I'm not sure everyone reads the comments I get on posts, so I want to address a few that I have gotten recently:
- "I hope I don't get in trouble for this . . " one of them begins. My sentiments exactly. There's a lot of hatred and bitterness in our country over wealth and poverty issues, and we don't seem to be able to talk about it like reasonable people. I'm grateful for friends among my readers who give me the benefit of the doubt and know my heart when I write about these things, even when I may be missing the boat.
- By no means did I mean to imply in my last post that one is not accountable to God for how one treats employees. What I was saying is that this issue of paying people for their services is the only one of the three that we are also accountable to the state for. The other two are concerned with people's personal use of their personal money. God has plenty of say in that area for a believer -- but I don't think the state has any.
- "Why do CEOs think they are more important and worth more than the people who actually build the product they are trying to sell?" Why do politicians lose their integrity when they get into office? Why do teenagers disrespect their parents? Why do Christians act like hypocrites? The answer is, not all of them do. There are jerks everywhere, in every part of society -- but the majority of folks (even CEOs) are decent, compassionate people who make mistakes even with the best of intentions.
- Hard to compare the stress and pressure of running a company to the stress and pressure of struggling to support a family. Stress and pressure is stress and pressure. We are each given different talents, different passions, different blessings, and different stresses and pressures. We are each on God's "personal obstacle course" designed for our lives, to make us who God wants us to be and to accomplish what he wants accomplished through us. One person's calling is not more valuable than another's.
- Clearly, if I knew a company was mistreating its employees, it would behoove me to not do business with that company. But a word about Fair Trade products: my blogger friend Robin has written about this before, and I thought it sounded like a great idea. However, I just read something recently (and I wish I could find where it was to reference it here . . I'll keep looking) that made me reconsider. Apparently, the wages being paid to Fair Trade suppliers are so high above the area market rate for such workers that they are creating a glut of suppliers in the market, so to speak. So many people want to get that good money that an excess of people are going into the business of growing Fair Trade products. Considering that most of these are non-necessity items (chocolate, coffee, etc.), the demand for them goes down in bad economic times (such as we've been going through). Now, all those people are growing these products with not enough people willing to buy them at the "Fair Trade" price. So, the original growers are no better off than they were before, and the new growers are worse -- because they could be growing something more profitable if they weren't tempted into this industry by the promise of unreasonably high returns.
I started to address this some in my last post and then erased it -- it was getting too long -- but there are, of course, going to be situations where employers can have such a stranglehold on the workers of an area that the free market can't work like it should and workers are cheated out of a fair wage. But few Americans are in a stranglehold like that, I think. (Correct me if I'm wrong, friends.) And even in other countries, we have to be very careful what steps we take to fix the situation, so that we don't make matters worse.
- These posts have been tough for me to write so far. They are rooted in a need I have to examine myself in these areas -- to be sure I am not one of these "you rich people" that James is slamming. And as one commenter pointed out, there is hardly an American out there who is not rich compared to the rest of the world, so I figure these are questions we all need to ask ourselves.
But I'll be honest that I've had to stifle some of my own bitter feelings as I've written (and that I probably haven't always done a good job of it). As I said, I've been stunned and hurt at the nasty comments I've gotten from friends regarding the character of people in my financial position. Friends -- people who know me, claim to love me, and yet judge me so unjustly.
And I've been very frustrated by the direction our current administration has been taking the country, which seemed to be based on and actively fed by class warfare. Anyway, friends, forgive any acrimony that has come through in my posts, and please take my writing for what is it . . . a desire to know the truth about myself and my world.