Friday 29th of August 2014

the greed of the easter piggy...

easter piggy

Where do Easter and business intersect? Well, what about at greed.

According to Dr Brian Rosner, principal of Ridley Melbourne, an Anglican theological college, greed has been glamorised by the market economy and is a forgotten sin.

Maybe it's this that allows those Christians who are business people, economists and politicians to share their colleagues' commitment to unending economic growth and an ever-rising material standard of living.

In his book, Beyond Greed, Rosner defines greed as ''wanting more money and possessions'', a refusal to share your possessions and ''the opposite of contentment''.

Greed has always been with us, and insatiability isn't unique to modern Western civilisation, but we're certainly giving it a workout. To us, money is the simplest measure of whether you're winning at the game of life.

But what is unique to our age, according to another author, is the cultural acceptance, even encouragement of insatiability. A survey of regular churchgoers in America found that whereas almost 90 per cent said greed was a sin, fewer than 20 per cent said they were ever taught that wanting a lot of money was wrong, and 80 per cent said they wished they had more money than they did.

It seems that, by comparison with the past, greed is regarded as a trivial sin. A retired priest has recounted that, in his long years of service, all kinds of sins and concerns were confessed to him in the confessional, but never once the sin of greed.

But Rosner's having none of that. He says greed is at the heart of three major threats to our existence as individuals and societies: pollution, terrorism and crime.

Pollution is caused by human unwillingness to pay the price for the cleaner alternative (ain't that the truth, Tony). ''On any reckoning, climatic change due to the effects of pollution could cause major 'natural' disasters in the days to come,'' he says.

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the delayed revolution result...


PARIS — Thomas Piketty turned 18 in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, so he was spared the tortured, decades-long French intellectual debate about the virtues and vices of communism. Even more telling, he remembers, was a trip he took with a close friend to Romania in early 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet empire.

“This sort of vaccinated me for life against lazy, anticapitalist rhetoric, because when you see these empty shops, you see these people queuing for nothing in the street,” he said, “it became clear to me that we need private property and market institutions, not just for economic efficiency but for personal freedom.”


But his disenchantment with communism doesn’t mean that Mr. Piketty has turned his back on the intellectual heritage of Karl Marx, who sought to explain the “iron laws” of capitalism. Like Marx, he is fiercely critical of the economic and social inequalities that untrammeled capitalism produces — and, he concludes, will continue to worsen. “I belong to a generation that never had any temptation with the Communist Party; I was too young for that,” Mr. Piketty said, in a long interview in his small, airless office here at the Paris School of Economics. “So it’s easier in a way to reopen these big issues about capitalism and inequality with a fresh eye, because I was too young for that fight. I don’t have to justify myself as being pro-communist or pro-capitalist.”

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Please read also: greed on credit ..... and Do not sneeze... and the santamaria-zation of australia...

christ & marx were bedfellows until christians took over...


It's time for the right to stop tarnishing Christianity's image



It's the burden of Australian faith communities to see that those most loudly trying to politicise their religious identity are those acting with the least selflessness or humanity

I am a person of faith, which is apparently surprising to those who believe that having a margin-noted, dog-eared copy of Marx's Capital Volume 1 obliges one to throw a celebratory party every time Richard Dawkins releases wind. Those who wish to believe that anti-materialist, collectivist politics necessitate a complete abrogation of theism may with to consider that Jesus Christ was, well, an anti-materialist collectivist who was also rather involved in a bit of worship-based religious practice.

Similarly, considering yourself the source of determinative morality in a universe without God doesn't necessarily mean you're rocking a progressive lefty world view. Any rational adult should know that professed belief, lack of it, existential confusion, attendance at meeting, mass, mosque or meandering about the Melbourne laneways is no guarantee of morally unquestionable behaviour, let alone a right-on kind of politics.

In other words, good people can do bad things, bad people can manage absolutely appalling things, and it's unfortunate for anyone trying to live morally when spiritual belief (or non-belief) is invoked as justification for something that damages other people.

The Easter festival is a time of year when the world's Christian believers are supposed to take some time out to engage in ritual and contemplation around the moral lesson of selflessness versus self-interest. It commemorates Jesus Christ marching himself as an innocent man to his own unjust execution to make the point that the sacrifice of the self to meet the needs of a greater (sometimes ungrateful) humanity is what brings both humanity and the self "eternal life". Contrast his example to that of his betrayer, Judas Iscariot, who may have personally made 30 pieces of silver on the denouncing Jesus deal, but later realised he'd traded true wealth for money. In the abject grief of this realisation, he threw his silver away and hung himself.

see also: the santamaria-zation of australia...

new economic mantra spreading like wild fire...


“Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the new book by the French economist Thomas Piketty, is a bona fide phenomenon. Other books on economics have been best sellers, but Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t. And conservatives are terrified. Thus James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute warns in National Review that Mr. Piketty’s work must be refuted, because otherwise it “will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged.”

Well, good luck with that. The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty’s thesis. Instead, the response has been all about name-calling — in particular, claims that Mr. Piketty is a Marxist, and so is anyone who considers inequality of income and wealth an important issue.

I’ll come back to the name-calling in a moment. First, let’s talk about why “Capital” is having such an impact.

Mr. Piketty is hardly the first economist to point out that we are experiencing a sharp rise in inequality, or even to emphasize the contrast between slow income growth for most of the population and soaring incomes at the top. It’s true that Mr. Piketty and his colleagues have added a great deal of historical depth to our knowledge, demonstrating that we really are living in a new Gilded Age. But we’ve known that for a while.

No, what’s really new about “Capital” is the way it demolishes that most cherished of conservative myths, the insistence that we’re living in a meritocracy in which great wealth is earned and deserved.

For the past couple of decades, the conservative response to attempts to make soaring incomes at the top into a political issue has involved two lines of defense: first, denial that the rich are actually doing as well and the rest as badly as they are, but when denial fails, claims that those soaring incomes at the top are a justified reward for services rendered. Don’t call them the 1 percent, or the wealthy; call them “job creators.”

But how do you make that defense if the rich derive much of their income not from the work they do but from the assets they own? And what if great wealth comes increasingly not from enterprise but from inheritance?

What Mr. Piketty shows is that these are not idle questions. Western societies before World War I were indeed dominated by an oligarchy of inherited wealth — and his book makes a compelling case that we’re well on our way back toward that state.

So what’s a conservative, fearing that this diagnosis might be used to justify higher taxes on the wealthy, to do? He could try to refute Mr. Piketty in a substantive way, but, so far, I’ve seen no sign of that happening. Instead, as I said, it has been all about name-calling.

I guess this shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve been involved in debates over inequality for more than two decades, and have yet to see conservative “experts” manage to dispute the numbers without tripping over their own intellectual shoelaces. Why, it’s almost as if the facts are fundamentally not on their side. At the same time, red-baiting anyone who questions any aspect of free-market dogma has been standard right-wing operating procedure ever since the likes of William F. Buckley tried to block the teaching of Keynesian economics, not by showing that it was wrong, but by denouncing it as “collectivist.”

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Meanwhile David Brooks pans the book with a heavy feather... claiming at the end "When it comes to cultural analysis, I, like Piketty, am quasi-Marxist."


Gus: the "reality" of all this is that the derivative market should be taxed a bit better if it is ever taxed... For example in order to cool this gambling thingster a bit, I propose a 10 per cent tax on gross gains and a one per cent tax on gross losses. This would make the betting and edging a bit less gamboling and the money could then be put to useful "investments" into equity of social value, including protection of the environment... Imagine a market of derivative worth 1500 trillion presently, the taxes from the to-ing and fro-ing from gains and losses would pay for the moon...


One fellow who wrote something (published in 1998) a bit similar to Piketty's was our own Latham. Latham's work was, I believe, far "drier" that Piketty's... Mark Latham being also a politician at the time did not mince his words and became a bit "offensive" to some people who liked their cosy little space in all sphere of politics... A few noses were put out of joint until Latham's own nose was punched, politically speaking that is... One, especially a few old Labor horses, did not like a young upstart telling them how to run a revolution, when all they wanted to do by then was smoke a pipe, stay at home-sweet-home with their slippers on and from time to time go to a local pub for a "political" meeting where allegiances would be reinforced and "stuff the royals" sounded hollow.