Monday, January 25, 2016

What's in YOUR Wallet?

Monday, January 25, 2016

So Jeremiah sent for Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated all the prophecies that the Lord had given him, Baruch wrote them on a scroll.  Then Jeremiah said to Baruch, “I am a prisoner here and unable to go to the Temple.
So you go to the Temple on the next day of fasting, and read the messages from the Lord that I have had you write on this scroll.  Read them so the people who are there from all over Judah will hear them.  Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before it is too late.  For the Lord has threatened them with his terrible anger.”   Jeremiah 36:4-7(NLT)

According to a New York Times article JPMorgan, Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon got a nice 35% raise this year – from 27 million to 35 million! [2]   

Wonder how he made ends meet before getting that raise?

Meanwhile, my bank, along with the rest of the banks in America pays its customers about ¼ of 1% interest on their savings accounts.[3]  For a modest savings of, let’s say, $5,000, you get $13 per year interest.  Pitiful, but I guess I was spoiled early on.  When I first opened a savings account as a pre-teen, the interest rate was about 20 times higher, 5¼%.  And the mortgage rate my parents paid on their little house was 3%.  Credit cards were not used by the average person back then, but we all seem to live on them today.  The average consumer credit card interest rate today for unpaid balances is 17.55%[4]

So…if I get this right:  if you manage to save up $5,000 and put it in a savings account, the banks can reinvest it and pay you back $13 interest a year!  But if you use that credit card and run up your balance to $5,000 – you have to pay them $877.50 per year. 

Somehow that doesn’t sound like it would be a good idea (except for the banks)!

Now, I know it is a “free country” (except if you borrow money), and I am free to stuff whatever money I want under the mattress; frankly I don’t think my bank would miss me.  And this isn’t a tirade against the banking industry.  But, I just can’t help wondering why, less than 10 years ago the poor banks were being bailed out via the pocket books of middle-class Americans, while the interest those banks returned on life savings for plain people disappeared altogether; and now, in a time when the economy is supposed to be dancing-happily along in recovery, the poor are getting worse off, and the so-called middle class is disappearing altogether.  And the head banker gets an $8,000,000,000 raise!

Is there something intrinsically-wrong with the system?  I wonder.

In Jeremiah’s day (not much different than every other day in human history), the poor were exploited by the rich and God’s prophet delivered the not-so-good-news that God wasn’t pleased.

That we repeat often this oppression of the poor by the rich is a given.  Consider the lottery:  two hundred fifty years ago the cost of a lottery ticket was so high that only the affluent upper-class could afford to play.  Poor people spent what little they had providing for their families.  Today, because of advertising appeals to the get-rich-quick mentality that longs for a way out of poverty, being tied to the temptation of low prices, many under-educated people living in poverty put their children to bed hungry.

That this is a scheme which targets the poor is indefensible.  In city after city the largest numbers of lottery ticket outlets are in the poorest neighborhoods. 

What’s worrisome here is that while we in America are repeating these oppressive, cold-hearted attitudes towards the poor and marginalized, God is aware of every bit of it, and He has been known to repeat judgment on an unrepentant people.

I don’t mind getting just a postage stamp return on the little life-savings I have, but an eight million dollar raise for a CEO, while my poor neighbor’s children starve to death, tells me something is exceedingly wrong in this country.

For You Today

What’s in YOUR wallet?  Hopefully enough to carry a warm meal to a hungry child.

You chew on that out on that Rocky Road today…and have a joy-filled and blessed day!

[1] Title image:  By Lotus Head from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa, via Wikimedia Commons
[3] My Bank Tracker - 0.26% Average rate in U.S.

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