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"In God We Trust": The Worship Of Money

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“In God We Trust”: The Worship of Money


It is no accident that this country adopted this phrase on all U.S. currency.  Removing the motto "In God We Trust" from American currency would mark the end of a tradition that began during the Civil War to rescue the country from "the ignominy of heathenism" and was expanded in the 1950s to combat the philosophy of communism.  And yet this phrase on the currency has emphasized the worship of money as if god had endorsed that phrase.  Those who believe in the god of Abraham should read their scripture and learn what the prophets thought about the pursuit of money.  The scriptures emphasize the point that money is the root of all evil.


In the play, Fiddler On The Roof, a young revolutionary suggests to Tevye that “money is a curse.”  Tevya responds that god should smite him with this curse.  Tevye would always have a dialogue with his god questioning the unfairness of things on earth.  He even had a song called “If I were a rich man.”  Some of the lyrics are:

 “The most important men in town would come to fawn on me!
They would ask me to advise them,
Like a Solomon the Wise.
"If you please, Reb Tevye..."
"Pardon me, Reb Tevye..."
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes!
And it won't make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong.
When you're rich, they think you really know!”

The key phrase being “When you're rich, they think you really know!”  That has been then problem with our leadership in this country as predatory crony capitalism became popular after the election of Ronald Reagan. Recent reports about the productivity of the American worker have shown that the labor in America is number one in productivity despite corporate globalization.  And the United States is still by far the richest country in the world.  It is the productivity of the American worker that has kept us in the lead economically, not the CEOs and other paper shufflers that claim they are the reason for our strong economics.  Yet the American worker is getting the short end of the deal when it comes to fair compensation.  What would the likes of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet do without the productivity of the U.S. labor force?  Yet in America we have been propagandized to believe that these CEOs and others deserve to receive and retain such obscene wealth from the labor of others.   

Bill Clinton has just published a book, Giving: How Each Of Us Can Change The World.  In that book he compliments the likes of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates for their charitable foundation.  Buffet recently donated $30 Billion of stock in Berkshire Hathaway to the Bill Gate’s foundation.  Clinton also suggests that all of us can do our share to help the needy.  The problem is that the needy need help now and the only ones who can help now are billionaires like Gates and Buffet.  The issue is that the Gates foundation is merely a shell game transferring money to a foundation that is still under the control of these billionaires who are getting almost 100% back in tax savings.  As a tax expert myself, I know that is the case.  And these foundations only have to distribute 5% of their assets annually.  Gates and Buffet still control the money and authority over their corporations and it has cost them nothing after taxes.  If Gates and Buffet really wanted to help the 12% of Americans that are below the official poverty level, they should give it all away to independent organizations that fights poverty and is not controlled by them.  But, they would never do that because they are still seeking control or power and refuse to give away the funds to help the needy now.   

The Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations in the world and could do its share to end the worldwide poverty.  There was a movie released in 1968 that addressed this issue called The Shoes Of The Fisherman.  In that movie, Anthony Quinn played the part of a new Pope that gave away the wealth of the Church to fight poverty in the world.  I realize that is a fantasy, but could there be a better way to spend the wealth of the Church.  The Catholic Church has promised to its followers that their suffering will be rewarded in heaven.  The fact is that the Church itself is an expensive bureaucracy that feeds its own needs financially and does very little for the impoverished in the world besides promising them an afterlife. Most rational people realize that an afterlife is questionable and the real needs of the human condition are the most important issues we have today.  The end of poverty and want would go a long way to solve the human condition on earth. 

Since the destruction of the Second Temple in Judea in 70 AD, Jews have accepted the idea that there is no need for a central authority for religion.  After the Holocaust, the idea of a god that cares about human suffering drove most Jews to the idea that god was more of a philosophy than a real and caring deity.  The god of Abraham did not hear the cries of the Jews in the concentration camps.  The question is not where was god?  The real question was where was man? 

George Bush and the Republican Party have put an end to the myth of the CEO and his Presidency.  We now realize that the emperor has no clothes.  The corporate corruption and the greed of the more fortunate that benefit from the labors of the rank and file workers are inhumane and “ungodly.”  What we really need is to have all the billionaires and millionaires who have been ranked as the 500 richest people in the world by Fortune Magazine give away half of their wealth to solve the problems of world hunger and poverty.  We tend to worship these rich people as if they somehow deserve to have thousands of times the money of the working class.  However talented they may be, these CEOs, entertainers, sports figures and the like are not deserving of such wealth that they will never be able to spend and are loathe to give away. 

The credit for the wealth of this nation goes to the productivity of the American worker and not to the paper shufflers and entertainers of this nation.  But, since 1861, the Republican Party has symbolized the worship of money by putting “In God We Trust” on every coin of the realm.  It is time for Republicans to understand the human condition and speak to the needs of our citizens.  And although the Democrats are not free from responsibility, it is clear that the Republicans in the last 25 years have stood for hypocrisy, greed, and ignorance that has set back our country and the world for generations to come.          


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Sheldon Drobny was the co-founder of Nova M radio and Air America Radio. He has supported many philanthropic causes. Mr. Drobny specializes in business and tax matters and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court as a non-attorney. Less (more...)
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