After these weeks of world and national upheaval, when news organizations either report on themselves, remain content to read Charlie Sheen's Twitter feed, or take sides and skew the news all the while trying to convince us they are "fair and balanced," when very few in the media, excepting a few, like Matt Taibbi, who once again reports in Rolling Stone on the dangerous travesty that is Wall Street, even seem to care, or to know enough to let us know what is happening, I have no choice but to post the Eagles' Dirty Laundry as our Friday traditio. Well, I do have a choice and I choose Dirty Laundry.
Did you know that average pension for a retired public sector employee in Wisconsin is $24,500 a year? Did you also know that 15% of what that state spends on pensions goes for fees to Wall Street firms?
Here are a few paragraphs from Taibbi's most recent RS piece, which I urge you to read in its entirety:
"Last year, the government deported 393,000 people, at a cost of $5 billion. Since 2007, felony immigration prosecutions along the Mexican border have surged 77 percent; nonfelony prosecutions by 259 percent. In Ohio last month, a single mother was caught lying about where she lived to put her kids into a better school district; the judge in the case tried to sentence her to 10 days in jail for fraud, declaring that letting her go free would 'demean the seriousness' of the offenses.
"So there you have it. Illegal immigrants: 393,000. Lying moms: one. Bankers: zero. The math makes sense only because the politics are so obvious. You want to win elections, you bang on the jailable class. You build prisons and fill them with people for selling dime bags and stealing CD players. But for stealing a billion dollars? For fraud that puts a million people into foreclosure? Pass. It's not a crime. Prison is too harsh. Get them to say they're sorry, and move on. Oh, wait — let's not even make them say they're sorry. That's too mean; let's just give them a piece of paper with a government stamp on it, officially clearing them of the need to apologize, and make them pay a fine instead. But don't make them pay it out of their own pockets, and don't ask them to give back the money they stole. In fact, let them profit from their collective crimes, to the tune of a record $135 billion in pay and benefits last year. What's next? Taxpayer-funded massages for every Wall Street executive guilty of fraud?"
Scripture is not silent on these matters. Look at what the prophet Amos, a non-institutional figure, like Cesar Chavez and Dorothy Day in our time, had to say to the rich cheaters of ancient Israel:
"Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, 'When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?'
"The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: 'Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?
"'And on that day,' declares the Lord God, 'I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day'" (Amos 8:4-10).
I am convinced that when people today ask "Where are the saints?", they don't see them because they're looking for a warm little institutional figure, somebody who is harmless, just the kind of person that Dorothy Day was worried about being dismissed as.