Money

money_world“There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie is said to have amassed $298.3 billion in 2007 dollars.

He’s also quoted as saying: “I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution.”

Considering money in more general terms, there’s a wonderful and innovative four-part documentary on PBS called the Ascent of Money narrated by Niall Ferguson. Certainly not a dry documentary; more like a video novel…

The following Spiritual Quote  is a letter from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (a man poor in money yet vastly rich in spirit) written to Andrew Carnegie.

Spiritual Quote:

“O respected personage! I have read your work, The Gospel of Wealth [1], and noted therein truly apposite and sound recommendations for easing the lot of humankind.
[1] An article from Andrew Carnegie’s book The Gospel of Wealth  was published in England in the Pall Mall Budget  and called, also, The Gospel of Wealth, cf. Andrew Carnegie’s Autobiography 255n.

“To state the matter briefly, the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh advocate voluntary sharing, and this is a greater thing than the equalization of wealth. For equalization must be imposed from without, while sharing is a matter of free choice.

“Man reacheth perfection through good deeds, voluntarily performed, not through good deeds the doing of which was forced upon him. And sharing is a personally chosen righteous act: that is, the rich should extend assistance to the poor, they should expend their substance for the poor, but of their own free will, and not because the poor have gained this end by force. For the harvest of force is turmoil and the ruin of the social order. On the other hand voluntary sharing, the freely-chosen expending of one’s substance, leadeth to society’s comfort and peace. It lighteth up the world; it bestoweth honour upon humankind.

“I have seen the good effects of your own philanthropy in America, in various universities, peace gatherings, and associations for the promotion of learning, as I travelled from city to city. Wherefore do I pray on your behalf that you shall ever be encompassed by the bounties and blessings of heaven, and shall perform many philanthropic deeds in East and West. Thus may you gleam as a lighted taper in the Kingdom of God, may attain honour and everlasting life, and shine out as a bright star on the horizon of eternity.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 115

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Are You Hungry ?

gluttonFrom OneWorld.net: “The $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street recently passed by the U.S. government to mitigate the financial crisis ‘could have wiped out the last traces of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and squalor from the face of the Earth,’ said food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma.

So, the financiers who caused the crisis (and made the gap between affluent and squalid wider) are to be preferred over millions of other members of our Human Family?

Where is the justice in this situation?

How long will this assault on virtue and morality continue?

How the hell do the perpetrators of such vile imbalances sleep at night?

It’s become fairly obvious that purely economic or political solutions to global crises don’t work.

From Inter Press Service: Poverty, fuel and other crises all interconnected

From AFP: World finance chiefs grasp for solutions in firestorm

From MarketWatch: Despite Market Rebound, Food Crisis to Follow, Experts Say

From The Financial Times: Global bailouts “second-worst solution” to global crisis

It’s time to realize why these “experts” in global business can’t end our world’s problems.

Spiritual Quotes:

“As the rich man enjoys his life surrounded by ease and luxuries, so the poor man must likewise have a home and be provided with sustenance and comforts commensurate with his needs. This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 240

“The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit…. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, ‘It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community,’ and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238

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Path Toward Peace – Step Three

economic disparity

Preventing Economic Disparity


A few extremely rich and so many poor… It’s criminal! Greed and corruption must be banished, the vast majority of human beings must be given a fighting chance to make their place in the world, children should not starve to death for lack of food while other children are world-weary with affluent lust.

From The Economic Times: Global financial crisis: The Story so far

From Principled Profit: Ethics Could Have Avoided The Collapse of Lehman, Merrill Lynch

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Articles of Faith: Ethical lessons to draw from economic crisis

As I’d mentioned a few posts ago, this series on Path Toward Peace is a major challenge for me, spiritually and emotionally. This morning, as I was pondering how to write today’s post, I decided to take a break (always good when the creative juices feel stopped-up) and stroll down to the Java Street Café. The owner, Sam, was not too busy and I thought I’d bring up what I was pondering for my blog post—I mean he is a good business man and highly attuned to financial concerns. I wasn’t sure what he’d say about economic disparity and was amazed at what he did say.

He brought up a concept that dealt with providing a fixed income to each citizen, not socialism but a humane method of lifting the burden of economic distress from human endeavor—not social security but social insurance, proactive at that.

Here was a man, focused on profit and loss, talking about altruistic business and government—a way to ensure that each human being had the means of a basic existence—pure justice and equity. This is a far cry from the existing situation in today’s ruinous economic game plan. We touched on the idea of the owners of businesses providing profit-sharing to employees. And Sam crowned this inspiring discussion with a statement about the necessity of being aware that the wealthy exist on the labor of the common person.

The next post in this series will deal with the spiritual and emotional transformations necessary for humane economic activity. Nevertheless, we must be willing to act, in whatever capacity we can handle, to instill fairness into our economic activities.

Spiritual Quotes:

“The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war.”
Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 551

“A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach a condition of starvation it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find tyranny. Men must bestir themselves in this matter, and no longer delay in altering conditions which bring the misery of grinding poverty to a very large number of the people. The rich must give of their abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence, taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering from lack of the very necessities of life.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 153

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A Little Help Can Go A Long Way

Not much of my own comment in this particular post. I’ll let the news sources and websites inform you about this Wonderful concept. As always, though, there will be a spiritual quote at the end…

From OneWorld.Net: Microloans Pay Off for Planet, Investors
“Mohammed Yunus, an economics professor from Bangladesh, is considered the father of microfinance. In 1983, Yunus founded the Grameen Bank to make small loans to impoverished entrepreneurs. Grameen Bank now has over 7 million borrowers. Yunus and the Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.”

From Wikipedia: Microcredit “Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty who are not considered bankable….Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.”

From Business Week: Micro Loans, Solid Returns “With about $200 of his own money and a $1,500 loan, Vahid Hujdur rented space in the old section of Sarajevo and started repairing, then reselling discarded industrial sewing machines. Eight years and several loans later, Hujdur now has 10 employees building, installing, and fixing industrial machinery.”

From the KIVA website: We Let You Loan to the Working Poor “Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.”

“The increasing disparity between the rich and the poor is a major destabilizing influence in the world. It produces or exacerbates regional and national conflicts, environmental degradation, crime and violence, and the increasing use of illicit drugs. These consequences of extreme poverty affect all individuals and nations. Increasingly we are becoming aware that we are all members of a single human family. In a family the suffering of any member is felt by all, and until that suffering is alleviated, no member of the family can be fully happy or at ease. Few are able to look at starvation and extreme poverty without feeling a sense of failure….

“A new economic order can be founded only on an unshakable conviction of the oneness of mankind. Discussions aimed at solving problems related to extreme poverty based on the premise that we are one human family rapidly expand beyond the current vocabulary of economics. They demand a wider context, one which anticipates the emergence of a global system of relationships resting on the principles of equity and justice.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Feb 12, Human Rights And Extreme Poverty

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Money To Burn


CNN: Zimbabwe introduces $100 billion banknotes
Each bill “…can buy only four oranges. The new note is equal to just one U.S. dollar.”
“…the official inflation rate now at 2.2 million percent.”
“The new bills are actually bearer checks and have an expiration date of December 31.”

BBC: Zimbabwe introduces Z$100bn note
“Zimbabwe’s meltdown has left at least 80% of the population in poverty, facing mass shortages of basic goods.”
From a resident: “So Z$100 billion can’t do anything because for me to go home I need Z$250 billion, so this [note] is worthless.”
“Zimbabwe was once one of the richest countries in Africa.”

Stunning in its sadness and surrealism . . .

What causes such gross failure?

Why does it seem the haves could care less about the have-nots?

What does it take for people to realize that we’re all people?

Ever wonder how long the masses are going to take these sinister lies they’re being told?

Of course, making people starve is a very old technique used by oppressors. The oppressors don’t even have to live in the same country as the sufferers, especially in our global home.

Makes me want to cry . . .

“The dragon, symbol of heaven, comes to fight the false dragon that symbolized the inflation of the earth principle.”
I Ching

“Nations, though exhausted and disillusioned, have seemingly begun to cherish anew the spirit of revenge, of domination, and strife. Peoples, convulsed by economic upheavals, are slowly drifting into two great opposing camps with all their menace of social chaos, class hatreds, and worldwide ruin. Races, alienated more than ever before, are filled with mistrust, humiliation and fear, and seem to prepare themselves for a fresh and fateful encounter. Creeds and religions, caught in this whirlpool of conflict and passion, appear to gaze with impotence and despair at this spectacle of unceasing turmoil.”
Shoghí Effendí, Bahá’í Administration, p. 67

“Today, the agency on whom has devolved the task of creating this framework and of liberating the promotion of human rights from those who would exploit it is the system of international institutions born out of the tragedies of two ruinous world wars and the experience of worldwide economic breakdown. Significantly, the term ‘human rights’ has come into general use only since the promulgation of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights three years later. In these history-making documents, formal recognition has been given to respect for social justice as a correlative of the establishment of world peace. The fact that the Declaration passed without a dissenting vote in the General Assembly conferred on it from the outset an authority that has grown steadily in the intervening years.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind

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World Food Crisis

Google search:


Enews 2.0
Food prices are global challenge, says UN
RTE.ie, Ireland – 3 hours ago
hit by the crisis, and will double lending for agriculture in Africa over the next year to €515m. Rising food prices have hurt the growing mass of urban
UN and World Bank say to tackle food crisis Reuters
UN, World Bank to Coordinate Task Force Efforts in Food Crisis Deutsche Welle
UN chief orders task force to tackle food crisis AFP
BloombergXinhua
all 487 news articles »

Turkish Press
IMF concerned about food crisis in Africa
AFP – 1 hour ago
“We are concerned about it because higher food prices (and) higher oil prices mean higher import bills, and it can slow down economic growth,” the head of
IMF bid to help Africans on inflation Daily Times
all 35 news articles »
Region’s aid groups grappling with global food crisis
Seattle Times, United States – 7 hours ago
But only in the last few weeks have staffers, and much of the world, realized all the incidents were responses to a worldwide leap in food prices — and part
As Food Prices Soar, Mercy Corps Establishes Global Food Crisis Fund Reuters AlertNet
Mercy Corps creates fund to ease food crisis The Oregonian – OregonLive.com
Global Food Crisis Spurs Mercy Corps Action KOIN.com
PR Newswire (press release)
all 26 news articles »

Washington Post
Global Food Prices and Africa’s Economic Famine
Washington Post, United States – Apr 28, 2008
We’re talking about the Post’s Global Food Crisis series this morning. This is an important subject. I’ll answer your questions as best I can. So fire away.
Food crisis translates to economic crisis United Press International
Where Every Meal Is a Sacrifice Washington Post
all 6 news articles »

DigitalJournal.com
“US, EU responsible for explosive food prices
Hindu, India – 9 hours ago
Jean Ziegler held fuel policies pursued by the US and the EU to be main causes for the current worldwide food crisis. Last year the US ‘Video: UN rapporteur talks about the global food crisis – 28 Apr 08’));Video: UN rapporteur talks about the global food crisis – 28 Apr 08UN Special Rapporteur Says Biofuel Production Criminal DigitalJournal.com
all 18 news articles »

Javno.hr
WTO deal seen having little impact on food prices
Daily Times, Pakistan – 15 hours ago
Some may conclude the message of the current crisis is they can no longer depend on imports and must improve food security by raising barriers to protect
Food crisis sparks role reversal in WTO AFP
(UPDATE) UN meets on food crisis Inquirer.net
all 22 news articles »

AFP
UN meets on food crisis
AFP – 20 hours agoFilter
“Responding effectively to the impact of higher food prices must be a top priority for the global community,” he said. But he criticised protectionist

Boston Globe
Economic Stresses, Biofuel Production Add to Food Crisis Pressures
Voice of America – 23 hours ago
By Mil Arcega The World Food Program warns that rising food prices could turn into a global crisis unless the world acts quickly. The UN food agency has
No Free Lunch Food, fuel and finance Inquirer.net
all 4 news articles »
Cabinet to face looming crisis in food prices
The Herald Eastern Cape, South Africa – 7 hours ago
As far back as February, the NAMC warned that rising food prices were a threat to the country’s household food security, and food inflation was a major
SA warned over food security Citizen
all 2 news articles »

Voice of America
UN Announces Food Crisis Task Force
Voice of America – 28 minutes agoFilter
By VOA News United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will head a task force to deal with the unprecedented rise in global food prices.

Daily Star – Lebanon
No simple cause – or easy cure – for rising food prices
Daily Star – Lebanon, Lebanon – 18 hours agoFilter
This example contradicts the wave of accusations that biofuel production is to blame for sparking the food price crisis.

Vancouver Sun
Fidel Castro warned of food crisis a year ago
Reuters South Africa, South Africa – 20 hours ago
Violent protests ignited by rising food prices toppled Haiti’s government earlier this month. Increased demand from rapidly developing nations led by China,
Finding the right shade of green Ottawa Citizen
all 19 news articles »