The Problem is not Mexicans

One of Trump’s first agendas is to deport 3 million immigrants. He still wants to build a wall between The United States and Mexico, insinuating that one of  America’s core problems is about race and ethnicity.

This is smoke and mirrors. The Problem is not Mexicans. We must stand together against this lie. This propaganda is leading us away from one of the biggest problems facing the United States. According to Oxfam’s article An Economy for the 1%: How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme Inequality and How This Can Be Stopped, “the richest 1% have now accumulated more wealth than the rest of the world put together...Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half of humanity has fallen by $1 Trillion in the past five years”, which Oxfam estimates to be a drop of 38%. Wealth Inequality in America, a 6.23 minute video on YouTube by Politizane, notes that an average working person in America has to work a month to make what a top CEO in America makes in one hour. The majority of US citizens are becoming more skeptical about their financial future, not to mention the future of their children.

BBC’s article Hitler’s Rise to Power, discusses how the Treaty of Versailles continued to eat at people. After WWI, Germany was given a raw deal since they lost the war which depleted them of their wealth. Then there was the Great Depression that made people even more desperate. Their skepticism of the government’s handling of these events made them want change. According to the BBC, “many workers turned to communism but this frightened wealthy businessmen, so they financed Hitler’s campaign. Under the Hitler regime, the Jews, the gays and the gypsies became scapegoats. It was argued that if Germany got rid of them, their problems would drastically improve. The fact of the matter is Jews, Gypsies and gays were not the problem. However, it seemed logical at the time  because people do stupid things when they are scared and desperate.

As Americans, the working class is loosing ground by the day as the gap between the rich and the poor grows. Those at the top are gaining not only more money, but more power in politics, the media and throughout the world. This is allowing them to make the rules that govern.  Thom Hartmann, in his book The Crash of 2016, says “We no longer have an economy that’s geared to benefit working people around the world; we have an economy that’s geared to exploit them for Wall Street Profits”. Hartmann goes on to quote Rastani in a BBC interview: “The governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world”. Goldman Sachs is a bank that greatly benefited 2008 Bank Bailout but is now one of the richest businesses in the world.

Americans are becoming desperate and skeptical of their government for good reason. So we elect a person who says he will fix our problems. Meanwhile, Trump wants to get rid of Mexicans and other immigrants as one of his top agendas. When the KKK recently had a speech of theirs broadcasted saying “Hail Trump”, while raising their hands in the exact same way as the Nazis did to Hitler, and talking about how he was going to make the white man great again, Trump’s campaign, when asked, made zero denouncements of the KKK. Before this, he appointed Stephen Bannon, president of a White Nationalist paper, chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon was also a former banker at Goldman Sachs.

America, we are in hard times. Many of us are scared and desperate. Please do not let history repeat itself as it did in Germany.

We can stand together as we did with FDR. America was also desperate when he was elected. The difference was that he pulled all Americans together instead of blaming a group due to color, race or ethnicity. He put checks and balances on wealth to even out a playing field that was so favoring of the wealthy that we have not seen it’s like again until now.

Stand Up and Stand Together. YOU make a difference.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus

“The love of money is the root of all evil”. – Jesus





Love God, Love Other People

Jesus declared that to love God is the greatest commandment, followed by love for others. He stated that all of the laws stem from these two commands. Jesus led by example. For instance: he left his throne to pay our debts; he was born into a stable instead of a palace; he had no place to lay his head; he healed the sick; fed the hungry; and he washed his disciples’ feet.

Compare this to our current world situation where the richest countries, (the USA being the richest and most powerful), own 80 times the wealth of the poorest countries. Within the United States of America, the richest 20% possess 85% of the wealth, and the poorest 40% possess 0.3% of the wealth.1

Jesus told a rich man to sell all his possessions and give them all to the poor, then follow him. He talked of the rich fool who hoarded wealth without looking after the needs of others. Jesus said the first would be last and the last would be first. He talked of sheep who helped their neighbors and were put on the blessed side, and goats who were oblivious to those in need and were put on the side of judgment. Jesus commended the Good Samaritan who helped the person in need along his journey and told others to go and do likewise. Jesus talked of a complacent rich man who ignored Lazarus during his life, a rich man who later suffered while Lazarus sat by Abraham’s side.

Contrast Jesus’ words to the situation in the U.S.A where the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of Black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households.2

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring”. MLK3
Monopoly is a fun game to play. Fun, that is, until you start to lose everything. This is inevitable for all but one player. Suppose the person to whom you were paying $2,000, for landing on Board Walk with a hotel, right after paying her $1,150 for landing on Ventnor Ave with a hotel, said she felt charitable and gave you $5? Now suppose that same person gave herself 10 times more money than anyone else, along with a few properties and hotels thrown in at the beginning of the game? You may not feel grateful.

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, ‘This is not just.’” MLK4

Bangladesh has the lowest minimum wage in the world at 21¢/hr.5 There have been at least four tragedies due to unsafe working conditions in the last two years. Factories have very inhumane working conditions. Yet it is the third largest exporter of garments to the U.S.6 Meanwhile, the Ford plant in St. Paul, MN, which has been in operation for almost a century, employing 1,800 hourly workers in 2006, closed it’s doors this summer.7 Those jobs have gone to countries where workers are paid far less. Exploitation of people for the love of money abounds. Our world tells us to love financial gain over people. However, Jesus called the love of money the root of all evil.

Are there areas where our life styles contradict the very teachings of the God we profess to follow? If so, how can we change to live more like Jesus and bring his whole gospel to the world? 8

“God yearns to interact with young people, and he is in the business of using them to do incredible things in the world.” Efrem Smith

Our youth groups have great potential to be God’s agents to bring the whole gospel to the world! Isaiah 6:8 – “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” NIV

I am offering classes, geared to youth, on God’s call to bring his love to the world by not only preaching the Good News, but also by loving our neighbors as ourselves through our actions.

The sessions will be split into an active game, followed by an interactive teaching which includes a variety of stimulus to keep youth involved and interested. At the end of the class we will work on projects that impact our world. Youth have many good ideas and lots of energy. Therefor, their ideas, talents and involvement are of great value to furthering God’s kingdom. Networking with other groups and sharing ideas will be encouraged after the sessions.

Saved by grace through Jesus Christ, we are empowered to make a great impact on our world.

Class Information:

• These sessions are appropriate for youth groups, retreats and Sunday school classes. Four hours are recommended, but the number of days we meet is flexible.
• Classes are free, though materials, such as Fair Trade T-shirts, which we make for the youth group/VBS, need to be purchased.
• Contact me to discuss your thoughts.Bibliography

1Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely, Building a Better America-One Wealth Quintile at a Time, Perspectives on Psychological Science 2011 6:9.

2Rakesh Kochhar, Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends 26 July 2011.

3Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam-A Time To Break Silence, Riverside Church, New York City, 4 April 1967.

4Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam-A Time To Break Silence, Riverside Church, New York City, 4 April 1967.

5Bangladesh Garment Wages the Lowest in the World-Comparative Garment Worker Wages, Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights
19 Aug. 2010.

6Bangladesh Garment Wages the Lowest in the World-Comparative Garment Worker Wages, Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights
19 Aug. 2010.

7”St. Paul: The Ford Site: Think Jobs for the Long Term”, Pioneer Press 11 June 2013.

8Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010)

Will Your Church Be a Pioneer for Economic Change?

As Christians, we tell our kids to be kind to other kids. We tell our kids to neither steal nor cheat.

While I am a Christian in America that has been teaching these godly principals to my daughters for years, I am finding that I am profiting from a system that is doing just that.

What if we, as American Christians, find that we are a part of a system that bullies millions of people worldwide, stealing from them their very livelihood so that we may live in more luxury? What if we find that we are as well off as we are because of other people’s bullying? You may never have stolen another persons lunch as a kid. But, what if someone else routinely stole a lunch from a smaller kid, and then shared that kids lunch with you? If you knew of this action, would you be guilty by association? If you had a suspicion that this was going on but never looked into it, but kept accepting the lunch, (It was a really good lunch), would you be part of the problem?

America had slaves to help them produce. Now, corporations are pulling their production left and right from the United States to other countries where they can pay workers sometimes 1/10 of 1% of the profits they make since there are very low standards of work conditions and wages in other countries, while these same companies are making sometimes billions of dollars for their CEO’s and share holders. As consumers, we feel amazed at the low prices we pay and go home thinking we hit gold when in fact it is stolen property. As factories go overseas, Americans lose jobs. Those families who still have jobs sometimes have to have two full time jobs to support a family. Those who were unable to go to college often work 60 – 80 hour weeks and still get no health coverage for their family, no benefits and no paid time off. The Republicans and democrats argue over how much money we should give to the poor. I believe God would say. “Why don’t you pay an honest wage to your laborer and an honest price for your purchases so that a laborer can support a family on his/her own, drastically cutting down on the number of poor in the country?

When we buy items which are made in other countries and do not concern ourselves with the working conditions of the laborers or if they are receiving enough money to stay even above poverty, we are being complacent. If I had been sharing a lunch with someone who stole it from another kid for years and did not know it, I may be guilty by association. If I was told this was happening, knew it was a possibility but never looked into it, I would be more responsible than the first scenario. If, however, I became aware of that fact that I was eating a stolen lunch and made no effort to either stop eating that lunch or put a stop to the stealing, I would then be held partially responsible for the damages done to the person who lost their lunch.

American Christians have buying power. We also have a voice. We presently have more power than any country on the planet. We can start making a difference. To not try is now complacency as we start to see the truth.

Will your church be a pioneer in a Christian effort to end economic exploitation once and for all?

Write to me with your ideas.

Keep posted.

Learn more from sources such as the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.

Learn how you can support organizations that provide living wages and good working conditions such as Alta Gracia Apparel.

Start providing Equal Exchange Coffee during your church’s coffee hour.

Buy your church’s T-Shirts for functions from organizations like Madres Solteras, one of the very few factories in Central America that has a living wage and fair working conditions.

Either help start a factory/company that is fair trade or support companies that are currently documented by reliable sources to be fair trade.

Network to find other ways to help those who labor for our purchases.

There are small steps you can take now. If the church of Jesus pulls together, we can be a strong force towards ending a tremendous evil. However, if the church supports such evils while continuing to benefit from the profits, without taking any steps towards the right direction, our witness will become less effective. Even small steps in the right direction are important. Complacency is a very dangerous thing. Pray about what God is calling your church to do, even if it is one small step forward.

Blessings and Love to you,

Your Fellow Believer in Jesus Christ

“There are no sewing plants here anymore”

On December 22, 2009, wrote an article called “12 Reasons Companies Outsource Operations Overseas“. The first reason they gave was to lower wages. They went on to say that the average wage for a manufacturing worker in China was still $0.60/hr. and Mexico’s average wage was $2.46/hr. “Needless to say, an executive whose primary obligation is to delivering maximum return to his shareholders is strongly motivated to outsource such operations as can be outsourced without unacceptable losses in quality”.

The fact that the primary obligation is delivering maximum financial gain is where our culture strays from God’s word. (If you happen to not consider yourself a follower of Jesus, this would not necessarily concern you. However, if you truly have a relationship with Jesus, don’t feel judged, just read on) . Gain in and of itself is not considered wrong in the Bible. However, gain by exploiting others is forbidden. Jeremiah 6:13+ states “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain, prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace, they say, when there is not peace’”.

In response to the article above, a person wrote: “I was a spreader/cutter in the apparel industries (sewing plants) making beautiful clothes, helped a few close down to start operations in other countries where they get cheap ‘cheap’ labor… we are being put out of jobs for slave laborers in other countries… there are no sewing plants here anymore…”

If the primary goal of the company, consumer and stock holder is gain, then the decision to outsource to a company in China for $0.60/hr. regardless of their working conditions and insufficient wages, needless to say the loss of jobs right here in the USA, is quite logical. However, Jesus states in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other, You cannot serve both God and Money”.

This example in and of itself is not very convincing evidence that our culture is leaning more towards money as our god than any one religion. However, this is the first entry. Please return at a later date for other entries. Also, it is not very productive to point out a problem without at least looking towards a solution. Therefore, with each entry there will be a suggestion to start change, a goal to work towards, and an invitation for readers to brainstorm together. As a tailor and the Bible would say in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”.

Suggestions to start change:

Pray that God will show us his concern for the people that produce for us, that we will appreciate their hard work an give them worthy payment for their work.

Employ a local tailor to sew one thing for you.

Get your church to buy t-shirts from a fair trade company for things like Bible schools, summer camps and fund raisers. One organization is Madres Solteras in El Salvador. It is owned by the workers, gives a living wage, and their bottom line is the employees.

Long Term Visions for the Church:

The church of God to support or establish a fair trade company that pays a living wage, empowers its employees and has good working conditions.

The church of God to start their own labeling system; visiting factories and giving stamps of approval to just places, hopefully making people aware of their buying power and their responsibility to use it wisely.

Jesus says in Matthew 23:37+ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. We can not systematically love our neighbors around the world as ourselves and at the same time, value money above the common good of the people who produce for us.