Why Lie?

Why Do We Demand Greater Virtue of the Poor Than the Rich?

And Jesus said, “Give to everyone who begs from you, and expect nothing in return.  Unless they bought an XBox, then screw ‘em.” – Ramsey 2:16 The most prevalent argument against programs which combat poverty is that poor people deserve to be poor because they make bad decisions. Of all these so-called bad decisions, the one that is rising to the top is that poor people buy stuff they don’t deserve. Not just pundits and talk-show hosts, but even friends and family, who I normally consider reasonable, say stuff like, “What right have they to be on government assistance? They have a TV!” Where does this vitriol come from? Why do we demand saint-like virtue of the poor? A Double-Standard Which Shows Our Own Greed No one bats an eye when a rich person throws money away on obvious excesses and luxuries. No matter how extravagant someone lives, we just say “Well, they earned it. They can do whatever they want.” But that’s not the worst part, because the most harmful thing you can do with money is nothing at all. As the wealthy hoard their money, the economy grows anemic. Even today, this is one of the biggest reasons our economy is so slow. But again, we say nothing because our culture doesn’t base virtues on their own...

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even the best of intentions…

“Maybe their hearts were in the right place. Maybe not. Either way, these are solid contenders for the title of “worst attempts at helping others since colonialism.”   So begins this article by Richard Stupart, titled “7 Worst International Aid ideas” and while you may not agree with all of them, i imagine at least everyone will have some kind of agreement that some of these ideas were not well thought out. Read the article to get the full commentary on each point, but to give you a taste of the themes, here are the ideas he lists: 1. One million t-shirts for Africa 2. TOMS Buy-One-Give-One 3. Machine gun preacher 4. 50 Cent ransoming children in Somalia 5. Donor fund restrictions 6. Making food aid the same colour as cluster munitions. 7. Making USAID a foreign policy tool Check out the complete article over here. This closing paragraph sums it up: Sometimes bad foreign aid is just the consequence of someone caring too much, but knowing too little. Other times it’s people who should have known better not being diligent in considering the consequences of their actions. And sometimes politicians and unscrupulous businessmen are simply manipulating the suffering of others for their own ends. When it’s benign or thwarted, it’s easy enough to laugh it off. But when a...

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What if this Sharing thing takes off internationally?

As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media and public, a valuable debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction.  So begins this article titled, From Sharing Cities to a Sharing World which poses some interesting and necessary discussion beginning with the conclusion that the old idea of the American dream is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. The video referenced by the article, titled ‘The High Price of Materialism’ is worth taking 5 minutes on. I especially appreciated the bigger picture look at intrinsic values it gives towards the end – we are trying to grow and introduce good and healthy habits instead of just railing against or trying to minimise the bad: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGab38pKscw] I really love the phrase that seems to have become a bit of an anthem for the movement: ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials. As this article manages to highlight a number of the exciting possibilities of taking the sharing economy across traditional borders, it does also mention and highlight some of the more obvious pitfalls and concernes. This is clearly not going to...

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a new [Russell] Brand of government?

I have never been a huge fan of comedian and actor Russell Brand and i’m not actually sure why that is, but this video clip from last night on BBC’s Newsnight show upped his rating [if only because of the plethora of long words he throws out as if he understands them all] And this is a bit of a different post from normal as it doesn’t relate directly to the FAITH meets FINANCES conversation, although i definitely think the questions it poses that are related to FINANCES [in the form of political systems and agendas] are worth considering and approaching from our FAITH perspective. But all in all it is a really interesting interview [although it feels a lot like an attack a lot of the time, but I thought Russell handled it well] so I would highly recommend you giving it a listen: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3YR4CseY9pk]   You can read the associated article here. I think the main point Russell is challenging is the acceptance of government as we know it simply because we’ve always known it to be that way. And while he doesn’t seem to be able to articulate exactly what that new system looks like it is one that: [A] looks after the planet and [B] addresses the disparity between rich and poor.  Which brings us to...

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Back on their Feet

‘We can change the direction of peoples’ lives by changing the way they see themselves.’ So says Anne Mahlum, an ordinary person who came up with an extraordinary yet so-simple idea as evidenced in this short video clip. She started the organisation ‘Back on my Feet’ which helps homeless people, through running and then later job and study opportunity creation, to literally and then figuratively get back on their feet. In the much longer, but completely worthwhile TED talk video at the bottom she tells the story of how “I realised i could help them in the way that running has helped me.” One of the first men who joined the club was a guy called Kenny Herder: ‘I walked in that shelter so depressed. I was just sad. I was down and out, I was drinking heavy at the time, and what that does to you is it fuels it. When ‘Back on my Feet’ came to the shelter that was the day my life changed. As I ran, my mind became healthier, my body became healthier. As these things become healthier. your decision-making becomes healthier…’ Anne goes on to add that Bak on my Feet’ is not about handouts, it’s about hard work.  ‘The sole measure of success is how many people have we helped get employed and housed....

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Investing well

What if we pushed pause for a second and reframed some of our questions. Instead of asking “How much do I need?”, let’s ask, “How much do I have?” Instead of wondering if investing falls in the “storing up of treasures” category, let’s consider the impact we could have with our dollars if we aligned our investments with our deeper values, our hope for creation and our participation in the restorative activity of God in our world. Let’s shift perspective on the power our resources have to effect change. Socially Responsible Investing is by no means a new concept (this video tells us what it’s all about in plain English), and has been explored and practiced by many faith-based individuals and companies. At its core, SRI focuses on sustainable, socially conscious, environmentally aware, and ethical investing. As Tom Krattenmaker puts it, “Instead of obsessing over how little we possess and how much more we need, faith- and spirit-based investment advisers urge investors to be grateful for how much they have and imagine the good they could accomplish if they invested it generously.” What becomes possible if you considered reorienting your investment strategy, perhaps even risking a reduced financial return, in “exchange for a better social...

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