Sentamu - living wage2
Market and Economics

Sentamu: Jesus would pay the living wage (despite His disciples being unpaid interns)

 

It is not a divine intervention into the General Election campaign. Even less so is it an episcopal exhortation for the faithful to cast their votes for a particular party. And it certainly isn’t the exercise of any kind of ‘spiritual influence’, which, according to High Court judge Richard Mawrey QC, these “hapless clerics” (¶553) are incapable of doing because sophisticated and discerning intellects “smile patronisingly on the earnest strictures of the Bishops of the Church of England” (¶561). No, this is more of “the theology of where I am coming from“: it might sound “extremely left wing”, but “If God has created us unique, (and) all of us have got his image and likeness, is it ever right that I should have more when somebody else has nothing?”

Has the Archbishop of York ever read the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30 cf Lk 19:12-28)? Are not the faithful rewarded with greater increase? Are not the unfaithful punished with less or nothing? And is that increase not measured in units of currency? So the loyal and faithful servant gives his master the capital sum plus profit, and the carping and unfaithful servant returns only the capital sum (possibly worth less due to inflation). So, yes, it is sometimes right that a man may have more while others have nothing. But not always, of course, for not all those who have nothing have been cast into outer darkness for failing to understand the Lord’s goodness. As a principle, the parable is concerned with rewarding enterprise, initiative, integrity and faithfulness: ‘For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

How does this relate to the living wage? Well, as the Archbishop notes, Jesus did indeed teach that ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire‘ (Lk 10:7 cf  1Tim 5:18), but he never spoke of a statutory minimum wage, leaving it instead for employers to decide what is just and fair (and there are some stern scriptural denunciations directed at those who abuse and exploit [eg 1Kgs 21]). The Parable of the Talents is a paradigm for good employer/employee relations: those who work diligently get a pay increase; those who are indolent get sacked. The employer wishes to maximise profit, and those who work with him toward that end share in the proceeds of growth. There is no place for the peevish, inactive or obstructive.

But further, Jesus expected his disciples to work for nothing: if they lived on gifts and charitable handouts (Lk 8:3), to serve in faithfulness was sufficient to share in the Lord’s happiness. It is worth remembering that the Parable of the Talents was addressed to the disciples: they kept the sacred deposit and were entrusted to preach the gospel ‘each according to his ability‘. (Mt 25:15). And Jesus expects an increase: there is no room for indifference or inertia.

The only ‘living wage’ Jesus would pay is a Word-of-God sandwich smeared with the Spirit’s mayonnaise. If He were to advocate any wage and incomes policy at all, He would be far more likely to scrap National Insurance and Income Tax for the lowest paid, thereby permitting them to keep more of the money they earn. And then He might introduce Employer Allowances, making it cheaper for businesses to recruit and retain a workforce. He would deal with the annual deficit and rail against the national debt, which is robbing our children and grandchildren of billions of talents. And He would probably think Caesar’s policy of subsidising low pay through the issuing of tax credits and in-work benefits absolutely barking.

  • sarky

    As you couldn’t possibly know what jesus would say or do, it’s a bit of a stupid comment, politically and not spiritually motivated.

  • Dreadnaught

    Bit of a loose Cannon is our John-Boy – has he ever run a small business?

  • Karen Watson

    The Twelve didn’t need a wage because they already had the daily company of the Bread of Life able and willing to satisfy their bodily needs. (Loaves and fishes, anyone?) And while Christianity was famously to be “the religion of slaves”, Christ’s team could hardly have lived on gifts – as Mrs Thatcher observed – if their hearers were only paid just barely enough, for days of backbreaking physical labour (as it was then), to sustain their own existence.
    The parable you quote also has something to say about the bloke who buried “his” wealth in a safe er, haven. Anyone who wants to propose that “those who hath not” should be ever more efficiently stripped of “even that which they hath” – and demand, it seems above, to be bribed to pay anybody at all – had better be prepared to justify their own productivity relative to their ever-more-ample blessings. I don’t think the Judge of All Things is going to be much impressed by four yachts and an island 🙂

  • Inspector General

    And a Nubian, who greatly considered himself a devotee of Jesus, came
    forward and asked him “Master, thou would payeth the liveth wage would thy
    not?”. And Jesus put his arm around his shoulder, for he knew the nuisance well, and said unto him “Will I ever get through that black skin of yours. My kingdom is NOT of this world. I am not here to a) throw the Romans out, b) devise a wages and incomes
    policy. You really are slow on the uptake.” And the Nubian said “Yes I see, or perhaps not. For verily I am not the sharpest tool in the box and will probably confuse the issue in the future”. At which Jesus replied, “You’ve got that right….”

    • Manfarang

      The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch described in the Book of Acts predates the apostle Paul’s first missionary journey into Europe by a number of years. There is clear, historical documentation of the church in Africa by the third century. Christianity was the dominant religion in North Africa and most notably Egypt.

      • Inspector General

        Yes. See Wiki article ‘Christianity in Egypt’ and map therein of the vast ‘Diocese of Egypt’

      • Pubcrawler

        What happened to change that? Was there some sudden humanist or rationalist enlightenment? Do tell. We ought to learn from history, after all.

        • Manfarang

          Someone came along and set up Al-Azhar University.

          • Pubcrawler

            Not till the 10th century. Have another go.

          • Manfarang

            Justinian, to demonstrate his commitment to Latin Christianity, began a series of oppressive persecutions of Monophysites in Syria and Egypt. This would have a profound effect on later history – the Monophysite Christians, horribly persecuted by the Byzantines, welcomed Muslim conquerors with open arms based on their promise to tolerate their religion.

    • dannybhoy

      You are a funny fellow Inspector. You make Oi larf..

      • Uncle Brian

        Oi too.

        • dannybhoy

          A sense of humour lightens the heart..

  • It’s noteworthy that Jesus didn’t exempt the poor from the Biblical income tax of paying a tithe. And He praised the poor widow for “giving all that she had” into the treasury rather than taking pity on her insisting that the rich “redistribute” their wealth to her. And I wonder what the Archbishop makes of the parable of the talents where – not only are people entrusted with unequal amounts – but at the end the wealth is redistributed … from the poor to the rich!

    • Martin

      RS

      However, the payment of tithe was not a tax in today’s terms, rather a gift to God paid out of our abundance for the blessings He bestows.

      • I disagree. There were (and still are IMHO) tithes and there were offerings. The tithe was mandatory – even from the Levites who received the tithes! (God looks at the heart of course … but would receive the tithe whether given willingly or begrudgingly). Offerings are over and above the tithe and were free will offerings, but with “suggested donations”. There were no free-loaders. Even the Levites who were living off benefits had to contribute to the “tax system”.

        • Darach Conneely

          Tithes weren’t just to support the Levites, they were also a social welfare provision for the poor, for widows and orphans, and for immigrants. Land owners also had to provide for the poor through the offering of first fruits, though the system of gleaning, with strict limits on what the landowners could harvest themselves. Land owners also had to allow their fields, vineyards and olive trees lie fallow every seven years, with the poor and immigrants gathering what grew naturally. Wealth was redistributed through the cancelling of debts every seven years, and every 50 years through the return of land and much of the housing the wealthy had accumulated over the previous 49 years. Again see my blog on the subject https://simianinthetemple.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/moses-and-israels-social-welfare-system/

        • Martin

          RS

          I’ll grant you have a point, but of course the tithe wasn’t for the purpose of maintaining the state but the Temple & the Levites.

  • James O’Neill

    “The only ‘living wage’ Jesus would pay is a Word-of-God sandwich smeared with the Spirit’s mayonnaise.”
    Ugh, why reduce the Word to a mere Sandwich and the Spirit to Mayonnaise? Why not a Word-of-God Mansion and the Spirits interior design? You’re telling the poor to accept their lot in life when Jesus taught no such thing, by teaching render unto Ceaser you should be telling big business to pay their success forward by paying business tax so we the poor can have NHS, roads and policing.
    This is typical from the CofE Conservative Branch. Harping on about the ‘Big Society’ it’s not a coincidence that the increase of people using food banks are also in work, if a living wage was paid then people wouldn’t need food aid. This shows how out of touch the hierarchy of the Church are from the laypeople.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Sandwich and mayonnaise are food, mansions and interior design feed no-one

      • James O’Neill

        “In my Father’s house there are many mansions” you obviously missed my reference…

      • magnolia

        Ah but have you factored in that Laurence Llewellyn Bowen could probably do an interior design, never before even remotely considered, based around broccoli heads, ornamental cabbage and lentils?

        • Dominic Stockford

          Nice,.if you like veg!

  • Martin

    Brings to mind this passage:

    And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat. But he replied to one of them, Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last.
    (Matthew 20:9-16 [ESV])

    So would our society be happy if all were paid the same rate?

    • not a machine

      I think a lawyer may define that passage as something of the law of contract

      • Martin

        NAM

        Lawyers would probably make a case for the landowner to pay a proportionate rate.

        • not a machine

          socialist lawyers ? post event 🙂

  • len

    A fair days work for a fair days pay seems to work for me….But ‘human nature’ being what it is there will always be inequalities on both sides management and workers.

    • dannybhoy

      The Bible acknowleges the right of the rich man to keep what he has but encourages him to use it, not primarily to score spiritual ‘brownie points’ but as a reflection of God’s nature in bulding His kingdom and caring for its citizens.
      The early Church had all things in common because (I think) they were really expecting our Lord’s imminent return.
      The Bible never condones idleness, so even in our welfare culture those who can should do so many hours in some form of community work.

      Work is good not only for human dignity but also our physical well being.
      The labourer is indeed worthy of his hire, and all work however menial, deserves to be fairly rewarded.
      I think John Sentamu has got this wrong. I think the CofE leadership is wrong to push a socialist agenda. It doesn’t encourage aspiration, but a sullen insistence on ‘my rights.’

  • Anton

    The phrase “living wage” is merely an astute piece of marketing by Trade Unions, and which Archbishop Sentamu has fallen for. It is a small amount but it is not necessarily the only income for a household in which someone gets paid it.

    The trouble with interventions of this sort is that economics is riddled with the law of unintended consequences. Jesus would do a great deal of reform to our present system, and to say he would do one thing piecemeal as Sentamu does is to display only simplistic thinking and arrogance.

    There are areas where senior members of an Established church should seek to influence government policy wherre they currently ar not doing, particularly tax and welfare policies that strengthen the institution of the traditional family.

  • educynic

    If the £8 per hour living wage becomes, de facto, the minimum wage, there will be clear consequences.

    First, the number of jobs in the UK will be hit. Many manufacturing jobs have already gone overseas where wage rates are lower, like to Poland where the minimum wage is £3 per hour. More of the remaining manufacturing jobs will move away as will any jobs that can move easily, like call centres, accountancy, data processing, publishing, programming etc.

    Secondly, employers will increasingly turn to younger, more intelligent and more energetic Eastern Europeans rather than lower skilled indiginous workers. Asian ethnic minority communities and white working class will both be hit.

    As Frank Field, far from a right wing winger, said recently, the concept of free movement of labour was fine when the EU first started. It doesn’t work when there are very different wage rates and benefit systems in different EU countries.

    The whole minimum/living wage concept is a lovely, cuddly idea. Nice lefties embrace it because it makes them feel good. In the long run it leads to economic decline. Who will suffer? Mostly the poor.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    I admit to being a liitle skeptical sometimes about the whole “what would Jesus do” thing. Firstly, Jesus would encourage us to pray about all things, especially weighty decisions. I’m not sure what he would say about the living wage. Also, there is a certain amount of relativism here. What may be a living wage to one person may be a poverty wage to another, depending on their requirements.

    I am always uncomfortable with trying to bring Jesus down into our worldly debates. He didn’t come to provide simple answers to these types of question. He did come to show us how to align ourselves spiritually with our creator. I think it is safe to say that once we have achieved that then other things will become clearer to us.

    Perhaps instead of trying to brim Him down to us and our worldly debates, we should be focusing on what we can do to glorify Him in His exalted position.

    • dannybhoy

      Well said P-I.
      I still believe there is room -and should be room, for Christian communities and businesses today. Paradoxically much of what we have today either came as a result of or was influenced by, our Christian forbears.
      Unfortunately though we as the Church have become entangled in consumerism and the affairs of this world. There are lots of ways we could demonstrate our love for one another through commune/cooperative type ventures, and where Kingdom life comes before materialism.

    • Shadrach Fire

      One of the problems of the benefits system is that there is a big difference between ‘requirements’ and ‘needs’.

  • Uncle Brian

    Fiat-Chrysler is close to competing construction of a new car assembly plant here in Brazil, where the minimum wage, this year, is defined as 788 reais (£164) per month. After allowing for a month’s paid leave each year and other minor benefits, this works out at about £48 for a 40-hour week, or £1.20 per hour.

    Labour productivity, needless to say, is not what it is in the advanced industrial economies or even in the Rio-São Paulo area thousands of miles further south, where Fiat, Volkswagen, Ford, GM, Volvo and others have been making cars for fifty years or more. This factory is located in a particularly poor region of the country, in a place where the only economic activity of any importance, until now, has been sugar cane growing. Fiat is having to train its newly recruited personnel from scratch.

    Part of the deal was that the government would build a brand-new 48-mile road linking the factory to the region’s main port, where the jeeps and other vehicles will be shipped to export markets. Unsurprisingly, this being Brazil, work has barely
    begun on the road, because the politicians are still quarrelling over whether the cash should come from the state government or the federal government. Nevertheless, Fiat is going ahead undeterred.

    • dannybhoy

      If it’s not too intrusive UB, what are you doing in Brazil anyway?

  • carl jacobs

    A man’s value in the marketplace is not determined by his anticipated standard of living. His value is determined by the marginal cost of replacing him. A man with a rare and valuable skill will be hard to replace. Therefore he will command a premium. A man with common skills can be replaced with very little cost. Employers have no reason to pay him a premium to retain his services.

    To increase a man’s wages, you must increase the marginal cost of his replacement. You can either 1) increase the quality of his skill set or 2) restrict the supply of labor so that his employer can’t find a ready replacement. Artificially setting a “living” wage does not increase his economic value. If it is established without a decrease in the supply of labor, it merely induces the employer to seek out lower-cost labor elsewhere. In fact, it requires the employer to seek out lower-cost labor to stay competitive.

    Men are not entitled to a certain standard of living. They get what they can earn. This is a hard lesson for the pampered West to learn. If you aren’t competitive, you will lose what you have. There are lots of people in the world who are willing to work. And they aren’t much interested in our feelings of entitlement to a comfortable life.

    • Darter Noster

      I believe in free-market capitalism. If a man is forced to sell his full-time labour for less than the amount of money on which he can maintain a basic standard of decent living within his society then the market is not free to start with, but skewed in favour of employers who form a price-fixing cartel, usually with the support of governments.

      Forcing people to work for less than they can decently survive (the meaning of which can be legitimately debated) on in order to avoid even worse poverty is exploitation, pure and simple, not business. If you need someone to do the work, pay them properly. The labour market should not purely be a buyers’ market.

      • carl jacobs

        You can’t pay someone £16 per hour when he is only producing £8 per hour of value. You can perhaps cover the difference by raising prices. But the customer will not pay the premium. He isn’t going to pay a 150% markup just so your employees can live better. And it’s not at all obvious that doing so would be the best moral decision. The marginal cost increase will leave him less disposable income for other purchases. The extra money spent on an expensive shirt means the restaurant doesn’t get his business. Is that a better outcome? The net result is a decrease in wealth and a general decrease in standard of living.

        • Darter Noster

          “You can’t pay someone £16 per hour when he is only producing £8 per hour of value.”

          I’m not suggesting you do. I’m suggesting that there needs to be a basic minimum unit cost of labour allowed by law to protect people from exploitation. It’s easier for companies to improve their cost-efficiency and increase their profit margins by reducing the amount they pay their workers than by investing in new technology and methods of production. People will always want the lowest possible prices, but colluding with your competitors to force your prices to below the realistic cost of production, and then forcing your workers to pay for it by slashing wages to maintain profitability, is not healthy free enterprise and a free market; it is the systematic fixing of the labour market by overly powerful employers in order to exploit people with the threat of poverty and starvation.

          Trying to compete with factories in Bangladesh by paying your UK or USA workers a Bangladeshi-style salary is not only exploitation but makes no economic sense whatsoever to anyone except a tiny few at the top and is not healthy for society.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s why outsourcing is not( imv) necessarily a good thing. It makes corporations more profitable but takes away work and dignity from your citizens.
            When I was young you had to save for things like tv’s, fridges or cars. However, more people had productive work and society was I think more stable.
            Yes goods are cheaper, but I am not at all sure that we are all better off.

          • carl jacobs

            US factories didn’t compete. They either moved production or went out of business. You can’t fix this by ordering companies to pay a living wage, because you can’t order customers to buy over-priced merchandise. That’s the basic problem. You are trying to coerse the market by the means of coercing producers. It cannot work.

          • Darter Noster

            If the company producing the product is not paying the workers who make it a living wage in order to keep the price down, then the product is under-priced and the workers are being forced to pay the difference.

            If a product cannot be made at a cost-effective price, then do not make it. Create a flexible labour market and a dynamic economy in which sustainable (ie properly paid) jobs can be created, and do not open your economy to a massive flood of migrant workers who can force wages down due to the lower cost of living in their own countries. I’m no socialist; I don’t want to see government subsidies or job creation schemes. Just a basic price paid for a day’s work.

          • carl jacobs

            You are asserting something like a quasi-Marxist labor theory of value. The mount of labor put into a product has nothing to do with the price of that product. The price is set by the market. If the market demands $10 shirts, then the value of a shirt is $10. You can’t say “No, no! The value of that shirt is $20 because of the wages I paid to manufacture it.” The market doesn’t care and won’t pay. The $20 price doesn’t represent the value of the shirt. It represents the price you have to charge to make a profit. Your cost-structure doesn’t impart value.

            So what happens when you take your $20 shirt to market? It won’t sell. Why? Because the market demands $10 shirts. So what happens to your company making $20 shorts? It goes out of business. That’s what happened to clothing manufacturers in the United States. They all went out of business because they couldn’t produce a shirt the market would buy given the cost-structure they possessed.

        • grutchyngfysch

          Carl, I agree entirely on the point about wages needing to be justified by the value of the labour being paid for. But that’s rarely a problem save in industries where the profit margin is very closely cut against expenditure. That certainly used to be the case in lower-end retail – in one job I used to have access to all of the cost-to-the-firm values for the goods we ordered (so that I would never reduce below breaking even), and when you started to look at the costs of employment coming out of the markup it was clear that there wasn’t masses of room for manoeuvre in terms of raising salaries. Fair enough.

          In another job, we had offices spread across a number of countries, including in different parts of the same country. The work done by employees in all offices was literally identical (thus, the economic value of that work must have been broadly the same, employee to employee). Across all sites there was a salary disparity of over £20,000 per annum from the lowest to highest paid with variances of up to £10,000 even in the same country (for avoidance of doubt, it was a flat structure to boot with no experience-based remuneration). In that job, I also happen to know what the clients were charged directly for our work, and it was well over five times the *top* end salary.

          In both jobs, our managers would talk about salaries in the context of market forces and the need to control wages. In the first it was believable. In the second, it wasn’t the economic value of the work we were doing that determined pay, but the extent to which our employer could get away with keeping wages as low as possible. Oddly enough they were never keen on the actual figures being widely known amongst their workforce.

          • carl jacobs

            Grutch

            The economic value of work is set by the market and not by the paycheck. If person A in India can perform the work at a £20000 price advantage over person B in Europe, then objectively speaking person B is overpaid by £20000. That’s the harsh lesson. Technology and education have opened up labor markets and decreased the scarcity of labor. We are offended at this increasing competition causing downward pressure on our standard of living. We might as well be offended at the tide.

            Managers must be concerned with controlling labor costs. The alternative is going out of business. When I do a bid, most of the effort is labor. How much of a competitive advantage would I receive by cutting my labor rates by 15%? If I bid $85K and my competition bids $100K, who will get the business?

          • grutchyngfysch

            If the labour of Persons A and B is worth £100,000 to the client (in this case we were directly billable, so I know this was the case), then neither is being overpaid. Were the labour actually only worth £18,000 to the client, then I would indeed expect the top rate earner to lose their job or take a pay cut.

            The problem at the heart of the matter is that labour costs are often seen as the first thing to cut. The principle that has always been sold by advocates of free markets is that by permitting the pursuit of profit, all who contribute to that profit making will thereby benefit. In practice, the deification of profit has often resulted in the opposite occurring: profit is still made, but the ground staff frequently see less and less of it (as both a share and in real terms).

            I’m not exactly convinced that a living wage will sort this out – in most cases the extra “cost” will either be passed on or circumvented by further outsourcing – so I can see the very real potential for statutory wages to put some people out of work. But nor is the pursuit of profit above and beyond being merely profitable something to be lauded.

            The best companies, to my mind, are those that seek to include their staff in their successes wherever possible – where those who supply the labour to achieve that success are first in line to receive the benefit of it, proportionate to their contribution. In practice, corporatism ensures that the proceeds of wealth are all but tied up by people who functionally contribute very little (and in some cases actively contribute to financial instability). That’s not a free market but a parasitical one.

          • carl jacobs

            The amount billed to the customer is determined by the accepted bid. A company cannot over time capture as profit a favorable wage rate. It must pass the benefit on to the customer because if it doesn’t, the competition will. The failure will result in lost bids. In fact, the pressure of cost competition will force the change regardless of desire.

            Labor costs are seen as the first to cut because they form the bulk of costs. People are expensive. Businesses don’t exist to employ them. So the most cost-effective way to economize will always involve removing human labor.

          • grutchyngfysch

            Hi Carl, sorry for not replying to you earlier – had a busy couple of days.

            I actually recognise an awful lot of what your saying: I certainly would distinguish between charity and business, and would agree that a company *has* to, has a duty to, make profit. What I suppose I am trying to do is ask where that duty fits with other duties, and whether really the *only* thing a company must fixate upon is profit.

            I take the view that as you acquire power, wealth, influence – anything that grants you leverage – there is an increased moral burden on you to use what you have gained in a way which benefits the poorest in society. “From he who has much, much will be required” pretty much sums up that perspective. I don’t see ascent through society as a journey of escalating expectation of reward, but escalating expectation of responsibility. “The greatest among you will be your servant”.

            So when I look at how *people* operate within companies (since it is always people who understand morality – hence my suspicion of big corporations and big governments), what I want to know is where do they feel their obligations lie. If it is to profit – so be it – but profit for whom? To me, there is nothing uncontroversial about the belief that profit follows from labour, and that therefore remuneration of the labour which produces profit ought to be the first responsibility. In practice, it is very easy for employers (whether individuals or companies) to seek to actively minimise that remuneration to further increase profit *for somebody else*, usually themselves. I’m not sure what you would consider to be economic oppression, but personally, I think that’s approaching it.

            My question is: if Jesus were a CEO, how would He respond to the need to make cuts? Would He, do you think, start by firing those on the bottom to make ends meet, or do you perhaps think He might look at His salary – the largest in all the company – and say, “I can personally afford to take a cut, and still be extremely wealthy”?

            What would trickle down from the top in Jesus’ company? Burden or blessing? And what well up at the bottom in Jesus’ company? Burden or blessing?

            I think the Church knows the answer to that.

            Profit can be pursued without being idolised – labour costs can be cut without starting at the bottom. The market can serve people, instead of the other way around. These things are possible without capitulating the need to be productive and profitable – but they require a very different way of thinking from the one we are taught is necessary for capitalism to thrive. I want people to thrive – and I believe that capitalism has the potential to do that better than any other system – but I do not want capitalism to thrive at any human cost.

          • carl jacobs

            Grutch

            I am sitting here wondering how these principles can be instantiated.

            Should I choose to hire a better class of employee? His productivity will be higher, so I will be able to pay him more. But I will also require fewer employees as a result. Perhaps I should seek to mechanize certain low-skilled tasks in order to be able to pay higher wages to my employees. In effect I would be privileging the advantaged, the skilled, the capable at the expense of those who need help. Is that a proper exercise of responsibility? Are these moral decisions, or prudential decisions?

            Should I instead seek to hire lower skilled workers because they need access to the labor market? How many should I seek to employ? Is there a minimum number I should employ? Should I subsidize their wages based upon the productivity of other employers. In effect I would be privileging the disadvantaged, the unskilled, the incapable at the expense of the more deserving. How do I balance these decisions with my responsibilities to my shareholders and my other employees? Is this a proper exercise of my responsibility? Are these moral decisions, or prudential decisions?

            I could go through a similar set of questions for making cuts. It’s difficult for me to find clear-cut answers to these questions. Different people will arrive at different conclusions. I can’t say that any particular set of conclusions would be identifiably better than any others. It doesn’t seem to me that the decision is ever one of pure profit. These decisions are all morally interconnected. It seems the difference will be found in the identity of those we prefer to privilege. Do we advantage those who worked hard and deserve to be rewarded for the effort? Do we advantage those who need some help into the labor market? What boundaries should be identified between the two?

            I understand what you are saying, Grutch. But I don’t see a clear path from principle to action.

          • grutchyngfysch

            Carl,

            You are right, there aren’t easy answers to these questions. A just market will still have redundancies and bankruptcy, employees who slack will still be sacked. Technology will still cause “structural changes”, which is just another way of saying what you have here: the unskilled lose out. My point is not that there are a set of doctrinal responses to economic circumstances (leave that to Happy Jack!), but rather that there is a problem with the assumptions and orientations that lie at the heart of how our economy works.

            As you are often fond of pointing out, the assumptions we start from have an not-insignificant impact on the conclusions we draw.

            It has not been my experience that many businesses baulk at taking complex decisions that result in increasing margins by cutting labour. Much of your criticism has centred on the downward pressure from market forces – these are certainly in effect. However, by no means is it the case that reduced labour costs have intrinsically resulted in those costs being passed onto the end client or customer. We didn’t suddenly see a colossal improvement in the cost of living when companies started to outsource, notionally to “undercut” the overall costs – quite the reverse in fact.

            At the macro level, the richest have genuinely increased not only their share but their portion of income at eye-watering rates. The absolute poorest have seen their income fall as both a share and in real terms, and everyone else (the vast majority) have seen only very small increases in wages, which has often been offset by decreased purchasing power. Were we in a situation where the takings of the rich had declined, I think you’d have an excellent point. But we aren’t.

            Before you read that as Occupyonomics, I’m not interested in the political response to this. I am equally scathing of the Left’s stock responses of manufacturing unaffordable and permanent dependency, and its patronage of client caucuses through the incentivisation of indolence and the effective punishment of low-paid actual workers through increased base taxes. If anything, it’s been an alliance of corporate and state power that has resulted in much of the social injustice that it is possible to see around us. My base is what Scripture tells me about a just society.

            I’ve been re-reading Leviticus, and it certainly isn’t a peachy socially democratic state – there may not be monetary debt, but there is indebtedness through obligation. The poor still must work – but the rich are measured by their response to the poor (whether abject or relative). They are judged according to whether they set down burdens that they know will crush those underneath them, or for failing to carry burdens they do not wish to carry out of avarice. They also cannot shirk. “From those who have much, much will be required”.

            There aren’t maybe answers to each and every decision an employer will face – but there is an overwhelming principle that drives every decision that must be faced: prosperity as a concept is never narrow, and the Lord blesses those whose actions expand rather than contract it *to one’s neighbours*. When that is the aim and purpose of the market, rather than a coincidence borne as a fig-leaf, then we may have something resembling a generation which does right in the sight of the Lord.

            Mrs Thatcher made an excellent point, oft-quoted over here by those on the Right, that the Good Samaritan had to first make money to be able to assist his neighbour. That is undoubtedly true, and the Left needed to be told that, and still hasn’t learned that lesson. But what is also true, and, more, what is the heart of the original Parable, is that the Samaritan demonstrated his goodness by crossing the road. Our society is sorely in need of reminding of that point.

  • Darach Conneely

    The fact is, workers could feed, house and clothe their families on the ordinary worker’s wage back then. That is what was meant by worker deserving his wages. The idea that people in full time work being paid less than a living wage would have horrified Jesus or any of the OT prophets, who regularly condemned social injustice. The bible doesn’t just tell the well off individuals to give alms to poor people they met. We may have a different social welfare system suited to a modern industrialised society, but the Old Testament established the nation of Israel with a comprehensive social welfare system too. Tithes were part of this system, which the Pharisees paid lip service to with their tithes of mint and cumin. Jesus agreed they should do this, but told them social justice and mercy in the Law to go much further Jesus also condemned people who came up with legal ploys to wriggle out of their obligations.

    I have just written a blog on Moses and Israel’s Social Welfare System.
    https://simianinthetemple.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/moses-and-israels-social-welfare-system/

    • dannybhoy

      You make some good points but Israel was an agricultural society, and the laws given through Moses were essentially for a theocracy rather than a democracy. Things are so much more complex now.

      • Darach Conneely

        We need a very different system of social welfare in a modern industrialised largely urban society, but the moral obligation for a society to take care of the poor, disabled and refugees living among us remains the same. It is interesting that the OT law recognising the different circumstances of the poor living in towns and cities and those living in a rural environment, and came up with different ways of providing for them.

        • dannybhoy

          But again, the Israelites were living under Laws involving blessings and ‘cursings.’ If the Israelites (as a whole) lived in obedience to the Laws God would bless and protect them.
          We live in a society where most people are not Christians, but amoral, or of other faiths or anti faith..
          So the relationship is far more complicated.
          Looking after the poor and disabled is ine thing, but looking after hundreds, thousands or potentially tens of thousands of refugees/economic migrants because we have no control over our borders is quite another.
          If you accept the principle of allowing refugees into the UK, how many would you let in Darach?
          How many before your country could no longer cope, your health system, education, housing and infrastructure began to collapse?
          How many Darach?

          • Darach Conneely

            So far the immigrants we have let in have made a net positive contribution to the British economy, contributing more to the economy and in taxes than they have taken in welfare and NHS. No idea if there is some ‘maximum’, but we are nowhere near anything like it. Meanwhile politicians are pressurised by the anti immigrant rhetoric from papers like the Mail, Express and Sun and will do anything to keep immigration numbers down. As a result, refugees from a destabilised Middle East, the result of Bush and Blair’s little adventure, are drowning in the Mediterranean, because Cameron withdrew UK patrols and argued against the EU helping Italy keep up search and rescue missions.

            Don’t see the relevance of blessing and curses in OT laws, unless you want to argue that the UK will be blessed if we take care of the poor and disabled and show compassion to immigrants. Deut 10:19 Therefore love the foreigner; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

          • Inspector General

            Read somewhere that we need to complete a new property every 8 minutes to house our ‘valued’ immigrants. One is also disgusted by people like yourself who imply the UK is finished without immigrants. You soft Marxists are as bad as the NAZIs when it comes to propaganda…

          • Darach Conneely

            The UK finished without immigrants? Never suggested anything like it. The UK would be a much poorer culture without tikka and chips, Wilde and Shaw or Handel’s Messiah, It would have fewer jobs too, because a lot of the job creators are immigrants, but it would be here. You would still have your village greens and Morris Dancers, your Turner and Shakespeare. Sorry not Morris Dancing, that was a Flemmish import.

            Don’t blame immigrants because Maggie thought it would be a great idea to sell off council housing, and since then successive governments and councils haven’t got around to building enough housing for future population changes. That’s Civic Planing 101.

          • Inspector General

            The country has enough immigrant influence, thank you very much. Do you wish the SE of England to become amongst the most densely populated areas in the world?

          • Darach Conneely

            Try a bit of economic recovery outside SE England, and people will move there for jobs. The real trick is to work on economic development in other countries and people will stay home in droves.

          • Inspector General

            The best way of doing that is to keep those people in their own country. Do you want to see Poland become a mass forest, because few live there anymore?

            You are just a damned lefty, spouting the usual International socialist nonsense. Ever thought of freeing yourself from your masters?

          • Darach Conneely

            Poland is doing pretty well for itself, its GDP growing at 3.5%.even with the immigrants that left and travelled here. I suppose if the right cannot argue against all the benefits we have seen through immigration, the only option is to propose wildly unrealistic extremes, What would happen to Poland if all the Poles left? What if we had so many immigrants the NHS collapsed? Not sure how that would happen with all the extra nurses and doctors.

          • bmudmai

            You can argue all the benefits from immigration but the statistics are flawed. Our infrastructures weren’t designed for the large population growth which has occurred due to net immigration. This has led to a greater strain on the likes of the nhs. Which is why many hospitals are suffering from new shortages.

            Then, the increased population means the the jobs to people ratio is worse leaving more people unemployed. Yes, immigration can help with skilled jobs (but that’s why people like UKIP argue for an Australian points system) but not all are beneficial.

            And so many more points. You have to start looking beyond the end of your nose. Noone us arguing that there are benefits to immigration which is why people aren’t arguing For an outright ban.

            In fact, controlling immigration levels probably means we can serve those refugees even more.

          • Darach Conneely

            Part of the running cost of the NHS is building new infrastructure, building new hospitals and adding new wings as they is needed, the NHS has been underfunded for years and buildings allowed grow old (or new ones built by disastrous PPP). Immigrants are contributing more to the NHS through taxes than they take out, and being younger and healthier than the average Brit make much less demand on it. The UK has a growing population and immigrants are providing revenue needed to grow the NHS to meet demand.

            In fact the biggest problem facing the NHS, isn’t the immigrants but an ageing population that will place increasing demands on it. People are living longer but still get ill at the same age. If you add to this a decline in the number of working age people compared to people on pensions and you have an economy with real problems ahead. This is situation in most of Europe where populations are in decline, but not in the UK thanks to all the young healthy immigrants coming in and working to support the NHS and pensions through their tax contributions.

            No the increase in population increases the size of the economy and the number of jobs follow to scale. It is the health of the economy that determines the percentage of jobs it can support. A larger population will have the same percentage of jobs but a larger number of them. Put it another way, more immigrants means more demand for goods and services and immigrants are really good job creators.

            All the rhetoric about the problems of immigration lead to a divided society and a growth of racism. Immigrants should be welcomed for the positive contribution they make to British society. Instead the Xenophobic campaigning by the Sun, Mail and Express lead to a climate where politicians are desperate to keep numbers down, asylum seekers are returned to countries where they face torture and murder, others are imprisoned in G4S detention centers and refugees are allowed drown in the Med.

          • bmudmai

            I’m sorry, but the aging population we can’t help, however the 300,000 per year net immigration can be helped. Just because you have another source that is a strain doesn’t rule out the other being a burden.

            Controlled immigration would actually increase the benefit of immigration if you want to argue the benefits of immigration. The fact is our small country can’t really cope with the population growth.

            The fact also is that the economy isn’t growing with the population. Jobs aren’t increasing at the same rate.

            Also, if you lefties had your way the businesses would move away because you lot want to tax the hell out of them and make them pay more for labour. Which then creates a negative impact and less jobs.

          • dannybhoy

            You’re not answering the really important question Darach.
            Roughly how many refugees would you be prepared to take before saying “No more.”?
            The relevance of the blessings and cursings was in relation to God’s Covenant with the people of Israel. We are not the people of Israel, neither are we a theocracy.
            So as interesting as your references to the laws governing Covenenat Israel are, they are not applicable in the here and now.

          • Darach Conneely

            Sorry I reject the premise of the question, immigrants are a benefit to society not a problem. It is wrong and damaging to paint them as a problem or even a potential problem.

            We are not under the Old Covenant but social welfare in the OT wasn’t about religious duties. It was about the needs of the poor and of immigrants and the moral obligation of the nation, and of every nation to provide for them.

          • dannybhoy

            You are still not answering my question!
            How many refugees do you think we should be prepared to take in Darach?
            A few,
            A lot,
            Or all of them?

            Is it our (your) moral obligation to take all of these refugees if other European countries refuse them entry?

            God never told the Israelites to accept large numbers of refugees or immigrants into their midst. Mass immigration or the acceptance of large numbers of refugees is not supported by the Scriptures..

            Here’s an extract from a paper written by the Center for Immigration Studies (US) 2009, entitled

            “A Biblical Perspective on Immigration Policy.” Everyone advocating unlimited immigration should read it.

            The adverse effect of immigration today on the economic well-being of our most vulnerable fellow Americans, particularly blacks and those with a high school education or less, results in economic injustices
            that advantage the foreign worker over the American in the American’s own nation. Mass immigration, exacerbated by large-scale illegal immigration, distorts the U.S. labor market and drastically inhibits the
            ability of the market to regulate itself into the “virtuous circle” that makes for a “win-win” situation for both labor and business owners.
            And both a criminal and a national security threat exist as a result ofoverly liberal immigration policies and lax enforcement of the laws on the books.

            Therefore, it is time for Americans, particularly those who are Christians, to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16) about this country’s immigration policies at the start of the 21st century.

            http://cis.org/ImmigrationBible

          • dannybhoy

            You are still not answering my question!
            How many refugees do you think we should be prepared to take in Darach?
            A few,
            A lot,
            Or all of them?

            Is it our (your) moral obligation to take all of these refugees if other European countries refuse them entry?

            God never told the Israelites to accept large numbers of refugees or immigrants into their midst. Mass immigration or the acceptance of large numbers of refugees is not supported by the Scriptures..

            Here’s an extract from a paper written by the Center for Immigration Studies (US) 2009, entitled,

            “A Biblical Perspective on Immigration Policy.”

            Everyone advocating unlimited immigration should read it.

            “The adverse effect of immigration today on the economic well-being of our most vulnerable fellow Americans, particularly blacks and those with a high school education or less, results in economic injustices that advantage the foreign worker over the American in the American’s own
            nation.

            Mass immigration, exacerbated by large-scale illegal immigration, distorts the U.S. labor market and drastically inhibits theability of the market to regulate itself into the “virtuous circle” that makes for a “win-win” situation for both labor and business owners.

            And both a criminal and a national security threat exist as a result of overly liberal immigration policies and lax enforcement of the laws on the books.

            Therefore, it is time for Americans, particularly those who are Christians, to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16) about this country’s immigration
            policies at the start of the 21st century.”

            http://cis.org/ImmigrationBibl

    • bmudmai

      Many workers were ‘slaves’, had to work to pay debt, have a place to live, have clothes and good…so maybe the solution for modern welfare is actually a return to workhouses?

      • dannybhoy

        I have a lot of sympathy for the idea of a modern day version of the workhouse.
        A place to live, health care, useful work to do, education, relationship classes for dysfunctional families, What’s not to like?

        • bmudmai

          It would solve a lot of the homelessness problems. Problem is they have a bad rep, though if they could actually be done well then it would truly serve the poorest in our nation.

          • sarky

            Foodbanks? Workhouses? Really? So the answer to poverty is to look backwards to the victorian age.

          • bmudmai

            Better than other suggestions so far. Sometimes looking backwards helps you strive forward.

            Have you any better solutions?

          • sarky

            Alot of homeless suffer from drug and alcohol problems, So how about rehabilitation programmes to get them back into society? How about better mental health provision for those on the streets?
            As for the rest of the poor (how do you categorise poor?) Help to get into work, then ensure that work provides a comfortable standard of living (good housing, 3 square meals, clothes etc) all the other stuff can then be worked for and not be provided by way of handouts.

          • bmudmai

            You realise on the whole that’s what the idea of workhouses are? Or at least my idea of a modern day workhouse?

            What about those who reject rehab. I know a homeless drunk of 30+ years and he’s been sent to rehab etc. Many a time but just leaves and ends up on the doorstep the following day!

          • sarky

            Thats his choice. You can lead a horse to water. ….

          • Darach Conneely

            No workhouses stigmatise the poverty. That was the basis of Victorian workhouses and that is how any future workhouses would function. If jobs can be created do it, and let people have the dignity of a normal job. Build more housing and provide normal houses and apartments. If some people need sheltered accommodation provide that. Don’t combine them into a work camp that removes people from normal society and would be a stigma and a barrier to future jobs.

            Alcoholism is a serious condition, often deep seated psychological and emotional issues underneath. Some people just get hooked and can’t stop, but how many homeless and alcoholics are ex servicemen with PTSD? What other scars are people self medicating for. Alcoholics need to be ready to quit, sure provide hostels for them, don’t tie it in with an enforced work scheme they are in no fit state for. Back to work schemes can come later, when they are dry, if there are actually jobs for them.

          • bmudmai

            My workhouse idea would give people freedom. It would just be like a job. Just they get accommodation

          • bmudmai

            My workhouse idea would give people freedom. It would just be like a job. Just they get accommodation, food, health care and maybe some pocket money. Would be very beneficial and surprises me that lefties would oppose such a thing. But I forget the lefty approach isn’t to actually help people but moan that we don’t live in a utopia.

          • Darach Conneely

            If unemployment was just a short term problem, rather than a huge hole leaving 9.2 million people unemployed or under employed, I might agree. But in a society with mass long term unemployment, people need more than clothing food and housing. To be an active member of modern society they need internet access, especially families with children where computer fluency is going to be a vital part of the future jobs market. People need to be able to go down to the pub and socialise or go for a cup of coffee with friends. kids need to be able to go to the cinema with friends from time to time. People need to have enough financial flexibility they aren’t living in read of the next bill coming through the door.

          • sarky

            I agree. I just think that the state should cover the essentials. Beers and coffees are luxuries. People need to realise that work brings these things not handouts.

          • dannybhoy

            You know that workhouses were set up by and funded by parishes to help the poor, unemployed and hungry?
            You do know that life was tough for the majority of people anyway? Undernourished, tuberculosis, rickets etc.
            You have to look at the whole picture. For example because in rural areas work could be seasonal, some people would go in and out of a workhouse dependent on employment.
            No one is suggesting a reurn to “Dickens style” conditions, but an updated version of a system that worked comparatively well in this country.
            Les Miserables shows how bad conditions were in France for the poor and hungry, and no workhouses to keep body and soul together.

          • Darach Conneely

            That’s the reason the welfare state was set up, because condition for the poor were so terrible, something had to be done. Workhouses were purposely made appalling to discourage people from using them, apart from rampant disease in the dorm system, wives were separated from husbands, children from their parents. The Tories are adopting the same heartless Victorian attitude, punish and humiliate people on benefit to make them find (non existent) jobs. A bigger problem still is the Tories siding with business to keep wages down. If wages are at or below the poverty line, and the bare minimum acceptable level of welfare is the poverty line, Tories feel the people on welfare need the workhouse philosophy humiliation and abuse to motivate them.

          • dannybhoy

            Quite right, but what you leave out is the fact that socially things don’t just appear, they develop over time..

            “The Oxford Dictionary’s first record of the word workhouse dates back to 1652 in Exeter — ‘The
            said house to bee converted for a workhouse for the poore of this cittye and also a house of correction for the vagrant and disorderly people within this cittye.’ However, workhouses were around even before that —

            in 1631 the Mayor of Abingdon reported that “wee haue erected wthn our borough a workehouse to sett poore people to worke”

            State-provided poor relief is often dated from the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in 1601 when the passing of an Act for the Relief of the Poor made parishes legally responsible for looking after their own poor. This was funded by the collection of a poor-rate tax from local property owners (a tax that survives in the present-day “council tax”). The 1601 Act made no mention of workhouses although it provided that materials should be bought to provide work for the unemployed able-bodied — with the threat of prison for those who refused. It also proposed the erection of housing for the “impotent poor” — the elderly, chronic sick,etc.”

            It’s interesting how touchy feely pink and fluffy people always seem to think that our ancestors were deliberately cruel oppressors of the ordinary man, grinding their faces into the earth, etc etc.
            I’ll say it again: Life was tough for most people for hundreds of years until the eighteenth, nineteenth century when positive reforms and practices were introduced, often (but not always) through enlightened/evangelical Christians.
            Our ancestors did the best they could with how they understood the world and the faith…
            Don’t diss ’em!

          • dannybhoy

            It would indeed. There are a significant number of people who are simply vegetating or getting into all kinds of trouble because they have no structure in their lives. For whatever reasons their lives and domestic situations are chaotic.
            Better that the government steps in to help these folk by offering managed accommodation where life skills canbe learnt.
            Simply giving them benefits is not the answer.

      • Darach Conneely

        You mean like Soviet labour camps? Or maybe have a sign over the gate about how work will free them. Victorian workhouses didn’t have a great reputation, and 20th century Irish Catholic Magdalene Laundries weren’t very nice either. But I’m sure we’ll get it right next time.

        • Inspector General

          It is self evident that there are people out there unable to fend for themselves. Unable to live alone. Bring back the workhouses, says I.

          • Darach Conneely

            “…many would rather die.”
            “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

          • Inspector General

            You heartless rogue. A life on the streets then. Is that to be their lot?

          • Darach Conneely

            No that was Dicken’s Ebenezer Scrooge. I’m for social welfare rather than locking people in debtors prisons.

          • Inspector General

            You haven’t answered the question. What do you do about the street life…

          • Darach Conneely

            I wasn’t suggesting putting people out on the street. People who are homeless need to be housed and given access to all the medical and psychological help they need. In the 6th richest nation on earth it is a crying shame there are people with nowhere to live.

          • Inspector General

            You seem to be somewhat ignorant on why people live on the streets. They will get all the medical and psychological whatever in the workhouse…

          • Darach Conneely

            Like the psychiatric incarceration they had in the Soviet Union? You must really dislike poor people.

          • bmudmai

            Don’t think anyone is calling for anything oppressive. We could probably compare your view of social welfare to the nazi’s if we wanted. Try and be realistic, geez. But actually an appropriate workhouse system could work.

          • Darach Conneely

            Shoving people in workhouses until they pay off their debt is oppressive. If you think it would be done compassionately, just look at the asylum seeker detention centres run by G4S. Besides if the Government could have created all that employment it would have. There simply aren’t enough jobs to go around and as a society we need to take care of all the people our economy can’t provide jobs for.

          • bmudmai

            Or, shove them in a workhouse to provide them a home, medical care, food, clothes until they find a job of their own and can support themselves.

            See how that’s been turned around and isn’t oppressive? Need to be more creative than just: ‘give them a home’. How do you propose ‘caring for them’? Taking the country into further debt? The fact is, the left have provided no actual solutions. We need creative thinking and to throw out ideas, even adapted ideas from the past. We can’t just dismiss every Possible solution because it requires a little effort etc.

          • Darach Conneely

            The whole debt issue is a complete scaremongering, an excuse to attack welfare during the most difficult economic times. Government debt after the crash is about 82% of GDP, but that is still low compared to what it as in the past.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UK_GDP.png
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_national_debt

            It was about 260% after the Napoleonic wars but had dropped down to about 25% before the 1st World War. That brought it back to about 180% again, After the war it was falling steadily but rose again with the Wall Street Crash. After that, again it fell steadily until the 2nd World War when it rose to 240%. And fell again. The UK’s economic base needs to be rebuilt after Margaret Thatcher gutted it. We are about 9.2 million jobs short. But you don’t make the economy better by pulling money out and punishing the disabled and people out of work through no fault of their own. Crises like the economic crashes and world wars need money pumped into the economy. Invest money in the country, grow the economy and the debt will drop back down again as more people are earning and paying tax.

          • bmudmai

            That depends on if you take a fiscal or monetary view. Fiscal view says.spend, monetary view says cut. Funnily enough both work to an extent.

            Problem is, debt in % may be less but in real terms is high. Plunge us into more debt and it means the government have to pay more, go so far and you end up bankrupt and in a situation like Greece.

            The debt issue isn’t as bad as people make out, you are right. However, the deficit issue which further increases debt is. You can’t keep spending outside your means and unfortunately without cuts we will be.

          • Darach Conneely

            Real terms are the percentage of GDP. It is why the size of your mortgage is (or should be) based on your income. That’s what says whether you can pay it back or not. The best time to cut over-spending and debt is when the economy is thriving, it is when it is struggling you need to you need to spend, to put money into the economy. What we have now is more and more people starting small businesses but making less and less because people don’t have the money to buy their goods and services.

            Greek debt is 175% of GDP, that’s about what the UK’s was after WWI and significantly less than after The Napoleonic Wars and WWII. There was certainly room for the Government to time off fat, but Greece’s biggest problem was the rich squirrelling away all their money in Switzerland not paying tax, and enforced austerity which turned a country with a manageable, though high, level of debt into an economic basket case.

          • bmudmai

            The austerity came after in Greece. Their problem was base on crazy tax laws yes, but that led to them pretty much defaulting on their debt.

          • dannybhoy

            “The UK’s economic base needs to be rebuilt after Margaret Thatcher gutted it.”
            The British working man led by leftwards leaning union leaders did that, Darach. Maggie just decided to cut her economic losses.
            You know why the British started driving BMWs and even Peugeots and Datsuns, and going for cruises on foreign built liners?
            It’s because we were busy churning out crap cars that nobody wanted and our shipyards were full of experts on demarcation and delay..
            It’s all very well being a champion of the working man (a peculiarly Irish trait I find) but one expects the working man to actually work.
            The Germans have a far better record of workers and management cooperating together for the mutual good of the economy…

          • carl jacobs

            There simply aren’t enough jobs to go around

            Maybe if you reduced the structural cost of employment, then maybe there might be more jobs created in the economy. Do you think? Hrmmm?

            And that doesn’t address the fact that there are now many people who don’t possess the necessary cultural skills to get and keep a job. Skills like showing up for work consistently and on time. Perhaps we should rebuild the institution specifically intended to civilize children. Instead of destroying it through divorce, cohabitation, sexually libertine behavior, and a general preference for the happiness of adults.

            People aren’t necessarily economic victims who need rescuring. Sometimes they suffer from their own bad behavior. To refuse to take cognizance of this is to abort the moral lesson inherent in the suffering.

          • Darach Conneely

            You happy with Big Business not paying tax holding the country to ransom? With the rich getter vastly richer and the poor getting poorer, what happens when they run out of ordinary people’s money? The issue isn’t the cost of employment but whether it makes a profit. But with money being sucked out of the economy by Big Business and the very rich it is very difficult for new jobs to produce anything people have money to buy.

            In an economy without sufficient jobs, what people need more than the ‘cultural skills’ is self respect. Tory sanctions dehumanise people and strip away their dignity. Get more real jobs in the economy then you can introduce genuine back to work training, if people really need it.

            If there were plenty of jobs and people were sacked because of drink or drugs, you might have a point. Plenty of scope of helping people deal with their addiction. I mean genuine help not vicious sanctions. Piling on stress simply makes addictions worse. But when there is a 9.2 million shortfall in jobs in the economy, the underlying problem is hopelessness. Deal with that rather than blaming the victims.

          • carl jacobs

            A business will pay taxes. And the ‘ransom’ you say it is demanding is its own money. The state does not own the profit. A business cannot demand a ransom from itself.

            I had a seminal moment of enlightenment many years ago when I realized why the Left hates cars. It’s because automobiles turned the taxable population into a commodity to be purchased instead of a resource to be mined. The tax base could suddenly leave if it felt burdened. And it did – behind the steering wheel of a car. This lead to a precipitation of two distinct groups into very specific locations – the population dependent upon government support and the politicians they elect – but with no tax base to support the scheme. The Left raged. It looks at tax base as its rightful property and that is the attitude you express.

            Capital is mobile. If you excessively burden it, then it will leave. It might move away. It might go out of business. Either way, it ceases to exist as a taxable entity. You act like that’s a crime. It isn’t. You don’t own it or its surplus. So if you want to keep it around, you must cater to its interests. You must ‘purchase the commodity of tax base.’ Because there are lots of places in the world that will take it.

          • dannybhoy

            Shoving people in workhouses until they pay off their debt is oppressive.
            You’re keen on the old emotive language aren’t you Darach?
            No one said anything about ‘shoving them in’ to workhouses.

            Take an example from modern Israel. They set up absorption centres for their immigrant populations from Ethiopia to the former USSR and elsewhere.

            In these centres they received health screening and care, learnt about Israeli life, politics, were taught the language etc.
            Later, the youngsters both male and female, would be drafted into the Israeli Defence Force. They would serve three years, learn skills and socialise with other young Israelis.

          • Royinsouthwest

            There simply aren’t enough jobs to go around …

            In a growing economy new jobs will be created. Furthermore
            there is a huge number of immigrants, both legal and illegal in Britain, who are in employment. Are you suggesting that none of the unemployed would be doing those jobs if we had stricter immigration controls?

            Some employers do find it difficult to recruit suitably qualified people. Therefore we do need better training facilities for the unemployed and some of our schools need to do a much better job of educating their pupils, or students as they are in the habit of calling them nowadays.

            It is particularly important that we improve the job opportunities in the old industrialised areas of Britain, not just southeast England.

  • not a machine

    and the multi euro big financial fraudsters get overlooked for nice neat give em a wage rise , I think as a bishop I may want to vent my spleen on the causes and not one of the tradgegies of the financial mess from before the 2012 election

  • Inspector General

    We’ll see how the National Socialists treat their Scottish poor when they eventually wrest control of the country’s finances in totality.

    You see, not every Nationalist is a Socialist. And the former will become very apparent when they realise just what a drain the current benefits heaven is on an economy…

    Heh Heh!

  • bmudmai

    The living wage argument is a short-sighted joke. I feel rather ashamed by the Bishops suggesting this is some Christian imperative.

    The living wage will leave the poorest even more poor. Will lead to more part time workers/more unemployed. Will lead to everything becoming more expensive which means it will always have to rise. It seems nice on paper bit is a joke and not the answer.

    People can think it’s the right thing, we can have different opinions. But, how dare the Bishops claim it’s a christian duty and try imposing this upon us.

  • pawnraider

    Well done! Another brilliant piece by His Grace.

  • magnolia

    I guess an updated parable of the talents has the man who buried the talent giving back the talent with a bit chiselled out, on the grounds that the talent was safely stored with a reliable holder, and NIRP (negative interest rate policy) is with us, and futhermore it was not a deposit, nor an investment, but a loan to the recipient.

    So any complaints would be deemed inappropriate.

  • The Living Wage is an independently calculated hourly wage rate designed to pay employees enough to cover their basic living needs i.e. cost of food, housing and basic needs. Although the household circumstances of each worker will be different, the wage rate is calculated to reflect a locally determined minimum acceptable standard of living. The calculations incorporates the cost of a basic basket of goods and necessary housing, childcare and transport costs, as well as statistical analysis on households below half the average income.

    It is intended to be a voluntary process and becoming a Living Wage employer was conceived as a staged process to be completed over a period of time. Employers must first ensure that all directly employed members of staff are paid no less than the Living Wage. Then, the employer ensures that any contractors providing services be paid the Living Wage.

    What’s controversial about it?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Not a lot. But saying Jesus would do it is as silly as saying Jesus would support/not support an illegal immigrant amnesty. The truth is, we cannot safely drag Jesus in as a supporter for modern political economic positions.

      • But is it a modern political economic position or a biblically based social ethic?
        Jack was taught there are four sins that cry to Heaven for justice from God:

        – The “blood of Abel”: homicide, infanticide, fratricide, parricide, and matricide;
        – The “sin of the Sodomites”: pride, gluttony, negligence of the poor, abuse of children, and homosexual acts;
        – The “cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan”: slavery and marginalisation; and
        – The “injustice to the wage earner”: taking advantage of and defrauding workers.

        (James 5:4)
        “Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”

        (Malachi 3:5)
        “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.”

        The Bible has a very clear bias against those who take advantage of their workers. Paying workers a sub-living wage is oppressing them – and it harms society. There is no justice in businesses depositing record profits while their employees line up at food banks and rely on receiving Housing Benefit and Tax Credits to feed their children.

        • bmudmai

          But is paying 6.50 an hour really oppressive? These people still live in quite a luxury I’m comparison to the majority of the world. In fact a lot probably come in the richest 10% of the world.

          If you are full time on nmw you earn enough for a reasonable, albeit prudent, life. Just means you may miss out on some luxuries.

          The fact is, living wage long term won’t really help matters as people will either be part time/less hours so not really earning more or businesses will put up prices to cover costs, knowing people are earning more meaning living wage will have to keep increasing which in turn means the poorest are left to be even more poor.

          I’m not calling for oppressive wages, just trying to force a living wage on people isn’t a solution. I’d sooner see people on nmw and receive other benefits, such as health care (to cover dentist costs for example) or even follow the old factory approach and provide homes for workers to live in. Would require an initial outlay for businesses but offer incentives to companies for doing this and long term it won’t make the poor even more poor.

          • People in the developing countries should receive a living wage too. The argument that workers in the West are wealthy compared to third world countries isn’t really a sound one. Everyone should be able to support themselves and their families and have access to shelter, food and medical care.

            There isn’t much evidence of wealth “trickling down” to the poor nowadays. The answer isn’t making people more dependent on the State for benefits and various income support measures. Really, these are indirect subsidies to businesses. Nor is it a return to homes attached to employment.

          • bmudmai

            Homes attached to employment lowers the living wage though. Probably to below 6.50. The fact is, on nmw you may need to rent a house or a flat, you may need only be able to have a £7.50pm phone contract. You may have to shop at Aldi as opposed to Waitrose. You may only be able to have a 22 inch Tv. You may have to have up to 5mb Internet. You may have to timetable your main meals. You may have to run a bike and use public transport. Or get a low insurance, low emissions car. You may have to buy clothes from charity shops, premark, Tesco instead of Debenhams. But it’s still a pretty darn good life.

            Maybe people need to be taught how to budget and finance, which is an educational problem. But to enforce what is titled ‘living wage’ is not actually as beneficial or helpful as you may think. I hardly think it is fair To say minimum wage is oppressive. The wealth of the rich from the profits needs to be looked at but what is being proposed is not the solution.

            What about small independent businesses? they may not be able to pay the living wage?

            Living wage is fine voluntary but the fact is its being imposed by mob rule and parties are declaring they want to make it mandatory.

          • Well, Jack’s belief is the living wage – as opposed to the national minimum wage – should be voluntary. And he has no issue with people living within their means and budgeting – “cutting one’s cloth according to one’s material” as my mum used to say.

    • carl jacobs

      It’s not controversial. Just like a Money Tree isn’t controversial. Or a magic beanstalk. Or a goose that lays golden eggs.

      • Old Blowers

        Jack forgets that as more migrants drive down the cost of wages so the cost of living increases as the amount collected in the kitty has fallen in collectable revenue from those able to earn, has it not.
        It now means more food banks, more subsidised benefits etc paid out to meet the shortfall…ever decreasing circles of wealth..

        Jack’s a nice fella but lets his heart run away from the head maths *chortles*

        • carl jacobs

          Jack can be excessively … idealistic. There is the world as Jack wants it to be, and there is the world that is. Mistaking the former for the latter is a principal fault of Leftism.

          • Old Blowers

            Bless his little papal socks *giggles*

          • Grouchy Jack

            Grrrrrrr …..

          • Accepting the latter without attempting the former, is the principle fault of Rightism – and it’s what actually gives the real Left oxygen because injustice is toxic.

          • dannybhoy

            There is no injustice in (failed) socialist states Jack??
            I fear you are deceiving yourself. Human anture remains the same, regardless of the political philosophy.

          • But Jack isn’t calling for socialism …

          • Grouchy Jack

            It’s rude talking about others behind their backs …

        • Grouchy Jack

          Immigrants wouldn’t drive down the cost of wages if employers didn’t pay them reduced rates …. ah, but then capitalism has to pay people the lowest amount it can get away with in the market place and charge the highest price for its goods to maximise profit.

          Who wants a society where the State holds a “kitty” that people have to run too because they can’t manage? All it does is subsidise businesses because they don’t pay a living wage by taxing them and others. Who wants a society where increasing numbers of people are dependent on Housing Benefit and Tax Credits to meet basic need – apart from Statists?This sort of redistributive taxation feeds off middle-income earners, creates dependency in increasing numbers of workers, grows the State, allows landlords to charge excessive rents and employers to pay less than people can live on.

      • “It’s not controversial.”
        Finally, you agree with the living wage and social justice in the market place. This is good to hear. Now, all we have to do is turn this scriptural principle into effective action and get over the idea it is unrealistic and unachievable.

        • carl jacobs

          I agree. The principle of a golden-egg laying Goose is a good thing and we should certainly work to make it both realistic and achievable.

          • Bit like building up the Kingdom of Heaven, really ….

          • carl jacobs

            Building the Kingdom of Heaven is like achieving the goal of a golden egg laying goose?

          • Not in Jack mind, no.

    • Anton

      It’s just a snappy slogan dreamed up by public service trade unions to get more money out of taxpayers via the government. What is a living wage for one person is not a living wage for another as we all have different circumstances: living in London or Stoke, number of dependants, whether other income is entering the home, etc. Taxpayers deserve consideration too as tax falls heaviest on the working poor with families. Make everybody pay this wage, as the Unions want, and many businesses would go under and more people would be on the dole. Job security is a more important social issue.

  • Shadrach Fire

    What is a living wage? It is enough to live off but not sufficient for 60″ LED TV’s, Nitendo games, fancy cars and designer clothing. All these things, many people consider as essential. Not when I was young it wasn’t. Food in your stomach, a shirt on your back and shoes on your feet.

    • And what’s caused the demand for all these consumer goods? And by what means are they purchased today?

    • Old Blowers

      INDEED!!!!!!!!!!

    • sarky

      And you used to walk 10 miles to school in bare feet and have coal for your lunch and you would be grateful for it.

      • dannybhoy

        Lol!
        My father told us a story of how his younger brother was at school and because he had no shoes he was issued a pair of shoes by a School Inspector.This was Jarrow, early 1920’s.
        When the shoes arrived my uncle wore the shoes home -very proud.
        As his father ate his dinner after working in the shipyard, he saw the
        new shoes.
        “Where’d you get them shoes from?”
        “The School Inspector gave them to me Da!”
        “You take them and give them back tomorrow.”
        And he did…..
        My Dad was one of ten kids and life was really tough.

  • Old Blowers

    Old Ernst gets utterly disgusted that as the RC, etc love to ‘Allegorise’ Scripture, it seems the lefties love to ‘Socialise’ scripture. A parable related to a meaning of the Kingdom hidden from those that DISBELIEVED Jesus was The Christ, did it not? The Parable of the Progigal Son is more than the meaning of a son giving up his inheritance but relates to the lost sheep that has gone its own way and the joy of the Father at his return!! The Talents relates to the church and it’s individuals to use their talents for their master at securing a profit on HIS PROPERTY given into their care.

    If the talents given represent opportunities to invest natural gifts,
    then very likely the talents gained represent opportunities to invest
    spiritual gifts, those gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12
    and Romans 12 which are given to every true Christian without exception…. How many Christians have discovered they have a spiritual gift only
    when they have seized an occasion to be of use to Christ? They have to
    decide to risk, to venture, for his name’s sake. Feeling ill-equipped
    and clumsy at first (perhaps setting up a christian blog?), nevertheless, they went on doing what needed to be
    done and before long it was evident to all, and even to them, that they
    had a gift for the work, one of the gifts of the Spirit. Having found
    the spiritual gift they soon found great opportunity to employ it…To challenge and fight for The Lord online and raise matters of spiritual concern that need addressing.

    By making such a parable an argument for the minimum wages denigrates the true meaning that Jesus sp[oke those words to His disciples and brings God down to our petty levels of wrongly using scripture as a means of ‘Anti/In Place Of Christ behaviour.

    Did He not say ‘The poor are always with you? The socialist usually would quote “However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land
    the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will
    richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are
    careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.”

    1.. This is to Moses and Israel.
    2. Christians are not blessed as Isreal as we do NOT possess Israel and are not a part of the Mosaic cursing and Blessing of Jehovah!

    People love to misquote the Lord but refuse to look at the context given.

    Yes we should care for the true poor and vulnerable..It’s commanded but to wrongly use scripture is to miss the point that the Lord wants saved souls in heaven by His sacrifice on the cross and not only full bellies on the road to Gehenna.

    22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.

    23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
    24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn;
    yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
    25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
    26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
    27“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you,
    not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
    28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today,
    and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe
    you—you of little faith!
    29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.
    30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
    31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

    32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
    33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves
    that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
    34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    It’s all about trusting in Him to deliver ONCE you believe..Hwe has never failed me yet , through good times and bad, through thick or thin as other believers will tell you.

    Blowers

    • Not sure where all the “disgust” towards Catholics come from Blowers. Jack’s ever heard the parable of the Prodigal Son used to justify a living wage or to pursue greater social justice.

      As Jack posted earlier, he was taught at Catholic school that there are four sins crying out to Heaven for justice from God:

      – The “blood of Abel”: homicide, infanticide, fratricide, parricide, and matricide;

      – The “sin of the Sodomites”: pride, gluttony, negligence of the poor, abuse of children, and homosexual acts;

      – The “cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan”: slavery and marginalisation; and

      – The “injustice to the wage earner”: taking advantage of and defrauding workers.

      “Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”
      (James 5:4)

      “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.”
      (Malachi 3:5)

      These are not parables and their meaning isn’t hidden in any way.

      • Old Blowers

        Dear fella

        The talents are a parable as was the Prodigal Son..They had a deeper meaning and were only meant to be discernible by BELIEVERS..!”The first instance of this is in His
        telling the parable of the seed and the soils. Before He interpreted
        this parable, He drew His disciples away from the crowd. They said to
        Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To
        you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,
        but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall
        be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even
        what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in
        parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they
        do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of
        Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

        ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see
        and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their
        ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they
        should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should
        understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But
        blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they
        hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men
        desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you
        hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:10-17).

        parables – earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. He did so that his disciples would comprehend his teachings and that unbelievers would be without comprehension.”

        The things you quote are not a parable from Christ so a bit off topic concerning the meat of HG’s post regarding the talents and the talents have nowt to do with the minimum wage/socialism.

        “Not sure where all the “disgust” towards Catholics come from
        Blowers. Jack’s ever heard the parable of the Prodigal Son used to
        justify a living wage or to pursue greater social justice.”

        Where things are meant to be literal, they should stay literal AND NOT BE FANTASIZED AWAY to construct a false meaning or event and neither should scripture be socialised also when it most definitely is not warranted by the text.!!

        The lack of faith by A of Y is that he thinks that all men are believers/children of GOD and not sinners that GOD needs to save. He forgets that believers are precious in GODS SIGHT FOR THE SIMPLE REASON they are believers..,this misguided universalism casts people on the road to perdition and misses the point of Jesus’ sermon regarding…22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
        23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes…”
        See Micah 4..True peace and prosperity can only come when Christ returns and IT CANNOT COME BY MANS EFFORTS by replacing what He GUARANTEES to come in Micah by HIS WORD. Private Property and Wealth…That must stick in the marxist craw, what?

        • Of course Jack accepts all that, Blowers. Private property and the creativity and dignity that comes from fruitful labour are indeed are Creators intention for us.
          However, Jack also believes there is a scriptural morality of market place that the Church has a duty to teach and attempt to implement. It’s not about endeavouring to build ‘heaven on earth’ but rather living according to Christian principles and pursuing social justice where man is more than a unit cost in production and the aim of business is more than maximising profit.

          • Old Blowers

            If you believe in Christ and what he has done for us you would be able to state to the poor and vulnerable that know him not that ..

            It’s all about trusting in Him to deliver ONCE you believe..He has failed me yet , through good times and bad, through thick or thin other believers will tell you.

            Blowers

          • dannybhoy

            David gets it right in his comment of 35 minutes ago. It’s how we as Christians seek to apply and express the values of the Kingdom in our generation.

    • grutchyngfysch

      I’ve just realised you had already written what I just posted above, Ernst. An oversight rather than an attempt to rehash 🙂

  • grutchyngfysch

    I don’t think the Parable of the Talents can be seen understood except in relation to the Parable of the Vineyard if you want to use it as a guide to remuneration. The former relates to what we ought to do with what God has given to us (answer: use it as wisely as possible and as widely as possible to secure as much for the Kingdom as possible). Set aside the fact that the wood apart from the trees is plainly about advancing the Gospel rather than getting a well hedged investment, and you still have a parable that is about what our own endeavours ought to look like in the service of our Master.

    The Parable of the Vineyard, on the other hand, makes plain, in the same economic language, what kind of “employer” God is. Contrary to the assertion being made here, He doesn’t reward incrementally between differing levels of success. In fact, He awards an absolutely flat wage, with no acknowledgement of the respective differences in time spent labouring in the vineyard. When called on this, He affirms His own right to distribute, with absolute parity, what He deems to be a just and fair reward.

    Far from presenting a contradiction – this merely reinforces the *reward* on display in the Parable of Talents. There too, the exact same affirmation is made, word for word, to the worker who made 5 talents as the one who made 2 talents. The wage is the same. It is only the feckless worker, who has in actuality wasted what he was given who is punished.

    So, no, I don’t agree that the Parable underlines the sense of “according to ability” being used here. The lesson is not that reward is commensurate to effort or efficiency (to suggest as much is to knock on the door of salvation by works) but rather that God’s expectations of us are commensurate with the gifts and blessings we have been given. It is the exact inversion of a system that is defined by fixation on reward.

    “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

  • David

    Scripture recording specific lessons, in the form of parables, all related to a very different cultural context to ours. But read with caution and understanding of that culture, they can give us general ideas and principles. That guidance can then be used, again with great care and caution, by us today living in the very different countries and contexts in which Christians are found.
    However to try to leap from the culturally specific situation of Jesus’ time to us today, and thereby claim support or specific political arguments and measures, is beyond brave, it is a very risky course indeed I believe.
    We need a certain modesty in our use of Scripture, if we are not, in our wilful pride, to avoid merely recruiting the Bible in support of our specific party political based obsessions. Moreover all of these things need to take into account the far more complicated global economic circumstances of today. Clerics spotting off, without taking ALL the economic circumstances into account, and the social ramifications of those economic effects, are likely to be doing more harm than good, and simply displaying their economic ignorance.

  • IanCad

    Some of you guys are not getting anywhere near enough sleep.
    It is an unfortunate fact that many workers are just not able to produce work enough to warrant even the minimum wage.
    How many willing hands are denied the self-respect and dignity of employment through the acts of those well meaning fools who demand that employers perform acts of charity?

    • CliveM

      With regards first sentence, I’ve noticed that!

  • bmudmai

    Perhaps the real solution Is to encourage people within the Church to do what was done in Acts. Those who had land sold it and gave the proceedings to the Church. Then the Church distributed it according to the need of the people within the Church. That’s a biblical concept we can use today but noone ever suggests it…

    • IanCad

      “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.”
      Job 42:12

      One has to accumulate first in order to distribute.

      • bmudmai

        The accumulation was via those who came to faith and had land to sell! And then that money was distributed

        • IanCad

          You are quite right.

  • Linus

    Free market capitallism requires a large pool of workers competing for a limited number of jobs in order to keep the cost of production down and ensure attractive returns on investment. So poverty for the least skilled and therefore least competitive workers is built in to the system.

    The only way around this is to reduce supply. Look at what happened in Europe before and after the Black Death.

    Before the plague hit cheap labour was in plentiful supply, wages were low and poverty was widespread and increasing. The seigneurial and emerging entrepreneurial classes lived well as the competitive state of the labour market allowed them to minimise their production costs and maximise their profits.

    After the plague the supply of cheap labour fell off a cliff. Wages rose accordingly and caused a massive hike in production costs, so prices skyrocketed, consumption (already badly affected by the reduction in population) plunged even further and profits were badly affected. The decades after the Black Death were not a prosperous time for the ruling classes as profit margins were badly squeezed, although the position of the villein, small freeholder and wage earner improved considerably.

    Only when a commodity is in short supply will the price it can command rise and money flow into the sector of society that controls that particular resource.

    We’re seeing that now in the increasing gap between rich and poor. Globalisation has created a virtually limitless supply of cheap labour, so we’re back to the pre-Black Death situation of expanding poverty and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a relatively small group of people at the expense of everyone else.

    Only two things can change this. Either all world governments impose a standard minimum wage and act in concert to enforce it, which will simply have the effect of limiting employment to numbers that employers can afford, and too bad for everyone else. Or the supply of labour will have to shrink so that employers are forced to compete for scarcer workers by offering higher wages.

    Piecemeal action by individual nations will simply force production offshore into low cost labour markets. Trying to prevent this by imposing tariffs on these countries will badly effect global trade and threaten both the economy and political stability.

    No, the only workable solution for those who want to improve the lot of the average worker is a cull. Either a plague or some kind or cataclysmic event that wipes out a good percentage of the workforce is the only thing that will guarantee those who are left a proper job with decent pay.

    We lizards ably assisted by our allies the pod people are in the process of sorting it all out. As we live far longer lives than you puny humans and can therefore afford to take a longer view, we’ve decided against cataclysm as an effective means of depopulation. This is mainly because human bodies stink so badly when they decompose and there just aren’t enough of us to eat our way through the numbers we’ll need to slaughter to make a difference. So rather than having to deal with the piles of rotting corpses that would accumulate as a result of plague, or a comet strike, or a zombie apocalypse, we’ve decided that a plummeting birth rate is the answer.

    So we’re pumping contraceptive drugs into the water supply and blanketing the world with high-energy gaydio waves that affect developing fetuses and turn them homosexual. In a generation or two the workforce will be a fraction of its current size and competition for labour will ensure high wages and improving standards of living for all.

    We’re imposing this New World Order because we’re quite fond of you really and any intelligent farmer treats his livestock nicely. Properly fattened, comfortable humans are a much tastier morsel than the stressed and undernourished variety.

    Mouah hah hah!!!

    • dannybhoy

      I only voted you up because I have to admit to being rather impressed (and slightly jealous) of your “Mouah hah hah!!!” 😉

  • Phil R

    The way things are set up. (Child care vouchers, tax credits etc all paid for from taxes on business) it could in fact be cheaper for both the country and businesses to raise the minimum wage than to pay people to top up low wages, with a raft of complicated benefits, paid from our taxes.

    Far better to pay more, remove the benefits and reduce the taxes on businesses.

    • bmudmai

      For once, someone actually makes a reasonable argument for the living wage. Everyone else who seems to support it speaks nonsense and use arguments which are inherently flawed or utopian.

      Problem is, those pushing for living wage are also looking to increase the taxes on corporations so it won’t work like that.

      • Phil R

        many businesses are effectively paying the living wage in the form of salary and taxes.

        As always the Govt wants to decide how the money is spent, to it prefers to tax and refund rather than reduce taxes on business and increase min wage.

        BTW. It is not my idea but a Tory I recent watched on a TV discussion. I cannot remember who.

  • Romans 6:23