Bad thoughts

October 15th, 2008 § 0 comments

I listened to Thought for the day on Radio 4 the other morning and just remembered to blog about it now.
It was Rev Dr Alan Billings and some bits are just plain wrong. Not counting the bits about god. That should go without saying.

We have all helped ourselves to the fruits of their [the financial markets] activities and shut our eyes to the risks.

First off, ‘we’ haven’t all helped ourselves to the fuits of their labour [labour? Ha!]. Some have benefited more than others, and some have done even worse, but I wouldn’t call having to get a mortgage of 5x your salary to be able to afford half a house inconjunction with a housing association a fruit of which many people would relish.
As far as shutting our eyes to the risks, that is absolute bollocks. It’s not the shutting of eyes that’s been the problem, it’s the wool being pulled over them.

Some of the politicians who now decry the money-men are the same politicians that previously lauded their boldness and creativity. Some of the clergy who denounce them were quite happy to accept the better stipends they made possible. If we are to learn from our mistakes we need to turn from moralising to morality.

And you won’t get a moral business environment without regulation.

Despite the turbulence and the risks, it’s hard to see any alternative system with the same capacity as capitalism to lift the world’s poor out of poverty – which is surely what any social ethic demands.

Because caitalism has done such a wonderful job of getting the poor in Africa out of their mudhuts and the utility privatisations that capitalism required in Argentina (or was it bolivia?) and the neo-liberal experiment, by Thatchers’ friend Pinochet, in Chile worked wonderfully in converting those countries to a land of luxury.
We’ve hardly had a good go at any alternative systems to capitalism, have we. As far as I can see there’s been various forms of capitalism, from the fairly strict laissez fair to what most people would call socialism. There’s also been tries at various forms of dictatorships too, the corrupted form of communism in the Soviet Union and state capitalism of the Chinese to dictators proper, all over the place.
Surely social ethics, and your religious ‘be nice’ morality, would be interpreted a ‘nicey nicey look after everyone’ way of doing things, not you cut and thrust of capitalism.

However, this crisis has revealed that we have all become less motivated by that concern for common good commended in that book of Prayers and Hymns. It is a sharp reminder that while ethics without capitalism may be impotent, capitalism without ethics can bring ruin on us all.

Capitalism and the common good are incompatible. If a company starts doing things for the common good it will soon go out of business.
Ethics without capitialism we’ve yet to see on a grand scale, capitalism with or without ethics will bring ruin on us all

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