Comments: Rowan Williams on St Paul's and the economy

"There is still a powerful sense around -- fair or not -- of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers ..." -- ABC Rowan Williams

"Fair or not"?!?!?
I admit up front I don't know what the British response to this crisis is, but here across the Pond, our government -- under both Democratic Party and Republican Party leadership -- has prevailed upon us taxpayers to cough up hundreds of billions (thousand millions) of dollars to offset the losses caused by the "errors and irresponsibility" of bankers and others, thus making those bankers and others financially whole, while people are losing their jobs, their homes, their businesses.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the lesson the major banks and other lending institutions learned was "Make a spectularly big enough mess, and someone will clean it up and pay for it." See also: Greece, default bailout.
Your Grace, there's no "or not" about it. Yes, there's plenty of blame to go around. But bankers and other finance types played a major role. And I see little sign of repentance, of admittance of error, of correcting bad habits, from that sector for their mistakes. Just take the taxpayers' money -- and run.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Tuesday, 1 November 2011 at 8:02pm GMT

The authoritative and impressive intervention by the Bishop of London in the St. Paul's debacle clearly shews that he is by far the best cleric to take over when Rowan goes off to be Master of Trinity College, Cambridge next year. Although, having said that, the Archbishop of York does have some camping experience when he set up his tent inside the Minster in 2006 as a public witness to encourage peace in the Middle East.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 2 November 2011 at 8:11am GMT

peterpi, I am sure you are not the only one to have picked up this temporising by the ABC. I would have thought that here was the perfect opportunity to be quite firm and straightforward about what he really feels has gone wrong. But to hedge his bets 'fair or not' echoes the whinging of the bankers who were saying a year ago that they had done enough pennance and why couldn't the just get on with their job (of making themselves lots of money and sod the rest of us) And he has again compromised his own authority, as if he is still not sure and is still wrining his hands.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 2 November 2011 at 8:57am GMT

"And he has again compromised his own authority, as if he is still not sure and is still wrining his hands."

I am amazed at the idea that the ABC has any authority left to compromise....

Posted by Doxy at Wednesday, 2 November 2011 at 12:20pm GMT

"Fair or not" also accepts that it's more complicated than to blame "the bankers". Not all of them are immoral, Governments and company managements are just as implicated, as are we when we take out loans we know we can't afford, buy products from companies that don't trade ethically etc.

There's a huge fault in the financial system itself that rewards actions that are ultimately detrimental to the economy as a whole.

Occupy is a focal point, a symptom of what's gone wrong. The anti-capitalist certainties of many occupiers themselves are quite shallow, though, and they don't do the complex problems we're facing any justice. To that extent, the criticism of Occupy is legitimate.

The answers will be as complicated and multi-faceted as the problems are, and they will have to be found by a complex alliance of people from all walks of society, industry, commerce and finance.
Simplistic "it's all their fault's" won't help.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 2 November 2011 at 2:38pm GMT

While I agree with Erika that it is a fault that is shared equally - and without getting into the predatory stance of American financiers which in fact *does* make them the chief "bad guys" - I would still maintain that, in international terms, the finance industry is a symptom of an economic illness, and, though it is vital to treat the underlying disorder, triage demands allaying the symptom, first. It's like reducing a fever before surgery, or being over a cold before receiving a flu shot.

As long as financiers allow people the chance to purchase beyond their ability, they will do so, borrowing against a future which is economically supported by . . . borrowing against an uncertain future. As long as there is this ability to borrow, prices will stay up, because people will borrow to pay it, and the basic instinct of greed drives the ambition of large corporate players. Add to that the dependence of entire nations on financiers, and you get a legislative ethos which protects the corporate interest at the expense of the individuals that make up the state, which becomes untenable as fewer and fewer have enough to keep the economy going because of massive debt which cannot be escaped.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 3 November 2011 at 6:23am GMT

I think he means: 'the bankers were not alone in pursuing a society based on greed and on survival of the fittest, and theirs was not the only group which believed that monetary gain was the chief end of life, and the environment could be plundered at will and would always recover. Others bear blame, and most of us allowed ourselves to be complicit. They are to blame, but it is not they alone who made the mess.' If he does not mean this, I do.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 3 November 2011 at 7:07am GMT
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