I didn’t follow Occupy Wall Street when it debut last fall (football season), although recently I used it to spoof the SEC’s domination of the Big 10. But recently , I have read up on the movement, and while I do agree with the assessment by the Occupiers, I don’t know if camping out in the financial districts of large cities is the right way to go. Colin Cowherd said on ESPN Radio, anyone of these people could invest themselves in being a good doctor or lawyer, they could end up earning what they demanded of others.
But I will acknowledge: people do have a right to be upset with the rich in this country. The financial crisis hurt a many people demolished their savings, and the rich were the ones who first made mortgages an investment commodity and sought to sell as many as they could, until they upset the system. Predatory lending was, and still is, a big problem. If the rich people aren’t willing to invest in getting more jobs into this country, people do have a right to be upset.
However, the answer to those problem isn’t to give people more money to the lower classes. Look at what happens to athletes who come from poor backgrounds get lots of money on pro football or basketball contracts: the majority are going broke, and these are people who at least pretended to be students on a college campus (another subject for another blog post). Just giving more money to people isn’t a solution.
And, while a lot of the occupiers want to blame the rich, why don’t the blame the lawmakers who passed no-fault divorce laws? As former Yale professor Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse noted in an Issues, Etc. interview, when divorce hits a low class home, there goes any saving they may have, and from there, a mother with two children can easily end up in straights. Forty years since the first set of such laws, and marriage has virtually disappeared from the lowest class in America, whose out of wedlock birth rate is seventy percent. Meanwhile, everyone who can afford to get divorced act as if happiness is the only social function for marriage. There’s a real reason to have class warefare.
As a Christian person (and I’m surprised that I haven’t found much Christian or Lutheran commentary on the occupy movement), I am forced to turn to the doctrine of vocation-God gives us all a calling in life, and tells us to be content with that calling. I went to school with a lot of people who were going to be pastors and teachers, and all of them knew they were not going to be making a lot of money and graduating with a lot of private school debt. But it meant a lot to them, knowing that they had God’s gifts to serve his people, so they carried on.
When I hear Michael Moore is saying on a news program that rich people have all this money and they owe the poorer classes, I hear the entitlement to blue-collar jobs that sunk the rust belt (a native son of Michigan, indeed.), and I recognize the signs of coveting. Is it wrong to call on companies to invest in domestic jobs? No, but those jobs are provided to those who earn them, with the proper education. Mr. Moore himself has made many successful films; would he just hand over $20 to any schmoo to make a movie? No; what he should be saying to people, is “Get your education. Pursue your idea to the hilt. There’s always room who work hard and pursue their ideas. I’m proof of that.”
I know what people will say “Jesus said ‘You cannot serve God and money.’” (Luke 16:13). This is true, and it is likely that a lot of the people on Wall Street love money more than God, family, and many other things. But is the person who goes to Wall Street and says they deserve some of the one percent’s money coveting? When John the Baptists addresses the crowd in Luke 3, he doesn’t just tell the tax collectors and soldiers not to extort people. He also tells them to be content with what they have.
As Christian people, we have an obligation, to talk to our friends about the Occupy Movement. Yes, rich people may done many things wrong, but we must leave their judgment to God (Jude 9). Instead, we must remind our neighbors and ourselves of the explanation of the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked men; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” Lord, teach us to receive our blessings from you with thanksgiving! Amen.