In his seminal book, Fast Food Nation, author Eric Schlosser reports on an annual convention held by the fast food industry. One year, the event’s speaker was impressive – no less a figure than Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. As Schlosser observed, Gorbachev’s speech, on the topic of changing world economics, was an insightful presentation on a very relevant topic. However, the author reports that his audience – executives in the fast food industry – was largely disinterested, distracted and thoroughly disengaged.
[insert passage from FFN]
The passage is striking in its description of the CEOs’ raw wealth and power, and in the dismissive way in which a legendary statesman like Gorbachev was treated. So you instituted détente? Well I launched curly fries and got a $40 million bonus. The image shows us that corporations are increasingly above politics in today’s global economy. CEOs can afford to be dismissive of national leaders, local customs, the nutrition of their customers, the poverty of their workers or the health of the rivers and streams that surround their plants.
[find Bible verse about the dismissive nature of wealth and prophetic opposition to that]
I have to admit, in looking at this situation it is hard to find hope. However, there is some to be found. There is increasing evidence that people are beginning to question the status quo in many areas – avoiding fast food, calling companies to accountability for their actions, and looking beyond public relations “spin” to seek the truth about the actions of the powerful.
If the wealthy have “triumphed” it will not be a long victory, because it is unsustainable. The crushed poor and the dissolving middle class will cause the whole entity to collapse. And as it collapses, let’s work for a more compassionate, Christ-centered alternative to take its place.