Thought for the Day - Rev Joel Edwards - 20/12/2012
Another financial scandal emerged yesterday. The investment bank, UBS was ordered to pay $1.2bn to the US regulatory Commission, and a further £160m to the UK’s Financial Services Authority.
The settlements result from the bank’s attempts to manipulate Libor’s rates, as well as misrepresenting its borrowing rates, in order to hide its own level of indebtedness during the financial crisis.
For those of us who are still inclined to use a calculator to count our own fingers, these are mind-boggling sums to contemplate over coffee and toasts.
And of course, the vast majority of UBS staff are as horrified.
Corruption on this scale leaves most of us feeling a kind of debilitating helplessness about the ‘collateral damage’ of institutional dishonesty, which we can’t do much about.
But this scale of mismanagement is not just about failing systems. It’s also about what some people are doing to other people. At least 45 traders and managers in 3 continents made over 2000 illegal submissions.
This kind of malpractice needs the improved regulations we have been promised.
But I am also curious to know what makes well-off people who are loved by other people in social settings, sit behind their desks to cause such havoc.
From a Christian point of view, the Bible is never nervous about money. And Jesus himself had a lot of positive things to say about rewards, as incentive for action. But it’s the ‘love of money’, which he was worried about.
Is it possible that this love of money really is at the root of all evil? That perhaps there is something about an obsession with wealth and material things which not only commodifies relationships, but which also dehumanizes me in the process?
And that it does so in such a way, that when I am finally held up to public scrutiny, I am as shocked as those whose lives I have blighted?
Inevitably, greed blinds us and the very systems designed for other people’s benefit are manipulated for my own advantage and called upon to take the blame for my behaviour.
This story is a reminder that more accountability will mean better structures.
But who will help to convince us, that as many rich people already know, our lives do not depend on the abundance of the things we own?
Available since: Thu 20 Dec 2012
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