Monday, 6 December 2010

More thoughts on community and economy - Senator Bernie Sanders

This video is well worth your watching and considering.

As Christmas approaches, most of us will be buying some gifts and also the seasonable meat and vegetables to feed our families and guests.

This is a time to bless our community by purchasing from small local firms and producers - the farmers' market, the craftsman, the family-run shop.

A community is grown organically by systematic blessing. Sometimes locally grown produce and locally made artefacts cost more money than things made in China and flown across the world to be sold in a supermarket. There would be a reason for that, and it is likely to be related to the standard of living the producers can expect to enjoy. Anything small is more easily fixed and more easily maintained. Local systems are simpler and easier to safeguard. Local self-interest is easier to influence than self-interest on a remote and global level.

Thinking globally and acting locally; living simply and frugally, consuming very little; supporting local tradesmen rather than large international corporations; encouraging self-reliance and a good level of self-sufficiency in our own families - these measures will help to stabilise the terrifying economic slide we presently have in prospect.

I think sisters do not always appreciate what a crucial role we play in the shaping of society.  Mention the word 'politics' and it translates instantly as 'Men; arguing - contention,' and sisters turn off, don't want to know.  We think of ourselves as women of faith and prayer, but not as political activists; see that as not our place, something we leave to the men.  It never occurs to us that whether we intend it or not, where we buy our children's toys and our clothes and our vegetables is political, and that politics is not a secular matter but is part of our discipleship. 

If we read the Old Testament prophets, we notice God's grief and rage that the poor and needy are sold for a pair of sandals, hear Him cry woe and thrice woe to those who but house after house and field afte field until they have bought up everything and it all belongs to them.  That's what Bernie Sanders is talking about.  It is part of our faith.  It's in the Bible.  And what accumulates to consolidate or change it will be the innumerable individual decisions we make day by about where to get our carrots, our lamb chops and our underwear.  Prayer changes things; and where we source the commodities for our households is a prayer.


Stealth Jew said...

I definitely don't fancy his tones of class warfare. Yes, the top 1% makes far more money than the bottom. But so what? The economy isn't a pie -- if Jenny makes more money that doesn't mean that I necessarily make less. Equality itself is not a virtue.

The rich are richer in the United States, but _all_ Americans, Americans as a whole, are much wealthier than people in most other countries. As a Canadian, I can really feel this just going over the border.

The people in the top percent employ the most people, create the most wealth, take the most risks.

The wealthiest pay most of the tax. The bottom 50% pays nothing. They are not net tax payers.

Frankly, it burns me. We don't make that much money. We pay half of it in tax. The taxes of the putative "wealthy" pay everyone else's freight, and this is what we get? Bernie Sanders giving socialist speeches about how it's wicked not to want tax rates to go up in the middle of a recession?

And he's wildly mischaracterising the social security changes. They would raise the retirement age to 69 for people currently _my daughter's age_.

Stealth Jew said...

Incidentally, foreign products are often cheaper because of differences in the currency. 50 cents an hour goes much further in China than it does here. In addition, even when it's not much money, it's a very desirable job compared to the alternative.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Stealth Jew. Thank you so much for your careful and thoughtful comment.

You say 'Equality itself is not a virtue'. I am not sure about this, but I think it may be (a virtue).
One of the books I have on my shelf waiting to read during this winter is "The Spirit Level" by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, whose researches showed up that more equal societies almost always do better - their findings suggested that equality is a crucial element in social wellbeing; more than prosperity.
Even when things happen to seriously undermine human wellbeing, the sense that we are all in this together is a source of encouragement.
The point Bernie Sanders was making was not so much as you have put it, that 'the top 1% makes far more money than the bottom', but that the top 1% absorbs 23% of the wealth, which is not only more than the bottom 50% of the people, but has also been generated at least in part by those people in their consumer activity if not in their tax. Your statement that the bottom 50% of the population pays nothing is not correct.
I think it must be apparent that if this trend continues (in the last 30 years or so it has escalated from 8% to 23%) the inequality must end in destabilising social unrest and discontent.
The Year of Jubilee in the Jewish Scriptures, and the stance of the prophets on the inadvisability of the few accumulating more and more leaving little or nothing for the many, offers wisdom we would do well to learn from as a society.

River said...

As someone who lives in the US SJ I will disagree with you..
I'm betting you've never been to the slums in the bigger cities.. or to the Appalachian Mountain communities.
Or to my neighborhood? Lower working class poor..

There use to be a Middle class here in America .. but here of late.. there's only the poor, the working poor.. a few middle class.. and then the very rich..who didn't earn that money from the sweat of their brow..

And as far as SSN.. I'm 48 and I can't retire until I'm 67 .. maybe 69 .. more like 72..

Its not Socialist to want food on your table...a house you can call your own.. and enough money to pay your bills..
Oh and health care that you can afford..
Some are lucky enough to have it without worrying about paying for it..
No such luck here in the US..
I work for a major Hospital here in TN. In the billing dept..
A lot of folks are doing without meds and health care because they just can't afford it.. I talk to them EVERY day..

My country maybe rich.. but we are slipping fast into ruins..

Folks aren't asking for a hand out they are asking just for a chance to make a life ..

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi "Tis the gift to be simple" :0)

Anna said...

I just finished filling out a Christmas card for "my farmer" who provides me with milk & eggs. And I will do the same for the man who sells me honey and the woman who sells me beef, and the woman who sold me vegetables...I know their names and appreciate them all. The irony in our situation is that my husband works for Wally-world (the smiley faced retailer). We have chosen to use the greater part of our budget towards the local instead of the "company store".

Pen Wilcock said...

The Lord will bless thy path Anna, for thee has chosen His way. x