34 The word of God came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. Ezekiel 34:1-4
If the prophet Ezekiel were to address Washington today, he would not have to change a thing in his condemnation of the rich and powerful of his own day. Instead, he would recognize the same roles played out by different people.
The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies’ tax bills.
And how are the richest of the rich intending to fix the debt? Not by reducing their own pork barrel projects, of course. They will fix the debt by cutting pieces of flesh from the poor.
During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council — most visibly, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell’s David Cote — have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.
The shepherds of our day are proposing a “territorial tax system” that would exempt their own companies from being taxed on foreign profits.
As part of their push, they are advocating a “territorial tax system” that would exempt their companies’ foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled “The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks” — money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.
The passage from Ezekiel ends with a promise from God:
“Thus says God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.”
In biblical days, the prophets were appealing to the powers that be. For example they appealed to the King to do the right thing. In our day, there is no one to rescue us if we do not take responsibility for our own lives. In our day, our only hope is to stop being sheep if we do not wish to become mutton.