into a full Depression.

Utah Savage said...

Bravo!

Quaker Dave it's also the republicans from the south who want to bust the unions cause the workers make too much money. I'm hoping we level the playing field a bit and bring the top salaries and bonuses down to the level of the very best workers.

Missy said...

Wow.

Thanks for sharing that. I suppose it's only available online by subscription?

Excellent piece.

Happy New Year, BE.

FranIAm said...

That is excellent... and so very sadly true.

Carol said...

The honesty of this article is heartening, B.E. Thank you!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I (an ordained Protestant minister) am in 100% agreement with the Visitor. I believe that greed has been the foremost driver of American society since the second half of the 19th Century. That's a very long time. I really hope/pray that someday, as a society, we shall find a different driver.

Sherry said...

Truer words haven't been spoken in a while. I am so distressed that such privileged people can act so badly, as if they have no conscience at all. It simply is beyond my comprehension. What do these folks learn in school and at home that they can act so carefreely in their accumulation at the expense of so many? How do they sleep at night? It makes me wonder at the basic goodness of the human being.

Randal Graves said...

Bah. Everyone knows that the strings of power are controlled by poor, black, unionized illegals.

enigma4ever said...

really amazing post...so true..and yes,....we have been done in by our own....

and funny ...if you go through most of our family trees...

don't we all have "immigrants" back there sitting on some of the branches...I know I do...

Greed is a dangerous thing...and now we KNOW it can break a country...

Jan said...

Yes. At the enneagram workshop, Richard Rohr said our country is a 3, with the corporate sin of greed and ambition. He said the CEO's of this country show our identity. Whew!

Dusty said...

I have been out of town a lot lately, but this awesome post is now up at Sirens.

I love your passion B.E. ;)