Mr. President-Elect, you, Congress, and the other Presidents-Elects, Hilary and Bill Clinton (since you have many Clinton-era cabinet members) have a wonderful opportunity. The corporate bailout and General Motors [GM] bailout plans are of utmost importance. Your influence on or with the current president and Congress is tremendous. You have a chance to make a moral statement by attaching caveats that ensure help for all Americans. Government budgets are a moral document so, by association, the bailout plans represent moral activity. This means that, as a Christian or moral person, you must remind corporate America of its obligations to people, not just the bottom line. You must remind the corporate sector that unnecessary corporate meetings, vacations, and inflated salaries and bonuses based on how many people can be cut from their job are immoral activities. However, you need not bash corporations over the head with their failings but remind them that existing laws monitoring their business practices will be strictly enforced and funds promised to them could be eliminated if they do not find ways to help “Main Street,” ghettos, barrios, and reservations.To help guide you with the bailout or any of your economic plans, explore your Christianity. Using a biblical perspective, consider the issues in Luke’s Gospel. Luke was educated and that most institutions of higher learning were in urban areas, so we may conclude that Luke spent a significant amount of his life in urban areas and saw the poverty in and around those areas. In short, he was cosmopolitan and is directing his gospel to the elite. This is extremely important because as Luke addresses issues of wealth and poverty he begins to spread the message that there is redemption in meeting the needs of the poor.
As in America’s current situation, Luke’s time could also be described as chaotic. To say the least, the world as Luke knew it was in flux because Jews and Gentiles alike were suffering under Roman rule. Luke, in having this knowledge, writes and organizes the stories in this gospel around several fundamental questions or issues including: who may enter the kingdom of God, is salvation and redemption available to all, and defining the cost of salvation, redemption, and following Jesus. Inherent in these issues are the relationships between the rich, the poor, and the outcast. In short, Luke makes commentary on the “haves” and “have-nots.” This reveals interesting elements: he tells people to prepare for the kingdom of God, meet the needs of those living in poverty or facing challenging economic times, and that rich people can and should interact with and serve the poor because it is a means of salvation. One way to meet the needs of the poor (and the middle class) is for rich people and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Those taxes could be used to create jobs to fix such things as the nation’s infrastructure (roads, buildings, bridges, schools, families) so America can work through these economic times. Remember, the best economic development plan is a job.