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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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72 Responses to 390

  1. jonbirch says:

    my great mate rocky… http://www.markroques.com/ …says stuff like…
    if you worship an idol such as ‘market forces’ you get the caste system… and he’s right.
    the question is… how do we say no to market forces ruling over us? deciding who is valuable and who isn’t? how do we tell the world this is an idol which controls our society, deciding who is blessed and who is cursed, who is rich and who is relatively poor? how, as christians do we challenge the status quo? how do we enable people to see such idols for what they are? how will we reveal christ to them… standing in opposition to these idols… offering grace, compassion, justice and valueing the very poorest and weakest? how?

  2. Robb says:

    Firstly by not being swayed by them ourselves. [jargon warning] I think that it is hard to be ‘of the world but not in the world’. I saw the debate program on BBC1 yesterday morning* when they were debating addiction and drug laws. It was fun watching a psychologist claiming the Bill Hicks principle as her own “drugs like LSD have possitive effects increasing creativity…” – I wonder how long it will be before the BPS strike her off :lol: Sorry, my point [I do have one] is that inevitably it comes to the white middle class middle aged woman who starts of with “As a Christian… etc… and Christ…. blah blah blah”. In the end she effectively stood up and said ” me, Jesus and all other christians know nothing about this debate but we want to register our opposition to anything to do with it.” It made my blood boil.

    She said something like “Jesus first miracle was changing water into wine which was a model for temperance.” What? 120-180 gallons of wine after they have pollished off what they already had??

    It is very easy to stand in opposition to something with no understanding of it. It’s very easy to make yourself, other christians and Jesus look silly by doing that. It is much harder to take part in the debate and be informed about something whilst still being opposed to it.

    So market forces? Well this is fair trade fortnight isn’t it? Somehow I feel that even this ideal has become governed by big business. The leaflet I was handed yesterday was produced in a glossy format. The tea picker was washed and dressed in the finest clothes money could buy before the photographer went out and took a very arty shot (plenty of bokeh) of her in the field. Very artificial. I sense a brand marketing exercise has begun from its inspired ideals.

    Our lent group raised an interesting point last week when one of the members who is self employed said that he had received criticism from others in the business world for being fair trade. ‘It goes against the principles of business – to make money’. He merely said ‘to not be fair trade goes against the principles of me’.

    *I think it is mostly crap that is aimed at being controvercial. It is too easy to put a bunch of Muslims and a bunch of BNP on either side of the room each week and call it telly…

  3. steve says:

    Interesting Robb. I would also say it is very easy to SUPPORT something with no understanding of and make yourself, Jesus and other Christians look silly.

    Not sure how relevant this is but we had an interesting insight into poverty and death yesterday from one of our missionaries in Tanzania http://web.mac.com/bobhurley/The_Hurleys/Home/Home.html Bob claims that the poor people he meets are not necessarily more miserable or less content. They have less things to worry about and the things they can worry about are well out of their control. Aids? Pah! I could die of a mosquito bite tomorrow… In fact they are more open to the Gospel because death looms large.
    The answer to me is “opt out”. People notice when you don’t buy into their values.

  4. kate says:

    My question with this would be how do we ‘opt out’? I’m pretty sure I subconciously subscribe to the tenets of the Market without even realising it, even though on a consious level I abhor the message it gives. Opting out is surely a much bigger lifelong undertaking than it first appears, requiring a lot of deep observations about what I do and do not believe and want to believe, and how I do and do not behave and want to behave. (with a lot of grace and forgiveness thrown in!).


  5. Robb says:

    When I was at All Saints Cathedral in Kampala the nice upper class Ugandans weren’t as well turned out as the ‘tea picker’ in the glossy fair trade leaflet. :/

  6. sarah says:

    toon: God that’s sad.

    Sas x

  7. Robb says:

    This is the hard part. For example, Fair Trade must surely be a campain to change the mainstream manufacturers rather than create another brand rival brand.

  8. steve says:

    Kate: bit by bit. Personally I work hard at maintaining a reputation for not working daft hours. I make a point of telling telesales people that I am not interested in saving money. I drive an old banger and wear clothes with holes in them.

  9. steve says:

    Salt of the earth. Light on a hill.

  10. Will says:

    agree Robb. It does sometimes make we wonder when i see the brands that are fair trade etc. I wonder how much back room work is being done talking to politicians companies etc.. along side the sourcing FT clothes, food, etc…. I’m not the best as this type of stuff but it does feel odd.

  11. Carole says:

    Well, Steve, if ever we meet in the real world, I’ll wear a Fair Trade rose in my jacket lapel and carry a newspaper. You should be fairly easy to spot…

    Seriously though, this opens up a whole can of worms, doesn’t it? I completely agree with Robb on the Fair Trade thing – but how do you get the multinationals to adopt Fair Trade practices? And until they get the Fair Trade stamp of approval, how do you get an increased number of Fairly Traded products on the shelves? Until you can get that groundswell at grass roots level, nothing will happen and actually, speaking from my limited experience, the average Jo/e isn’t sufficiently interested. If he/she/I were we would have asked the government years ago to increase our income tax by a percentage point or two and put the difference straight into the NHS (or into fully cancelling the debt of developing countries, perish the thought!)

    A thought: About 20 years ago I bought my first microwave oven. It cost about £225. I can now buy one for about £25 from Tesco.

    My first DVD player cost me about £180 (when would that have been? 15/18 years ago, ish?) You can pick them up for about £30 now.

    I bought my first home computer about 20 years ago for £800. I picked up a cheapo but very serviceable laptop last year for about £235.

    How can this be? It is great in terms of spending power. But when I am alone with my conscience I must admit to feeling rather uneasy about it. So I don’t like to think about it too often…

  12. Robb says:

    But those examples are the manufacturing process and the availability driving the supply demand whatnot. Shoes hand stitched by children who work 30hrs a day are a different bag of rattlesnakes…

  13. Peter Parslow says:

    Opting out: we have some challenging neighbours (well, a few miles away); several families who have put all their belongings together, bought a farm & live by baking & selling in the local market. Make their own clothes etc.

    Opting out (for the rest of us): like Kate says – take small decisions & stick with them. Check http://www.generous.org

  14. Peter Parslow says:

    whoops: http://www.generous.org.uk (I’ve nothing against the other site, it just isn’t the one I meant…)

  15. Carole says:

    Yeah, I suppose, Robb. Taking ‘designer labels’ out of the equation, even clothes seem ridiculously cheap nowadays. But the thing is manufacturers/importers are not particularly good about putting the ‘slave labour’ stamp on their products. And I’m not particularly good at asking. So I take the bargain and say thanks very much. The thing about cheaper products is, how far is it new technologies and manufacturing techniques and how far is it a question of ‘unethical’ practice in business and nailing the workers/competition/suppliers into the ground? What is the true price of ‘stack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’? I’m not especially well-informed in these things but it is something that concerns me, though sadly not enough to have it impact on my lifestyle choices. Ultimately I guess there is a price to be paid somewhere along the line.

  16. Carole says:

    And then there were footballers…

  17. JF says:

    Market forces aren’t an idol…are they? I don’t see anyone worshipping market forces.

    “Market forces” is purely a term to describe the factors which shape trade, such as legislation, marketing, purchase power, competition etc.

    The market forces at work in the cartoon relate to someone’s ability to command a specific salary; these forces are mainly demand vs. supply (for that person’s specific skill set in a given area) and employers’ ability to pay.

    I note that the person in the cartoon on £250k is portrayed as happy, while the person on the minimum wage is sad. For me, the real spiritual issue here is to realise that this correlation is spurious.

  18. jonbirch says:

    our whole country bows to the will of market forces. this is what the market dictates so we do it. not to do it is too fearful to contemplate. we have to spend our days in servitude to this beast of our creation and we have a very easily recognisable caste system as a result. it’s the prophets of baal played out in the modern world. in the west we tend not to build statues to our idols, although lots of fine things are made in praise of them.
    you’re right that contentment is not related to riches, but we still chase those blessing from our master anyway. this is a massive spiritual issue… christ offers another way.

  19. jonbirch says:

    actually, what happens in the business of football is a very good example of how the idolatory plays out. everything decided by market forces in a really visible way. all hail the power of the market!

  20. jonbirch says:

    oh… and get well soon eduardo! :-(

  21. su says:

    it’s good to remember as Christian’s we a free from valuing ourselves according to the readies in our pocket – readies are handy though, to just not have to worry! I’d never cook again if I could earn more than a basic wage

  22. Carole says:

    Hey Jon, since when has Arsenal been your local team?

  23. DrNick says:

    Hey Robb, I saw part that drug debate too (especially the bit with the “water to wine…temperance” lady, and also couldn’t figure out how she made the connection. Anyway from what I saw the only people who talked any sense were the ex-addict, the lady with him, and the parents of the addict. Everyone else appeared to be an overpaid muppet or some random slightly unsual person who claps and says “yerrr” loudly!

  24. Mark Roques says:

    I’d just like to explain how the market can become a false god. If you look at the really big transnational corporations say Shell or Wal-Mart you see an idolatrous way of life in action. Take Wal-Mart – they insist constantly on driving everything to what they call the bottom line. This means that you squeeze everything in a violent and vicious way so that you maximise your profits. Remember Wal-Mart is the biggest company in the world and has a turnover of over £300 billion and profits of about $11 billion per annum. At the same time there are some truly appalling stories of how they source most of their products from vast numbers of sweat shops in Mexico, Honduras, China etc. If they are challenged on this they will retort TINA which stands for There is No Other Way. This is the mantra of neo-capitalist free market economics. Notice the fear and spiritual blindness here. As Birchy points out it is analogous to the prophets of Baal who preached that if we don’t serve Baal we will all be ruined!

    Christians should respond to this by saying – stuff TINA let’s go for TATA. There are thousands of alternatives. Just think of George Cadbury’s chocolate factory. Just think of Muhammed Yunus’ Grameen bank. Or Bob Lavelle’s Christian bank in Pittsburgh. Ever heard of ShoreBank which is an American bank which thoroughly rejects TINA and supplies ethically opened up loans. Ever heard of the massive carpet company Interface which has radically changed its manufacturing process in an environmentally sensitive direction? Loads more to say here. Sorry for the rant


  25. steve says:

    Anyone notice how crap iPods are now. They are designed to fail sooner. I read somewhere that the chinese labour cost per iPod is £4.50.

  26. Carole says:

    Be reasonable, Steve, they had to do something with all those surplus cheap ladies’ cigarette lighters when smoking became passé.

    (cheap cigarette lighters, not cheap ladies…necessarily…)

  27. sarah says:

    Rocky’s right, 24, there is another way.

    George Cadbury did very well, enjoyed his business, enjoyed his workers, and they enjoyed their lives, benefitting from the decent housing and education he provided.

    It’s the old if a lot is given to you a lot will be expected.

    I love the idea of making money, of generating wealth – then I want to spend it on those who need it.

    There’s the spark of God in creating wealth – that’s very healthy – healthy if completed by putting back the right proportion of what you make into workers/projects.the environment etc.

    And if we followed levitical law, every 50 years it’d all go back to the original owners anyway. Thus freeing you from becoming trapped by money, and allowing you to rediscover why you made money in the first place.

    Job’s a good example. And yes, God let him suffer…

    Shell killed a man in Africa (sorry don’t know what country) protesting about them going through his village. People in Africa have been killed by the Chinese. This is real idolatry, because they’ve been sacrificed on the altar of lust for power.

    When business becomes too big, it f****s people up.

    You know Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful?

    I really think that’s what God wants.

    It keeps us in touch with ourselves and our fellow man.

    We have to try and bring these principles to bear with how we spend and make our money, like Steve has said.

    And don’t beat yourself up if you can’t buy EVERYTHING fairtrade, but do ALL you can.

    God knows the heart, and he loves us very much, just like he loves the children who should be in school instead of making my trainers.

    Do all you can.

    Sas x

    Sas x

  28. JF says:

    This is all a bit woolly. The case for ethical shopping is simple and clear. But even ethical trade is subject to “market forces” (e.g. demand, taxation, competition, price models etc., brand-awareness etc).

    People may shop lazily, uncaringly, unethically… but that doesn’t mean they worship anything. Quite the opposite, in fact!

    None of this has explained the original cartoon to me… Sorry for being slow!

  29. Robb says:

    Dr Nick, that seems to be the way the whole programme works every week. It is total rubbish…

  30. jonbirch says:

    hi jf. maybe it’s my definition of worship that you’re finding confusing. how you behave demonstrates what worldview you subscribe to. our behaviour is our worship as christians… our lives are our worship… when we allow ourselves to be subject to market forces which most of us do (wittingly or unwittingly, often the latter) we are subjegating ourselves to it. this is worship. giving it worth… allowing it to rule us… rocky says it very well. come back mate and rant some more. :-)

  31. steve says:

    There is a huge release here.

    God doesn’t need us to do anything for him (he wouldn’t be God otherwise).

    When he wants to deal with an issue he will.

    God has brought about huge changes in our society in the past through his people (and sometimes despite them) and he will again, but in his own time.

    We just need to make sure we are ready when he calls.

  32. kate says:

    Re 8 and opting out, I suppose my deal is not just am I opting out of buying goods that aren’t ethical, but am I changing my worshipful attitude?

    For example, am I watching aspirational TV shows about getting bigger and better houses and then feeling a pang of what I haven’t got rather then a thankfulness of what I have.

    Or, am I opting out of the wage/class system in my head and seeing all people as equally important or am I actually judging my own worth on the fact that I cant get above a minimum(ish) wage job at the moment and therefore striving to change not my attitude to the situation, but my place within the situation by working towards better pay?

    Or, am I buying ethically because it’s become fashionable to do so and is an easy decision to make right now, or because inside I am developing empathy for people across the world whose situations could be changed based on my spending and my polution levels.

    I think it’s great to opt out of things in terms of behaviour, but if the secret hidden values I have (such as wanting a big house, a ‘worthy’ job, nice clothes, new things every so often) dont change too then my behaviour will revert to type when the fad for ethical living passes.

  33. Robb says:

    I think you have just hit the nail on the head with how it is a question of worship Kate. What is the inner being doing it for?

    I wonder what would happen if instead of saying “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” we said “Time to leave church and go and worship”.

  34. jonbirch says:

    nice one kate… very well put indeed! that’s it exactly. :-)

    “Time to leave church and go and worship”.
    why don’t you try saying this at the end of a service? people would relly think anout it as they left… a beautiful idea. :-)

    steve… re. your point. i often think of the berlin wall or the end of apartheid… stunning cases in point perhaps. :-)

  35. Mark Roques says:

    I think it is helpful for the discussion to do a small Bible study about worship and idolatry. In Romans 1 Paul makes it crystal clear that humans should not worship created things. Rat worship, frog worship and crocodile worship is contrary to God’s intentions. I know this sounds narrow-minded to some. In Mt 6:24 Jesus makes it very clear that Money can be a false god. In Col 3:5 Paul describes greed as a form of idolatry. In Philippians 3:19 Paul talks about the stomach as a possible false god. In Habakkuk 1:10 the prophet speaks about strength as a false god.

    This framework comes as a shock to many people because religion is not an optional extra. All people serve either created things or the true God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Or a bit of both. We call this syncretism.

    Now it is absolutely essential to grasp that modern secular idolatry worships the aspects of things rather than the things themselves. It is possible to worship something like say economic growth but it is the impersonality of this god that fools people. If people worship Zeus or Baal the worshipper believes that the god can speak ie it is personal. Now modern people can make idols of the state, the nation, the family, the market without believing that these idols can speak back to you. Idolatry always takes something good (Genesis 1) and absolutises it. This means that good things become severed from their true place in the creation. Simply speaking they become goals that consume us and blind us. When say the nation becomes a god we begin to break God’s laws of justice, mercy and love as we follow these created things. Enough of the rant. Sorry. I am dull.

  36. jonbirch says:

    thank you mark for the clarity. please come and rant as often as you like. it’s very helpful and important stuff to my mind. :-)

  37. Carole says:

    Bible study, Rocky? (May I call you Rocky? That’s what you signed off with earlier.) Anyone would think this was a Christian blog!

    Forgive my flippancy, it is just my way. Thanks for your contribution to the debate. You’re not dull at all. And we like rants here, it enlivens the discussion and gets us all thinking. Nice if we could wangle things around to ‘story’ at some point – I gather that this is one of your areas of interest…

  38. Mark Roques says:

    Dear Carole

    Of course you can call me Rocky. I love nicknames.


  39. jonbirch says:

    i often call rocky ‘the big cheese’… as in ‘roquefort’… he’s not complained yet! :-)

  40. sarah says:

    JF, 17, you’re right. Market forces is a term describing neutral things. Those things will exist in a variety of economic systems.

    And I personally think we have to work from within the existing system to effect change.

    But to approach the same forces from a moral viewpoint is I think what the cartoon is about.



  41. sarah says:

    Jonny- as long as he has a pork pie to go with it!

    Sas ;-)

  42. sarah says:

    Steve, 31, yes I agree God doesn’t “need” us to do anything for him per se, but he is found in the faces of our fellow human beings – and they are needy. What we do to them we do to him.

    I do appreciate your point about not tying ourselves up in knots and letting the grace of God rest in our hearts, *but* – at the same time, we must do all we can Now, acting on our consciences – otherwise, we are doing wrong.

    Sas x

  43. steve says:

    Sure. As I heard in church on Sunday. Lets BE good news then people may be interested in THE good news.

  44. Laura says:

    I know I have something to say about this cartoon. I’m simply too exhausted from working a million hours this week to figure out what that is.

    only sort of kidding.

  45. sarah says:

    Tear down the evil!

    Build what is right!

    Sas x

  46. sarah says:

    We are the good news Steve – he’s incarnate in us.

    Sas x

  47. steve says:

    Sas. Yes, but it requires effort. My salvation may be assured but my behaviour is certainly not. The gospel needs to be presented with credibility.

  48. sarah says:

    No disagreement here! That’s what I mean by being proactive with the fairtrade thing etc.

    For me, my behaviour is part of my salvation process, so I do need to cooperate with God to be turned into Christ/bless my neighbour (the 2 being inseparable!)

    Sas x

  49. Laura says:

    This reminds me of something my friend Bob the biz wiz is always asking me. “Do you want to spend your life chasing the money or chasing the dream”

    There’s lots to say about how we value ourselves more or less based on the amount of money we’re making at any one time.

    Still sorting out my thoughts on this cartoon. I’ll just keep rambling aimlessly until I figure it out, if no one minds too terribly.

    I’m currently trying to pull a large IT project out of the ditch that someone else drove it into and feeling terribly inadequate and horribly disappointed in the person before me. Wondering if it’s wise for me to even continue trying or I should just walk away.

    I know my value doesn’t change even if my paycheck disappears. That’s a good place to be!

    Some how, that is what I’m getting out of this cartoon…

    I think

  50. steve says:

    Laura. Tell me about it! I’m an analyst for an very large IT company and every project I work on is like this. It’s really hard.
    Stick to your guns. Say no when you need to. If you feel compromised walk away. Lets pray for Laura. Running these kinds of projects is really really cr*p.

  51. jonbirch says:

    yep… laura… thanks for wrestling with it. says a lot about the kind of person you are. prayers are with you… and steve.

  52. sarah says:

    Me too Laura, and for you Steve.

    Sas xxx

  53. Laura says:

    Wow. Thanks guys/gals! I’m honored.

    Today I felt much better. Yesterday…just got overwhelmed.

    Had a chat with a friend last night that helped me realize that I’m not a just a nutter for thinking this particular job is nigh impossible to pull off in the time I have remaining.

    Also went for a long ride in the country (bad for the environment. Good for my sanity and those improved the environment of those who work with me so I feel justified)

    Have 4 days home from traveling so life is good. Thanks.

    Jon – are both panels meant to represent the same person at different times, or 2 different people?

  54. jonbirch says:

    hi laura… they’re actually two different people in my head, but i guess they could be the same person at different times.
    all that travel you do must be exhausting…

  55. Laura says:

    jon – it is exhausting at times.

    oddly, i think that even if you reversed what each person was saying, this cartoon could be true.

    For some people, and some times, almost making the minimum wage is a blessing. For some people, and some times, the burden of being worth a large amount of money can be so big that a person can be driven to their knees in despair.

    people think that more money = less worry and pressure, but that’s not always true.

    Not of course speaking from personal experience. But I can see how more money, more responsibility, more pressure = panel 2…

    rambling again…

  56. jonbirch says:

    you’re right laura.

  57. Robb says:


    more money = less worry and pressure, but that’s not always true.

    We work more hours and have less free time. The joys of all our labour saving devices. Society, “The Man” has higher expectation and better ways of ensuring higher productivity.

  58. jonbirch says:

    i think also we should not let the market dictate human value. deciding who is blessed and who is cursed. that it what i mean when i say market forces are an idol… and a very strong one. it’s what dictates the movements of our world… sadly.

  59. Laura says:

    Exactly Robb – I think this particular cartoon has an appeal to me because I’ve been in both places – minimum wage and better than average wage – there’s “blessing and curses” in both really.

    having said that…even minimum wage in the western world is richer than most of the rest of the world’s population.

    the whole area of money and what our christian responibility is with it is one i wrestle with alot.

    Hit home when i did this little quiz on someone else’s blog. http://www.globalrichlist.com/index.php

    the results were quite shocking and now I wonder…well, what the heck are we as westerners supposed to do about it exactly?

    Thinking too hard I know. ;-)

    Not even sure what I’m trying to sort out or why I’m compelled to do it in public. :lol:

  60. Laura says:

    I’m going to work out my deal on this thread. Everyone else is welcome to chime in, but even if you don’t….i’m gonna. ;-)

    Can’t help but think of that spiderman quote “with great power comes great responsibility” There’s no doubt that money = power. So what’s our responsibility then? What do we do with that power that will really matter??

  61. steve says:

    “The joys of all our labour saving devices”
    Bill Bryson has some interesting things so say about this. He claims (in the Thunderbolt Kid, I think – BTW very very funny book) that things changed significantly in the states back in the 50s/60s when people started getting bigger things or more that one. The first car/fridge/washing machine brought huge changes to quality of life. The second one not so much, after that it was just trying to keep up with the neighbours.

  62. Carole says:

    Laura, Steve – some uncomfortable truths there. I most people do the conscience salve thing. From our wealth we feel a bit uncomfortable when some celebrity comes on tv and shows us pictures of dying children. We pick up the phone and donate 10 quid. But unfortunately it is usually a case, I think, of out of sight, out of mind. It’s like a conditioned reflex. But actually we could share a lot more. My church is involved with a project in India in the Assam region. A couple of nuns have a little medical post there. It’s not so much a medical post because they have no drugs or medical expertise to speak of, more a glorified first aid post. The people who work in the tea gardens come from a tribe which is considered to be very lowly and they are paid a pittance for a day’s work. When one of them collapses in the tea garden a couple of others will carry him/her to the nuns who will inject them with a glucose solution so that they revive sufficiently to go back to work.

    Awful, isn’t it. Tell you what, I’ll just put the kettle on and we’ll have a nice cup of tea…

  63. Laura says:

    Right Carole, it is awful. One lump no milk btw, but what do we DO about it?

    Do we just say it’s ok to apply the salve, donate a tenner and go on our merry way feeling good about giving to the cause? Or..do we sell everything we own, pack our bags and head to africa to live amoung the the locals? Or just pick a couple really good charities we believe in and donate time/money?
    How do we find the balance between being good stewards, being charitible and taking care of our own needs later in life by having retirement funds etc.
    How do we decide where the heck we should put our resources in the first place?

    Those are the questions that I’m mulling around lately.
    Ideas anyone?

  64. sarah says:

    Pick a couple of really good charities, try and form a personal connection through them – and you will feel like you’re giving yourself.

    We’re supposed to provide for our family, so do that. And plan sensibly but not extravagantly for the future.

    And change our habits – go fairtrade, go organic, recycle, reuse.

    Make some more peace for yourself.

    The above tends to illicit changes inside, makes you yearn to go slower.

    And *very importantly*, don’t beat yourself up. It’s God’s world and if you just do all *you* can, which by the way is not “just”, he’ll be pleased with you.

    He’ll take what you give and multiply it, in all the above ways.

    All the best,

    Sas x

  65. Robb says:

    Ekklesia makes a good point about how fair trade has grown through power to the people.


    It has moved from being a church and charity thing to being a serious force for change. However, it is still only 10% of the farmers (etc) who benefit.

  66. sarah says:

    Well 10% of the (world?) market’s a good number.

    But fair is how it should be for everyone – let’s keep pushing people for 100%.

    Sas x

  67. sarah says:

    “Markets should serve people, not the other way around.”

    Couldn’t have put it better myself!

    Blessings Robb x

    Sas x

  68. Carole says:

    Hi Laura. I think we have to be realistic – what use would you be if you took ill and you couldn’t affort your medical care, or you live to be a hundred with no pension – that is just not a workable scenario in the country you live in our societies. We have to consider our own local cost of living and the disposable income we are left with. I think it is an eye-opener to go to countries with problems and see things at first hand,really, do they need another westerner? My friend who has spent a number of years in Kenya explains it far better than I could:
    “It can be so tiring seeing endless European projects, propped up by white people…..with the best intentions but not really doing anything to give people dignity and responsibility and creating a kind of aid dependency and expectancy. There are no easy answers but there is a lot of naivety in projects that are set up. Nakuru is full of ‘projects’ and of course people will try to benefit from anything going. So much wisdom is needed. Kenya has received so much aid and is one of the most corrupt countries. We were trying to imagine the other day what it would do to a town’s morale if foreigners kept pouring into Birkenhead to solve the problems of homelessness, drug abuse etc etc. In the end you’d give up, take no responsibility and just expect handouts. So much better if local efforts were supported behind the scenes?”

    I suppose it is one of those issues that we each have to face in our own way. And I suppose having this conversation is making me think more about my own policies. If I were to choose 2 charitable areas to concentrate on they would be (a) education and (b) assistance to help the people bring to fruition their own projects to improve their infrastructure.

  69. Robb says:

    The local cost is a factor to take into consideration. I remember that in Uganda my hosts said that it was pretty much free to eat there (pearl of Africa and all that jazz). Other thnings were a lot more expensive relative to an average Ugandan income. Thing is, there is some go between taking all the cash we spend and holeing it up in a swiss bank account.

    What was amusing was the shopping centre aimed at American tourists. Everything was soooooo much more expensive than in the west. Flat screen TV for (little finger in between the lips) one… miiilion dollars.

    The Ugandans just accepted it as “it has to be flown here”. Well it gets flown about the same distance to the UK from Japan. And I don’t remember bananas being that expensive in the UK!!

  70. Robb says:

    Sorry, fogot to say – the stuff about expecting handouts is true. projects need to run on faith and hard work or they don’t happen. If you say “here’s a spare grand we didn’t know what to do with” people expect you to keep having ‘spare’ grands. That is how projects fail as there is no social capital or personal responsibility.

  71. Pingback: Nomadic Faith » Blog Archive » Market Forces

  72. Арискальян says:

    Ladies and gentlemen!
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    That is philanthropy and job of pleasing to God! Present for you:
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    Московским издательством сделана компьютерная вёрстка книги, её
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    Осталось выполнить, оплатить (в этом затруднение) типографские
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    I`m counting on your help.
    Yours sincerely, Арискальян.
    (Poet, painter, publicist)
    Дата: 16.04.2008.

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