plenty good room

Major political parties all focus on the backwards philosophy of ‘economic growth’ (described by ecological writer Satish Kumar as ‘buy, buy then throw away’). We are a finite planet, and we can’t keep making stuff that we can’t get rid of to buy new things, just to make shareholders happy. We have catastrophic climate change heading our way (already seen recently with wildfires and heatwaves), yet vested interests means MPs still bang on about reducing climate rules, to help get their seats elected next time. Also read how a basic income could end poverty.

All the main parties are pretty uninspiring, and as none of the big parties want fair votes, it will take a big movement to get some different parties in (the reason they don’t want it). The Green Party has some good policies, but even they are obsessed with Green New Deals, rather than protecting nature and living simply. In fact, the most powerful way we can make change is to collectively buy less, do less and this in turn will ‘make the big fall’ to make line for something else. MPs can force us to do a lot of things by law – but they can’t force us to live consumerist lives and buy crap, to suit them!

Plenty Good Room is a book on how we can create an economy of enough for everyone. Despite the image of right-wing politics being for more conservative and often Catholic voters and politicians, in fact leaving the poor to suffer is against the very nature of who Jesus was all about. The book lays out in clear terms, a more hopeful approach for a western world ravaged by caplitalism. If economic inequality and racial injustice (not to mention harm to the planet and animal welfare) compel you to do something to change things, here are solutions for economic systems that offer plenty good room – not just for a few, but for all.

Economic inequality these days yawns as wide as ever. Capitalism has resulted in huge uneven balance of power, and ends up limiting imaginations and constraining life choices. It also harms the most vulnerable in society, who are often the most caring, like people looking after relatives on low incomes. The end result is that owners and investors win, but others don’t. What if we could become moral engineers who co-create the world we all deserve?

In this book, find answers from a faith-based political scientist, who is former director of the institute founded by Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The author mounts a challenge to endless growth, greed and profit surrounding us, and looks back to when communities have sufficient resources and beauty. Drawing on research, case studies and theology, he offers solutions like public banks and community land trusts. Author Rev. Andrew Wilkes is co-pastor of a church in Brooklyn and former director of the Drum Major Institute (a community action group). A graduate of Hampton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, he is also a graduate of political science.

the Biblical version of Sabbath economics

Sabbath economics

Sabbath Economics offers a vision of a world where we live with gratitude and accept our limits, and forgiveness is not just a spiritual matter, but a practical reality for systems of debt and ownership. This concise powerful collection of essays grasps the nettle of Biblical stories and parables we prefer not to take literally, revealing an ancient standard of social justice waiting to be revived. Ched Myers is an activist theologian who has worked in social change movements for almost 40 years. With a degree in New Testament studies, he is popular educator on faith-based peace and justice.

You don’t have to be religious to realise that Sabbath economics makes sense. It’s influenced by stories from the Bible, knowing that our world has enough for everyone (we waste three times more food each year than is needed to feed all the world’s hungry) and if we live within our limits, there won’t be the huge disparity between rich and poor. Consider companies not protecting the (often very poor) residents of Grenfell Tower, which lies in one of the most affluent areas on earth, with billionaire mansions nearby. ‘Forgiveness of debt’ is also a Biblical principle.

If you think that religion does not care about the poor, this is not true, it’s more ‘religious politicians’ that pretend to care, then bring in laws that often kick the poor and disabled and vulnerable further down the rungs of the ladder, so it’s harder for them to get up. Nearly all the government cabinet are millionaires, yet often actually vote to cut benefits for the poorest in society (and often the disabled). And yet some  promote themselves to be of deep faith. We can all assume that Jesus Christ would not have voted to cut benefits for the most vulnerable in society, especially in order to ‘keep inflation low’ or use money saved to buy weapons.

A few years back, 70 ‘leading Catholics’ actually wrote to Iain Duncan Smith, asking him to rewrite policies to be more in line with Christian values, as Tory policies were having devastating effects on the poor. It was also discovered that the Department of Work & Pensions were actually publishing fake testimonies of claimants ‘enjoying their benefits cuts, yet in the 3 years during that time, almost 3000 people died just after ‘work capability assessments’ declared them fit to work’. The controversy was found when readers noted a ‘fake claimant’ happily relaxed after ‘losing 2 weeks benefit’ for not completing a CV in time to find work. People on low incomes noted that losing 2 weeks benefit would likely result in people not being able to eat (taking months to get back to where they were). Proving that those in power have no idea, how people on the bottom of the financial rungs struggle.

The issue is often that government is so focused on creating tax cuts for people who are better off, that benefits are then squeezed.  It’s believed that if the Chancellor uses windfalls to cut tax for the well-off rather than helping those who have been squeezed already with benefit cuts, the so-called ‘Red Wall’ Tory MPs will all revert back to Labour or Lib Dem at the next election.

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