Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Modern Secular Capitalism

A Diet of Darwinian Dogs

All human actions are grounded in ethics, one way or the other.  There is no such thing as an amoral act or deed.  Christianity declares to the world the doctrine of the ubiquity of ethics.  This is a message that does not sit well with Unbelief.  Ever since the Fall men have been trying to wriggle out of being pinned to the wall and having to account by spiting out all the butt ends of their days and ways. 

One stratagem has been to claim vast realms of amorality where ethics and morality are deemed not to apply. But the Word of God is unequivocal: all things lie bare and exposed before the eyes of Him with Whom we have to deal (Hebrews 4:13).  What is done in the darkness will be proclaimed in the light.  Unbelief recoils at these truths.  It would assert that there are enormous swathes of human action which are so unimportant that they are sub-ethical.  It would claim, on  the other hand, that some things are so vast and big that "ordinary" ethics do not apply.  And when it comes to oneself, Unbelief asserts a host of mitigating circumstances and rationalisations to explain away any wrong doing, whilst deflecting blame on to others, or to circumstances. 

The dismal science of macro-economics is one example of a "big area" deemed too important to be subject to ethics.
  Yet most of the economic problems with which Western nations are now confronted exist because governments and market participants have refused to acknowledge the relevance and reign of ethics.  The "solutions" to our problems are similarly devoid of any hint of repentance, or admissions of guilt.  There is a slew of blameshifting, but not confession.  The solutions will likewise fail.  God is not mocked. 

Here are just a few examples.  If a lending institution (a bank or mortgage company) lent to a borrower who could not possibly service the loan, let alone repay the principle, the transaction would be irresponsible, reckless, and unethical.  It would be morally wrong.  Such deals were done, of course, with the implicit, and often explicit, promise that perpetual, relentless capital gains of housing would "make everything right".  It was a form of fraud and deceit.  "Informed consent" is a meaningless concept in such transactions.  One appropriate consequence of such immoral behaviour might be for the courts to order such loans to be written off in total, with no recourse to the security of the borrower's property. 

Secondly, the Bible's social ethical frame presumes an imbalance of power between a lender and a borrower, such that failure of the borrower to service or repay a loan should result in a legal bias in favour of the indebted.  The powerful have a duty of care.  It is not just the amoral dog eat dog "ethic" of social Darwinism which Unbelief propounds.

Thirdly, institutions which should have known better and which should have had adequate capital reserves to more than cover extreme contingencies such as occurred in 2008-11, must be held accountable morally, civilly, and criminally.  They must face the consequences of their recklessness--liquidation, prosecution, takeover, and so forth.  If a seller of securities fails to have sufficient capital to meet its obligations, it is trading in a manner that is implicitly fraudulent, technically insolvent.  Directors of ordinary companies can go to prison for such recklessness and fraud.  Investment banks want to be put into a different category of accountability from traditional banks, suggesting that normal ethical and legal principles don't apply to them. 

Fourthly, if governments and government agencies act in a manner which convey implicit guarantees, leading to foolish behaviour on the part of non-government actors, with the presumed cloak of low-risk government security, both politicians and government officials ought to be held criminally liable.  If politicians, for example, push lending institutions into high risk, low security house lending to minority groups or low-social economic constituencies in the interests of "fairness" and "non-discrimination" (as they did) such politicians and complicit government agencies should be criminally liable for charges of  bribery and corruption. 

These infractions largely remain untouched.  Saving the system and making it solvent again have become the prime focus.  Consequently, crises will recur.  Amoral Darwinian capitalism is doomed to destruction and collapse.  Take away the moral foundations of an economic transaction and fiduciary care evaporates.  Reckless greed and irrational panic mushroom forth.  Dogs eat dogs.    

God requires doing what is right, before personal gain.  Any economic system not built upon such His transcendent ethical requirements will fail, modern Western capitalism most definitely notwithstanding. 

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