Chris Lauzen at Odds with the Pope Francis on Economic Issues

by , posted on Thursday, November 28th, 2013 at 7:16 pm

It is Thanksgiving and I can’t get over the conversation I had with Chris Lauzen last week over the topic of a living wage ordinance. Even though I was born and raised on the mission field in West Africa, I don’t think that a politician’s faith should matter, unless that politician makes it part of his or her campaign. Chris Lauzen has put his faith front and center in most of his political endeavors – his political views as one who professes very publicly to be Roman Catholic are fair game. And, if you read the press release linked above you will notice that Lauzen doesn’t mind criticizing the Pope when the Pope admonishes Republicans. Maybe Chris is more in tune with God than the Pope is?

This morning I read a recent speech by Pope Francis who condemned the idolatry of cash in capitalism and called for a society with people, not money, at its heart. “It is the consequence of a global choice, an economic system which leads to this tragedy; an economic system which has at its center an idol called money.”

It made me think that the phone conversation Chris and I had should be made public and I should let readers decide if they think Lauzen is a man of faith or another hypocrite.

The conversation between Chris Lauzen and myself was to talk about a living wage ordinance for Kane County. Unfortunately, he was not even interested in meeting to discuss the topic further, even after I suggested that, as a taxpayer, I was tired of subsidizing Walmart’s ungodly large profit margins.

During the half-hour conversation with brother Lauzen, I tried impressing upon him the need to address the poverty crisis and underemployment crisis that Kane County and the rest of the country are experiencing. “If someone works 40 hours per week they should be able to feed their family, have a roof over their head, and survive, but that is not the case anymore,” I said.

Lauzen’s response, “John, we can’t force businesses to do anything more than we already are.” He kept cutting me off, refusing to listen to facts, and insisting that I had not walked in the shoes of any business person. That is true to some degree, but I quickly countered that I don’t think it is moral for one man to make money off of another man’s sweat and labor. My brother and I own a business and it is only the two of us. We work and benefit from the work we provide for people, but we are both struggling also.”

He insisted that I was self-employed and not a business person and went back to his tactics of pitying the poor small business owner that, “he sat across the table from him and he could read the concern on their faces as they put their entire lives at risk in their business.” I countered his condescending, “Oh John, you just don’t understand” with, “Chris, most corporations dodge liabilities and risk by setting up an LLC – corporations are not people. Secondly, we are not talking about family businesses we are talking about predatory temp agencies and the Walmart’s of the world. The Walton’s are worth $150 billion Chris, are you worried about them?”

He went back to re-iterating his pro-Walmart/global corporate-government stance so I asked him if “he cared about those living in poverty, those who are working two minimum wage jobs and yet struggle to survive.” He didn’t have an answer. Either he doesn’t care or he doesn’t know what it is like to work full-time and be poor. Maybe it is both. He ended the conversation shortly after telling me that he drives a 13-year old car and wears worn out shoes. It reminded me of Bruce Rauner’s $18 watch.

Lauzen, who does support open government, released his tax information in 1998 when he was seeking the job of state Comptroller. In 1998, his tax returns showed that he was worth $1.5 million, yet, like Bruce Rauner’s $18 watch, Lauzen campaigns like a pauper, hoping that people will ignore his millionaire status and pay attention to his old car and worn out shoes.

Brother Lauzen, Americans are working harder than ever and struggling to survive. The Catholic Pope gets it, but you seem to be stuck in secular world of millionaire-ville. While I was raised a Lutheran and profess no faith publicly, especially for political gain, I find myself agreeing with Pope Francis, not Chris Lauzen. Here are Francis’ words from a recent piece in The Guardian:

Urging people not to give up hope even in the harsh economic climate, Francis also called on them to fight back against the “throwaway culture” he said was a by-product of a global economic system that cared only about profit. It was, he said, a culture that saw the most vulnerable society become marginalised.

Grandparents are thrown away and young people are thrown away,” he said. “And we must say no to this throwaway culture. We must say: ‘We want a fair system; a system that allows everyone to move forward.’ We must say: ‘We do not want this globalised economic system that does so much harm.’ At the centre has to be man and woman, as God wants – not money.

I sometimes wonder, if there is a God and our time comes, would that God smile on the man who professes his Catholic faith in public, disguises his millionaire status behind shoes and an old car, and uses his political power to benefit the top 1%? Or would that God welcome first the poor, the abused, the oppressed, the sick, and the hungry. What did God mean when he said, “blessed are the poor

When the Walton family is able to rake in billions hand-over-fist at the expense of oppressed workers in America and abroad, the Waltons officially become the oppressors and, as an elected official, millionaire Chris Lauzen is one of their many enablers. Consider that the six Walton Family members own more wealth than the bottom 30% of the American population. They got there by abusing human rights and paying poverty-level wages from Bangledash, India to Batavia, Illinois.

I am hopeful that Mayor Weisner is more receptive to a living wage ordinance than Chris Lauzen was, but I will leave the door open for brother Lauzen to have a change of heart, change of faith, or change of mind. Every politician should be aware that voters recently voted for a $15 minimum wage for SEATAC workers in Seattle, Washington. It might scare both political parties more, knowing that an independent candidate, and socialist, Kshama Sawant won an uphill battle against an entrenched Seattle Alderman by campaigning on a $15 minimum wage.

On Thanksgiving, a family holiday, (Nov. 28th) and the capitalists’ holiday, “Black Friday,” (Nov. 29th) I will be standing with the underpaid, over-worked employees of Walmart. Please join Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice in supporting working people. This information comes from the NIJwJ press release:

We will stand with workers who are being forced to work on Thanksgiving, a family holiday, on Thursday, November 28th:

Aurora at 7:00 PM: the Walmart at 2900 Kirk Rd., Aurora, IL. Join us for a fun, festive protest with lighted signs (provided). This store is located at Butterfield Road and Kirk Road in Aurora.

We will also picket four Walmart stores on Friday, November 29th:

Joliet at 8:00 AM: the store at 2424 W Jefferson St in Joliet.

Elgin at 10:00 AM: the store at 1100 S Randall Road in Elgin. (Two blocks South of Bowes Road.)

Aurora at 12 noon: the store at 2000 Orchard Road, Montgomery, IL (at the intersection of US 30 & Orchard Rd.)

Naperville at 1:30 PM: the store at 776 S. Rt. 59., Naperville, IL (Just north of US 34, South of New York St.)


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