Inequality or poverty?


In a blatant political intervention ahead of the General Election, the Church of England has published a paper on the economy, “On Rock or Sand?”, which carries clear echoes of its “Faith in the City” thirty years ago — described by one commentator as “pure Marxism”.

This comes from the top of the organisation, with endorsement from Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu, who largely contributed to the essays in the paper.  They inveigh against the inequalities in our society.

This however is not simply the view of the Church of England.  It is also the view of the Catholic Church, or at least the Pope.  Pope Francis has called inequality “Sin”.  I am at a loss to find any statement in the Bible that characterises inequality as sin — though it clearly regards helping the poor as a virtue.  Our Lord said “the poor ye have with you always”.  Clearly He was not supporting or endorsing poverty — but he was recognising what he took to be an economic reality.

Sadly I conclude that senior Churchmen are as economically illiterate as the Labour Party which they tacitly endorse.  And Archbishop Welby at least has no excuse, given his experience in industry.

Poverty is not a sin.  But it is a bad thing, and it is a duty of politicians as far as possible to relieve poverty.  But (in very broad terms) there are two approaches to the question of relieving poverty.  The socialist approach is to take money from the better-off and give it to the poor.  The approach of liberal economics (liberal in the classical sense rather than the Clegg sense) is to create opportunities.  It is a cliché — but nonetheless true — that work, and a wage packet, are the best way out of poverty, and that in a growing and successful economy, more jobs are created and fewer people are poor.

The socialist approach has been tried in many different ways and many countries over the last century, and almost inevitably it leads to more poverty.  It may be an exaggeration to say that the only kind of equality we can achieve in human societies is equality of misery — but it’s a generalisation with a large degree of truth.  Of course there are always exceptions.  Even under communism the people’s Commissars seemed to do well.  Almost as well as European Commissioners.

If we start from the stand-point that we need jobs and growth, then we need investors and entrepreneurs and technical innovators.  These people have a value.  And in today’s global economy they are highly mobile.  The can create jobs in Britain.  Or they can create jobs elsewhere around the world.  We are already driving them away with high energy costs, and over-regulation, and an education system failing to produce capable and motivated workers.  If we hang up a sign saying “High taxes and limits to earnings and achievement”, they will quite rightly go elsewhere.

The Church is simply backing the wrong solution, and they have no basis in theology for doing so.  Yes, we should all be concerned to deal with poverty, but the “obvious” leftist solution of caning the rich to reduce inequality is simply the wrong approach.  Poverty bad: inequality not necessarily so.

But credit where it is due, on another issue.  Archbishop John Sentamu reportedly said that “Of course immigration in Britain needs to be controlled”.   Well said Sir.  Exactly UKIP’s policy.  We’re glad of your endorsement.

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22 Responses to Inequality or poverty?

  1. Ex-expat Colin says:

    CofE certainly had a good go at the less well off a short while back……WONGA. Where did it go after that?

  2. Mike Stallard says:

    I have not bothered to read the report.
    I left the CofE partly because of the growing bureaucracy. There seemed to be more people in the Diocesan Office than in the ministry. Now I notice that with all the priests drying up, the number of Bishops is growing very fast.
    I can see that an organisation like that favours the Labour Party. Big organisation working for itself at the expense of a shrinking number of people paying up to support it. I am afraid that the Conservatives, for all their words, have not been cutting back quickly enough. Yes, they have done a bit. But the debt has been skyrocketing
    We need a shake up. We need to start doing things for ourselves without the help of big government: that is exactly what you will find in the New Testament from the Good Samaritan through to the Immaculate Conception.
    Worship God, not the State! For one thing, it is much cheaper. For another, it is a lot more fun.

  3. Philip Rock says:

    If ‘equality’ was NATURAL we would not need to strive for it:
    Striving for equality is good, but imposition of equality is evil. (Think USSR.)
    There always seems to be a danger in the churches (pl.) that matches the danger in the ‘Greens’, as in ‘Green Party’, and it is the latent inherent fascism: that impulse to introduce a ‘final solution’ that usurps all other possibilities including the natural and which, among other things, is always ANTI-NATURAL in the extreme.
    I would venture to propose that the churches would do well to venture into thinking about nature, God’s environment, with a regard to respecting it, working with it, and not trying to completely overrule it.
    Let’s try to introduce the churches and, even, the Greens, to ‘moderation’.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    “Juncker has made it crystal clear there will be no change to the EU doctrine of free movement and mass immigration,” he said. “We want an amicable divorce and a trading relationship to follow.”


  5. Ian Terry says:

    Any organisation that can sit back and watch the numbers attending food banks increasing, millions in fuel debt and poverty, more beggers on our streets and sleeping rough really should be having a time out and start asking a few relevent questions like Why, What. How, When, Where and Who. It is not rocket science it is just a basic process used in industry and management.

    It is total hypocrisy and our present lot of politicians and senior church leaders ignore the situation and do nothing that will really address the real hard facts of life that are facing us. Then shoch horror we have unrest on the streets and in the churches and mosques.

    The life blood of this country is manufacturing, industry and exports. Then we have the service and banking sectors. We have to become competitive and that can only be done by creating real jobs underpinned with cheap energy. It is the elephant in the room without it we cannot go forward.

    In the Times today Labour is even more committed to onshore wind generation.

    Time to pack the suitcases and leave this country to its fate.

    No pressure then Roger on your party?

  6. Katie says:

    Totally agree with Ian here. Fuel poverty is on the increase and industry is feeling the pinch because of the high costs incurred in this country. Why is Banki moon talking about global warming when he should be talking about the Syrian refugee crisis which could in turn affect the UK? With masses of refugees making for Calais and the French still bending over backwards to accommodate them, where will most of them end up????? Yes, the UK. More pressure on jobs the NHS, housing, schools etc. Labour wants more subsidised energy and we are the mugs who have to pay it. £8m was paid to Scottish wind farms to TURN OFF last year alone. Who is paying for this nonsense? Yes, you and I. Poverty is on the increase because of our stupid politicians who seem to know no better.

  7. Peter Palmer says:

    Equality is usually bad. What is needed is fairness. Once you accept that everyone is unique you have to accept that not all are equal. Some will contribute more, achieve more, earn more in any society.

  8. Richard111 says:

    Many years ago working as a contractor I visited an establishment that bred white rats. I was fascinated to find that the population in each hutch had to be carefully limited. If the population went too high the rats became anxious and fretful and began killing each other.
    I suspect this is a genetic trait which is also in the human genome.
    Interesting times ahead folks.

  9. David says:

    To be fair to Welby, his essay was written 8 or 9 months ago in a different context, so he may be less than chuffed that it has been dragged into contoversy just before an election.

    The Archbishop of York, probably lives quite comfortably, so what’s he doing to eliminate poverty, apart from making waves?

  10. Jane Davies says:

    Typical hypocrisy of religion, the Catholic church alone is dripping in wealth and could do more to help those in poverty instead it takes even more money from the poor who look up in adulation at men who parade themselves in ever more expensive gold embossed robes. You only have to look back in history to see how the church has had too much power and has used that power to manipulate past kings and queens and the government of the day, not for the common good of course but to make sure their place in robbing the citizens with threats that hell and damnation awaits them if they don’t do as ordered by whatever religion they follow, is assured. My brain has not been washed by these hypocrites, I can see them for what they are and I’m only surprised that in this day and age they still get away with spouting this garbage.

  11. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Poverty abounds…no doubt about that. However, lets get on and wreck everything we can in the name of making the planet poor in CO2 (or something like that). Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill via GWPF) provides a summary (new report) on unintended consequences to impact on the poor mostly:

    Click to access Unintended-Consequences1.pdf

    Wondered why cr*p MDF at B&Q was getting costly…

  12. catalanbrian says:

    I am no churchman but it seems to me that they have a point here. Poverty is not good for society and whilst I tend to agree that equality is also bad I think that there is room for some considerable improvement. What has happened over the last few years with this government’s austerity package is that the burden of this austerity has unfairly fallen upon those who are already poor. Those who have the fattest wallets should be expected (and indeed should expect) to shoulder a greater share of the burden. To suggest that this is unreasonable and will deter investors is fatuous and I am surprised that even UKIP believe this.

    • bumper says:

      Fancy you agreeing with left win clergy Brian. Would never have thought it.

    • Problem is, Brian, that welfare represents a huge chunk of the government’s budget. It’s tough to reduce the deficit without addressing that spending. The government can’t really cut spending on the better-off, because most of the welfare budget goes to the worse off. And before you reply “So more taxes on the better-off”, remember the Laffer Curve. We’re at the limits already. Higher taxes will not raise more revenue.

    • Brian — It is not “fatuous” to believe that high taxes deter inventment. Did you look at the large numbers of wealthy Frenchmen who came to London to avoid President Holland’s “Tax-the-Rich” initiative? It’s been demonstrated over and over again, in many countries across decades.

  13. David says:

    I cannot comment on this item as I,m laughing too much at Camerons latest promise, (remember the last rock solid promise to cut immigration to the 10,s of thousands) he has promised today to make the UK the international warehouse for jobs.

    • Katie says:

      Me too, laughing like a drain!! Not funny though but Cameron is a laughing stock with most of the electorate at the moment. Hope Nigel knocks him off his perch!

  14. brent says:

    Socialism has failed to put an effective redistribution policy in place. However the central problem of liberal economics or capitalism remains, the rich get richer. According to Oxfam the very rich will soon own 50% of the world’s resources. The rich give millions of pounds to the Conservative party to influence politics and receive a reward in the UK. Just as socialism has failed to successfully redistribute wealth, Liberal economics has failed to give equal opportunities to all.

  15. Brin Jenkins says:

    I shook the CofE dust off some years ago due to their Marxist course, and lack of moral fibre in dealing with Satanic Governance. The small Chapel we attend now is not at all like this preaching the full Gospel and rejecting the concept of same sex marriages, lies and deception.

    Gift aid is changing the perceptions of nu-Christianity, how far are boundaries to be moved before a halt is called?

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