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CCDA: Economic crisis has historical roots

Lowell Noble led a workshop titled “Our Current Economic Crisis Has Historical Roots,” and it challenges Christians to think about their faith in relation to our economic system. Lowell is a volunteer with the John Perkins Foundation, and he’s a sociologist and anthropologist. (Unless I use quotation marks, the notes are paraphrases of Lowell’s comments.) Here are some highlights; one of the things I really like are the references to books and articles:

Lowell wrote this on a pad at the beginning, with reference to giant financial firms — “To big to fail, too powerful to regulate effectively, too oppressive to continue.”

“Our historical past haunts our sociological present,” or you could say our economic present.
Justice has a strong economic component to it.

The American pulpit hasn’t had much to say about the economic crisis, even though the Bible has a lot to say about economics. …

Bush’s Treasurer secretary, Henry Paulsen, said in an interview during the ’08 financial crisis that raw capitalism (high risk, unregulated, speculative capitalism) is dead. … Bush’s economic advisors told the president if he didn’t act quickly we would have another Great Depression or worse. … It put the break on. … Obama continued with the bailout.

One of Lowell’s favorite authors is Kevin Phillips. … He is a conservative Republican. At the end of the Reagan he wrote, The Politics of Rich and Poor, which was a severe critique of the Reagan years. … Deficit doubled. … Pushed deregulation and dramatically widened the gap between rich and poor…. Read it now and it seems also to be about the ’08 crisis…

Phillips also wrote Wealth and Democracy. … He said one of the signs of a declining empire is when there are more people making money, handling money than there are people producing goods…. This is true today. … Money handlers are almost parasites of society. … We need a certain number, but it can get out of hand.

Now, Phillips has written Bad Money…. He is not an ideologue. … He has been one of my mentors.

Another mentor, Paul Krugman. … The Conscience of a Liberal… Krugman says the rich and powerful have dominated society for most of (a given time)…

Great Depression broke the hold of the rich and powerful. …

Can you regulate the system enough to control the abuse or does it have to be destroyed…. Destruction would have terrible consequences; it would mean unemployment doubles…. We almost have to have a catastrophe before the system can be turned around. …

I’m afraid corporate lobbyists will prevent Obama from solving the problem. If anyone can solve it, Obama is the one. …

A small town banker told Lowell that “my function is to make rich people richer.” … This banker thinks there may be a better way. …

Another book: Mark Noll’s God and Race in American Politics

Another book: Charles Avila’s Ownership….

Augustine…. He saw the prevailing oppression of his time as an assault on Christ…. He laid the blame on the exclusive right of private ownership… The Creator willed creation to that of all in common….

Basil the Great…. Says that land, grain and sun are the part of nature to be available to all… koina… common goods contrasted with one’s own things. … an idiot is one who piles up an excessive number of goods. … “excessive ownership is a form of theft”….

Sept. 21, 2009, Newsweek issue … The author says the problem is worse now than in ’08 when it almost failed. …

David Brooks…. Generally regarded as a conservative economist … Lowell says Brooks is moderate…. He’s a thoughtful capitalist columnist for The New York Times…. He’s been agonizing over this whole situation…. What went wrong? … the vast expansion of corporate influence…. Gauntlet of lobbyists and lies…

Krugman: year ago said he was terrified…

Now the really bad news: It’s worse than any of you think…. “Stupid and Unsustainable”…

Another book: “Black Wealth, White Wealth” by Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro. … It’s discusses, among other things, the high rate of incarceration in the US…

There is a massive misuse of our resources in regard to incarceration….

Military budget…. US is spending as much as all of the rest of the world … If we keep spending like currently, we are digging ourselves a big hole…

An article: “For a Fairer America” by Mortimer B. Zuckerm in US News and World Report
In WWII the government controlled almost all economic activity of any consequence…. During the next generation we had the best equality … then began to dissipate with Reagan and afterward.

An article: The Nation, July 6, 2009: “The Most Important Financial Journalist of Her Generation”…. Gretchen Morgenson….

What happened last year was the result of a system of oppression. It was just greed or stupidity…

In Reagan and afterward, corporate American argued for deregulation….

Paul Krugman: The change in america’s financial world was Ronald Reagan’s biggest gift to the western world and it’s the gift that keeps on taking.

Warren Buffet 2005: US is becoming a sharecropper’s society

Another book: Ulrich Duchrow’s Alternatives to Global Capitalism

Lowell believes we will face another financial crisis in a few years. So what’s the implication for CCDA ministries: I suggest you have a subcommittee on your board that looks at this and says, if that happens to be true, what should we do in the meantime…. Out of the ashes what could we build? …

Years ago, in Mondragon, Spain… after a financial catastrophe, they created a whole society based on cooperatives …. Grocery stores, universities,

It is possible to design an economic system that is much more Christian than ours.

Book: The Moral Measure of the Economy by Chuck Collins and Mary Wright.
—- ——-
This was a side note: Economic professors in Christian colleges are very little different from others…. Maybe there is an opportunity there…. We need to take Acts 4 seriously…. Holding things in common…

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2009 by in Money & Economics and tagged , , .
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