This week the threatened tariffs from Canada, China, and the European Union that were initiated in response to the U.S tariffs initiated by #45 have gone into effect. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is protesting, the stock markets are wavering, and at least one manufacturer – Harley- Davidson – has decided to move some of its manufacturing to Europe to avoid tariffs on its motorbikes sold in the EU. Meanwhile, Mr. “Art of the Deal” assures us that his phone is ringing off the hook with countries wanting to make a deal to undo this trade war. These developments follow on the heels of #45’s disparaging remarks about his G-7 partners, his threats to NATO, his embrace of North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, and his eagerness to meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. It is as if the global capitalist powers are at war with themselves and despots and dictators are being embraced for the “strength.”
Meanwhile, thousands of migrant parents from Central America have been separated from their children, while others are being detained in tent cities in the blistering Texas heat. Simultaneously #45 and his conservative Congressional cronies and Jeff Sessions seek to “get tough” on immigration. At the same time, a similar scenario plays out in Europe where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under fire for imploring the German people, as well as her European allies to develop an open and compassionate approach to immigration in this time of a global migrant crisis. In language that echoes the words of Jesus in his famous sheep and the goats parable of Matthew 25 (i), Merkel has challenged her colleagues and citizens with the idea that how they handle the migrant crisis is a reflection of whether or not they truly embrace the democratic values of justice and freedom they freely proclaim.
While these two issues at first glance may not seem connected, in reality, they are deeply connected as they are the result of a neoliberal capitalism run amok, benefitting the few at the expense of the many. For those who may not be familiar with the term, “neoliberalism” is a social, political and economic theory that believes “competition is the only legitimate organizing activity for human activity” (ii). Neoliberals from Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama believe that competition in the “market” leads to the best result whether talking about tires, schools, healthcare or how to treat refugees. It’s a philosophy in which there are winners and losers, with no regret or recompense for the losers. In the world of neoliberals Presidents, Prime Ministers, CEOs, hedge fund managers and the like are “winners,” and the poor and the migrants are the losers. Those in between are the pawns manipulated to justify the inequity. However, what is seldom acknowledged is that global capitalists made sure the game was rigged in their favor so that elections were bought and paid for, and few if any radical voices – like a Bernie Sanders or the new Mexican President Obrador – get in.
The refugees and migrants seeking asylum in Europe are a result of decades-old manipulation of Middle East geopolitics all for the control of oil in the Mideast and precious metals in Africa. The thousands of migrants gathering at the U.S. southern border are the result of decades of U.S. intervention in Central American politics that have left countries like Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua struggling with poverty and violence. No doubt the leaders in those countries are responsible too, but one can only wonder how much they have been manipulated and used in the cause of “development’ i.e. spreading global capitalism.
And now the capitalists are fighting among themselves, instituting tariffs as a way of somehow protecting their economies that are inextricably linked together in the global capitalist web. As much as I detested #45’s rude and arrogant behavior toward is G-7 counterparts, I could not stir up much pity for the recipients of #45’s remarks. Rather I could only marvel at how the people whose countries control an overwhelming percentage of world’s wealth could be so petty with each other and so callous toward the truly poor in their midst and the migrants on their borders. On one level, one can only hope the greedy lions devour one another except for the fact on another level, the ones who will suffer will not be the CEOs, bankers, stock brokers and political leaders, but it will be the people who are only numbers (GDP, GNP, Employment rates etc.) on a balance sheet (such as, the Harley Davidson workers who will lose their jobs). Meanwhile, God who abides with poor and the oppressed, looks on as thousands at borders long only for a comfortable bed, a safe home and the basic essentials of life, weeps.
We should weep with them and in our sorrow, march, as thousands did last weekend and continue to raise our voices for a new order built not on greed but on compassion.
- Jesus: “When you did it unto the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it unto me.”
- Metcalf, S. (2017) Neoliberalism: The idea that swallowed the world. The Guardian. Retrieved at https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world
Drick, with all due respect you are so out of touch with reality. Since you hate capitalism and the U.S.A. so much why don’t you move to Venezuela? Be sure to tell us how it is down there.
As always Drick, I appreciate your ideas, perceptions, insights and analyses. I never leave reading your blogs without a lot to contemplate and think about. I’ve been deeply disturbed by 45’s alienation of our enemies while chumming up with other oppressive leaders like himself. It all seems terribly dangerous to me – and as always, it will be those who are barely making ends meet who are going to suffer the most – except for all those who have been cut from public insurance and other funding. I’m going to go ruminate on what you’ve shed light on.
Like you, I am very concerned about where all the power and money are concentrated at the expense of whom. The “Protection of the Middle Class” with little to no mention of those at the bottom of the economic rung, with whom Jesus most identified are rarely mentioned. I’ve been teaching some of the more fortunate of those from the bottom rung, who make sacrifices unhearof to the majority of the middle class in the same age cohorts and when they finish their college degrees, they will still have to overcome the white supremacy and white privilege that will purposefully exclude them – especially if the Supreme Court does away with protection of equalities – Affirmative Action and Federal Workforce Diversity.
Attempting to avoid being judgmental while practicing discernment, I believe that if we are not weeping over the ways 45 and his swamp-full are oppressing the most wounded, the hungry, homeless, the strangers at our borders then we have missed sharing the heart of Jesus. If we are not weeping over the separation of children from their parents then we are not in the Matthew 25 being welcomed into the Kingdom. And, not just weeping, but protesting, marching, participating with others to bring an authentic stop to incarcerating asylum seekers and/with their children we are missing the whole message of the Bible, especially the message of Jesus.
The greed and protectionism espoused by so-called followers of Jesus is astounding and should also cause us to weep. I love what Shane Claiborne says – “If we have two coats and another person doesn’t have one we have stolen that person’s coat” loosely quoted but definitely the meaning. I also love Bryan Stevenson’s message to anyone who will listen – We have to get proximate with suffering people, with the oppressed, the marginalized, the manipulated and abused. We have to write a new narrative that will replace Slave-Holder Religion and legitimacy for White Privilege with something akin to all people are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (I know that was originally written to mean white, land-owner men of some means – but we have grown past those limitations – or at least if we are authentically seeking to follow Jesus, we have).
Thank you for your high level (at least for me they are high-level) thought and conscience inspiring Perspectives and Paradigms.
Don’t forget to mention that black unemployment is the lowest it’s been in years under Trump. One of the bests way out of poverty is to have a job.
Steven – You are correct in saying the unemployment rate among African Americans is as low as its been in 45 years. In 2016 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the overall unemployment rate was 4.9%. For blacks the rate was 8.4% and for whites 4.3%, half the rate among blacks. In Dec 2017 Pres. Trump announced that African American unemployment had hit a new low of 6.8%. The unemployment rate for whites had dropped to 3.7% and overall the rate of unemployment was 4.1%. So, yes African Americans benefitted from the overall decrease in unemployment and yet the rate is still twice that of whites. I am not sure what your point is. Racism has not been erased – the gap remains — and that is just in employment. We could look at incarceration rates for similar crimes, school funding disparities based on race, overall health care, and voting rights Things may have gotten marginally better, but disparties continue. That’s what I try to call attention to. Remember the Emancipation Proclamation was issued155 years ago and equity has not yet been achieved.
A job is a job and it’s a good start. Question for you both. Did the black unemployment rate go down under Obama?
There’s more to that picture Steve Miller. It is missing the fact that while the unemployment may be down most of those jobs do not pay a living wage so workers are forced to work two and three jobs; the jobs of which you speak do not pay benefits, overtime, holiday pay, insurance or vacations. Even if we choose to believe the unemployment rate is due to 45, people are still worse off because the income base for receiving public insurance has gone up so many, many people have been kicked off and now have no insurance.
If you are a follower of Jesus, I challenge you to compare what the Bible says – even if you just read Matthew 25 – with the policies of this administration. Don’t do it from a defensive stance – you don’t have to post here even with what you come up with a desire to understand and to reconcile your religion with your politics. I’ve had to do that – it’s been a long journey and I have not arrived; but I’ve come a long way and am so much closer to the mind of Christ along the way. Blessings to you.
I’ve more than reconciled my religion with my politics. It’s start with the sanctity of life and that includes life in the womb. Mother Teresa said it best. Look it up if you dare. You can go on and on about your white privelege and racism but the real problem is all the black kids growing up with out a Dad. And the white famlies are catching up to the black families that don’t have Dad. It’s scary and it has nothing to do racism and white privelge what ever the heck that is.
Correction – I meant alienation of our allies, not alienation of our enemies.