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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bailout 1: Mary Nelson and Job Losses

Mary Nelson, a leader I admire greatly, wrote the following about the current Wall Street mess on the Sojourners God's Politics blog.

In Money We Trust
by Mary Nelson 09-23-2008

The Wall Street debacle reminds me of the fall of Babylon … of the excesses of greed over the common good and the little folks (like the ones in my low-income community) getting the short stick both before, during, and after. A recent article talked about how, in the last few years, the fear of the risks of getting discovered and regulated were overcome by sheer greed. Greed over fear. Clearly, this is a time for sackcloth and ashes for some. It strikes me as sheer nonsense that our money has “In God We Trust” clearly printed on it. It is more appropriate to say, “In Money We Trust.” Our misplaced spending priorities mean $12 billion a month on war in Iraq and Afghanistan, propping up big corporations without capping their personal profits, but neglecting poor people without homes, health insurance, and quality public education.

But we all have gone haywire in this atmosphere of excessive greed, thinking we could get rich or richer, making risky choices and spending far more than we need to get what we want. Buying and spending was promoted after 9/11 to help get the country going again: “Go out and buy,” the president said. In our community financial education classes, we help people understand the difference between needs and wants. Our officials and a lot more of us need to understand and act on the difference between needs and wants as well.

Mary Nelson is president emeritus of Bethel New Life, a faith-based community development corporation on the west side of Chicago. She is also a board member of Sojourners.

What were the risks people took? Analysts on the radio today said that if something does not ease the financial crisis, lines of credit will dry up, meaning many small and medium sized businesses, and some large ones, will not be able to make payroll. Average folks will start losing their jobs. Large corporations will not be able to get quick loans to keep their operations going, and plants could shut down. We already know that the big companies are almost through raiding the pension funds and health care promises they made to workers. The ones who are hurt the most are not the ones playing games with the millions and billions. A person who loses ten out of twenty million is not nearly so bad off as someone who loses her only livelihood in a bi-weekly or monthly paycheck.

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