How the JP Morgan Death-wish Affects You.

There are some things that simply don’t change. One of them is human nature. Without the transformation that only God can bring, we are like the sick dog who isn’t smart enough to break the cycle of eating its own vomit. 

We have big banks and we know that they are doing things we don’t understand. Unfortunately they don’t seem to understand them either. They take our money, pay no interest to us, charge us exorbitant fees for “helping us,” and put the funds to “work” making money off risky derivates and unpredictable “assets.”  They no longer lend to small business and little people because they can’t leverage the debt enough times to make a mega return on every dollar. The little people are forced to borrow off high-cost lenders (if they can) or learn to go without funds. The poor get poorer, the have-nots have less.

We have a problem. We have forgotten basic economics and in its place we have put a system the demands ever higher returns. Money begets money and you can be absolutely certain that the big banks have never spent so much on lobbying as they do now. At all costs they want to avoid regulations (they have succeeded in dodging the bullet for over four years now.) J. P. Morgan has just demonstrated that we still don’t have any protection whatsoever from a full repeat of the last financial melt-down. They have also demonstrated that they are still addicted to the same risky behavior that got them into trouble last time.

Fully sick dog mate!

Fully sick dog mate! (Photo credit: pierre pouliquin)

Oh sure, a head or two will roll and they will hide their $2 billion losses in mega-profits from some other risky deal (they hope) but if your alarm bells aren’t ringing at full volume you need to get them checked. It’s election year so we can be sure the politicians will do nothing. Like lemmings we are still rushing full speed for the cliffs.

The driving force behind all this folly is an old-fashioned human motivator called greed. We are so smart that we think we can continually get mega-returns out of nothing but no one is so good that they can win at lotto every time they play. For sure the banks aren’t that good.

We need to break the cycle of greed but, sadly, our chances of breaking it are small. Behind every banker who thinks he can defy gravity indefinitely there is an army of subordinates ready to fill his (or her) shoes when the inevitable crash occurs. The greedy system is beyond our control and we will soon be paying for it again.

Meantime, even though the politicians are not able or willing to challenge the system, we are still able to apply faith to the way we live our lives.  Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Now is a good time to look at what we do and our expectations. We live in a society that is blind to its greed but we are the people of faith. Our reliance is on God and his provision, so we are able to be smarter than average – we are able to recognize greed and avoid falling into its clutches. We can understand that every harvest requires a seed-time. There is such a thing as sensible investing – just be sure you don’t look at any banker for inspiration and remember that most stock-brokers aren’t far behind the bankers in the folly stakes (ever tried to listen to the “Mad Money” Kramer nonsense?)

Living without greed is hard to do since its tentacles reach into every part of our lives. We are continually bombarded with messages of dissatisfaction over what we have and the endless “need” to have more. Always more.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who give me strength.”   Philippians 4.

How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.                    Proverbs 1:17-19

A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.    Proverbs 15:27

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Can others spot the difference in the way we live?

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About CiteSimon

Sometimes we find the "right answers" but maybe it's the struggle of discovery that helps us grow most.

Posted on May 15, 2012, in Active faith, Self-awareness and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. One thing most people today do not recognise is that we live in a very different economic system from that of Jesus’ day. Back then they had what is known as a “limited good” economic system–or you might call it a zero-sum-game one. That is, there was only perceived to be a fixed amount of wealth, so if one person got richer then other people inevitably got poorer. That is why rich people in Jesus’ day are always regarded with the suspicion that they are, basically, stealing.

    Today’s economic theory is very different. It is based on the principle of growth and the idea that wealth can be created. It is this foundation that is the cause of a lot of our problems. Not that it is completely wrong: Wealth can, to some extent, be created and so life today is better for many people than it once was, even for those who are relatively poor (in western societies). However, it does depend on constant growth and thus on greed.

    We cannot turn the clock back, and to invent and install a new economic theory would take a very long time (or a revolution), and could we really be sure it would be better? What we can do, as you say, is to examine ourselves. Ask yourself this question: “What is, for me, a reasonable definition of ‘enough’?” Next examine your answer prayerfully, in the light of the gospel, and, if needed (and I would guess it would be needed for most of us), adjust it down. Then try to live within that definition with contentment.

    • There’s investment and then there’s gambling, there’s growth and then there’s unmitigated greed. It’s human nature to push to the extreme but we fail to detect that the game has changed by our pushing. Not every change is a good one. Much of the economic mess we are experiencing is legal it seems but that doesn’t make it moral or desirable.
      You are so right that we can’t turn back the clock and live in the past – our challenge is in working out how to live by faith in the environment we are in, standing against the tide and not getting sucked in to “what everyone else is doing,” comparing ourselves against the standard of each other without reference to what God has said. Thanks for sharing your insights

  1. Pingback: The Most Challenging Step to the Rest of My Life. « Cite Simon

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