2010 London Lectures

Relational Thinking: a vision for Christian engagement in public life

November 11th Jubilee Centre founder Michael Schluter will describe what can happen when we view all of life through a relational lens.

November 18th Paul Mills, an economist who has worked in London and Washington on global financial stability, will argue from a biblical perspective that finance is inherently relational. This lecture offers a biblical critique of the current financial system and indicates how individuals, churches and society can find ways forward in the present crisis that reflect God’s character and ways.

November 25th, Jonathan Burnside, reader in Biblical Law at Bristol University, will show how a culture of control is not the best way to bring justice to a society in which relationships are unravelling.

All Souls, Langham Place, starting at 6.30pm. More details at the Jubilee Centre

Benedict's riposte

Perhaps my favorite comment of Benedict took place during the interview with reporters on the flight over to Great Britain. The pope was asked if there was anything that could be done to make the Church more “attractive.” Benedict responded:

A Church which seeks above all to be attractive would already be on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for itself, does not work to increase its numbers so as to have more power. The Church is at the service of Another; it does not serve itself, seeking to be a strong body, but it strives to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ accessible, the great truths, the great powers of love and of reconciliation that appeared in this figure and that came always from the presence of Jesus Christ.

This is a constant Christian theme. We did not invent our religion. We received it and are to keep it in the world in the basic form in which it was handed down. If people listen, fine. But if they do not, we can only accept their choice. “The Church is at the service of Another.”
James Schall on Benedict in Britain

Augustine's Economy group

James Featherby is speaking at the first meeting of the Economy Working Group of the Saint Augustine Institute, today, Friday, 8th October 2010. James Feather will take us on his

Personal Journey through the City and Leviticus: One family’s exploration of Jubilee in an urban, post-modern, debt- driven, non-communal and never-resting world

James is author of The White Swan Formula: Rebuilding Finance and Business for the Common Good

Our problems are in reality human, not technical. They are philosophical and psychological, not regulatory or economic…
F?rst, let us not rush past the moment in which we now stand. We will not learn lessons unless we engage fully with the consequences of our mistakes. A key part of that is a proper engagement with the pain caused by our shortcomings…

I am sorry that doesn’t give you much notice. But you can admire the Institute’s website. I have posted a couple of short pieces on the Economy page

Separate money from debt at source

There is an easy solution to the financial crisis, but it involves exposing a problem that governments and economists have ignored for decades.
Much of the poverty in the world is due to the design on the banking system used in most countries, which allows 97% of money to be created by profit-making banks, and only 3% of money to be created by the government. Money created by the banks benefits the banks; money created by the government benefits everyone. This might sound difficult to believe at first, but it is accurate.
If we change this system so that money can only be created by the government (acting on behalf of the people), we could:

phase out national debt and significantly reduce corporate and consumer debts (in both the US and the UK)
reduce taxes by around 30%, permanently, or increase government services with no increase in taxation
find the money needed to solve the energy crisis
enjoy higher disposable income, or take more time off from work
avert the oncoming pensions crisis
wipe out the debt of poverty-stricken nations
Save 60% on the cost of public infrastructure projects (such as schools, hospitals and public transport), by removing the need to borrow this money and pay interest over 30 years

We are currently standing at a fork in the road. One road leads to poverty for almost everyone, while the other leads to greater wealth for everyone. Politicians and economists are taking us down the road to poverty, because they don’t know that any other option exists. If we want them to change track, and do everything that is listed above, then we – the public – need to show them that the other road does exist.
Start by reading A Quick Introduction to the Real Cause of the Crisis for a beginner-friendly explanation of the problem, the consequences, and the solution to the recent financial crisis and our current financial problems
The (proposed) Bank of England Act 2010
And see Ben Dyson and James Robertson

Our Children born into Debt

The problem is made worse still because of the way the tax burden will be distributed. For some older people – such as those in retirement – there isn’t much problem at all. They benefit from the government’s commitments, but are unlikely to have to pay much towards their cost. For young people, it is the other way round: they are expected to pay large amounts into the system and get little back in return; and the younger the person, the worse the deal. So we have an average, per person, tax burden of £73,000 if we are feeling optimistic and nearly £117,000 if we are feeling pessimistic – but in either case possibly much higher, and certainly rising – that is distributed very unevenly across the population: younger people paying much more, and older people less, if anything at all. One recent estimate suggested that a UK citizen born in 2011 will inherit, on birth, a debt of perhaps £200,000, and it could easily be much more. It is simply inconceivable that debts on this scale will be paid off in full.

Nor should they. These were not debts that youngsters freely took on, but obligations incurred on their behalf in many cases before they were even born. The uncomfortable moral question then naturally arises: at what point does the debt become so large that our future children will be born into a new form of slavery, entering the world shackled by the debts of their forbears?

This highlights the underlying moral as well as fiscal bankruptcy of the system. For years, politicians yielded to the temptation to increase spending commitments and put off the costs of those decisions into the future, when it would be someone else’s problem…. In so doing, our political system created a huge intergenerational Ponzi scheme, passing the buck from one generation to the next, until the whole rotten system inevitably collapses under its accumulated weight. The long-term, even medium-term, outlook is therefore deeply unpleasant. Taxes will rise, sharply, but these rises will not be enough, and will leave younger people with little incentive to work or to save. Benefits across the board will be cut, massively: the government will renege big-time on many of its commitments, breaking its health, pensions and other promises on a huge scale. The social and economic consequences don’t bear thinking about. And of course there is the very real danger that even these draconian measures will not be enough: that the government will lose all control of its finances and end up printing money to pay off its debts, so leading to hyperinflation and economic collapse.

Kevin Dowd The UK is Broke Cobden Centre

They are still more worried over at the Automatic Earth – 40 Ways to Lose your Future