Songs of Prosperity

Money, Money, Money

The KLOE for Inclusive Economic Growth – part ofBirmingham’s SIP has arrived at the following question:

How do we change the way our citizens are connected into the economic life of Birmingham so that everyone has opportunity to benefit from its growth and prosperity as the city becomes more successful and competitive? 

Clearly there are many ways of tackling such a question but for me what immediately springs to mind is a further question: Does the economic system we currently have contain within it a systemic bias towards exclusion?

Birmingham is very successful in creating Millionaires. In February this year the University f Birmingham published an article stating that the results of a recent survey showed thatBirmingham was among the top 10 Universities in the UK for producing millionaires. On 21st March 2011 the Birmingham Mail joyfully announced that there are now 92,000 millionaires dotted across the region (a 15% increase on the year before). So clearly theWest Midlands does not have a problem in generating wealth. The problem seems to be who gets it, and what they do with it. The green demon of Greed quickly seems to raise its head. (Dare I mention Banker’s bonuses at this point?)

Our society tends to focus on the Self – one could even argue selfishness. A popular TV programme ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ testifies, through its very success, that the old song answer ‘I do!’ is not far from the truth. The riots we had in 2011 showed how far we have moved towards ‘living in a material world’.

Maybe one way we can tackle this question is to come at it from what American’s refer to as ‘left field’. Maybe we need to be asking, ‘How we can inculcate values of generosity and not greed into our citizens?’ Maybe we ought to find ways of developing an awareness and concern for others in our society, by trying to be less selfish and more selfless.

Maybe we ought to review the way wealth is distributed. If every one of the millionaires in theWest Midlandscontributed a mere £100, that would be £10 million which could be used to fight against poverty in the city.

But we don’t only need to rely on millionaires. Maybe we can all give more, maybe as we currently simplify our lives due to the economic constraints currently existing, we can catch a glimpse of our own shared humanity and realise that there is more to life than money  – which we know can’t buy love! Possibly, until we are able to develop a more pervasive culture of generosity and inculcate a greater sense of selflessness, and review the nature and means of our current methods of Economic growth and production, we will continue to have economic exclusion!



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