The current economic news is causing a lot of anxiety about job loss, fewer donations to churches and non-profits, and what the future holds.
Paul Solman of PBS writes:
Anxiously scanning the Business section of [The New York Times] on Sunday, I came across this headline: Amid Potential Chaos, a Light-Hearted Break. Below was a subhead: "For those who need a little bit of levity on a tense day, we present some mood music." If you clicked on the video box below, a song began to play, its lyrics flashing on the screen in various colors: REM's It's the End of the World as We Know It.
It did bring me a smile - at 11:30 p.m., no less - but also a question from my wife, Boston Globe language columnist Jan Freeman: "IS it the end of the world as we know it?" she asked.
According to Solman it boils down to "belief," in Latin, credere, which is the basis of the word "credit."
Any financial system more sophisticated than Robinson Crusoe's is built on credit: "I'll take your promise to pay me tomorrow in return for the use of your wealth today." That's how a farmer gets money for his seed corn before the crop comes up. That's how the high-tech firm rents its offices and pays its workers when its new software is no more than a gleam in its eye. That's how traders in Mesopotamia sent yarn across the desert around 2500 B.C. (The credit terms were pressed into clay tablets that still exist.
What has happened is simple: Lehman became the sleazy corn farmer or the pie-in-the-sky techie or the Ur weavers who got lost in the Tower of Babel -- a borrower with no credibility. To stay in the game, Lehman would have to pay more and more for its loans. That would eat into its capital - its investors' money. The less capital it had, the more collateral it would have to plunk down for the money it had already borrowed. And if it tried to sell the loans it had invested in, those loans would crash in value, making the situation worse.
Read it all here.
Rabbi Michael Lerner editor of Tikkun Magazine writes of the fear pervading the country and ideas for citizens to overcome the paralysis and denial that fear induces and to act in this election year:
The fear is palpable. Those of us in the non-profit sector feel it deeply already, because with the predictions of collapse surrounding us, many magazines are reporting drops in subscribers, and many change-oriented organizations are suffering from a drop in membership or donations. And it's likely to get worse. There are predictions that even with the hundreds of billions likely to be spent to ameliorate some aspects of what we face, there might be as many as five million people who will be losing their homes in the mortgage crisis, and millions more losing their jobs as small businesses collapse.
Once again, the responsibility is on ordinary citizens to stand up and talk back to the politicians in both parties, and to do so in a way that demands a new set of values to run our economy, so that materialism and selfishness is put on the defensive and caring for each other becomes the central motif. It is only when some serious political leaders are willing to make that the center of their campaign, to demand that love, generosity and caring for others is the shaping force determining their policies, that the American people will be able to take that part of their consciousness that wants such a world but believes it impossible, and finally transcend their fears and act on their highest desires rather than sinking into the other fearful part of their consciousness that leads them to seek magical solutions in repression and denial of much of what they know about the failures of the economy and of our foreign policy.
Read the rest of this newsletter here.
For Episcopal clergy and laity who have pensions from the Church Pension Group it is reported that the Church Pension Fund is absolutely secure with more than enough funds to meet obligations and even in these times provide an increase of annual benefits and an increase in the life insurance coverage for those who are retired and dependent upon the fund. Read more here.