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Recession Response Requires Radically Different Values

News Release: Recession Response Requires Radically Different Values – says Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice as it Launches Website to Record Cutbacks in Frontline Services; 12 October 2008

Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice

Recession Response Requires Radically Different Values –
says Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
as it Launches Website to Record Cutbacks in Frontline Services

The current economic crisis challenges this country with profound questions as to the values and priorities we should adopt to guide us through these difficult times, says the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in a Statement issued today.

In the Statement, ‘Justice in Recession?’ , the Centre says that great uncertainty exists as to what policies can and should be pursued in the context of the current crisis. However, what we can be certain about is what will happen if we as a society continue to adhere to some of the values that were allowed to gain ascendancy during the Celtic Tiger years. It is essential, it says, that we do not allow self-interest, the protection of sectional concerns, and the bowing to the wishes of the most powerful, to predominate at this time. Such an approach would mean that those who gained least from the economic boom would be asked to pay most in the downturn.

Instead, the Statement says, the values of social solidarity, fairness and compassion must strongly underpin the economic and social policies devised to cope with the crisis.

Launching the Statement, Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ, Director of the Centre, commented: "Over the next two years, at a minimum, sacrifices will have to be made and people’s lives will be affected by these.  But we must ask: ‘Which sacrifices?’ and ‘Whose lives?’”

He added: “In a time when everyone in Irish society will feel the effects of the crisis – and would prefer not to – those who are better off need to be aware that there are others who have a greater moral claim to be insulated from the impact of the downturn.  Without this public awareness, the environment necessary for policy responses that may be difficult and unpopular, but are just and in the interest of the common good, will not exist.”

The Market and Social Responsibility
Recalling that last week the Taoiseach described the current situation as a ‘defining moment’ in our nation’s history, Fr O’Riordan said that one of the tasks of this time is to engage in serious debate about the overarching political and economic philosophies that should guide us into the future. He commented that the global economic crisis has challenged the ideology, which was pervasive for the last three decades, that government should have no role, or only a minimal role, in regulating the market.

“The wisdom of the maxim that the ‘market is a good servant but a very bad master’ is now being acknowledged by more and more people”, Fr O’Riordan said. He added there was now a window of opportunity in which we can debate in a more open way the balance required between state intervention and business enterprise, and between individual opportunity and social responsibilities. “Above all”, he said, “we need to strongly assert that equality, fairness, and economic and environmental sustainability have to be at the heart of our definition of development.

The Forthcoming Budget
The Jesuit Centre’s statement says that the most immediate test of our willingness to place solidarity and fairness to the fore will be the Budget to be introduced on 14 October.

It argues it should not be considered ‘unthinkable’ that there would be an increase in income taxes for those on high incomes, especially the very top earners who gained so much during the boom years. Moreover, the current, very costly, array of tax incentive schemes, which by definition are availed of mainly by those who are already well-off, should be critically examined, and only those that are shown to be essential to economic development and have substantial benefit to society should be preserved. 

The statement says too that increases in indirect taxes must be targeted on non-essential items, since such taxes take no account of income and therefore have greatest impact on those who are the least well-off.

New Website to Monitor Cutbacks
Fr O’Riordan also announced that the Jesuit Centre was today launching a new website, ‘Monitoring CutBacks in Frontline Services’, which aims to record the social costs of cutbacks and closures of projects, programmes and services as a result of the curtailment or cessation of public funding. This website is at: www.jcfj.ie/cutbacks and organisations are invited to email details of cutbacks to:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For further information or for interviews contact:
Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ, Director, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, 087 928 6945

Posted in Economic Policy News

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