Richard Crocker, the chaplain at Dartmouth College, gives a sermon on Occupy Wall Street. Go read the rest:
… Now I expect that some of you are agreeing with the Amos and Jesus and me. But others of you are not convinced. You wonder what I (or perhaps Amos and Jesus) know about economics. And the answer is: very little. But we do know what is right. We do know that the exploitation of the poor by the rich and powerful is wrong. And we do know that any nation that countenances such policies is really planting the seeds of its own destruction.
But wait – you may say: this is a democracy. We can change the policies of our nation by voting. Ah, yes. But it is not easy. Jeffrey Sachs, who is a well-known professor at Columbia and who does know something about economics, points out that “the rich finance candidates while the poor cannot. Political scientists have shown that members of Congress – many of whom are wealthy themselves – devote their legislative votes to the wishes of their well-to-do constituents. President Obama has dined regularly with the lords of finance; meanwhile, billionaire oil magnates fund the tax-cutting frenzy of the Tea party.” And Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize winning economist, said in Friday’s New York Times: “The protestors indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right.”
Why am I saying this to you?? What can you do about it? I am saying it to you because we are all here very privileged. We are part of the wealth of this country, even if we are not all among the top 1 per cent – though some of us at Dartmouth certainly are. You are forming your ambitions and commitments, determining how you are going to spend your lives. And the pressures at Dartmouth, the contours of passage, the incentives and structures, encourage you to give your talents to corporate America – to occupy Wall Street. I want you to question that ambition – not only for yourselves, but for your friends. Where should the most talented youth in our nation devote their energies? You must answer that question.
But, to come closer home: there was another article in the local newspaper this week about a situation that affects every single one of you (us). Columnist Jim Kenyon, well known in the upper valley for exposing unpleasant truths, took on this week the cafes in Baker Library. You know we have Novack, and you know we have the new coffee bar run by King Arthur Flour. Which of those two do you think pays its employees more? The college employees in Novack are union employees, paid $16 per hour. The King Arthur employees are non-unionized private employees who are paid, the paper reports, $11 per hour. For a full time employee, that’s a difference of $10, 400 per year. Kenyon states that “According to Vermont’s Joint Fiscal Office, a married worker who lives in a rural area of the state has to make about $13 an hour to meet their family’s basic needs.” So, when you have a choice, if you want to support a living wage for working people in the Upper Valley, buy your coffee at Novack. You can still bring it up to the lobby to drink.
Economic justice. Realistic compensation for one’s labor. Fairness. These are the ideals of the Bible, and of our nation at its best. Something has gone horribly wrong. We cannot ignore it, or excuse it. We can devote our energies to trying to change it.