Well meaning liberals are discussing economic fairness, fraud and tax on Newsnight as I write and getting no where, so I’d like to pitch in my tuppence-ha’penny’s worth to the debate.
It’s been a few weeks since the vicar’s wife and I had our car wheel-clamped and towed away within an hour of parking it, at the cost of £390 in cash, plus a taxi and new set of wheel trims. The company that ripped us off, Midway Parks, has earned a reputation in the courts for entrapment and over exuberant clamping. One wonders why the SIA continues to licence them. It’s a bit smelly, when owner Walton Wilkins, has boasted about earning £10 million from his business and has allegedly not settled court claims against him.
The sense of injustice at the system reminded me of life in Malaysia, where corruption is endemic, though petty in comparison to reports of other nations. Suffering corruption is debilitating. People ask, why bother working had if what I earn is only going to be lost to people in positions of power who extort it from me? For example, we were asked in Malaysia to pay “coffee money” to have our shipment of personal goods pass through customs without being opened and checked. We didn’t pay. Police were well known for settling traffic offences out of court. Immigration had fees which agents built-in to make sure work visas were granted. These small time acts of corruption cause the same sort resentment that we felt at the wheel clamping company and it is debilitating.
The same sort of feeling has enslaved Greece and is spreading in Britain as our bankers and company execs seem to think it reasonable to cream-off person fortunes from the savings and investments of everyone else. Why bother working or saving if all it does is make a few people incredibly wealthy? Walton Wilkins has made his money in much the same way as corporate fat cats have, working within the letter of the law, whilst disregarding the effect of their wealth making on others.
When the prophet Samuel’s sons went off the rails, their sins included dishonest gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice. (1 Samuel 8:3). It is not surprising that under the rule of these corrupt men the elders of Israel insisted on a change of ruler, someone who they could trust, a king.
Later in Israel’s history, Ezekiel spoke the word of God against the kings and rulers of Israel; “men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezekiel 22:12)
There’s the root of the problem. When we forget God, corruption flourishes and economies suffer.