Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Sunday
Feb172013

MONDRAGĂ“N: MIGHTY MOUSE

[This article is to be read along with “Two Elephants and a Mouse”, an article on insourcing. The other Mouse article is found in the ninth section of the column on the right, “Strengthen the Hand.”]

In the US, unemployment and underemployment are higher among recent immigrants than among people born here.  What can a group of unemployed immigrants do to build their own economic future?

Form industrial co-ops for insourcing.

How?  As the Nike slogan says, "Just do it."

This is not just a theoretical notion.  Among the Basques in north Spain there is a marvelous example – the Mondragón Corporation.

Mondragón, Spain, has the world's largest industrial co-op.  Located at the corner of the Bay of Biscay, where Spain and France join, the Mondragón Corporation is the largest industry in the Basque region and the seventh largest in Spain.  Mondragón is a city of 22,000.  The Mondragón Corporation employs 83,000 people in 19 countries around the world, including China and the United States. 

Of the employees, 85% are co-op members.  Among its many creative activities, the firm has its own university, with 9,000 students.  In the city of Mondragón, there are no mansions.  There is also no poverty. 

With Spain's unemployment rate currently at 22%, the Mondragon Corporation has been able to maintain its employment level at 83,000.  To survive during the world-wide recession, members in one of its major subsidiaries recently voted 76% in favor of an across-the-board pay cut of 7%.  The result?  No layoffs.

The Mondragón Co-op began in 1956, with the counsel of the parish priest, when five men began tallow production – solidified animal fat for making candles and soap.  More information is available at the Co-op's web site:   http://www.mondragon-corporation.com/ENG.aspx

See also the article in the Distributist Review: http://distributistreview.com/mag/2011/10/mondragon-revisited/

The latest Mondragon product is the City Car, a small, 4-seater electric with a 50 mile range.  Google it.

In 2012 the United Steelworkers of America sent a delegation to Northern Spain to observe the operations of the Mondragón Corporation.  Why?  We have several cities in the United States with abandoned steel production facilities.  Hence, the term "rust belt".  For those cities and those skilled, but unemployed workers, Mondragón provides hope for the future – hope and a model.  A city can eminent domain the steel plant; the workers can employ themselves in an industrial co-op; together they can resume steel production.

Mondragón shows that co-operative capitalism can promote social justice, innovation, employment, and prosperity.  It can and should become a model for our re-forming America.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2013 by Jack Towe

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