I Corinthians 9:9-10

For the last 10 years or so companies have been cutting benefits and holding salaries flat in order to keep the doors open. The poster child for this corporate behavior is General Motors asking the unions for concessions to cut GM’s costs for health care, retirement plans, and in cutting jobs followed by increasing work loads for the remaining workers.

To keep General Motors in business the workers gave those concessions. Now (2013) GM is reporting exceptional profits at least in part because of those cost reductions. Is it wrong for the workers to expect GM to share those gains with the people who made them possible? In first Corinthians, chapter 9 versus 9 and 10 the bible tells us to allow the workers to share in the bounty of the harvest.

9          For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”

Is it about oxen that God is concerned or is there a larger lesson here?

10        Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.

But, claim the managers, that money belongs to the shareholders not us and we can’t share that out as higher salaries or bonuses. This ignores the fact that without the workers sacrifice there would be no company (if the original management position that cuts were necessary just to keep the company alive had any truth in it) and the shareholders would have lost everything.

Biblically it is required that some of those new profits be shared with the people who created it in the first place. Even none Christians recognize that simple honesty demands that the very people who gave up short-term income to keep the company alive get some return on that “investment”.

The employees of many companies made substantial sacrifices to keep the companies going through the tough times in the hope that when things got better they could recoup some of what they gave up. When companies fail to honor this implied contact they are making a business decision to increase their profits, the shareholder’s value and their own salaries at the expense of their workers.

To the shareholders and investors the increasing of profits by taking money from their employees should be clear sign of a failed business plan. It should also be a warning to the shareholders that the current level of profits is a house of cards and the next tightening of the economy will spell catastrophic failure since the workers, once burned, will never agree to any concessions the next time.

Christianity and the United States

I have been starting each post with a bible quote; in this case I decided to use the following non-biblical quote.

George Washington, the Father of our Nation, in his farewell speech September 19, 1796:

“It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

If you have any questions as to why our country is in such a terrible state, I submit to you that it is our attempt to take God out of our national lives.

Before you remind me that we are not a theocracy, read what Patrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of the American Revolution, said:

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”

In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: “The congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”

In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that Bible reading was outlawed as unconstitutional in the public school system. The court offered this justification: “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could and have been psychologically harmful to children.”

I believe that in the intervening 181 years people began to try and justify profitable behavior that was not previously acceptable and the only way to do so was to deny God a place in our decision-making. The only way to do that, of course, is to remove the Bible as a teaching tool.

Now it is said that using the Christian bible offends people of other faiths and even those who have no particular belief in a higher power. If you take the time to read the sacred writings of almost any religion you can find areas of agreement between them and Christianity, at least in the area of ethics and morality in business and daily conduct.

Thou shalt not kill, steal or cheat others is present in every sacred writing as a fundamental guide to daily conduct so where is the disagreement?

It seems to be in labels and not fundamental beliefs. It also seems that the people who yell the loudest about getting the Bible out of schools still want those fundamental principals taught to everyone else’s children! Their own children, of course, don’t need those lessons since the children are learning from their parent’s daily example of proper action.

If there is no higher power then the only reason to not kill, steal or cheat is because you choose not to and it makes someone else’s choice to kill you, steal from you or to cheat you equally acceptable.