Economic Allegory

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Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (12:12–27), talks about how we are “one body” with many differing members each with a purpose. I know he wrote this for a community church, to remind them that we are all members of each other. We are connected to each other in such a way that when one part suffers, the other parts feel it. He reminds us to honor the members we think are less important.

Today I contend that our global economy has made us members of a far larger “body.” As we have seen lately, economic troubles have spread worldwide. Somehow our ideal of “free market” has allowed those whose talents put them in leadership roles to forget that workers are also valuable members. When workers began to be treated as “human resources” that only added to or subtracted from the “bottom line,” that is when the “body” began to degrade. Like when someone gets osteoporosis, you don’t notice at first, but years of wrong nutrition and insufficient exercise take their toll. So it takes drastic measures to rebuild the bone. So also not caring for our workers leads to the “body” crumbling from the inside. Workers are not just resources for production, they are also consumers. If they aren’t paid a living wage they are less able to consume goods and services, which passes on the lack of income to a wider circle of people, and they to an even wider circle, and so on.

Some of the “economic stimulus bills” have done some cosmetic surgery and wraped the “body” in Ace bandages, but they haven’t gotten to the core of the problem yet. If everyone would do as Paul said and honor the members we think are less important, and share the wealth more fairly, then we wouldn’t need the G20 or our government. We do need them, to make rules (minimum wage, etc.) and tax more heavily those in the top 2 percent income wise. In our democracy, it is hard to get those laws passed unless enough of us speak out. If we don’t speak out, we’ll just have to wait for a depression when those at the top, who don’t yet feel the pain of our economic osteoporosis, will feel it enough to do what needs to be done to heal this “body.”


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