commentary: A Gift Opens Doors
Hypocritical Finger Pointing Boomerangs on the Europeans
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 04-Oct-08; Sermon #903c; 14 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the shameless government 'bailout' last week, suggests that blatant extortion and bribery were the raw motivating forces behind this unconscionable economic debacle. Prominent United States Senators deferred their 'moral' principles in order to get tax breaks for their constituents (for improving NASCAR facilities, to provide special favor for wooden arrows, and bribing the film industry to work within the United States rather than outsource their work internationally) making disgusting amoral pragmatic choices, tantamount to outright extortion and thievery. The bribe seems to be the magic elixir designed to turn a moral man into a pragmatic amoral man. The European economic powers, following the example of greed of their American tutors, contributed to throwing the world's economic systems into a global panic and turmoil.
Well, this has been quite a week. When I was younger, I can remember looking back on some event that I was reading about, whether it be in fiction, or maybe in a history book, or whatever—something along that line—and wondering what it would be like to live through that momentous event. Well, you are living through one right now, and before the end of this little talk, I think you are going to be able to see that it's bigger than you think.
There were two things entirely different in nature that caught my attention in the aftermath of the recent events concerning the bailout. There are many things about its specifics I do not understand in the least, but of these two things that I am going to speak of, I at least understand a little bit and I lament about at least one of them—the first one I am going to say. The second one, though, I find ironically laughable.
I am going to read to you three scriptures to provide a bit of a foundation for what I say here first. The first one is Ecclessiastes 7:7, where it says,
Ecclessiastes 7:7 Surely oppression destroys a wise man’s reason, and a bribe debases [or, destroys] the heart [or, the understanding].
We are going to link this with Proverbs 18:16, where it says,
Proverbs 18:16 A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.
Then in Proverbs 19:6,
Proverbs 19:6 Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.
Now, the gift in the second and third proverb also give the implication off a bribe, but not necessarily so. Just because one gives a gift does not necessarily mean that it is a bribe, but very definitely in the first verse—Ecclesiastes 7:7—it was implied very strongly by Solomon that he was talking about extortion—a bribe—and that extortion destroys one's understanding.
When we connect that thought with the other two Proverbs, what we see is that a gift—whether it's a bribe or simply a gift given in sincerity and not for any reason to get anything—has persuasive influence. It puts the receiver under obligation to the giver, so that he will do things in some cases he otherwise would not do. So the two Proverbs verses do not imply a bribe, but it still puts the receiver of the gift into a sense of obligation. It influences him in that direction.
Now, when the House of Representatives rejected the original bailout proposal, the news media immediately reported that the Bush administration and leaders of the House and the Senate stated that they would be lobbying hard in order to get a favorable vote for their proposal. The media also reported that there was going to be a great deal of arm twisting going on. In other words, deals were going to be made in order to get a favorable vote from those who originally voted against the proposal.
Here is an example reported in the newspaper of the kind of deals that really upset me. One Senator admitted that he changed his vote when the powers in the Senate agreed to provide NASCAR—along with some other entertainment entitie—a guaranteed tax break. Now we find other deals were struck, one of which gave millions of dollars to the entertainment industry, for example, in order to persuade them to do their filming in the United States instead of outside of the United States. A deal was struck that gave the manufacturer off wooden arrows a tax break, and many others of like design were passed.
Now, do you see what this Senator admitted to? He allowed himself—he allowed his vote—to be bought when somebody that he considered to be a constituent of his was given a break, and the cost of this tax break could then be added to the $700 billion bailout amount.
It was reported that by the time that all of his wheeling and dealing was over, the $700 billion had grown to $800 billion—the cost of it. What we are seeing here is the nobility in this country being influenced by a gift, which in turn opens doors for their constituents and allows them to make a pragmatic choice. You know what pragmatic means—it means whatever you have to do to make the deal. That's basically what it means. In many cases, these people are skirting along the edge of morality and in other cases it is out right thievery. What do these things that were added to the bill have anything at all to do with the actual bailout?
There is nothing wrong with the principle of seeking wise counsel from others who may understand more thoroughly than you what the problem is, which is ostensibly what these Senators and Representatives are supposed to do. But what we are learning from experience such as this is that this carnal republican form of government has a built-in weakness that eventually dooms it's destruction to revolution. It's on its way, if time goes on long enough, because that is the direction toward which it is headed.
This weakness existed from our nation's beginning. During the constitutional convention held in Philadelphia in 1787, there was an issue that was debated back and forth with great heat and a lot of arm-twisting, and it was never resolved. So the solution of the debaters was to sweep the issue under the rug by agreeing to disagree and looking the other way. The issue was slavery. Despite the fact that our Declaration of Independence says that all men were created equal, in parentheses it said in these people's minds "except for the Chinese; except for the Japanese; except for the Indians and except for the blacks." Everybody else was equal. So, they turned their back on the issue. But here is the problem with pragmatism: It came back to bite the United States 70 years later in the most critical period of time this nation ever went through—the civil war. It didn't die.
The way they are handling this issue in Washington, D.C. on this bailout, it's not going to die, either, because of things like I just said to you. It's going to come back and bite us. What I am getting at here is the truth that human nature will not permit man to fully focus on truly moral solutions, because as intelligent as these people are, true solutions lie in the hand of God, and these men are not yet attuned to God and His solutions.
The ironic part of this week's revelations comes from Europe. In fact, it comes from the UK in a news bulletin from The Telegraph. The news bulletin was titled, "Financial Crisis," in big, bold letters, subheaded, "So Much for the Tirades Against American Greed." It was authored by Ambrose Evans Pritchard, who often writes on global economic issues. This was dated the 2nd of October, so it is right up to date. Listen to this:
It took a weekend to shatter the complacency of German finance minister Peer Steinbrück. Last Thursday he told us that the financial crisis was an "American problem", the fruit of Anglo-Saxon greed and inept regulation that would cost the United States its "superpower status". Pleas from US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson for a joint US-European rescue plan to halt the downward spiral were rebuffed as unnecessary.
By Monday, Mr Steinbrück was having to orchestrate Germany's biggest bank bail-out, putting together a €35 billion loan package to save Hypo Real Estate. By then Europe was "staring into the abyss," he admitted. Belgium faced worse. It had to nationalise Fortis (with Dutch help), a 300-year-old bastion of Flemish finance, followed a day later by a bail-out for Dexia (with French help).
Within hours they were all trumped by Dublin. The Irish government issued a blanket guarantee of the deposits and debts of its six largest lenders in the most radical bank bail-out since the Scandinavian rescues in the early 1990s. Then France upped the ante with a €300 billion pan-European lifeboat for the banks. The drama has exposed Europe's dark secret for all to see. EU banks took on even more debt leverage than their US counterparts, despite the tirades against ''le capitalisme sauvage'' of the Anglo-Saxons.
You know, what we saw from theat was nothing more than a lot of self-righteous finger pointing. They had fallen victim to the same greed that is contained within human nature as the Americans did. And when you add all off the bankruptcies together—France, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal, Italy, ireland and the Scandinavian countries—they are worse off than we are. Interesting, is it not? Human nature is universal, and in that sense, we are all in the same bucket.