Wonga Scandal: How did the Church of England end up in such an unholy mess over payday loans?
Proof that the Church of England cannot tell the difference between right and Wonga. The Archbishop of Canterbury Bishop Justin Welby says if payday lenders were to close their doors, the poor and desperate would be left at the mercy of loan sharks.
turning the other cheek to the Wongas of this world, he claims to see a positive side. At least, he says, “they don’t send people with baseball bats.”
That’s right, your reverence. But as we now know, they send people out with fake letters from lawyers demanding immediate payment or whatever. Which, while less damaging to the life and integrity of the client, could also be categorized as threatened, frightening, and likely to build up considerable pressure.
The Church, which invests in Wonga, is currently facing an ungodly dilemma of its own accord.
Earlier, Most Reverend Welby had made it clear that he believed payday lenders should be bankrupted. Entirely.
But, oops, that was before he was informed that the finance wing of the CoE had invested something in the order of £ 100,000 in the business.
Following criticism of this strange state of affairs, the Church’s Ethical Investing Advisory Group has launched a review. (Although you would think that “the Church investing in Wonga” would be quite obviously a no-unethical.)
The EIAG, however, felt that investment could be defended by stating: “It is no more realistic to wish them to invest only in morally perfect companies than to wish each of us to relate. only to morally perfect individuals.
Then the inevitable little bit of preaching: “In any case, such a goal would rather miss the essence of the Gospel. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
The payday lender community (if we can call it that) can indeed be sick. But I doubt most church members welcome the CoE’s awareness of this particular example of the shutdown and the lame. I imagine that most godly souls – in common with the rest of us – reserve their sympathy for the poor (in every way) and the vulnerable who, having turned to people like Wonga, find themselves struggling with an interest rate of 5,000% and a spiraling debt they have no hope of repaying.
It has been suggested that another reason for the CoE’s reluctance to oust Wonga is that if the Church withdraws its hundred thousand dollars, it could lose several million on the deal. (No, I don’t understand that calculation either. It’s not just God who works in mysterious ways. Finance is also impenetrable.)
But here’s the thing. Shouldn’t the Church just take such a loss on the chin? For no other reason than that, it is the right thing to do. Or rather, that trying to make money out of Wonga induced misery is a very bad thing to do.
Citing his fears about boys with baseball bats, the Archbishop argues that: “One of the concerns right now is that if payday loans are dwindling very quickly and credit unions don’t take over, around who will people turn to?
I’m going to suggest something pretty retro here, Your Grace, but what if they looked to, say, the Churches?
Why on earth should he have all the good short term loan options?
Would it not be possible for various of the extremely wealthy churches to come together and take some of that aforementioned leeway? Thus eliminating entirely baseball bats, bogus letters from lawyers and interest rates to an impossible level with your rich man trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle.
During this scene where Jesus allegedly overturned the moneylender tables in the temple, does Mr. Welby assume that a dispensation would have been given to a booth run by a frightening trio of pensioner puppets?
Money frankly speaking is Wonga’s cynical slogan. It is surely time, for a little real frank speech and more precisely, for direct thought on the part of the Archbishop and the Church.
God knows, like all those Wonga repayments, it’s overdue.
MPs should take a break during the holidays
Our hard-working members of the legislature must take a break soon. Somewhere in the nine week region they would have to be away in the summer months.
Nobody blames them for this extended vacation (we don’t, do we?). After all, they only have a few weeks off at Easter. And about a week on Halloween. And a few more at Christmas / New Years. But given that summer vacation falls during a traditionally hectic time, could there be an argument to change or even reduce this very long MP getaway?
If only because keeping them in place might focus minds on finding compromises. It may be a bit of a tongue-in-cheek but the question must be asked … Should Stormont be silent for the summer?
Some teething problems “à la Suarez”
It’s Dog Awareness Week – a campaign to highlight shocking statistics that reveal up to nine postal workers are attacked by pets every day.
Not all of them are considered by their owners to be wild beasts either. Even a normally placid Rover can turn nasty if he feels his territory is being invaded.
But it is a little comfort for the some 3,000 postal workers a year who are injured by snarling animals. Some were hospitalized for bites. Imagine facing it regularly. They deserve our sympathy.
But you wonder if there aren’t also a few postal workers in Uruguay who know how they feel? Presumably, there will be a similar sense of apprehension when delivering mail addressed to a Senor L Suarez.
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