Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Money Money Money

I found myself at the Scottish Parliament again last night – and yet again, the discussion was about money – but this time I wasn’t asking for money, we were talking about how we use money. The event was a reception hosted by John Wilson MSP as part of the Moderator’s annual visit to Parliament where folk were given a final chance to comment on the work of the Kirk’s Special Commission on the Purposes of Economics.

This is a two year piece of work by a group from business, trade unions, the church, voluntary sector, aid agencies, places of poverty and more. They argue that the purpose of our economics should be about reducing inequality, ending poverty, ensuring sustainability, and promoting mutuality. These are all moral issues. Economic relationships do not sit apart from human relationships. Wealth creation at the expenses of others well-being is destructive and inhuman

There’s no doubt that the credit crunch has been a wake-up call but are we hearing it. Too often I still hear cries to go back to business as usual. It can’t be right that some in our society are making huge financial gains, while for too many this winter the stark choice is whether to heat or to eat.

The Commission has covered many issues but the biggest cheer last night was a challenge to pay day loans. These legal loan sharks are charging 4000% interest in some cases and that could be capped. As Charles Munn who chaired the commission put it; “if Governments can find the political will to set minimum prices for alcohol, why can’t they set maximum prices for credit.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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