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Mar 28, 2009

Advocacy Update

We live in an exceptionally dramatic period calling for renewed and faithful advocacy. Here are nine brief windows on the challenges we face, and on resources that might be of help to individuals and groups seeking to respond to the gospel call of Shalom:

1. A very smart investment
2. Making foreign aid accountable
3. Educational forums
4. Misplaced AIG scandal backlash
5. Roots of economic crisis
6. Hey! This is just gambling!
7. One of ours?
8. More Lutheran sources
9. The impact of the economic crisis on nonprofits

1. LPF’s top current advocacy priority is lobbying Congress and the administration to significantly increase and improve the effectiveness of US development assistance both for humanitarian reasons, and to increase security for the affected regions and for the US. Increased development aid would pay for itself from its security benefits alone! In fact, it’s hard to think of any smarter investment of 6-10 billion dollars in the entire US budget.

Your representatives and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton could very much use supportive letters to help them keep aid at the priority level it needs to be.

Here is how to make yourself heard.

2. The Christian Science Monitor published a useful article yesterday entitled, "How to make US foreign aid work." The subtitle summarizes the thrust of the commentary: "Give recipients a say in where the money goes." To read more, go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0318/p09s02-coop.html

3. We would be happy to help you organize an educational forum or workshop in your congregation or area. Email us at lpf@ecunet.org or call the LPF office at 206-720-0313. How to plan a LPF training gives the basics of organizing a LPF training
in your college or university, congregation or community.

4. The economic crisis continues to dominate the news. Regrettably, many key issues continue to be obscured by careless or opportunistic media coverage. The Washington Post has several useful articles. See the daily news summary (which the WP sends out free): http://view.ed4.net/v/E5QODK/JIV8W/NSSSFOG/4VE0EV/MAILACTION=1

5. An even more important aspect of current misinformation or lack of information is the fact that much media coverage has slighted the deeper structural problems in favor of scare reporting or blaming the victims. Many readers of this e-news have seen one or more versions of an op-ed written by LPF national coordinator, Glen Gersmehl, entitled "Delving deeper, nourishing hope. For more, go to, www.pjrcbooks.org/
Fin_Crisis.html


6. The above article lifts up the core role that’credit default swaps’ played in the crisis. Amazed that you haven’t heard of CDS? The lead editorial in this past Sunday’s NY Times is one of a relative few national or regional commentaries to focus on the role of CDS in the crisis. Here’s a particularly intriguing (and shocking) point:

"In the manic years of this decade, credit default swaps took off as a way to bet on the likelihood of default by a firm or an investment portfolio, without having to own any financial interest in the firm or portfolio. That is definitely not insurance, it is gambling."

For the full NY Times editorial, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/opinion/

7. One of ours? We might add that a superb NY Times business editor, Gretchen Morgenson, has been one of the most consistently useful analysts on the current crisis and its public policy and moral dimensions, for example, a Jan. 25 commentary: Time to Unravel the Knot of Credit-Default Swaps and a March 15 piece: At A.I.G., Good Luck Following the Money. Curious about Morgenson’s rare moral sensibilities, we finally looked up her profile and discovered she’s a St. Olaf grad. Could that be relevant?

8. It has been with some embarrassment that we note that Christian leaders and faith-based groups across the denominational spectrum have been all but invisible in the public debate about the economic crisis. So it is good news to report that’s the focus of the current issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics offering a range of views. Check it out at: www.elca.org/jle

9. The upcoming issue of The Nation magazine has a cover story that brings us full circle: the impact of the economic crisis on nonprofits. It explores several examples of that impact and a number of worrisome projections and statistics, for example, that 100,000 nonprofits could close their doors as a result of the crisis. It is a reminder for each of us to support those groups like LPF that we are counting on to help us act on our faith in the world. See: www.thenation.org


Blessings and Peace!


To contact us by email lpf@ecunet.org or lpfyouth@gmail.com. For links to lpf enewsletters and blogs, additional advocacy information, useful group discussion activities, leader tips, and resources on a wide range of topics, www.lutheranpeace.org