Yanks Learn Tribute To Lords Of Finance

Yanks Learn Tribute To Lords Of Finance (12.14.12)

Proverbs 22,16:  "he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want."

In the rite of European vassalage the vassal had to pledge homage and military fealty to his Lord in exchange for taking his daily bread from his land.

But the agreement wasn't all one sided, like today's neo-feudal system of bailing out our present day financial Lords. No, at that time, the Lord promised he would protect the vassal from physical harm.

The 2012 Presidential election was both weird, and then again normal, in our days.

It was weird because within a couple of years from the time when our Lords of world finance brought the world's economy to collapse (when the music stopped on the mortgage backed securities merry go round), Mitt Romney ran as "the rich finance guy."

His handlers told him to own it, and he did!

Now we in the U.S. have had rich candidates and Presidents. But these folks didn't run on their financial wealth as their primary qualification, as if we would simply pay tribute to them with our votes. To wit, the Presidents Bush had the good sense to move to Texas, and take up new businesses (even baseball), and laugh at Dana Carvey's impressions of them now and then. In other words, like good Texans, they learned to drive friendly, and wave to folks passing by.

But in our neo feudal times, Mitt unshackled himself from any common man thing, and in effect, he ran as Finance Lord in Chief:

"I know how to fix it." (And then again the Hon. Mike Dukakis wore a helmet, and the Hon. Walter Mondale said "what you see is what you get." )

The campaign was a breathtaking snapshot of the present state of our political economy.

But the majority of us Yanks, the 53% anyway, had the good sense not to pay tribute to any Finance Lord in Chief.

Not necessarily so much because we didn't want a better economy, but because Mitt didn't promise us voting vassals anything specific in return.

He just wanted our vote, and to continue bailing out the banks, but not the auto makers mind you, or not those in need of any social welfare.

In early 2009, the well compensated and travelled S.E.C. Chair Mary Shapiro offerred the not overly chastened Bank of America a $33 million dollar settlement for paying bonuses to Merrill Lynch execs before the 2007-2008 collapse made for their perfect merger. It was a generous gesture, a type of tribute to Bank of America, sort of like NBA Commissioner David Stern, always chipper, sidling up to his wealthy and occasionally wayward stars, and lovingly fining them "for the good of the game."

But District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, Judge Jed Rakoff, saw the thing clearly and said the settlement  did not "comport with the most elementary notions of justice and morality." (WSJ 9.15.09)

It was modestly changed to $150 million nine months later, thanks to Judge Rakoff.

Now, in December 2012, comes English Bank HSBC to the settlement table for money laundering via its U.S. subsidiaries. 

And could anyone fail to mention that the feds also uncovered that this bank also, for seven years, processed  25,000 Iranian transactions, involving $19.4 billion, using again its U.S. subsidiaries, even when these transactions were against both British and U.S. law. So much for our U.S. and Anglo joint "war on terror." (USA Today, 12,11.12, Kevin McCoy)      

For their trouble HSBC will pay a $1.9 billion fine, agree to make nice with the feds, and to be prosecuted if they don't have tidy work from now on. 

And we simple Yankees might, a short while ago, have thought steroids in baseball was scandalous. 

Again the rationale for this compromise was our good friend "systemic risk," "too big to fail," and well, you know the rest.

HSBC earned $16.8 billion in profits in 2011, and the fine constituted about half their recent 2012 third quarter profit. 

Jesus didn't say "the corporate veil covers a multitude of sins."

He said: "it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man [and or a corporation per the Citizens United decision] to enter the Kingdom of God." (Luke 18,25; Matthew 19,24...)

And he did know Proverbs 22,16: "he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want."

Thus, Israel, and her greatest faithful never paid tribute to the foreign rich, or the Temple "in" crowd. Because as the Keil and Delitzsch commentary (bible.cc) explains it, currying the endless favor of the rich leaves you worse off, in that you don't get thanked. You're still looked down upon. It also encourages ongoing extravagnance.

Tribute always ends with those of modest means and the poor with less to boot.

Perhaps, the reason why our beloved U.S.A. is mired in a period of want and lower wages is that we as a government and thus people have for a considerable while now been paying tribute to being rich, in the form of tax rates and breaks, and 'too big to fail', and corporate welfare, and crony capitalism, and making war for business sake.

Anyway, I thought we got over the whole Lord and vassal thing like 400 years ago when our forbears left it in Europe? 



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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.