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Ethical consumerism

43 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 05 December 2012

Christmas is fast approaching and as usual, the competition for where we should spend our money is hotting up. This season we've been joined by a new phenomenon - where not to spend it. Campaigners are appealing to consumers to boycott companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Google that have been accused of immorally avoiding paying their fair share of tax, even though what these companies are doing is perfectly legal. Is it our duty as consumers to not only spend our money wisely, but to also think about the moral consequences of where we spend our money? Is the pound in our pocket a tool to express our moral and political outrage, or are these boycotts just empty gestures and like those ethical Christmas presents, is it more about assuaging our own guilt about all that conspicuous consumption? It might be easy to make a joke of all those goats being bought for Christmas for African villagers, but, at this time of year especially, shouldn't we think of others as well as ourselves? At times it might feel like the competition from charities for our money is as fierce as on the high street and the endless Christmas appeals with their increasingly emotional tones may overwhelm and irritate in equal measure, but don't we have a moral obligation to contribute to charity? If the latest figures are anything to go by, more of us are putting our own needs before those of others. Charitable donations have fallen by 20% in real terms in the past year - that's the equivalent of £1.7bn less being given to good causes. We live in one of the richest countries in the world. If we wouldn't think of passing a drowning child in a pond without trying to save them, why don't more of us donate more to charities that undoubtedly save lives? And do charities really care if we're giving out of a sense of guilt, rather than a sense of genuine empathy and pity? Morality and money on the Moral Maze - the gift that keeps giving. Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox. Witnesses: Andy Redfern - Director, Ethical Superstore, Toby Ord - James Martin Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy, University of Oxford, George Monbiot - Journalist & environmental campaigner, Jack Lundie - Director of Brand & Communications, Save The Children UK.



  1. Image for Moral Maze

    Moral Maze

    Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's…

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