Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Moral Maze - we need a new economics

The Moral Maze on Radio 4 this evening was interesting - see

The first witness, Canon Peter Challen, articulated something I've thought about and read about exceptionally clearly - at least to me. It was very disappionting that the team (Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley) seemed not to really engage at all with what he said.

He talked about how the current capitalist system where banks are able to create fictitious money by magic, by lending it to people, who then need to earn real money plus interest to pay it back. This seems to be to be what's at the root of the apparent 'essential requirement' for all economies to grow, in order to thrive. From the growth comes the interest - if I've understood it correctly. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, all 'real' money has to come from some physical thing being produced or grown and then sold or rented. Where that thing is grown or produced in a sustainable way where the source is continually replenished, then perhaps that's fine but so much of the 'stuff' which is sold in this world is mined, or fished or sucked out of the earth from finite sources. If something isn't being replaced, then eventually it runs out.

I'm no economist, and I don't claim that these are original conclusions on my part - more that the more I learn about our current economic system, the more it appears to lead inevitably to unavoidable collapse and catastrophe, whether tomorrow, next year, or in 100 years time. It seems to me that we're currently heading towards the end of an economic cycle which began in the era of global exploration and the land grab which followed (in particular, the settling of the USA). Yet, economic coverage in our media today, seems to assume that we live in a society whose economic backbone is a solid, well established thing, which has been through sufficient cycles for us to be able to assume that it will continue forever like this.

Peter Challen said something which if true is profoundly disturbing - "I've been 48 years listening to people in the economy as an industrial chaplain and what I've heard time and time again is this terrible dichotomy with the aspirations for humanity that people talk about when they trust you - takes a long time to earn that position - and the institutional imperatives which compel them to be complicit with a system they know to be wrong". For a long time I've assumed that this must be so, though I've never felt in a position of sufficient knowledge to be able to make a persuasive case that this is so. Unfortunately, not one of the panelists on the Moral Maze saw fit to probe this point any further. Who are these industrialists, and economists (and politicians?) who know the truth of this statment, but are unwilling to say it in public, and are content to continue playing the game?



Post a Comment

<< Home