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Letters: God, the dispossessed and economic indicators

Larry Elliott’s article (We’ve been warned: the system is ready to blow, 15 August) would have made an appropriate circular letter to have been read in all churches, but particularly in the stockbroker, banking and parliamentary areas of the south-east. Economists are expected to provide sound analysis of the financial crisis, but Elliott is stating unequivocally what church leaders should be saying regarding the concomitant social consequences of the immoral actions of many in the financial sector.

The Christian gospels show a predominant concern for the poor, dispossessed and exploited, along with a relentless condemnation of the indifference of the rich and powerful who appear to be placed outside the Kingdom of God. Few Christians seem to be aware that the earliest Christian communities shared all their possessions in common and drew out according to need. The extent to which that example can be a blueprint for modern society is an open question, but the principle is clear and what happens in the City cannot be separated from what has happened in Tottenham and elsewhere. Surely, singing hymns on Sunday should have some influence on decisions made on Monday?

Rev Dr Gerald Paisey

Uphall, West Lothian

• I trust that Professor David Voas’s proposed study on secular societies’ substitutes for religion (Letters, 16 August) will not just look at how such substitutes regulate behaviour and promote civic virtue. It would be worth looking at what sources of hope the secular substitutes provide that can encourage people to work for good.

Those of us who believe in a supreme being who is perfectly good have every reason to hope that bad situations can be turned around. That hope is a powerful motivator for action, and a sustainer when results don’t come quickly. What is the secular substitute?

Rev Dr Moira Biggins

Derby

• In 1964 – the first election I can remember – we were told that the balance of payments was the key issue. Get that right and everything else would fall into place. Since then the “key economic indicators” have been: the value of the pound, the level of unemployment, inflation, the “bank rate”, the money supply, the national deficit, interest rates, the level of public spending and the FTSE index. Get that right and everything else will follow. We are now told that the real issue is the credit ratings of individual nations. I suspect that most of us had never heard of these ratings six months ago, never mind that they were so important. Moreover, unlike the other indicators, they are judgments – not facts – handed down by the same people who caused the credit crunch in the first place. I’m reliably informed that if you laid all the economists in the world end to end that would be a very good idea indeed.

Pete Cresswell

Liverpool

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