Newsletter - the Breathe Network
"Breathe exists to connect people who want to live differently in a consumer culture. We believe that lifestyle change is possible. We believe that the message rippling out from an empty tomb can bring freedom to the way we handle our money, our time and our possessions."
"I gave up on NatWest last year on ethical issues and have had no regrets. I believe the CEO of the Co-op bank gets several hundred thousand but nothing like the other banks pay. And of course the customers are also the shareholders so there is no conflict of interest. Just beware if switching banks not to tell you old bank anything until the deal has gone through and all direct debits and standing orders sorted." (Jackie)
"My company (Defined Contribution) pension scheme gives a wide choice of investment funds where I can choose to invest my money. I switched it out of the default fund (a global equity fund) into Legal and General's "Ethical UK Equity Index Fund". This scheme is only marginally more expensive and higher risk than the default fund, but excludes investments in a range of "unethical" companies. I think this kind of change is something that lots of people could do, without significantly impacting their own savings." (Dave)
"You can find out more about ethical banking and saving here: www.ethicalconsumer.org. I also have a 'dark green' ISA - it supposedly one that's really ethical. But I was horrified to discover it included shares in Tesco and Starbucks, two companies I try to boycott because I feel so strongly about the clone towns they have created (and because of Tesco's shocking treatment of farmers and suppliers). I wrote to my investment company to explain all this. They wrote back and said they think food companies are a force for good. To date I have done nothing else about my ISA. I feel slightly paralysed, so would be interested to hear what other Breathe supporters think.
"You also ask for recommendations. I have a smaller investment with Shared Interest who use my money for fair trade microfinance-type projects in developing countries. That is clearly good! But you don't really get any interest so it is arguably not a viable alternative to the more mainstream ethical investment funds." (Elizabeth)
"Re: Managing Mammon, Ethical consumer magazine are looking at banks this month and March is 'Move your Money Month' so one of the things we are doing during Lent is looking at the banks and deciding if/which to move to. We (Jim and I) hope to do alot of stuff-shedding because we are moving to Kyrgyszstan in August to work for Oasis there for 3 years. We have reframed the whole packing and sorting process 'An Adventure in Generosity' after reading Consumer Detox!" (Jane)
"I have been 'ethical banking' for the last twenty five years with the co-operative bank - I also have an ethical mortgage. The definition of ethical banking is broad and eradicating majority world poverty does not seem to be top of the agenda so I am not overly impressed with the 'ethical' stance.
The problem is that there are just too many 'ethical' stances that people/pressure groups want to be top of the agenda and so trying to keep everybody happy in a limited market is very hard. I am also not any longer convinced that other banks can so easily be labelled 'unethical' when they follow the laws set down by governments duly elected by ourselves. Increasingly I think that left wing (normally well educated champagne socialist) christians like to scapegoat banks which after all only operate according to the laws set by governments that we elect." (Andy)
"I am greatly encouraged by the Occupy movement. Finally people are beginning to ask the right questions, such as "What is important in an economic system?" and "Is there an alternative?" I know people are frustrated that we haven't got instant answers, but you can't have answers until you start asking the questions.
I haven't protested in person, but from time to time I raise issues on my blog as I believe God is working on this earth and shaking some empires that need shaking. Empires of commerce that exploit the poor and take away quality of life and in return sell us lies that tell us what we think we want.
I can't say anything about ethical banking as I am not in the UK and don't keep up to date with that. Banks here in Latvia are not ethical and do not even run along the lines of their home countries, considering most of them are Scandinavian that is appalling. My preferred option for savings is to lend to friends and acquaintances, that leads to some good reciprocal arrangements but also enables people to access finances they wouldn't be able to achieve otherwise and sometimes at better interest than I would get in a bank. Don't worry they win too as the interest they pay is far less than they would pay to a bank as well. This releases finances into the situations now and yes I might lose it all, but in the meantime it helps." (Joanna)
"I have been to Occupy St Pauls twice to protest and hear the “sermon on the step”. I have since done some bible study on usury. It appears to me that usury is prohibited (lending at interest ). Lending is fine but the Old Testament has notions of giving back and restoring land at times of Jubilee. The New testament doesn’t just lend without interest, it gives away freely! How strange then that for 1500 years the church followed this teaching then with switched to a narrow personal salvation that neglected or deliberately transgressed this clear bible teaching on usury. My conclusions are that I need to get free of all debt. I will make changes at work to achieve this. It will take a few months but I hope to be following the traditional teaching of the bible and the church on usury by the summer." (Jon)
Mark Powley, 18/04/2012
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