Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

February 23rd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Bernie Sanders (with whom I’d much rather spend an evening with than Hillary Clinton) is almost comical in his sputtering fury against “Wall Street.”  When he panders to students, it’s “Wall Street” that imposes draconian interest rates upon their loans.  When he panders to groups based on skin color, it’s again “Wall Street” that causes their troubles.  No doubt it’s again “Wall Street” that is responsible for this winter’s poor snowfall in Vermont.

It goes without saying that one could easily find human beings who have worked in companies located in buildings on Wall Street that have behaved reprehensibly.  In just the same way, there are more than 700 teachers still employed by New York public schools accused of offenses ranging from violence against students to sexual misconduct who are being paid their full salaries to sit around in what are called ‘rubber rooms’. That fact doesn’t discredit the idea of education any more than miscreants in finance discredit the free market.

The half mile of narrow roadway from the East River to Broadway that we call Wall Street is not much different from the short stretch of 47th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue that we call the Diamond District.  That block of 47th Street contains hundreds of independent jewelry stores and diamond dealers clustered together for increased business effectiveness for all.  Wall Street also comprises hundreds of independent companies clustered for convenience.  In the same way, most cities have furniture districts because clustering of similar businesses is good for all.  Demonizing “Wall Street” is as foolish as demonizing “Broadway” because you dislike theater.

When Bernie shamelessly demonizes Wall Street in order to promote the politics of envy from which he hopes to become the beneficiary, he pointedly pours his wrath out on so-called “Big Business.”  It is certainly true that collusion between giant companies and government has inflicted significant damage upon America’s economy.  The government’s unexplained and barely-noticed seizure of the mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie May are only two recent examples.

Nonetheless, little companies do try to grow as they should, and baby businesses that please their customers tend to become big businesses.  This is not intrinsically bad. But Bernie sees demons when businesses band together geographically-on Wall Street.

This closely mirrors how secular fundamentalists tend to see demons when religious Americans band together geographically in churches.  It is likely that in popular culture the term “Organized Religion” carries greater opprobrium than “Islamic Jihad.”  It is as if a lonely Bible-believing Christian is kind of okay, but just let him join a few thousand other like-minded Christians to form a church and he has transitioned into a terrifying apparition.

Or see how secular fundamentalism venerates the individual. Just let that individual connect with another to build a family and that group of persons we now call a family poses a threat.  Such a threat, that popular culture must react by demonizing the essence of that connection-male/female relationships.

Secular fundamentalism believes in the small ‘g’ of government and not in the large “G” of God.  It prefers that individuals in a society connect chiefly with government in the center.  It believes in the hub and spoke system of social organization.  We all around the circumference of the wheel must connect with government rather than with our fellow citizens. For this reason, secular fundamentalist governments like those in the old Soviet Union and in Cuba sow distrust among citizens.  Everyone is perceived as a possible “informant” and thus it is best to talk to nobody.

By contrast, the Godly model of social organization is a vast and unrestrained network of human connection.  A model that resembles the neurological connections in a human brain rather than the hub and spokes of a wheel.  Clubs, associations, gatherings, groups, and yes, families and business.  Secular fundamentalist governments tend to discourage traditional family life as they discourage privately owned businesses.

Why does popular culture take the side of homosexuality against traditional marriage? Why must it also take the side of obliterating male-female distinction and substituting what it terms non binary gender identities?  One explanation is that families, just like businesses, exist because God created us to connect with others.  We connect sexually to build families and we connect economically to build wealth.  Popular culture, in the firm grip of secular fundamentalism, glorifies the individual over the group, thus businesses and families forming individuals into groups, are both bad-to the Left.

Let me take you back to the Garden of Eden. God punishes Adam by telling him that farming would henceforth become difficult and that he and his descendants would eat vegetables. (Genesis 3:18)

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that Adam was overcome with remorse and prayed to be elevated above animals who also eat vegetation.  In gracious response, God said, “Okay, fine, you may eat a special food unique to humans; it’s called bread and you will have to work for the bread you eat.” (Genesis 3:19)

Bread! The celebration of human connection. The farmer grows the wheat; the miller grinds it into flour.  The baker bakes it and the truck driver brings it to you.  Unlike vegetation which gets plucked and eaten, bread reflects a community.  For this reason throughout ancient Jewish wisdom, the word bread is used as a metaphor for money.  Common clichés reflect this too when we say, “Can you lend me some dough” or “Got any bread on you?”

Thus the Garden of Eden, the embryo of humanity, contains the story of man marrying woman and man eating bread.  In other words, teaches ancient Jewish wisdom, there at the very beginning we see God’s plan that man should connect with other of God’s children through both marriage and money.

It is hardly surprising that secular fundamentalism, the religious that rejects God, opposes both those unifying institutions: marriage and money.  It makes perfect sense.  Who did cause the financial mortgage collapse?  Was it the evil bankers of Wall Street?  Or was it perhaps Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank and their Community Reinvestment Act empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to “meet the credit needs” of “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods” which forced banks to make a quota of housing loans to high risk borrowers?  Could the crisis have been worsened when Dodd and Frank forced Freddie Mac and Fannie May to lower their underwriting standards so that the loans created by their CRA would be purchased?  But of course Congressman Frank who famously said in 2003, “I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation toward subsidized housing” blamed the crisis on the greed of Wall Street.

With all its limitless prosecutorial power, at the end of the entire financial crisis the government had put exactly one banking employee in prison, one luckless Kareem Serageldin of Credit Suisse.  This is not because of any reluctance to prosecute white collar criminals but because there is a big difference between doing something criminal to make money and making inaccurate projections in the pursuit of making money.  There is also a big difference between a bank making its own decisions and being forced to act in accordance with what politicians want it to do.

But Wall Street is a convenient political whipping boy and contrasts nicely with the politician’s polemic of ‘Standing for Main Street against Wall Street.’  Of course without Wall Street, Main Street’s car dealership wouldn’t be making any car loans.

God’s plan for human economic interaction was for His children to engage in free, honest, voluntary and transparent economic exchange for their benefit because, like marriage and family, business brings people together.

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