Last week, on his way out the door, John Boehner helped to pass a budget deal that postpones economic hostage-taking until after the next election. They somehow managed to increase both defense and domestic spending by artificially manipulating the accounting so that it appears to be paid for. What was never considered, even momentarily, was asking those who have gotten so indecently rich of late to pay more taxes, or to access fees on hedge funds that make money on making money, or to penalize corporations that make record profits but moving them offshore so they don’t pay for the infrastructure that enriches them.
How has it become so completely impossible for the political class even to have a conversation about genuine economic equality? I believe that our politicians have been bought and paid for by corporations and the one percent, yes, but it is more than that. Voters, particularly rural and Southern voters, continue to dependably vote against their own economic interests so that politicians can protect their owners with impunity.
It is my suspicion that the force behind this irrational voting pattern is the same energy that makes the lottery successful. There is a belief, deep within us, that we somehow will become the one percent. British historian R.D. Tawney said, “A society which reverences the attainment of riches as the supreme felicity will naturally be disposed to regard the poor as damned in the next world, if only to justify making their life a Hell in this.”
He has a point. I believe that, from the time it became the state religion with gold crosses and candlesticks, the church has failed to teach that Jesus was a poor peasant relentlessly advocating for the poor. The richer the church became, the more Jesus’ teachings about the dangers of wealth became symbolic. The church became co-conspirators with the rich in making the poor believe that it somehow was their fault that they are poor. Thus, a candidate for president can talk about his father loaning him $1 million without being jeered off the stage. If you weren’t born with a father who had a million to loan you then God must not love you very much … at least that is how too much of Christendom acts these days.
Rev. Michael Piazza