The morality of Jersey’s finance industry has been the subject of sometimes-acrimonious debate.
Sometimes heat fails to generate light. In fact light is terribly important when one is dealing with money. What did Jesus actually mean (above – in connection with money) when he said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness”?
Is it that one needs a “healthy eye” if one is to see clearly Jersey’s finance industry? Maybe if we use a “bad eye” to examine it, our “whole body will be full of darkness.”
In context, what then is a “healthy eye”? It seems to be the eye of a person who is not laying up for himself “treasures on earth” but instead is laying up “treasures in heaven.” (In the Greek, “heaven” is ouranos meaning the sky and everything in it, i.e. the universe.)
If so it’s not surprising that so many of us can’t see anything bad or ugly about the finance industry. As Jesus said, it’s not so much that we’re serving the wrong master as attempting (it seems without success) to serve two masters at the same time – God and money. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Importantly, it’s “love” that leads us all willingly to “serve”.
One way to attempt to see more clearly is to turn to others whose eyes may have more light. One such is www.jubilee-centre.org. The Cambridge University graduates who write for this Centre have identified the bad and the ugly about Capitalism. And from there Jersey’s finance industry is not far away.
Not surprisingly, the primary thing (“the bad”) which has been seen by some as bad about Capitalism is its focus. It focuses attention on money. Money is the key element in Capitalism and all other factors are subsidiary to it. Because folk – folk who love - cannot serve two masters, folk are in love with - and serving - money. And Capitalism endorses this.
To many “the bad” doesn’t sound too bad at all. But to have no love towards God is a fearful thing....
What are the secondary things (“the ugly”) about Jersey’s Capitalism? Here are two –
· Depositors have placed over £154,000,000,000 with banks in Jersey. Because depositors expect certainty of interest, they allow the banks to on-lend and to make money for shareholders by doing so. The banks may lend at high rates of interest and may be as harsh as they please with borrowers. Depositors are free of care for lenders – unlike if they lent to borrowers living next door. The distancing of depositor-lenders from final borrowers does give rise to harsh social injustice. Ugly.
· Jersey has tens of thousands of live limited liability companies running from here. Whose liability is limited? The liability of the owners of each company; they personally are not responsible to pay the debts of their company – even when they’ve got plenty money to do so. It’s the rich who are strong. It’s the poor creditor who is weak – who suffers . Ugly.
Why are we supporting this harmful “treasures on earth” system? Why do we “love” it? Is it because we’re on the winning side?
But are we? And what about “Love your neighbor as yourself”?