At risk of becoming unpopular, I'm going to have to challenge Gary
Scherling's simplistic generalisation about the causes of wealth and
> 'The big difference between the rich and poor is this.
> The rich save their money and spend what's left. The
> poor spend their money and save what's left.'
I have spent much of my ministry working 'on the ground' with issues of
wealth and poverty. I have worked closely with anti-poverty networks, and
developed and managed neighbourhood economic regeneration projects.
During ten years as an industrial chaplain I have had close personal
contacts with trade unionists and with the directors of major companies. I
have been closely involved in observing the impact of sub-contracting of
former 'in-house' activity on wage levels. Through monitoring of the
welfare benefit system I have observed how people in the lowest income
brackets are penalised for saving, whilst those in the middle and higher
brackets are rewarded. Many people in Britain do not have sufficient
surplus income to be able to break through the ceiling.
I have to say with some passion that this statement is about as far from
the truth as a statement could possibly be. It demonstrates an extremely
individualistic/atomistic understanding of how things happen, rooting the
cause of particular things purely in the behaviour of *individuals*.
I would have thought that a Learning Organisation approach to
understanding issues of wealth and poverty would *start* with Whole System
thinking. I see no evidence of system thinking at all here.
Poverty is a growing and debilitating problem that undermines the
integrity of the whole System. If we believe that the market capitalist
system is the best available to us (I for one am hoping that something
better will emerge) then it behoves us to learn together how to overcome
those aspects of the System that destroy lives. Blaming the victims avoids
that uncomfortable responsibility, and stops the learning process dead in
The best way to learn our way through this is to listen closely to poor
people. (Here in Britain, Church Action on Poverty has been doing
precisely this, holding a series of 'hearings' around the country where
people in poverty can be asked about their daily experience).
Unfortunately, poor people's voices will not be heard on the Internet
because they do not have access to the technology. That is why, although
this response is very second-best and potentially patronising, I feel I
must make it.
-- Revd Dick Wolff Mission Enabler to the Wessex Province of the United Reformed Church Tel : +44 1865 511798 Fax : +44 1865 310769 e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>