Saturday, 27 July 2013

Wonga Hear about the Archbishop?

That Justin Welby, he's wonga person who can't do right for doing wonga. He wants to put the payday loan firms out of business via credit unions, but rather than invest in credit unions the Church of England is already investing in payday loan companies. There is an Ethical Advisory Group so that investments don't wonga off into the wrong areas. The moral compass for investment by Church Commissioners works out as a maximum of:

3% of profits from pornography
10% of profits from armaments
25% from tobacco and alcoholic drinks
25% from gambling
25% from high-interest-rate lending

Think of the poor student who had tried to get through university by being a part-time model since Labour's David Blunkett introduced fees. It's not her fault that she enters the grubby sex industry at a low level to pay her way but this limitation could seriously cut off the flow of funds. After all, this is just a moral display about mainly men having the odd private wonga over pictures and videos.

Weapons obviously do much less damage, or perhaps there is a kind of defence justification for going to war that is factored in. So you can invest in a company so long as its subsidiaries making killing machines only amount to ten per cent. The Romans used to have one in ten for the random kill too.

Then we're up to a quarter of your business as a stop-point for investing - and smoking tobacco. That really is a killer. It is surely worse than alcohol, although Father Jack is no advert for priestly consumption. They were all occasional smokers too, in that Roman Catholic household.

Now gambling is interesting because it now booms on television in the wee small hours. Yes, it is economic growth without economic growth because addiction is not utility and so you are not buying anything you actually want but buying to meet an already existing and demanding negative utility to fill. The Internet is seducing enough without adding to it the whole thing to do with roulette. And what's all this with Texas Holdem' - when did that ever become the standard poker game when so much is open to chance? Perhaps churches remember the days when it held whist drives on an evening; I used to attend those on holiday when the Church in Wales was a larger part of society than it is now. It was part of Christian charity for a person to sit opposite an incompetent like me and realise she couldn't just keep winning.

And it is as high as twenty five percent for payday loans companies. When the firm says, 'Don't worry, borrow what you owe us,' then you're on the road from a hundred pounds to the United States national debt in over seven years. This must be attractive to the Church of England, after all if it can persuade people to borrow for a bit wonga the money is a good mark-up. With that sort of income, it might actually be able to set up the odd credit union rather than just provide a few places for it to meet. We know these firms are profitable because of the huge amounts they spend on television advertising, especially in the daytime when those who wonga work but aren't are watching.

But for an Archbishop who's worried about the Church of England being marginalised and on the wonga side of society, this sort of intervention is useful even if a bit unco-ordinated. It makes the Church more inclusive - that others might include the Church in its considerations of what is relevant in society. Perhaps it's better to be practical than wonga about the more indeterminate theologies as did his predecessor, whose main economic concern was the short-termism of bankers (surely epitomised by the wongas among them); the alternative is to say nothing and just wonga about in the palace garden. [Enough wongas for now. Ed.]

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