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WEALTH AND POVERTY

Thursday, April 23, 2015 @ 04:04 PM
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HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.

“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
Bahá’u’lláh

A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at willisdavid167@gmail.com. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 105). This blog is a continuation of the review of ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM ON WEALTH AND POVERTY published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, New York in 1984.

The first sermon
In the first sermon, St John deals with the lives of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-21). The parable passes over the moral qualities of the two men, so St John must discuss what is wrong with the life of luxury and what is good about the life of poverty. Are all the rich condemned and all the poor saved? No, although the poor have a better chance. The rich man’s chief fault was his failure to give alms; he neglected the duty of helping his neighbor. In addition he harmed his own spiritual health by his self-indulgent way of life. Lazarus, on the other hand, by enduring patiently without complaint used his sufferings to build up spiritual strength. St John is concerned with spiritual, not material well-being. If we wish to store up treasure in heaven, we must both observe the commandment of love towards our neighbor and practice the asceticism appropriate to our circumstances for the benefit of our own souls.

The second sermon
The second sermon moves along to the deaths of the two men (Luke 16:22-24). Death reveals who was truly rich and who was truly poor. The man who lived alone receives an honor guard of angels; the other man lost all his followers and lies alone in hell. St John has more to say about the positive duties of the rich: they must hold their property as stewards for the poor, and must share their wealth without regard to the moral qualities of those who are in need. If we spend more than necessary on ourselves, we deserve the same penalty as if we had stolen the money.

The third sermon
In the third sermon, St John takes up the rich man’s first petition, that Lazarus should bring him a drop of water, and Abraham’s response (Luke 16:24-26). What is the relation between our misfortune or prosperity in this life and our condition in the life to come? Can we earn our way to heaven by our sufferings, voluntary or involuntary, in this life? Not exactly, according to St John; but earthly sufferings, if endured with patience, can help us get rid of some of our sins and the punishment due to us for them. Everyone of us has some sins, no matter how good we are; but if the general trend of our life is virtuous, we can finish our necessary suffering before we die. Besides, we need to train ourselves in virtue in order to become the kind of people God wants us to be.

What we are expected to do
If we are poor or chronically ill, the effort of patient endurance with thanksgiving is sufficient asceticism. If we are rich and healthy, we must practice voluntary austerity both to overcome our sinful inclinations and to develop a virtuous character. As a pastor and teacher of morals, St John concentrates on what we ourselves are expected to do.

Intercessory prayer for the dead
In concluding the third sermon, St John speaks of the great chasm that separates heaven from hell. This raises the issue of intercessory prayer for the dead. The Fathers of the Orthodox Church generally teach, with the support of Biblical texts like this, that we must make our choice for or against God in this life, and that once we have passed to another life we will have no opportunity to escape from hell. Thus St John here tells his congregation that, if they have not made their own efforts to acquire virtue during their lives, they must not expect to be saved by the prayers of others, whether of their spiritual father or of any saintly relative.

WEALTH AND POVERTY

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 @ 06:04 AM
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HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.

“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
Bahá’u’lláh

A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at willisdavid167@gmail.com. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 104). This blog is a review of ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM ON WEALTH AND POVERTY published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, New York in 1984.

Introduction
St John of the golden mouth (Chryostom) lived, served and preached at a cross-roads in the history of the Christian Church. He was born about 350 A.D. at Antioch in Syria: a time not long after Constantine had established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, and a city where Greek civilization encountered the various cultures of the Near East. The church of Antioch was founded by St Paul, visited by St Peter, and adorned by the episcopate of St Ignatius the God-bearer (martyred about 107). Antioch was the third city of the empire until the rise of Constantinople, with a population of perhaps 300,000, mostly Greeks, but also Syrians, Phoenicians, Romans, Jews, and others. Christianity had to compete with a variety of religions, as well as with the secular attractions of the theaters and the race-course. Earthquakes and Persian invasions were persistent dangers. Antioch prospered because of its position on the trade routes; some families were very rich, though others were very poor, and a majority were in an adequate financial condition.

John was struck by the arrogance of the rich
John’s parents were Christians and prominent citizens. John received the standard education of late antiquity. His teacher Libanius was a famous rhetorician, whose public speeches attracted large audiences. John’s own sermons later became a similar form of public entertainment. His ethical teaching combines the spirit of the New Testament with the tradition of the Stoics and the Cynics, who taught that virtue was the only true good, and wisdom the only source of true freedom and true wealth. For twenty years he served the church of Antioch as reader, deacon, and priest. He knew from experience the sufferings of the poor and the sick, and was struck in contrast by the arrogance of the rich. His sermons were popular – though never as popular as the theater or the race course. The congregation often interrupted his preaching with applause, but did not necessarily put his advice into practice.

What does God expect of us, rich and poor?
During his preisthood in Antioch, St John preached his series of sermons on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, perhaps in 388 or 389. The sixth sermon was preached after an earthquake, when it seemed timely to speak of God’s judgment and the necessity of choosing the right way of life before it was too late. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man enabled St John to treat several of his favorite themes. First of all, there is the age-old question, why do we see righteous people suffering while sinners live in prosperity? From this there follows the moral question, what does God expect of us, rich and poor? In more general terms, how do we attain salvation? The first four sermons treat the text of the parable verse by verse and discuss these questions along the way.

HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 @ 07:04 AM
posted by admin

HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.

“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
Bahá’u’lláh

A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at willisdavid167@gmail.com. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 103). This blog is a continuation of the review of HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM: REBUILDING THE PATH TO THE MIDDLE CLASS by John Hope Bryant, published in 2014.

Chapter nine: Project 5117
Project 5117 is Operation HOPE’s revolutionary four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality by improving financial literacy; increasing the ratio of business role models and business internships from today’s national average of 5% to 20%; empowering adults and families to become involved in the banking system; and to help raise their credit scores.

Changing and transforming an entire generation
Project 5117 is about changing and transforming an entire generation, empowering future leaders for America, and stabilizing and rooting this generation of working-class, and middle-class communities, first by addressing the untapped power of business role models and business internships for youth and then by creating opportunities for those families to participate in banking and credit.

Conclusion: Where we go from here
people seem genuinely confused about how the poor get out of this mess. I am not. In many ways, I am building upon the solid foundations of thoughtful global leadership focused on poverty eradication advanced by such people as Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, and C.K.Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. America’s poverty is not just about money and not having enough of it. The core of the problem is that poor people have more time than money in their days and not enough tangible opportunity in their lives. They pay the most to get the poorest quality goods and services, and all too often they feel beaten down before they even get started with their day. Bad capitalism then feeds on this sense of despair, cynicism, and lack of hope.

Making free enterprise and responsible capitalism relevant
While the world is still adjusting to and trying to recover from the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression, I am focused on what comes next. In the midst of this crisis I see an opportunity to finally make free enterprise and responsible capitalism relevant to and workable for the poor and the underserved. This time round, world economic growth will require the positive inclusion of us all.

Four major “big bangs” in economic growth
The United States has seen four major “big bangs” in economic growth in its history: an agricultural phase, and industrial phase, a technology phase, and our present information age. These previous stages of economic growth required land, buildings, equipment, or other “things” to light the fuse of economic growth and prosperity. Even the information age, which we currently are in and have arguably led, has depended upon the thing called a microprocessor.

The fifth stage of economic prosperity will be very different
Our next economic big bang, the fifth stage of economic prosperity, will be very different. Rather than relying on things, it will rely almost wholly on what we might call the “software of human development.” This is the development and unleashing of empowered human capital around the world. The new software of human development is what arises when you energize and inspire a generation of young people with the power of a new, transformational idea. The idea is this: you are the product. And when people know this, when they believe this, when they are given the tools and opportunity to achieve this, they become what I call “the CEO of you.”

This is how the poor can save capitalism
What the world needs now is a generation endowed with the empowered human capital to create its own jobs. And when they do this – when one billion youth around the world figure out how they can light the fuse to lift themselves up through self-determination – they not only help secure the gross domestic product growth that the world needs but also gain dignity for themselves and all those around them. This is how the poor can save capitalism. Remember, we only need 5% of a community to serve as role models to stabilize that community.

HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM

Monday, April 20, 2015 @ 09:04 PM
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HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.

“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
Bahá’u’lláh

A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at willisdavid167@gmail.com. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 102). This blog is a continuation of the review of HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM: REBUILDING THE PATH TO THE MIDDLE CLASS by John Hope Bryant, published in 2014.

Role models
All of us are who we are because of our role models. Whatever anyone has become in life, it began first with seeing that image somewhere. Being smart and working hard is not nearly enough if you don’t have a relationship with a mentor or a model of life success. A study by the University of Chicago, cited in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, noted that it only takes 5% of a community to act as role models to stabilize a community. I find it amazing that only 5% of a community needs to stand up and show young people in their lives the path to a successful career in order to trigger an economic tipping point that can stabilize a neighborhood and eventually a nation!

Education is not connecting them to a sustainable career
After two years of data, the Gallup-HOPE Index has shown that, although 77% of students want to be their own boss, only 5% are currently learning the skills necessary to do so by interning with a local business. Present estimates indicate that 20% to 50% of students in many large urban high schools fail to graduate, in part because many students don’t believe their education is connecting them to a sustainable career. We must connect this next generation with a meaningful role in the workforce, through more private sector mentorship, cradle-to-career pathways, and positive role modeling in schools and communities.

This is our task, and this is our moment
The job of our generation will be to connect the 45% of youth who want to start their own businesses with more mentors and internships, so that more than 5% of them can have the job training and mentorship necessary necessary to embark on a successful career. If we can connect aspiration with career opportunity through increased role modeling for youth, everything could be different. This is our task, and this is our moment.

Chapter eight: The HOPE Plan
The Marshall Plan
Following World War II, the United States put together an initiative to provide economic and technical support to help Europe rebuild its cities and economies. Called the European Recovery Program but popularly known as the Marshall Plan, after Secretary of State George Marshall, the plan was designed to modernize European industry and remove trade barriers, in addition to revitalizing destroyed cities and putting people back to work. The program began in April 1948, ran for four years, and was an unqualified success. Those four years of American technical and financial assistance may not have been solely responsible for Europe’s recovery, but it certainly helped, and most leaders today would probably agree that this not only was the right thing to do at the time but was also smart politics and even smarter economics.

An economic Marshall Plan for our times
Today, bringing hope to the U.S. economy calls for an economic Marshall Plan for our times. Call it the HOPE plan. The command staff are American and global business leaders, backed by government leaders with both vision and courage, but more specifically by each of us. Making a place at the table for the poor and underserved begins with financial literacy and everything that goes with it.

HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM

Sunday, April 19, 2015 @ 10:04 PM
posted by admin

HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.

“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
Bahá’u’lláh

A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at willisdavid167@gmail.com. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 101). This blog is a continuation of the review of HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM: REBUILDING THE PATH TO THE MIDDLE CLASS by John Hope Bryant, published in 2014.

More Cadillacs were sold than during roaring 1928
A couple of decades after Ford, another automobile manufacturer learned what Ford had already shown. General Motors’ Cadillac division was faltering in the 1930s. In 1928 the company manufactured 41,172 Cadillacs; by 1933 Cadillac sold only 6,736 cars, a decline of fully 84%. Dreystadt encouraged the board of directors to drop its discriminatory policies and begin selling Cadillacs directly to black customers and in 1934 Cadillac sales increased by 70%. During still-depressed 1937, more Cadillacs were sold than during roaring 1928.

The success of the mobile phone industry
The clout of poor and working-class people is no less powerful today. Walmart, founded by a man who drove a pickup truck until the very day he died, was created to provide affordable and quality products to and for the working class and the working poor. In the service sector, restaurants exhibit the same bottom-up support. Even items such as telephones owe their huge success to the massive numbers of people who want to own them. The mobile phone industry has become one of the most profitable industries of the past one hundred years, making countless entrepreneurs and shareholders immensely wealthy while increasing the connectivity and empowerment of communities and individuals the world over. And its success has been driven by the working poor, the underserved, and the struggling classes, both in the United States and around the world.

We must restore hope
I believe that the poor are an untapped, unleveraged asset for the future prosperity of our nation and that America’s inner cities are the last bastion of lost capitalism. We must restore hope and get people moving again by improving their financial literacy and their credit scores, increasing their access to banking and investment, and increasing their self-esteem and access to positive business and personal role models.

Chapter seven: The power of small business and Entrepreneurship
According to Gallup research, 70% of all jobs in America come from small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, and half of all jobs in America come from small businesses with one hundred or fewer employees. For nearly eight years running, America hovered at around 400,000 start-ups per year, and most recently that number dipped troublingly to 350,000 in the last year reported. According to Clifton, we need approximately one million small business start-ups per year to lift our country’s economy, create jobs, and sustain our prosperity. A good number of these businesses can come from populations that have been left behind, ignored, or massively misunderstood and underestimated.

Aspiration is a powerful motivator to changing behavior
Gallup-HOPE Index and Gallup Student Poll results for 2013 showed that today’s low-income youth are more likely than their wealthier peers to develop problem-solving skills. We need a generation of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and self-employment projects which becomes more powerful with each generation. Both failure and success are cultures, and just as failure breeds more failure, success breeds more success. Aspiration is a powerful motivator to changing behavior. Aspiration is tied to hope.

Cultivating entrepreneurs in middle schools, colleges, and universities
To jump-start a stagnant U.S. economy and put the country on a path toward long-term economic growth and prosperity – even global dominance once again – leaders must get their assumptions right. They must understand that entrepreneurship trumps innovation and that finding the next generation of entrepreneurs means cultivating them in middle schools, colleges, and universities, just as surely and intentionally as the country cultivates innovators. But entrepreneurship cannot be fostered by Washington; it must be developed at city level. I urge banks to encourage community entrepreneurship in areas with depressed economies by granting loans that support small business and start-up growth in those areas.