The 9/11 Effect

by

What happened on 9/11, exactly? Some Islamic terrorists flew some planes into some buildings in America, killing thousands of people. We know that much. But what did they really do? What did they accomplish? Anything?

To hear the Bush administration tell it, they accomplished darn near everything. They changed the world. The most consistent message coming out of the Bush White House throughout his terms in office has been, “9/11 changed everything.” Every time they’re asked a tough question, that’s their answer. Why do we need to keep secret prisoners in Guantanamo? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why don’t those prisoners have Geneva Convention protections? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why does the president need the power to imprison American citizens indefinitely without charging them or allowing them to have a lawyer or a trial or to communicate with anyone at all? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why did it suddenly become urgent that we invade Iraq? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why are we so at odds with the UN and most of our allies? Because 9/11 changed everything (and nobody gets it but us). Why does the FBI need to know what books we’re reading? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why does this administration need to keep so many things so completely secret from the American people? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why did the economy take a downturn? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why has the recovery been so sluggish? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why is America losing so many jobs? Because 9/11 changed everything. Why do we need to drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge? Because 9/11 changed everything.

That’s quite a lot for 15 Muslim fundamentalists to accomplish. They didn’t even have to work at it for years & years, through a sustained series of attacks. They did it in one single act on one single day. All of that. To the world’s military and economic superpower. The most powerful nation the world has ever known. Wow. I bet those guys get to double dip in the Heavenly Virgin Pool.

Or maybe not. Maybe 9/11 has become a fig leaf. A pretext. A cover. A handy justification for whatever the administration wants to do. A handy excuse for anything that goes wrong during their watch. If so, the 9/11 attacks went from real event to symbolic event in record time.

Oddly, the 9/11 attacks really did accomplish quite a bit. The Bush administration says these Muslim extremists attacked us because they hate our freedoms, our democracy, and our way of life; they want America to stop being so decadent and immoral, and become more like a good Muslim theocracy — more like Afghanistan under the Taliban, I suppose.

If those were their goals, they did a bang-up job.

America has taken several huge steps back from our traditional commitments to freedom and human rights. Our democratic values have been endangered. Our way of life has been changed. Our government has acquiesced more and more to the wishes of extremists and religious fundamentalists, enforcing their views of patriotism and morality on everyone.

Of course, the terrorists didn’t do this alone. They’ve had a lot of unwitting help from a short-sighted American government. (See 2nd paragraph, above, for specifics.) Contrary to the Republican/media talking point, the world did not change on September 11th. Only America changed. The continental Europeans we so quickly dismissed had been dealing with terrorist attacks on their own soil for decades. So had many of the other member-nations of the UN. The only thing new about 9/11 was that it finally happened to us.

Based on our reaction thus far, I have to say it looks to me like we’re winning the battles, but the terrorists are winning the war.

~~

Lest I be accused of griping about policies but not offering an alternative, here’s my suggestion for the best way to respond to Islamic terrorism: an aggressive policy to achieve energy independence. When I say aggressive, I mean something akin to, “We will put a man on the moon in this decade.” An absolute commitment, and a deadline.

We need an energy NASA. An entire sub-agency, fully funded and staffed, and tasked with developing the technologies we need to achieve energy independence. When we create this sub-agency, we need to take fossil fuels completely off the table. Even if we had substantial untapped oil fields, tapping them would be just a stopgap. There’s no point in making a huge, long-term investment in an energy source we know up front is going to run out in the not-too-distant future.

Parallel with that, we need to get serious about energy conservation. I mean really serious. That means drastic government regulations on lots of things, like fuel efficiency of all internal combustion engines (not just cars), conspicuous consumption of electricity for frivolous purposes, energy efficiency of anything run on electricity, recycling and reuse where they result in energy savings, conservation of resources in industries that manufacture other goods from petroleum (plastics, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and so forth), etc. (I think Americans have forgotten how completely dependent we are on petroleum not just for energy, but as the raw material for manufactured goods, many of which are essential to, e.g., our military and our healthcare system.)

I know conservatives hate regulations, but this is not an area where we can wait for markets to create incentives; by the time that happens, it will be too late. Besides, like the space program, only more so, this is a matter of national security, and since when did those get left to the markets?

Make America energy independent, and you make it safer by an order of magnitude. Not just in military terms, but in economic terms. As China and India’s industrial economies grow exponentially on the basis of petroleum-sourced energy, driving up the costs of everything in every oil-based economy, prices for American goods will remain relatively stable. And when dwindling supplies and skyrocketing demand in the petroleum market begins driving other countries to seek more reliable energy sources, America will again be the technological leader, poised in the catbird seat to sell either energy or technology or both to the rest of the world. Imagine: America as an energy exporter. What would that do for our trade deficit?

And if we don’t do it, China or India will.

Advertisements

13 Responses to “The 9/11 Effect”

  1. Joe Longhorn Says:

    Oh, Goody! Fun stuff to talk about!

    I like the overall concept of your energy plan. Moving away from fossil fuels is essential for the future. Here’s the rub… we’ve already done it! We’ve got a myriad of energy sources that we can tap at will to replace fossil fuels. We could also turn away from petroleum products as the basis for plastics, etc. The technology is there. We already know how to do it.

    Then why don’t we? The answer is that we still don’t have an energy source or raw material that is cheaper than fossil fuels. It’s all about efficiency. The cost to produce alternative energy sources outweighs the cost of importing oil and protecting our petroleum interests around the world.

    The instant that alternative sources become cheaper is the instant that markets will react and shift their focus. Whether that will be due to supply and demand for fossil fuels or technological breakthoughs that will make alternative sources cheaper remains to be seen.

    For now, we need to continue to use the cheaper of the two options and maintain our efficiency, productivity, and economic strength.

    And if we don’t do it, China or India will.

  2. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “We’ve got a myriad of energy sources that we can tap at will to replace fossil fuels.”

    This is certainly news to me, and I hope it’s accurate. If we found out tomorrow that the world’s petroleum resources would be completely used up by Christmas, we have the technology to safely and economically replace that energy source and maintain our energy use at current levels? What technology or combination of technologies is that?

    (It seems to me your later argument that those technologies are not economically feasible rather contradicts this point.)

    “We could also turn away from petroleum products as the basis for plastics, etc. The technology is there. We already know how to do it.”

    Same question.

  3. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Also, you didn’t address the national security issue. How does continuing to pour money into the region of the world where terrorism is being bred and funded make us safer? How does having an economy completely based on the exports of those countries give us economic strength?

  4. Greg Says:

    Perhaps in the liberal mindset it’s somehow justifiable to hijack a couple of airplanes and kill 3000 innocent people. If that act did not change everything, then just how many non-military people would have to die in order for everything to be changed? A hundred thousand … a million? How many?

    “The Bush administration says these Muslim extremists attacked us because they hate our freedoms, our democracy, and our way of life….”

    So why did they do it? Was it just to boink some virgins in the after life? And they DID spend years planning the act. What do YOU think they hate about us? What exactly would you have GW say anyway?

    Based on my observation, any victories being won by the terrorists are because we are being so cottin-pickin’ politically correct we’re hurting our own chances at tangible victory. So why don’t we just go after Iran and be done with it?

    Of far more interest is your comments on energy policy. So we need yet another agency? We don’t have enough already? It always amazes me that someone who screams foul at too much government intervention (i.e. the Patriot Act) wants to solve any problem with yet more government intervention.

    Let’s talk about what IS being done. Here in West Texas every hill and mesa for miles are being covered by wind turbines. Each turbine produces 1.5 megawatts of electricity. Sounds great doesn’t it? Certainly it’s being done in the name of energy independence. The Texas legislature proposed that over 7000 megawatts of electricity be produced by alternate means by 2015. At the rate we are going, we’ll achieve that objective by 2010.

    Sounds great doesn’t it? Let’s forget the devastating effect on the aesthetics and environment. It’s green power, man! Because of the inherent inefficiency in wind energy, everytime one of these things is errected, your electric bill goes up just a little bit. And because Uncle Sam gives the companies that build the wind farms a gravy train of a tax break, you and I pay for every one of them.

    Probably wind energy is the responsible thing to do. I growl when I look at the monstrosities every day, but we need the juice, you know. But we ought to be drilling for oil in that frozen waste land called Anwar, too. And we ought to be building nuclear power plants that are clean and efficient too.

    And you want to increase our national security? Then quit turning our cities over to Mexico! Stop illegal immigration! No energy policy will ever make us safer until we address the illegal immigration problem.

    We already have energy agencies, man. All they are really doing is preventing progress, not promoting it.

    I’m all for alternate energy. I’m even doing my part by NOT suing Florida Power & Light for putting a nuisance in my back yard. But why aren’t we developing nuclear technology? That’s the most efficient energy production method known to man … by far! Investment in this area would have far more beneficial effects than dotting the Texas landscape with wind turbines. Of course, efficiency means fewer jobs, and that’s another issue …

    Just my opinion …

    Greg

  5. Michael Lasley Says:

    And but also, Juvenal, how does taking money away from a particular region of the world make us safer? Honest question, as I really am ignorant enough to not know (I feel more than a bit sheep-ish and should probably just ask you in person some time). I don’t understand that aspect of it. I’m all about creating clean and self-sustaining sources of energy, but I don’t quite understand how that’d make us safer, necessarily. Those countries couldn’t fund terrorists, but wouldn’t that create even more economic distance between the rich and the poor that already creates a lot of hate between America and much of the rest of the world? I guess you have to have the resources you speak of before you deal with the what ifs of the economic impact it’d have elsewhere and the responsibility what ifs of our having something the rest of the world doesn’t have. But we (America) seem to have a slight responsibility oversight from time to time as to what we do with our technology in regards to other countries. As with every comment I leave on this blog, I’ve lost my point. Mikey

  6. Michael Lasley Says:

    Greg, I don’t think anyone, liberal or otherwise, thinks that the hijackings were justifiable in any sense, and to say that is completely unfair and irresponsible, I think. The point of the article, as I read it, is that the current administration is using the attacks as a way to do whatever they want to do and label it as the one and only way to have responded to the attacks. There are other ways to respond to September 11, is what I got out of it (sorry for summarizing a well thought out article in fewer than 10 words). Granted, I only read the article once.

  7. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Ceasing to pour money into the region stops us from funding the people who are attacking us. However, in this case I don’t think it increases the gap between the world’s rich and the world’s poor. Oil money already goes overwhelmingly to those few who are already rich in Arab countries.

    Now for greg’s comment. First of all:

    It always amazes me that someone who screams foul at too much government intervention (i.e. the Patriot Act)

    I haven’t done any screaming, greg. You’re the man with his finger on the exclamation mark key.

    Perhaps in the liberal mindset it’s somehow justifiable to hijack a couple of airplanes and kill 3000 innocent people.

    How on God’s green earth you got from my post to the idea that I think killing innocent people — any innocent people, ours, theirs, or otherwise — is justified, is a total mystery to me. What you’re responding to is the strawman liberal you’ve constructed in your head; not me.

    If that act did not change everything, then just how many non-military people would have to die in order for everything to be changed?

    I dunno. How many French and German and Greek and assorted other European civilians died in terrorist attacks long before 9/11? How many Africans and Arabs and Lebanese died in terrorist attacks long before 9/11? I didn’t hear American conservatives saying those attacks changed everything. Do those dead civilians count? Or is it just American civilians? Terrorists can kill as many people from as many other countries as they want, but if they kill Americans, suddenly the whole world has changed?

    My point is simply that that’s nonsense; the whole world didn’t change just because terrorists finally did to the U.S. what they’ve been doing to the rest of the world for decades. Certainly, the U.S. has changed since 9/11, but that took the cooperation of our own government to accomplish. The Bush administration has, in large part, used 9/11 as an excuse to make our society exactly what he says Muslim fundamentalists want us to be: less free, less tolerant, and less democratic.

    What do YOU think they hate about us? What exactly would you have GW say anyway?

    I think they hate us partly because of just blind, irrational religious hatred; partly because they hold grudges forever and are still holding a big one regarding the Crusades; partly because they resent us for being the biggest, richest kid on the block; partly because we support anything and everything Israel does vis-a-vis the Palestinians; partly because we used their countries as proxies during the Cold War, propping up dictatorships the people hated but who opposed the Soviets, which was all we cared about; partly because they hate all Westerners because of our history of colonialism in their countries; and partly for a thousand other reasons.

    What I would have President Bush say is that he’s at least vaguely aware of the relevance of all of these issues, and doesn’t really think this entire conflict boils down to something a 6th-grader who’s seen too many John Wayne movies would say.

    As for your point regarding the problems with the wind energy effort in west Texas, well, I’ve been to west Texas and it never was much to look at.

    More seriously, your complaints sound basically like NIMBY, to me. You have no problem with huge power plants in locations far away from you polluting the air and water in somebody else’s back yard and sending that electricity down a tidy little wire to you; you just don’t like having your environment mucked up by somebody generating electricity in your back yard.

    I’m not surprised the wind effort where you are is having problems. Wind energy technology still needs a lot of work. So does solar. So does geothermal. So does hydrogen. That’s why we need an agency dedicated to developing those technologies (and others). I’m sorry you hate government agencies so much, like, say, the ones that require utility companies to provide service in remote areas of west Texas, even though it is financially unsupportable. Or the ones that subsidize farming/ranching in west Texas. Or the ones that provide water rights to remote areas of west Texas. It must be a nuisance to you to have to depend so much on things so offensive to you.

    I’m aware we already have an Energy Department. I’m also aware they aren’t doing diddly-poo on developing technologies to harness renewable energy sources. Until that is somebody’s specified, permanent, exclusive assignment, we’ll continue to get diddly-poo. As far as I’m concerned, they can take the money for the new agency out of DOE’s budget.

    But why aren’t we developing nuclear technology?

    I’m not inherently opposed to nuclear energy, but I do think we need to recognize it has some problems that aren’t likely to go away. Nuclear plants are expensive to build and expensive to maintain. The waste they produce is highly dangerous, expensive to handle, expensive to store, requires a high level of security, gets the NIMBY from pretty much every state in the union, and stays highly hazardous for next-to-forever. Not to mention the fact that the consequences of something going wrong at a nuclear plant (either on accident or due to an attack) are rather severe, so those plants also have extremely high security risks/costs.

    If the new agency I propose wants to work on solving those problems to make nuclear energy more financially viable, I have no objection; provided they also pursue other options. Right now, nuclear is a high risk/high reward proposition. And given a choice between a nuclear plant or your windmills in their back yard, I think most American locales will prefer the windmills.

    What I know for certain is that continuing to rely on fossil fuels is NOT an option. 100% guaranteed. As sure as death and taxes. And the sooner we stop burning them for energy, the more we’ll have available for manufacturing medicines, medical equipment, textiles, ag chemicals, and so forth.

  8. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “partly because we used their countries as proxies during the Cold War, propping up dictatorships the people hated but who opposed the Soviets, which was all we cared about”

    Let’s not forget we supported Saddam Hussein throughout the 80s, after all. Gee, I wonder why the Iraqis doubt the sincerity of our sudden interest in their welfare.

  9. Greg Says:

    juvenal_urbino;

    I didn’t get killing innocent people is ok from your post. My appologies for the harsh words. They were partly born out of frustration at Microsoft, a certain application provider’s technical support, and networks in general … none of which has anything to do with 911. Your comments about 911 simply touched a frayed nerve.

    I don’t agree that it makes one rats difference whether someone in another country has had to suffer terrorist attacks. We suffered terrorist attacks and that changed everything for us.

    I do agree with you on one point: I wish President Bush would more thoroughly address who we are at war with and why we are at war with them. Even though I’m a fan, he’s a bit PC for me.

    Actually, where I live is quite pretty. There are oak trees and Elm trees and Cedar trees and rolling hills. It’s a peacefull little oasis about 20 miles long and about 15 miles wide. Many that live here have invested their life savings in order to move out here. The problems are not with wind energy, they are with the destruction of a fragile environment, plunging property values, huge trucks rolling down now rapidly detiorating highways. Kiss another beautiful lifestyle goodbye.

    Wind energy itself has come a long way. The new GE 1.5 megawatt turbines are really pretty cool. This little oasis will be home to nearly five hundred of them by year’s end. They’re cleaner (albeit less “efficient”) than their fossil fuel burning cousins. They’re a lot better for land owners than oil wells were.

    I read an in-depth article several years ago about micro-nuclear generating plants. The “plants” are built almost entirely underground and occupy almost no visual footprint. They use some kind of balls instead of cores. Anyway, they could be built into the old missile cylos that dot the landscape around here … no one would even know they exist. They produce very little waste compared to fossil fuels are almost anything else. They’re easy to build and produce lots of juice. To my knowledge, we do not yet have them in the US because of our NRC. The expense of investing in nuclear energy production is less for technology than for regulations.

    I don’t hate all agencies. I like NASA. But many are just flat hostile to progress.

    By the way, Texas will very soon overtake California in alternate energy production. All funded, at least in part, by Republican administrations at the national and state level. We don’t just talk about it … we do it!

    Greg in Texas

  10. Duane McCrory Says:

    Since we were studying Hosea in the class I was teaching last night, I could not help but think about at least mentioning part of that book and see if people would think it applicable today.

    In Hosea’s day, it was the wealthy leaders who had the power to exploit others and yet go to worship justified in their own minds because they have performed all the right acts that God requires of their worship (see my comment on the Sunday post). To this, Hosea says in 6:6 “For I desire faithfulness (covenant loyalty, Hesed) and not sacrifice; even knowledge of God over and above burnt offerings.” (my own translation, sorry, but I didn’t like the others). Part of covenant loyalty means loving neighbor and not exploiting others for one’s own gain, realizing that the land and all that is in it belongs to God and not us.

    There is some sort of connection between exploitation and what happens to the land. This is where my point in bringing up Hosea is. Hosea 4:1-3 (RSV) says, “Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds and murder follows murder. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air; and even the fish of the sea are taken away.

    Is there a connection between our wealth, our exploitation of poorer nations to get it, and even our exploitation of the poor in this land and the natural resources, and what is happening to our environment? Hosea makes this connection. In a world that still believed that God sent the rain and caused crops to grow, the connection between right conduct and the lack of the land’s production was extremely important. God can give and God can take away. I’d be interested to see if anyone else notices a connection here. If we don’t take conservation seriously, how will God respond (for those of you who still think he acts today)?

  11. Joe Longhorn Says:

    Duane says:
    “Is there a connection between our wealth, our exploitation of poorer nations to get it, and even our exploitation of the poor in this land and the natural resources, and what is happening to our environment? Hosea makes this connection.”

    I disagree with the “connection” you’re seeing. Look at the whole scripture. The connection that Hosea makes isn’t between ” our wealth, our exploitation of poorer nations to get it, …our exploitation of the poor in this land and the natural resources, and what is happening to our environment.” Exploitation seems to be your word of choice, and it is a totally subjective one. Responsibly using resources that God gives us isn’t exploitation, it’s what we are called to do. Recall the parable of the talents in Matt. 25. Is there some exploitation and unscrupulous activity in our economy? You betcha! But most folks are out there trying to make the most out of what God has given them to work with.

    The connection that Hosea makes is that between the sinful behavior of the Israelites and the drying up of the resources in the land.

    Look at the first two verses again:

    Hosea 4:1-3 (RSV) says, “Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds and murder follows murder. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air; and even the fish of the sea are taken away.”

    Duane said:
    “If we don’t take conservation seriously, how will God respond (for those of you who still think he acts today)?”

    I think we know how he will respond. He’ll allow us to continue to wallow in the filth we create for ourselves and he will cease to bless us with continued resources.

    Last I checked, the U.S. was still doing pretty well economically, and no one’s complaining too hard about the lack of farmland, timber, clean drinking water, etc. Why is that?

    I think there are two reasons.

    (1)We realized not too long ago that we had to be more responsible with our resources. Environmentalism finally brought industrialism into check. We also realized that cleaning up messes is more expensive (and a poorer use of resources) than putting some forethought and front end expense into cleaner systems.

    (2) I don’t think that the U.S. has fully met the criteria in Hosea 3:1, “…There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land.”

    Personally, I’m a lot more concerned about the lying, swearing, stealing, killing, adultery, etc. than the way our economy works.

  12. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “Personally, I’m a lot more concerned about the lying, swearing, stealing, killing, adultery, etc. than the way our economy works.”

    From what I’ve seen, that largely is the way our economy works. The only thing you missed is greed.

  13. Duane McCrory Says:

    I’ll start by showing my own ignorance of all the issues related to environmental conservation. I recently have read and seen several reports related to the global warming that many are now agreeing is taking place. This global warming is related to our use of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gasses that this causes. Last time I lived in Southern California (1989-90), because of the treated sewage dumped into the bay, it was often not safe to swim.

    Juvenal said:
    “Why do we need to drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge? Because 9/11 changed everything.”

    I doubt many would consider these to be responsible uses of resources. I only mention several here to give an example.

    Joe said:
    “Environmentalism finally brought industrialism into check.”

    I’m not sure if everyone would agree with this assessment, but I will once again state my ignorance on this and hope that someone more knowledgeable than I will discuss this point.

    To discuss Hosea a little bit more and point out the connection I see as it relates to the entire book of Hosea, rather than just 4:1-2, let me quote what
    Joe said:
    “(2) I don’t think that the U.S. has fully met the criteria in Hosea 3:1, “…There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land.”
    Personally, I’m a lot more concerned about the lying, swearing, stealing, killing, adultery, etc. than the way our economy works.”

    Hosea 4:1-2 (this is the verse you are quoting, just for the slight correction on chapter number) needs to be connected in its entirely. Verse 2 explains what is meant by verse 1. To say that there is no faithfulness or kindness and no knowledge of God is shown by the actions of swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery and murdering. If there was knowledge of God and faithfulness to covenant, the latter would not take place. Because the people do not know God and are unfaithful to his covenant, they do the wicked things he hates. These are inseparable and the Hebrew bears it out. The latter explains what is meant by the former. America’s lying, swearing, stealing, killing and adultery also show that there is no knowledge of God in this land or faithfulness to him. To say that this is a true statement generally is to say the same of the Northern Kingdom in Hosea’s day. Does this mean that everyone is that way? Of course not. Absolutely everyone was not like that in Hosea’s day either. For example, Hosea was a faithful prophet (as was Amos, his contemporary who also prophesied in the Northern Kingdom), though God had a contention with other prophets of the time period (see Hosea 9:7-8). Are we that much different than they? I’ll leave that up to the readers’ opinions.

    Joe said:
    “I think we know how he will respond. He’ll allow us to continue to wallow in the filth we create for ourselves and he will cease to bless us with continued resources.

    Last I checked, the U.S. was still doing pretty well economically, and no one’s complaining too hard about the lack of farmland, timber, clean drinking water, etc. Why is that?”

    First, while I think the connection is in Hosea 4:3, that the languishing of the land was directly related to the misuse of it for dishonest gain (and exploitation of people, but more on this below) and this is spelled out more clearly in many other parts of Hosea, God’s response is sometimes to lay waste their vines and fig trees (3:12), let them eat and not be satisfied (4:10), etc. However, his ultimate response to unrepentant Israel is to take away their power and send them into exile by means of Assyria in 722 B.C.E., never to return to their land again, not let them wallow in the mess they created. Do we expect him to act differently today? Possibly, especially because we are not his chosen people and there are a lot of other difficulties in making the connection between then and now, but might he also choose a similar outcome for us?

    Second, part of Israel’s problem, which Hosea does address, is their relative wealth and security from threat, especially in the days Hosea started to prophesy, around the end of Jereboam II’s reign, in approximately 752 B.C.E, which addresses the relative security and economic success of the U.S. today that Joe mentions. 4:7 says, “The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame.” See also 2:13, involving feasting, jewelry and the like as a religious ceremony offered to Ba’al. More to the point is Hosea 12:8, “Ephraim has said, ‘Ah, but I am rich, I have gained wealth for myself,’; but all his riches can never offset the guilt he has incurred.” Their complacency and ignorance was the biggest part of their problem.

    Although Hosea does not connect the sinfulness of the people with the lack of natural resources in terms of environmental conservation (How could he? Those terms did not exist then.), the exploitation of people is in terms of the lying (using “false balances” to exploit and oppress people (12:7), killing and stealing (lying in wait to kill people and rob them [6:9]), and committing adultery. That is why I have used the term “exploitation,” albeit a loaded term.

    Joe said:
    “Is there some exploitation and unscrupulous activity in our economy? You betcha! But most folks are out there trying to make the most out of what God has given them to work with.”

    I think our main disagreement is the degree of corruption within our economy and use (or abuse) of our resources (which in my view includes people). From the middle class, American, $75,000-100,000-a-year-income (to choose an arbitrary, and I think low number) perspective, it might seem like people are just trying to use what God gave them. Maybe we need to get the perspective of the lower-class, minimum-wage, below-the-poverty-level American and ask if there is widespread exploitation in America today. I have been in both places and can honestly say that the system is meant to keep the lower-income American down and is a form of exploitation that is widespread. One cannot feed and house a family on minimum wage, much less provide adequate health insurance. Raises and promotions come very slowly and there is no benefit to an employee being loyal to a company (See the recent case about the airline that was allowed to default on the pensions it owed to retired employees.) Credit card companies charge higher interest rates to the lower classes, which keeps them in debt, while those who get the lower interest rates are the ones who can afford to pay their debt off. And that is just what Americans are doing to other Americans, and does not include the exploitation involved in American trade with other countries, but I’ll stop there.

    While the connection with the abuse of the environment might be a stretch for the book of Hosea, I consider it to be part of the larger problem of exploitation that has become part of our economic system (if it is not inherently there and has not always been there) with greed as the primary motive.

    I think Hosea addressed a similar situation, though it looked different because it was 8th-century Northern Israel, not 21st-century America. The message as I see it is to avoid being party to the oppression of others.

    I’ll step off my soapbox now and end here. I’m sure there’ll be more on this subject.

    Joe, thanks for pointing out my need for clarification and making an environmental connection that is not necessarily present in Hosea.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: