profit or roll

19 06 2014

The extraction of private profit is not the driving factor of human society.
It is possible to do things that are not motivated by the need for surplus.
We drive the economy, it does not drive us.
And nothing I’ve said so far is true. Or so it seems. 

Politics is dispiriting at the moment. Uninspiring financial administrators argue over technicalities and move money from one pot to another, with little sense of collective ideology or social responsibility. The only driving force in political dialogue is money. Everything is ok and anything can be excused if it reduces short-term cost. Too harsh?

I recently wrote to Michael Gove questioning the policy of privatisation of Children’s Services; that is, allowing private companies the chance to manage which children are removed from families and their subsequent care. The response I got (from the Ministerial and Public Communications Division) was that is was not privatisation, it was delegation and mutualisation, and that Local Authorities still carry the can. Great. Private profit, public risk. Again.

Now, if we truly believe that all human beings are good, make selfless decisions, and cannot be lobbied or hypnotised into constantly looking for the cheapest option, this might work. But once again private companies will take the easy cases, leaving the complicated ones – and the legal responsibility –  to the LAs. Who wins? 

Profit is not everything. Gasp. Let’s take it small and local. A couple of weeks ago we did a FunDay for our community. The idea was simply to bless our community with a FREE fun day. Apart from the bric-a-brac, stalls and cakes, everything was free. The refreshments, the bouncy castle, the face-painting, the live entertainment… I had conversations along these lines:

Why don’t you charge? We would pay for this!
Why don’t we charge? We could make money from this! 

Bishop Andrewes' FunDay

Because we are not driven by making money. We are not here to make a profit. We are a small local church on a housing estate, so yes, we could do with the money. I look enviously on churches with nice kitchens and new tables and good toys. But to say we are here to bless the community, whilst extracting profit from them for our own needs, would be a horrendous mixed message. Take note, those who would privatise Children’s Services. 

I know this is not national politics. But our ideology is one of outward blessing, so what we do must fit in with that. If we charge, the poorest will not come. The poorest are important. Take note, those who would charge to see GPs

It seems that there are only 2 options in political dialogue and ideology: make profit or roll over and die. Profit or roll. Every space can be sold for advertising, every sports fan can be groomed for gambling, every public service can be ‘delegated’ to the cheapest non-specialist bidder, and if you don’t conform, you are out of the running. As for the poor? Let them eat cake profiteroles. 

As Christians I do not think we should not comply with this. We must not allow ourselves to continue to sleepwalk into a society in which it is so normal to be unapologetically biased towards the rich; in which it is normal for private profit to be extracted from anything that moves; in which it is normal that we are slaves to a selfish and demanding imaginary entity called ‘economy’ instead of something human called ‘society’, let alone to Jesus.

And in which all this happens and we don’t even notice. We don’t even notice.

Instead, this is how the prophets roll:

‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?





One response

20 06 2014

The world today is driven by 2ps. Profit and power. SAlmost nobody in leadership in sopciety acts for anything else.

Charities today aren’t really philanthropic, they are NGOs. Organisations who play the drum to a Government policy beat so they qualify for Government handouts to pay their staff. Church schools aren’t really Church schools, they get their funding from the state and so as they are told. Research into disease is only undertaken by pharmaceutical companies wanting to make money from new drugs. Genetically modified food is produced, not for the well being of the people who eat it, but to fill the coffers of the companies who produce it, and they will only produce what suits them, not what society needs.

A long time ago, in my youth, I was taught that profit is a reward for taking risk. That, it seems to me is a fair basis for profit, we need people to take risk and provide things on a market basis. Unfortunately profit is now an opportunity to make lots of money out of society with very little risk, because those making it are so big and powerful they can out arm wrestle and out lobby governments.

OK thats the easy bit. What do we do about it? Its got so large and endemic only a miracle can change it. Know anybody good at miracles?

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