Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bad Markets

I think we have a subject that lends itself to a salad of discussion in the current corporate scandals and I’m going to start by expressing some of my own philosophy tossed with a bit of religion.
I have a deep faith in God (despite the desires of certain Federal judges).  There are many reasons. As a younger man I was a crusader against church and religion.  I still am at odds with some churches, but not with The Church; that is, the true Body of Christ.
When the Better Half lost our seventh child (and ironically seven is an portent number in Judeo-Christian history) she was in deep depression. The baby died at birth and the doctors were urging my wife to have her tubes tied, to give up thinking about having a baby.  She had had an operation called something like chi rock (which is probably not quite how you say it and is certainly not how you spell it) in which essentially a drawstring is implanted that is supposed to hold the fetus in place.  One of the Better Half’s problems was she could not hold on to the baby once it reached a certain weight. We had suffered two previous stillbirths because of this affliction.  The other four were all miscarriages.
When she began to lose this baby in her fifth month she was put in the hospital labor room and they hooked up a drip designed to stall labor. She was in this room a week struggling to hold on to the child. They had a monitor attached to her and you could hear the baby’s heart beat on the monitor.  I sat in that room many hours with her listening to a pretty strong heart fighting to survive and something in that sound convinced me there was a god. I didn’t come to believe in the God until later, but that was the start, even though in the end she lost the battle and the baby.
During her depression I suggested maybe we should try church one more time. I figured at least it would get her out of the house and around other people.  They had just built a new church down the road from us and so we went there the next Sunday. The pastor spoke on Elijah and what he said hit me as addressing exactly where I was and how I felt at the time. ( I Kings 19:4 But [Elijah] himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.)
The point was that Elijah was a very good man and he had done everything God had asked of him and now he found himself hiding in the wilderness in despair because the rich and powerful had sworn to kill him.  Much like Job, a good man losing everything to evil because he was a good man. This is where I felt I was then (and probably I’m back it that wilderness again now).  This was a church that gave a call at the end of each service and I raised my hand for prayer. Two weeks later I went forward and accepted Christ.
I began to read the Bible and now I understood it and found it made sense when you took it all in context and it seemed to explain exactly what the current day was like and where we were headed in this world.  In fact everyday that part of the message gets cleared and clearer.  This satisfied my intellectual needs.  Then in 1977 when the Better Half became preggers again and the doctors didn’t even want to take her case because they said there was no hope and she was a fool for letting herself get pregnant. (I was shocked, because she had told me she had had her tubes tied after she lost the last baby, but now she confessed she had lied because she still wanted to try and have a baby of her own. Personally I had already accepted the idea of never being a parent.)
A Christian doctor took her case and she had that operation again and he put her to bed for term.  Our new church began prayer circles just for us and they brought meals to us.  I was working, going to school and doing all the housework, cooking whatever. The Better Half could only be on her feet briefly, so in the morning she walked from the bedroom to the living room sofa.  I had arranged the living room to be as handy as possible for her, TV in easy reach, a cooler with some food and drink, etc.
She had our daughter on March 1, 1978 during a snowstorm. She was sure she was losing another, because it was coming way early. They tried to slow labor again and then they gave her steroids to help develop the baby’s lungs. This must have worked because Daughter #1 was born crying loud and angrily, as if disturbed from a sound sleep.  We named her Laurel for Laurel Hill Bible Church and Christine, which means “one of Christ’s”.   And then we had two more babies.
Noelle was born with no human aid. (Again the Better Half had lied about having her tubes tied after Laurel was born.)  When she realized she was pregnant again she thought she was about the second month. She wasn’t showing and it was November.  She never did go to a doctor.  In December, she though she was having a miscarriage and I took her to the hospital. Noelle was born, but not expected to live.  She was only 4 pounds.  They rushed her from Delaware County Hospital to Fitzgerald-Mercy, which had a neonatal intensive care unit. There she stayed all December. The doctors decided she would live, but said she would be blind and severely mentally handicapped. She had to have a blood transfusion because the Better Half and I have conflicting Rh factors. She had jaundice. She was down to 3 pounds 6 ounces.
She came home on January 1, 1981 in a giant red Christmas stocking. She didn’t die, wasn’t blind and hardly mentally incapacitated. She was in the honors classes in high school; she won several academic awards over the years, including the Presidential Academic Excellence Award.  I always said God gave us Noelle to prove it was He and not men behind the miracles of my children’s births.  Then He gave us Darryl so we’d have a son.  All were supposedly impossible births according to medical science.
I give you this testimony so you understand I do have a faith in a God who sets a standard for right and wrong, and I believe what we see everyday in the news now was predicted many centuries ago. And I also want to deal with the subject of money and riches that is often misinterpreted. And I want, if you’ll forgive a bit of preaching, quote the Bible a bit on the subject.

I do not think there is anything inherently immoral or sinful in having money or being rich. I know nothing in the Bible that says money or wealth is wrong. People misquote the Bible all the time on this.  We are always hearing “money is the root of all evil”. That is not what the actual quote says in 1 Tim 6:9-10
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

It is not money per se that is evil.  It is the love of money. Treating money as simply a reward and a need and a tool is fine and necessary, but when you love money and crave more money, then you open up yourself for evil. Notice it says this love is the root of all evil.  Not some evil, but all evil and you look at what is happening and you can see this everywhere. No one is satisfied with having a comfortable profit and a comfortable life, they want more and more, money for the sake of saying they have a lot of money, money beyond all need and all want really.  If I can clear away a third of the debt burden I have, I could live a very nice life on the money I make. When I clear all my current debt, I can live a quiet nice life on my pension and social security and neither is a great deal of money.  There is probably nothing I need and very little that I want materially that I could not obtain on that income. What might someone possible need or want that multiple upon multiple of millions of dollars is able to buy?  Oh sure power and anything they want, but really there is a limit to what you really, really would want to get. And certainly a limit to what you need.
I am not against things or comfort.  I see money as freedom. But I can have some freedom with a minimal amount of money. I don’t need a mansion and certainly not mansions in several different places. After all, you can only live in one room at a time. I want a car that is reliable and gets me from point A to point B. It doesn’t have to be bigger and faster and shinier than my neighbors. I’m just grateful I can afford to have a car.
Look around at how many people are possessions poor. They have the big SUV and the fancy sports model and bills up the tailpipe. They teeter constantly on the edge of disaster simply because they want toys that say I have more than you do.  Don’t need to play that game. I have no problem with who I am. I don’t envy anyone, because I don’t really know his or her real situation.
But there are things I want. I do want my PC. That helps me keep in contact with people and it lets me do research on subjects that interest me and it is a tool for my writing. I want a TV and a machine to play music. I want to buy books to read and music to listen to. I would like to go to some cultural events: plays, concerts, ballets. I would like to travel and visit different parts of our world.  And you know what – materially that’s about it.  And I believe the economic system should be geared to providing us with these modest desires, but the love of money by some has robbed many of these simple pleasures.
Here is what I believe business should be.  It never was and never will be, but it is what I think it should be.
Businesses should not grow into giant conglomerates to begin with.  What ever happened to the anti-trust laws anyhow?  More businesses mean more competition and choices and respect for the consumer.  Forget the argument about the economy of scale.  That only works with an honest business climate that really does pass the savings of bulk on to the customer. But some of those savings come at a cost to one of the things I think should be part of business, employment.
A business should be developed to meet a need of people. There is nothing wrong with the person getting rich because they invented something people want.  There is something wrong, though, if that person deliberately doesn’t produce what he is capable of producing to create an artificial shortage and thus drive the price up.
I believe a business should provide:
A goods or service of use to the people and it should be honest in dealing with its customers, assuring quality and a fair price.
Jobs for people at a descent wage and with job security based on reasonable working hours and conditions and the true demand for the product, and on the acceptance of a reasonable profit, not an attempt to inflate profit at the cost of employee and customer.
Lastly, a reasonable return to the owners or investors in the business.  But the thrust of the business should be in development of a needed product, the quality of the product and the well being of the employees, not simply increasing the wallet of the investors.
There should never be the great chasms of cash between the upper managers and the lower workers. Certainly the higher ups should make more than the janitor and the clerk, but it should be in proper scale. And there should always be the opportunity for that janitor and clerk to work themselves up the pyramid by hard work and initiative.
Here is something I say: If I was an honest car mechanic I would never lack for customers. If I charged fair prices, did the work as I claimed and only where needed, people would flock to me.  I would make a profit and live comfortably and I would be respected.  And I would also have a house full of mirrors, because I could look myself in the mirror and see a decent human being.
Today’s CEOs and other top managers are like vampires in many ways.  They suck the lifeblood out of their fellow man and they have no need for mirrors, for one casts no reflection and the other can’t look at theirs.

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