woody zimmermann 120Ask a man on the street about money and he’ll say he needs more of it – or maybe that some people have too much of it. If he’s religious, he might say the Bible calls money the root of all evil. But he’ll make a common error there. The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil. Greed is the problem, not money itself. Money can be a valuable tool for good, but greed can undo that good by hurting society’s most vulnerable people.

 Hardly a week passes without news about children being mistreated somewhere. On one occasion New Jersey citizens were shocked when authorities found a seven-year-old boy’s decomposed body in the basement of a Newark home. Two starving siblings were discovered nearby, barely alive. No one seemed to have noticed that these children hadn’t been around lately.

Soon afterward, four adopted boys – then aged 19, 14, 10 and 9 – from a Collingswood (NJ) home were found scavenging in garbage cans for food. Some of them weighed less than 50 pounds. The 19-year-old, a walking skeleton, was admitted to a hospital cardiac unit. Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) caseworkers had noted nothing amiss with the boys in 38 separate home-visit reports, filed over two years. In the subsequent uproar, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey demanded criminal charges against the caseworkers who evidently didn’t “notice” the starving boys.

At the time I twitted New Jersey for allotting $30 million for 366 new DYFS caseworkers after the dead boy was found. Clearly, failure pays – at least in state government. I predicted that the Collingswood boys would generate additional funding, too. (I can’t verify if that happened, or if the negligent DYFS parties were ever held accountable.)

These terrible tragedies – plus many others involving foster children and “wards of the state” – were the product of greed. Children under government care are squeezed, as if by a vise, from two directions. From one side, by agencies or government personnel who perform their duties negligently – apparently, just for the money. From the other side, by foster parents or others who misspend the meager child-care funds furnished by government. The four starving boys – locked out of their kitchen – subsisted on peanut butter and cookies (plus all the garbage they could find). Their parents were using the state’s subsidies for other purposes.

Public education is another place where greed hurts children but rewards workers. I am not alone in noting that failure is education’s “horn of plenty.” School systems reward poorly performing schools with additional staff and new programs. When nothing improves, more money is poured into “improvements.” The cycle goes on and on. Greed is the big winner at this table, and kids are the patsies.

One grotesque brand of educational greed involves programs that actually harm students directly – bilingual instruction, for instance. Although studies consistently show that denying English immersion to immigrant students retards their development, many schools continue to insist on more bilingual instruction. To remedy the poor results, more bilingual teachers are hired, producing no measurable change. (Increasing one’s efforts on methods that have produced no results is a classic definition of mental illness.) Someone is doing well out of this, but it’s not the students. When California finally abandoned the bilingual approach, immigrant students’ academic performance soared. Some bilingual educators claimed this was just an anomaly, but state educators had finally had enough.

Abortion is another example of how greed harms individuals and the nation. Sexually active people were told that they could slake their sexual desires without risk. If contraception didn’t prevent an unwanted pregnancy, abortion was a clean and efficient backup solution. It would be as if nothing had ever happened. Unfortunately, millions of American women now realize that this was not just a lie but a damned lie. Years after an abortion, many women still suffer from depression, low self-esteem and guilt, as well as myriad physical problems.

Men also know what abortion has wrought. One “tough guy” of my acquaintance observes a certain day every year with solitary hours of drinking and grief. It is the anniversary of the date when his child – conceived when he was a careless and stupid young man – was reduced to biological waste by white-clad technicians in a clean, well-lit clinic. That killing blighted his life. Only by God’s grace will he ever be free of it. There is no gravestone where he can mourn. In the dark of night that child’s ghost haunts him. Who would he have been? What might she have done in life? Why was he so careless as to allow its destruction? He cannot answer these questions. Don’t try to tell me that abortion is a clean, victimless solution to an inconvenient situation.

Abortion’s greed is financial as well as sexual. Prospective parents demand deliverance from the cost and inconvenience of the new life. The abortion “provider” wants his fee. But the industry’s $11 billion a year economic “product” is far outweighed by the loss of 50 million Americans who simply are not there. At a modest estimate of $1 million per life, the loss totals $50 trillion!

But beyond mere money, the millions of illegals now streaming into the country to replace the missing 50 million victims are another part of abortion’s inconvenient effects. And the end in not in sight. Abortion has inflicted a grievous wound upon the nation, and we’re reaping the whirlwind for it.

At another juncture in our history, the effects of a terrible wrong produced ruin. That wrong was slavery, and its price was the Civil War. In his inaugural address of March 1865, President Lincoln mentioned the wages of greed and God’s fearful justice. Historians have called his remarks the most profoundly Christian statement by a president in our history:

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

We’re still paying for the greed of slavery, and we’ll pay for the greed of abortion, too. Even if we can stop the killing, generations will pass before this crime is purged from the soul of America. The greed that motivates child abuse and educational cupidity will also cost us dearly.

An ancient wisdom holds that whatever you think you’re getting away with will come back to bite you. If we have forgotten this, we’re going to relearn it. And it’s going to be a hard lesson.