WITNESS FOR JUSTICE #1096 Poison Pill

Sekinah Hamlin

I like drugs. Let me explain. I am not one who dismisses pain or relies on tea and honey sans Theraflu or Dayquil. Thus, during allergy season in North Carolina, a neti pot will not do. I need something stronger.

This year, however, I found myself in a dilemma. My usual anti-sneeze-and-itchy-eyes meds failed. An increase of the dosage of my trusted pink pill proved useless, and even dangerous, as I realized that my allergy meds did not play well with a new set of pharmaceuticals I introduced to my body. Amazingly, my once-productive pill became a poisonous pill that neutralized the other needed medicines in my body. Yikes! I should have consulted with my pharmacist before ingesting those allergy pills. Of course, the pharmacist would later confirm my realization. As the seasoned saints would say, “God looks out for babies and fools.”

The economic concept of a poison pill has been in the news lately, as multibillionaire Elon Musk has attempted to take control of social media giant Twitter. It is officially called a shareholder rights plan, a mechanism designed to thwart unwelcomed corporate takeovers. In the case of Twitter, it happened quite suddenly. The news went from Musk acquiring a larger stake in the company, to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal offering Musk a seat on Twitter’s board—which Musk declined—to Musk offering to buy the entire company, to the Twitter board using the poison pill tactic to block or at least slow down Musk’s takeover attempt, and finally to war waged by Musk to seize control over Twitter while simultaneously damaging its board and reputation.

An article featured in Forbes details how Musk’s hostile takeover bid has weaponized the Twitter platform and other social media outlets, including the TED stage. In the article, Carliss Chatman, a professor of corporate law at Washington and Lee, remarks, “This is totally weird and unusual.” Chatman continues, “this is some rich megalomaniac trying to buy something and treating it all like playing with a toy.”

Many have become enamored with economic systems based on debt that produce extreme wealth inequality, while forgetting the working families at the bottom of the economic ladder, people who are being trampled as multibillionaires experience takeover tantrums while attempting to increase their toys of wealth and power. We forget that:

– The working class pays more taxes than the top 400 billionaires, courtesy of the Trump tax cuts;

– As of 2020, workers are paid 351 times less than CEOs;

– The wealth gap widened in 2020, with the top one percent having fifteen times more wealth than the bottom fifty percent of families combined;

– Two-thirds of low wage workers do not have paid sick leave and thus cannot properly care for themselves or their families;

– Mine workers of Warrior Met Coal have been on strike for more than one year while the company continues to prioritize executive staff pay increases over pay raises and adequate leave for workers; and

– Wendy’s remains the only major fast food chain that has not joined the Fair Food Program, thus leaving workers to be subjected to economic and health abuses in the fields.

James 5:4 states, “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”

As you read this article, there will probably be unfolding developments in the Musk-Twitter saga. However, let us see past these distractions and remember the workers whose pay is withheld due to ungodly economic systems. Their cries have reached the ears of the Lord. Let us respond by creating a just economy for all.

Reverend Sekinah Hamlin is the Minister for Economic Justice for the United Church of Christ.

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