Gandhi and what will destroy society

While on retreat I’ve been reading Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit – from Effectiveness to Greatness. In it he quotes “seven things that, according to Gandhi’s teaching, will destroy us.” Here’s the list. I think it’s a bit too close for comfort in today’s U.K., particularly the last four.

  • Wealth without work
  • Pleasure without conscience
  • Knowledge without character
  • Commerce without morality
  • Science without humanity
  • Worship without sacrifice
  • Politics without principle

Greedy bankers? Check first whether you live in a glass house.

They say that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. There seem to be increasing comments in the press seeking to blame greedy bankers or greedy oligarchs for the “bad financial state” we are in.

Writing in this week’s Church Times, Dr Alan Storkey writes at length about how our understanding of the current “financial problems” are mis-stated by the government, as if to throw a smoke screen. He writes that (at least at the moment) Britain’s “financial problems” do not flow from difficulties of the Eurozone but from de-industrialisation, the sale of our firms to overseas owners, and the choice of the Treasury – in allowing a “credit-financed boom” – to finance that not through ensuring that rich people are taxed proportionately but through borrowing instead.

So, where does the buck stop? Perhaps the failure of the government, in the eyes of many, to “punish” banking leaders enough is because they feel some guilt. However, who are we to point the finger of blame? Although corruption in government is not unheard of, governments on the whole try to give the electorate the sugar-coated candy that they ask for.

Maybe I should not blame banking leaders for making the most of legal deregulation to make money. Maybe I should ask myself what I am colluding with the government to unwisely ask for. – a solution to the debt crisis?

I picked up a copy of Positive News that someone gave me on Thursday, and the front page was splashed with the headline: “Change money, change the world.” Some innovative young economists, led by Ben Dyson, see that the problems of the current debt crisis flow from the way money is created (in England) not only by the Bank of England but also in an uncontrolled way by banks every time they lend.

Eight percent of bank lending is productive, “whereas the remaining 92% goes on property and financial speculation.” For more info, see the article in Positive News, or go to the Positive Money web site.

If this is the answer, we need it!

Britain and the Eurozone – Cameron’s veto

Surely it’s too early to judge whether David Cameron was right to veto the new EC treaty. As time goes on, I think I’m admiring his bravery. On a matter of principle he said “no” while other leaders said “yes” which is really “maybe” as they need to take the issue to their parliaments. Will David Cameron turn out to be a sole voice, or a leader of a movement?

Of course, as the papers are saying, the publicity of this obscures the absence in the plans presented of a solution to the problems of the Euro – and do we really believe more central control is the answer to everything in the 21st Century?

All this leads me to the best comment I’ve seen (in this week’s The Week)  from Terry Smith CEO of Tullett Prebon (on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme 9th December 2011), “Britain is as isolated as somebody who refused to join the Titanic just before it sailed.” I like that!

British debt

Proportionately, levels of British debt are not as high as they have been in some past times, writes Paul Krugman. Are we wrong to make such a fuss?

It may be that on previous occasions we could see how we could repay that debt through increased economic activity, but that this is not so clear just now, hence the anxiety.

St Paul and Occupy

As St Paul’s Cathedral becomes the epicentre for people (being named Occupy) who want space to speak out about their powerlessness in the current “financial situation”, and the church is faced with ethical dilemmas which result in Giles Fraser, the Chancellor of the cathedral, resigning, here are three clippings that have caught my attention.

Paul VallelyNewsthumpBBC

It seems to me a wholly appropriate that the Church, and to St Paul’s Cathedral in particular sited as it is in the financial centre of London, is challenged to consider how it relates to unrest about financial leadership in society.