In my usual format of late, I have liked to set forth a lighter fare on Friday evenings as I post. This week though has a twist.
I saw a biblical theme in a Doritos Commercial. In this case though, the theme is not a pleasant one at all. And though the commercial has a certain humor, it is a dark humor to be sure.
In the commercial the family Dog has killed the family cat. And the father of the family who discovers the Dog’s guilt, is bribed by a bag of Doritos to stay quiet an pretend he “didn’t see nuthin.”
And in this brief commercial we see displayed the often sad human condition of the poor (here represented by a murdered cat!), and those who have no voice, or the money and power to be heard, often get no justice, a no one sees “nuthin” of their plight. Scripture says,
- This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. (Amos 2:6-7)
- For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts. (Amos 5:12)
- Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them (Isaiah 1:23)
- They acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. (Is 5:23)
A couple of scenarios in my life come to mind.
Scenario One: This morning I stood with others outside a fancy breakfast that was held for developers and local politicians here in DC. And as they entered the building we respectfully reminded them of the poor and sought to engage them in a discussion about corporate welfare. For, in tight budget times, while corporate subsidies are being doled out in higher and abundant monies by the DC Government, the budget for affordable housing, shelters and job creation were underfunded, and in some cases wholly unfunded.
DC City Council and the Mayor claim that in lean times, the Neighborhood Investment Act would have to remain unfunded in a belt-tightening measure. Meanwhile subsidies to corporations and developers took no similar hit. In fact the DC convention Center (which should be making money) receives 100 million dollars in city money every year. There were surely no belt-tightening cuts to that subsidy. Other fancy hotels and development projects also receive substantial subsidies.
Thus corporate welfare continues apace, but the social safety net goes underfunded. When will capitalists (and I am a fan of capitalism) start acting like capitalists and stand on their own? Washington DC is second only to New York City in the Hotel Room Revenue Rates and Office Rental revenue. In such a lucrative market, why is corporate welfare necessary?
Talk as you will about the need to reduce the size of government. But why not begin with the huge amounts of corporate welfare that are doled out and start shrinking there? (Pardon a little Tea Party thinking here).
But the answer to this question is clear enough. Corporate subsidies do not get cut because developers and lobbyists for the hotel and tourism industry have money, influence and access to make sure that doesn’t happen. You might say (to use the image in the video) they have the bag of Doritos to push and to compel silence from the political sector. This morning it was a fancy breakfast with local politicians (all Democrats by the way, there are no Republicans in local DC politics). At other times it is threats to take their development elsewhere if they don’t get lots of incentives to stay.
Development is good, but only if it actually benefits local DC residents, which is largely does not. Unemployment rates remain as high as 30% among the poorer residents of this city despite all the development downtown for over twenty years. DC laws to train and hire a certain percentage of DC workers (when subsidies are given) are not enforced.
Scenario Two: Later this month I will stand outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic on 16th Street just up the street front the White House. There too I will speak for those who have (literally) no voice in this world, the unborn. There too, powerful interests (the Planned Parenthood lobby and others in the abortion and contraceptive industry) get their way and the poorest of the poor, infants in the womb, are killed for profit and political advancement.
And to those who run the “clinics” who would have us all say (in the words of the ad below) “you don’t see nuthin,” But I will say I see what you are doing and God sees everything you are doing. And you will answer to Him for what you are doing if you do not repent.
At the end of the commercial below comes the voice of a woman, asking her husband if he has seen the cat. And looking to the dog with another bag of Doritos he says, “Nope.” But her question echoes in his mind, despite his answer. He has seen everything that has happened and his silence, though it brings him rewards now, will bring him trouble later. For the truth will out.
Perhaps we can see the woman in the background in this commercial as Mother Church. And as a son of Mother Church, I often find it necessary to ask the deeper version of the commercial’s question (“Have you seen the cat?”). And the Deeper version is “How is your brother?” (cf Gen 4:9).
The Church doesn’t have a bribe, just a question, How is your brother, your sister? And that question must continue to echo in the hearts and minds of everyone.
Here’s the commercial: