Unfair Trade

(This article appeared on the blog PeoplePlanetProphet on 1 November 2014) Christians of all stripes should be concerned about the proposed free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US). In the book of Exodus we read of the Israelites’ suffering at the hands of Pharaoh, especially when Moses began agitating for their freedom. Pharaoh suddenly decreed that the Hebrew workforce had to produce the same amount of bricks as they had previously but without straw being provided. What had been a difficult task quickly became a torturous one. Continue reading

What did Mrs Thatcher ever do for us?

‘She saved the country’. This was just some of the hyperbole evoked by David Cameron following the passing of Margaret Thatcher last month. Well I’m sorry, Mr Cameron, I must have missed that! Mrs Thatcher is largely remembered in Northern Ireland for her misjudged response to the hunger strike and for the much reviled Anglo Irish Agreement, which some now say paved the way for the eventual success of the Good Friday Agreement. But her economic legacy in Northern Ireland has been largely overlooked. Unfortunately, it was even less successful than her political interventions. Continue reading

Horsegate – My Confession

The horseburger scandal started in Ireland and as a meat-eating Irishman I need to confess that I am at least partly responsible. The drama unfolded when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland tested a range of ready meals and beefburgers from a number of supermarkets. These DNA tests found that there was pig meat in 85 per cent of the ‘beef’-burgers and horse meat in 33 per cent. The web of contamination quickly grew to Northern Ireland, England, Holland, France, Romania and it continues to grow . . . Continue reading

2011 Catherwood Lecture: Money, Magic, Greed and the Power of Illusions

Money, Magic, Greed and the Power of Illusions:

A Christian Critique of our time

The 2011 Catherwood Lecture was given by Bob Goudzwaard on 1 December 2011. Economics is a major issue of our time. The economic system operates at an international level. Each one of us is also part of the system as consumers or investors. As Christians we should be actively considering one of the most pervasive aspects of our world. Bob Goudzwaard brought a Christian critique of our current economic situation. Philip McDonagh, a local economist with over 30 years experience and currently a Charity Commissioner, gave a response to Bob's lecture from the local perspective. Click below to hear the lecture and the response: The text of the lecture can be downloaded by clicking here: Catherwood_2011_text   Bob Goudzwaard is professor emeritus at the Free University in Amsterdam. He was elected to the Dutch Parliament in the 1970s and served for a time in a Christian policy research institute in The Hague. He is the author of numerous books including ‘Idols of Our Time’, ‘Capitalism and Progress’ and ‘Hope in Troubled Times'.

‘It’s the economy, so it is.’

For many years Bill Clinton's dictum ‘it’s the economy stupid’ was superseded in local politics by ‘it’s the constitution stupid’. The constitutional question in large part determined which party a voter chose. Thankfully that issue seems to have been settled, at least for the time being, and the economy is now assuming centre stage. While Labour and Conservative argue over whether British society is broken there is general agreement that the economy is broken. Signs are that it may be precariously balanced on the verge of recovery but we are warned there will be hard times ahead. Continue reading

The Beast In Our Midst

In 2004 I was one of the representatives of  the Presbyterian Church in Ireland at the 24th General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Accra, Ghana. The Council felt a new confession of faith was necessary in the context of what was described as “neo liberal markets.” The Accra confession “rejected the culture of rampant consumerism and the competitive greed and selfishness of the neoliberal global market system, or any other system, which claims there is no alternative.” (See: The Accra Confession) Continue reading