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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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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bailout 4: How to Use $700 Billion

$700 billion dollars for what? All of a sudden, George Bush thinks there is another $700 billion dollars available to spend. This is the guy whose advisers told him the Iraq war would finance itself, or at most cost about $50 billion. The bill for that debacle is fast approaching $600 billion after five years. What's another $700 billion going down into an abyss?

Of course, these same people say there is no money to fully fund No Child Left Behind, closer to $20 billion per year. There is no money to provide health care for the uninsured (not even for uninsured children through SCHIP), which $700 billion would cover for six or seven years. There is no money to support the Millenium Development Goals which the World Bank says could be funded with $40 to $60 billion per year spread among all the contributors. For Christians familiar with the Micah Challenge, this last example is a part of the shared agenda of churches in many nations.

A few comments from this week's discussions at the United Nations General Assembly seem appropriate here ("No Bailout for the World's Poorest").

Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockman of Nicaragua, the newly-elected president of the General Assembly, warned that the current financial crisis will have "very serious consequences" that will impede the significant progress, "if indeed any progress is made", towards the targets established by the MDGs, "which are themselves insufficient".

"It is always the poor who pay the price for the unbridled greed and irresponsibility of the powerful," he said, taking a passing shot at the staggering 700-billion-dollar bailout proposed by the administration of President George W. Bush to save the high-stakes investment banks of New York from bankruptcy and collapse.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told delegates that "money doesn't seem to be a problem, when the problem is money".

"Let us look for a moment at what is happening on Wall Street and in financial markets around the world. There, unsound investment threatens the homes and jobs of the middle class," he added.

There is something fundamentally wrong, he argued, "when money seems to be abundant, but funds for investment in people seem so short in supply".

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding told the General Assembly that the crisis currently rocking the world's financial markets reflects the inadequacy of the regulatory structures that are essential to the effective functioning of any market.

But it is more than that. It represents the failure on the part of the international financial system to facilitate the flow of resources into areas where they can produce real wealth -- not paper wealth, he added.

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