A new Church of Scotland report will call for a radical reassessment of the purposes of economic activity which puts the interests of the poor first.
Written against a background of debate and unrest, a special Church inquiry has been considering the modern economy and the social and moral vision that underpins economics. The report has been produced by a commission of experts and leading thinkers called together by the Church of Scotland, and which is issuing a clear and urgent call to change our social and economic life. The report has four main priorities that it sees as being fundamental for a just and ethical economics system:
- Reducing inequality, as there is now compelling evidence that more equal societies have better well-being, better health and stronger social cohesion.
- Ending poverty, for the shame of poverty, at home and overseas, is the greatest moral issue of our time.
- Ensuring sustainability, in our globalised world there is an imperative to understand and act on issues of environmental sustainability.
- Promoting mutuality, because economic relationships do not sit apart from human relationships. Wealth creation at the expense of others’ well-being is destructive and inhuman.
Right Reverend David Arnott, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, will present a copy of an interim report during his visit to the Scottish Parliament offering MSPs and others a final opportunity to make comment before the final version goes before the General Assembly in May.
Mr Arnott said: “Economics is not, and can never be, a morally neutral or ethics free zone. Humanity does not exist for the market but the market for humanity. Any morally legitimate vision of economics and economic activity, whether domestic or international, must be a vision of social economics, embedded in a vision of society which respects and values the needs and contributions of all its members”.
The Church of Scotland has long argued for and championed those affected by poverty, whether it is in low-income families or priority areas within society. Since becoming Convener of the Church and Society Council, Reverend Ian Galloway, has said that making poverty history is the “central moral challenge of our generation. The eradication of poverty cannot remain a job for the powerful must become a calling for us all.”
The Commission has been chaired by Professor Charles Munn OBE, former Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland. The other 12 Commissioners have been selected from a range of backgrounds, with expertise in many spheres including politics, business and theology and which has included people who have had a direct personal experience of life in poverty.
Prof Munn said: “The Special Commission has spent the last two years consulting widely, exploring the fundamental ethical and moral questions underlying economic activity. The credit crunch has been a wake-up call. We cannot just go back to business as usual, and the need to take a proper look at what we are doing with economics has become more rather than less relevant. The question of economics is never far from the top of the agenda. Some in our society are making huge financial gains, while for too many this winter the stark choice is whether to heat or to eat, as they cannot afford to every day.”
With thanks to the Church of Scotland