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On Craving Wealth

We crave wealth, most Americans,
Worshipping the titans of the stock market
Even when they destroy the US economy,
Toss millions out of work,
A million out of their homes,
And watch men and women with signs
Asking for a buck so they can find shelter that night.
They are on every corner, hungry,
Looking for food or bottles in supermarket’s trash cans,
They lost their pride when their stomachs got empty,
Or they saw hunger in their children’s eyes.
Christ is a hungry, homeless man with a sign,
Asking for a handout this Christmas.
Mostly we walk by, embarrassed or angry.
“They make lots of money,” people tell me,
As if that mantra could assuage their guilt.
I answer, “Would you stand on a street corner
For eight hours in the rain for ten dollars?”
In the supermarket we don’t think about buying them a meal,
We wait at the checkout stand, reading about the rich and young,
Starlets and celebrities who have wealth that few of us will ever have.
We turn our televisions to gossip shows, forgetting to keep turning
Until we get to Public Television.

How many of us watch the tickertape and check out stocks
A lot more often that we check Facebook?
We’ll never own enough to buy a yacht, go skiing at Gdstad,
Or attend a G-8 party.
We’ll never own a corporate jet, get stock options,
Or have enough money to use tax shelters or be tempted
To park our money in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.

We might vote Republican because the rich are buying the government,
Or trying too. They vote themselves more tax breaks
So there is less money for college students, the elderly,
Children or the homeless.
But hell, they are rich. What can you expect?
Somehow a lot of us believe that if they rig the whole game
So they win, the rest of us, left with nothing, will also win.
It’s call “trickle down economics” and it’s never worked.
But nearly half of us seem to believe it anyway.

We elected the corporate attorney and his corporate wife,
Instead of the investment banker with obscene wealth.
I guess its progress.
At least the attorney pretends he has compassion
While he agrees to cut Social Security
And expand the military.
He cut his preacher off when the minister damned this country
For its violent ways, inside and outside our borders.
He’s cut off most of his old friends and supporters.
He’s moved beyond all of that.
He’s in the same special club that most very wealthy people belong too.
They forget that they are one of us.
But maybe I’m wrong.

We’ll see.

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