Thursday, 9 October 2008

Money and peace part 3

Scotland's for Peace, the umbrella / coalition of peace-minded organisations in Scotland, is planning an event to take place on 25th October that asks What else could the money be spent on?

The money they have in mind is that which is currently tied up in military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and in maintaining and developing the UK's nuclear weapons, present and future.
They are calling for a People's Budget for Peace...

Here are some of their questions:

How would YOU spend the money ?
- Would you use it to launch a major housebuilding programme to provide affordable housing for homeless and inadequately housed families ?
- Would you use it to increase spending on health and education and create thousands of new public sector jobs ? 
- Would you increase spending on health and education and to create a ground breaking rewable energy industry in Scotland ?
- Would you use it to increase overseas aid and debt relief to tackle poverty across the wor.d ?

What you can do
- Come along to the rally in George Square, Glasgow on Saturday 25 October and tell us how you would spend the money.
- Ask your MP and MSP to vote against Trident replacement and for British withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan 

Money .... and peace part 2

Robin Robison, QPSW's former staff member on economics issues, writes in today's issue of The Friend (readable online only by subscribers) about the possible consequences of the financial crisis.  He highlights the threat to achieving the Millenium Development Goals, reflecting a concern expressed powerfully by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro in a 6th October press-release ...

Noting that Africa remains the region with the greatest challenges ahead, particularly against the backdrop of much higher food and energy prices and climate change, she called for increasing and better coordinating aid, reducing agricultural subsidies in developed countries, and investing more in infrastructure.

"Let’s make sure the financial crisis does not divert our efforts," she appealed to Member States. "If we are to take away any lesson from the multiple crises we face, it is that delaying action only makes matters worse."

Robin Robison, meanwhile, concludes:

 .... the developing world will still require markets for their goods in the wealthy nations and technological innovation and other research will still require funding for the benefit of humanity, but the terms of debate about how these goals are to be achieved are open once again. It is an opportunity that the boundaries of what is considered normal in a democratic market economy are now being opened up again before our eyes. The question is who and what will rush into the vacuum that is being created? 

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Money .... and peace?

Difficult to avoid this particular issue at the moment. And very tempting to begin with a whole load of clich├ęs about the uncertain and challenging times we're in... but I won't!

I'm not sure who it was on the radio this morning... but someone was making the very obvious point that the government's (ours and those of other countries) financial commitment to keeping the banking system afloat necessarily means that there's less money to go around on other things.

And this is really important, I feel. With such obvious constraints, can we hope for hope for a shifting of priorities towards building security along the lines of the sustainable security paradigm outlined in the Oxford Research Group's report? ( Global Responses to Global Threats:Sustainable Security for the 21st Century, Chris Abbott, Paul Rogers and John Sloboda, June 2006)

Mark Lynas, writing in The Guardian today argues that the need to move to a low-carbon energy system is a great business opportunity, as opposed to a distraction from getting the economy back on track. ..."we need to transform completely the energy basis of industrial civilisation", he states, "Anyone thinking of this as a terrible sacrifice is dead wrong; it is an unparallelled business opportunity, which canny companies will use to their great advantage". Both he and the paper's editorial are cautiously optimistic about the commitment of our government to tackling climate change, indicated by the setting up of the new department for energy and climate change.

The other side of the sustainable security coin though, which the ORG report urges we move away from, is what they describe as the 'control paradigm'. A move away from a commitment to renewing UK nuclear weapons would be a very welcome indication of a shift from the one paradigm to another and is essential if we're to make a meaningful and sustainable change towards a more peaceful and secure world.

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I've noted that this blog doesn't often get a mention in list of Quaker blogs - mostly, I think, because it's more about what's going on the world rather than in my head and my Quaker Meeting. My work, and that of NFPB in general, is of course rooted in our Quakerism. Here's a bit from our Advices and Queries which seems very relevant to these times...

31. We are called to live 'in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars'. Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God.

41. Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment?

42. We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God's continuing creation.