Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pass the Salt

An extract from Gordon Browns Guardian interview today
…private and public worlds have both shown themselves to be irresponsible. “The public realm and the free market realm are subject to inherent weaknesses that have got to be underpinned by having shared values that lead to shared rules,” he says, in some version, many times. Values, values, values, rules, rules, rules.

What are our ’shared values’? Hmmmm

- The expenses scandal rumbles on, latest allegation is that 50 MP’s claimed more for council tax than they were actually billed. The only 2 MPs to have quit parliament are the Speaker and a Labour chap who was set up by his own party.
Shared values: greed, secrecy, taking the public for fools, newspaper sales, censorship, troughing, pride, corruption.

- Formula 1 teams are threatening a breakaway because Max Mosley won’t allow them to spend as much as they want to. They’re portraying themselves as righteous but wronged. One of these teams was penalised for cheating earlier in the year, another accused of spying a couple of years ago.
Shared values: greed, sex, power, global warming, deceit, testosterone.

- Setanta Sports is running out of cash, and it looks like their arms race with Sky will be a short one. Riding the avalanche of cash which has stolen the soul of football are folk like Ronaldo, now the most expensive player in the world. After a season of protestations of loyalty to Man U, one of the games most notorious divers has followed the money.
Shared values: greed, winking, cheating, lying, devil take the hindmost, market share. Someone mumbled something about the ‘beautiful game’ but I couldn’t see it for the size of the price tag.

- As unemployment surges past 2 million, RBS’s Fred Goodwin has finally agreed to reduce his pension, under threat of legal action. He’s accepted a £3.7m increase in his pension pot, instead of the original £8.2m, having already pocketed a 7 figure lump sum.
Shared values: whatever I can get away with, greed, inequality, rewarding failure.

- The global total of ‘undernourished’ people has hit 1 billion for the first time, in the wake of the global financial crisis. There is still enough wealth to go round, but it’s not going round. Rich nations have defaulted on their commitments on debt and aid, as they have on commitments to reduce carbon emissions, a failure which will hit the poorest most. The rules favour the rich: for example rich nations have pre-ordered swine flu vaccines, whilst poorer nations can’t afford to.
Shared values: greed, global warming, death, out of sight out of mind, selfishness, consumer capitalism.

Basically if you have the money, you can set the rules. I’m struggling to think of a single area of life where the rules are set by those with the least power. Help me out here?

Brown is right: unless there is an alternative set of values to ‘all of the above’, the rules will continue to favour the immoral.

We had to chuck some bread the other day which had gone mouldy in the warmer weather. Before fridges and chemicals, salt was the most common preservative, and Jesus once told his followers to be the ’salt of the earth’. Of the two opposing forces, decay and preservation, decay is the natural state (see above). It requires an active choice to be a force of health and preservation. There is a sour taste of decay about the stories above, someone please pass the salt.

This is a cross post from Touching Base, my regular column on the Wardman Wire.

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