In this podcast Dr Lorna Gold (Trcaire) discusses the crisis in the prevailing economic model. Read her recent paper to the Irish Council of Churches AGM entitled Living for Tomorrow’s World – Global, Green, Greedy?

Podcast

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Living for Tomorrow’s World – Global, Green, Greedy?

Address to the Irish Council of Churches AGM,
Thursday 2nd April, Ballymena
Dr. Lorna Gold, Trcaire

Click on link to downloadLiving for Tomorrow’s World

Thanks to author for kind permission to make text available.

Extract

2. A Multi-dimensional Global Crisis

… The speed and depth of this financial crisis has led some to dub the last few years as the “Goldilocks Economy”. People were living in a fairytale world… believing that the money creating machine could last forever so long as they made sure the porridge was not to hot or not to cold’. Like in the fairytale, however, Goldilocks got a rude awakening when the bears came home to find her asleep. A similar tale could be told in relation to the collapse of the financial sector.

The next related crisis is, of course, the economic crisis. The money supplied through the financial system is like the life blood of the economy – and what was initially a problem of liquidity in the markets has quickly translated into a crisis in the real economy: not only is it affecting banks, but it is pulling down real companies and putting people out of jobs. It is resulting in growing insecurity of those in jobs, resulting in lack of confidence in the future. The result is that nobody is spending anything and we are caught in a spiral.

But the global economic crisis is much deeper than this. Just prior to this economic collapse we saw some of the biggest spikes in resource prices ever. That spike in basic commodities: food, minerals, and oil reflects the fact that the planet is nearing its limits to growth. The food crisis and the financial crisis are linked – they are actually like two sides of the one coin. The shift of land away from food to other commodities has pushed up the price of food and left many countries poorly equipped to deal with the global recession.

The third related crisis is the growing environmental crisis. All of us are well aware by now by the reality of climate change and the growing threat this poses to life on our planet. The economic model we have which is based on fossil fuels is fundamentally unsustainable. The basic premise of consumer waste as the motor for growth is also fundamentally flawed.

Finally, there is a growing social and political crisis. In many ways, this is the greatest threat we face in the light of this global financial crisis. With rising unemployment in a world of extreme
inequalities, but rapid communications, these other crises are leading to old ghosts returning to the stage of world politics: talk of nationalism (Irish jobs for Irish people), the politics of identity, protectionist policies. In this atmosphere, the propensity to point fingers and find scapegoats on racial or other grounds is very real. The universal human rights of the 1 billion people who are living on less than 1 dollar a day, moreover, are being sidelined. There is no more talk of make poverty history’ – but rather of saving our own skins.

7. A Kairos Moment

Our biggest challenge today is one of imagination. We need to believe there is another way – and to re-imagine our economy for what it really is, and needs to be: a social space, a place of encounter and community. We need to first and foremost begin to think of the economy as space where our Christian values are lived out rather than hung up on the hook when we take off our coat.

We face, as a country, as a planet, as a human family – a stark challenge. We face a kairos moment for all the Churches. The Gospel here provides us with profound inspiration and light. At the times of greatest fear, greatest uncertainty, we need to trust in God. It is like the apostles on the boat in the ocean in the midst of the storm. Jesus appears to them and says “do not be afraid”. What we need most at this point is the courage to be true to Gospel values of faith, hope and love. It is a call to all Christians to come together and give witness that another world is possible.