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Money, money, money PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Tuesday, 30 September 2008 00:28

The buck stops here

I got home late today after a day at 121 George Street on Communication Committee business (two back-to-back meetings) and then a wee jaunt down to Lanark to meet up with the family for dinner with friends. (I noted that when Edinburgh had a holiday two weeks ago that 121 was closed, but when we in the West had a holiday today, we're all expected to turn up for meetings!)

I've been trying to follow what has been happening in DC with respect to Wall Street over the last few days and must confess to being only a little surprised to come home and find that the big bail out plan failed to get the votes it needed. (There's more...)

It seems this is all down to politics. Most of those who voted against it did so because they are up for election in five weeks and their consituents don't approve of the bail out. They are scared that a yes vote will get them kicked out of office. And who cares about the world economy when your own job is on the line?

What a mess. And now the UK Govt is taking over another £50bn in debts from Bradford & Bingley. Who's next? Amid all the talk about paying off the CEOs of the failed companies, you have to know that it is the folks at the bottom of the pile who are going to end up paying the bills in the end. Over to Abba:

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad

Amid all the talk about the end of capitalism, or, at least, unfettered capitalism, perhaps it is worthwhile to remember that not all people are out for the quick buck. 

Yesterday Paul Newman died. An accomplished actor, no mean racing driver (so an instant star to me!), and someone who never let his fame rule him. Along with his huge star power, his hard work and many talents, Paul Newman channeled the profits from his food company, Newman's Own, to charitable works. Over the years providing $220m and also setting up a group to promote philanthropy amongst CEOs. A great example for us.

Dealing with money

One of the encounters depicted in the gospels that still has extraordinary power is of Jesus talking with the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-30). When thinking about the encounter Jesus had with the wealthy young man perhaps we are struck by the extraordinary demand that Jesus makes on the young man? The young man knows the law and commandments having been taught them from childhood, and yet Jesus asks him to give everything up, all his wealth and riches. Is it for the sake of the poor who will be assisted by these riches? Well, for sure, it will help them out, but that isn't all of it. Is it because being rich is somehow sinful in and of itself? Certainly great wealth can lead to great power which can be deeply corrupting, but that is not it.

Mark Peatman wonders if it is not more because the freedom from all that money will release the rich young man to be who he could be. Mark, a fellow blogger, pondered the question after watching an episode of Secret Millionaires, a show I have not seen though some of us chatted about it at Living the Questions on Sunday night. Apparently in the show millionaires shed all the trappings of their wealth and go to live in a community that may be financially impoverished. One of the millionaires spent time in the East end of Glasgow. It was a transforming experience.

When you are rich all people see is your wealth and money, the relationships they want with you are all related to what you can do for them. Freed from that wealth, people just see you, the person you are. Friendships that are formed are more honest, more natural. Perhaps Jesus wanted to help that rich young man to find real relationships with others in just such a way?

How does this relate to Wall Street or the London Stock Exchange? Even as the financial world starts tanking, there are still some things that are even more important.

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