Scripture tell us:
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him.
‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. Matthew 18:23-35
The numbers tell us:
2.98 Trillion: number of dollars provided by the US Treasury through TARP and by the Federal Reserve to stabilize Wall Street Banks. (Wall Street Journal)
1.45 Trillion: number of dollars American corporations are sitting on and not investing. (Forbes)
1.2 Trillion: number of dollars the Federal Reserve provided Wall Street Banks in emergency loans through 2011. (Bloomberg)
942 Million: Total compensation paid to the top 56 executives of the 9 major banks receiving TARP funding in 2007. (CNN Money)
12.8 Million: Average pay of top bank CEOs in 2011. (Huffington Post)
8 Million: Lowest CEO pay in 2012 out of the top 5 banks. (Forbes)
0: Number of senior financial officers prosecuted for criminal activity related to the housing and stock market crashes since 2007. (Truth Out)
18: Number of years of accumulated wealth (1992-2010) wiped out for American families between 2007-2010. (New York Times)
59.1 thousand: Decline (40%) in median household wealth from 2007 to 2010. (New York Times)
2.2 million: number of homes (out of 16 million households underwater) refinanced through 2012 by banks under the Home Affordable Refinance Program HARP. (CBS News)
7.5 million: number of jobs lost in the Great Recession. (ABC News)
19.2 million: number of home foreclosures since 2007. (Realty Trac Inc.)
17 Trillion: Amount of wealth lost by American households during the Great Recession (AP)
Since 2007 the American financial industry has received trillions of dollars in government bailouts while presiding over the loss of trillions of dollars in American wealth, millions of American jobs and the foreclosure of almost 20 million American homes.
So who’s the wicked servant in American society today?
And isn’t it time for their masters – We the People, to hold our errant servants accountable for their failure to extend to their debtors the same mercy that We the People extended to them?
Perhaps the titans of finance have survived unscathed and will remain unaccountable for their actions precipitating the Great Recession. But perhaps, during this Lenten season, these same titans of finance should keep in mine the statement in Matthew coming shortly after the parable of the Wicked Servant:
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Note to Wall Street Titans: Eat healthy. Exercise. Get plenty of rest. Given your actions the last few years, I wouldn’t be in any hurry to get to the next life if I were you.