Editor: Recently, I found an op-ed piece I wrote for in 2015, entitled Who Runs for The Poor? In it I argued that while candidates for office run on tax relief and economic development, nobody seems to ever run for the poor.
Here we are some four years later and nothing has changed. In fact, it has gotten much worse. Today, economic development rules as we watch how far candidates and governments can fall over each other to be seen as the agents of business and commerce. Companies pay their CEO hundreds of times more than their workers and even countries that have terrible poverty, like India, think it more important to go to the moon than feed their people. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and somehow, we have come to believe that is how it should be.
What happened, I wonder, to the idea of sacrifice for others and the common good being the rule rather than the exception? When did unchallenged individual and economic freedom become the driving force for our lives?
When did economic development become god?
A few Sundays ago, at Christ Church in Lucketts, where I am the Lay Pastoral Leader, I preached a sermon entitled “Me, Mine, More.” In my message I made the case for loving one another and taking care of one another becoming the norm versus the present mind-set, where taking care of me, is the norm. I said during my sermon that this country became great not because individuals were allowed to do what they wanted but rather that communities, families, faith communities, cared about the common good more than the individual good alone. We used to ask ‘what’s best for all of us,’ rather than today’s question ‘what’s best for me?’
I also noted that our government leaders are leading the charge on this way of thinking.It seems almost every decision made by every level of government from the town of Leesburg to the federal government turns on the ‘holy’ concepts of economic development and tax reduction.Economic development has achieved god-like status in the public conversation. And Lord knows you can’t win office without pledging to reduce taxes.
What happened to human development? What happened to the idea that sometimes we have to raise taxes in order to provide for the needs of the community?Why do political leaders have to add money to my pocketbook to get my vote?
Maybe it’s time for us to challenge the powers that be to care more about what’s happening to thosewhohave less and at the same time begin to ask do we really need more?Perhaps we can stop measuring every success based on whether the economy grows and somebody makes more money…human development should be our priority over economic development.
Kurt Aschermann, Leesburg