Time to curb the ‘asset strippers and robbers’ who ruin the financial markets, say archbishops -Times Online
For more than thirty years the ideology of neoliberalism has spread throughout the world. It was enthusiastically propagated in the Reagan-Thatcher years and led to the mania for privatisation, which continues in South Africa and has led to the deterioration of our roads, the quality of our water, and many other things.
Church leaders have been slow to speak out about these things. It takes a well-publicised financial crisis to get people like the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury to start using words like “idolatry” when referring to it in public.
Leaders of the Church of England launched fierce attacks on the world’s stock market traders last night, condemning them as bank robbers and asset strippers and calling for a judicial review into Britain’s financial services.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York demanded stronger regulation and an end to speculation and living on debt.
Dr Rowan Williams spoke out in defence of Karl Marx, defending key aspects of his critique of capitalism and gave a warning that society was running the risk of idolatry in its relationship with wealth.
(Hat-tip to Fr David MacGregor)
The hidden and unintended consequences of the privatisation mania are now beginning to appear. Mutual building societies and insurance cooperatives went commercial, bribing thier members with “windfall” shares (actually, it was only part of their investment received in advance — they were mortgaging their future value to external shareholders). Some of them, like the Old Mutual, continue to use the word “mutual” in their names, to deceive the public. The Old Mutual should actually be called the “New Commercial”. One result of this can be seen in the collapse of Northern Rock in Britain.
Another unintended and unforeseen consequence of the privatisation mania can be seen in the deterioration of the quality of South Africa’s water.
South Africa’s water quality is fast deteriorating but the shrinking scientific and engineering capacity to counter this is emerging as the ‘real crisis’ to strike the country.
This is according to Dr Anthony Turton, a senior water researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who maintains that up to 50 percent of municipalities ‘do not even have one qualified engineer’ on their staff…
“The original work for that was done in the 1980s in massive programmes based at the CSIR,” says Turton. “Those programmes generated many PhD graduates, but also did the primary science on which future management will be based.
“Those programmes are no longer in existence and this is a national crisis of note. We need to recover the bits and pieces we can and then develop new national capacity,” says Turton…
“Nowhere else in the world is this happening so we cannot turn to other countries and say: ‘Please help us’. We as a nation will be required to solve this problem as a nation. This is where national science councils come in. They are national assets, but the current funding models are so restrictive that their potential is being reduced and the capacity they have is being privatised.”
The privatisation of national resources like the CSIR was begun under the National Party government in the 1980s, and has continued under the Thatcherist policies of the ANC. One of the reasons that our water supply has deteriorated under privatisation is that nobody stands to make a lot of money out of water research.
And only when it is actually staring them in the face do Christian leaders publicly speak out, and then mostly against the symptoms, not about the causes of the disease, which has been growing unchecked in the Western world since the 1980s, and metastatising throughout the world through globalisation.