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
Dec022012

SKIRTING THE FISCAL CLIFF

Daily, the Christian Science Monitor web page gives me news of the Nation and the world.  Currently, its lead articles have been on the fiscal cliff and the escalating combat between the Congressional House and the White House. 

The pros are betting that there’s only one chance in three that Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach a compromise that will keep the economy from tanking.  A recent political cartoon showed Obama and Boehner as Thelma and Louise driving off the fiscal cliff.

I’m more optimistic.  Why?

Because of my experience with General Electric and the unions – the IUE, the UE, and the UAW – back in the 1960’s.  I remember a strike in progress where a union president said, “And we’ll strike til hell freezes over if the company doesn’t agree to our demands.”

Union and management reached an agreement that night at 1:30 a.m.

A lot of posturing accompanies negotiations.  Men are trained in posturing as boys on the playground. And just as on the playground, any concession and reasonableness is taken as a sign of weakness. So, expect the partisans to keep talking tough to appeal to their backers.  That’s window dressing.  The rubber hits the road at the negotiating table, and they all know it.

With the looming fiscal cliff, the Republicans and Democrats both have to answer to a higher power for their conduct – and they know that too.

It’s the same higher power to which unions and companies have to answer:  The Holy Economy.

Neither side can ignore economic realities when crunch time comes.  So, they’ll compromise, and the tigers who previously snarled and roared in public will announce their agreement, with smiles, handshakes and poses for the media.

It’s not difficult for them to be congenial.  They know each other and are in the same line of work.  Many across the aisle are personal friends.  They understand either other better than they understand us or we understand them.

So, expect a fiscal cliff miracle.  But they’re probably ruin their own Christmases by having to stay in D.C.  They’ll keep posturing and cut the deal as late as possible.

 

A  REALLY  WISE  COMPROMISE

Different topic – but still about negotiations.

It’s about union / management relations, but it shows an adult approach to old problems.

Back in the 1960’s when I was in General Electric Union Relations, I learned about a brilliant union contract at a small-town Illinois furniture manufacturing plant.  The management attorney developed the contract, and it’s an example of what an imaginative lawyer can do to structure the system in the public interest so everybody wins.

The town was dependent on the financial health of the furniture manufacturer.  If the firm closed down or moved south, the town too would die – so it was starkly clear that the community had as much stake the local labor agreement as did both the union and management.

The labor contract stipulated times when the union could go on strike – and the primary time was when the current labor contract expired.  In bringing pressure on management, the union was entitled to strike unless a new contract was negotiated and agreed on by the expiration date.

In that situation, unions often walk off the job.

Not so with this Illinois agreement.  Here, the union declared a strike, and the next day everyone returned to work.  But – everyone also suffered a ¼ cut in pay for the following two weeks—including the company president.  And that ¼ of the payroll was paid instead to specified local charities.

If the strike continued, during the following two weeks, everyone in the plant received only half pay, with the other half going to charity.  In the fifth and sixth weeks, everyone got ¼ pay, with ¾ going to charity. After the sixth week, if no agreement had been reached, then the union could walk off the job.

Consider the beauties of this contract. Production continued during the first six weeks of the strike. The company filled its orders.  The company did not lose contracts due to the strike.

The community did not suffer.  Community income remained as the same level.  While everyone at the plant suffered declining pay checks, town charities were blessed, and local merchants survived.

And think of the pressure groups:  Spouses were hectoring employed spouses to reach an agreement. Within the plant, the non-union white-collar employees considered themselves victims and were also pressuring for an agreement.  The declining paychecks were putting some union and management people in serious financial difficulties

So, it was clear to everyone that a promptly negotiated settlement was in the best interest of town, company and union.

It was an adult collective-bargaining agreement.

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Of course, it would be magnificent if our President and lame-duck Congress could work out such a reasonable fiscal-cliff compromise.  They won’t.  As with most labor contracts, our elected National officials will cut a deal which satisfies no one.  Some terms of the agreement may be unworkable or conflicting.  But we can be sure that the deal will have two major characteristics –

It will give the American public the sensation that a disaster has been averted – so the recovering economy can keep on chugging, AND –

There will be goodies in the deal so that each side can claim that it won.

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

Copyright © 2012 by Jack Towe

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