Now and then I miss some of the old cliches which an earlier generation used as a kind of shorthand for teaching values and wisdom. Seeing the incredible range of choices we have for nearly every product or service we want, for example, I’m often reminded of the old saying, “Like a kid in a candy store.”
Now as America is slowly struggling out of the financial mess of the last few years, I find another old mot coming to mind: “Don’t put the fox in charge of the hen house.” I’m not one to say the bailouts in the financial and industrial sectors were failures. In fact, I can’t even figure out why the Republican ads keep referring to the “failed” bailouts, since they obviously succeeded.
Bun in one way they fell short. I say this to the discredit of the Obama administration, though I know it would have been far worse had we had a Republican in the White House. The problem, it seems to me, is that we have relied heavily upon the greedy fools who created the problem to be the ones to fix it. Just as we ought to have expected, the wealthy have gotten wealthier in the last four years, especially the large financial institutions.
In 1999 North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan warned his fellow Senators that the deregulation of the financial industry was going to lead to serious problems for America. All but seven others ignored him and we’ve all paid a huge price for they ignorance. Contrary to those who think free enterprise and big business and wealthy CEOs are the solution to America’s problems, we desperately need better and tighter regulation. The rich and powerful have forfeited the right to be trusted.
More deeply, we need to cry out against the celebration of greed. It is still one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Always has been. Always will be.
“Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God” (Luke 12:15-21).