March 1999                                  

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Bishops attack Anglo-American economic doctrines

In a fierce defence of the Nordic welfare system, the bishops of Finland warn of the consequences of neo-liberal economic doctrines. They fear that the current economic direction leads to a Latin American model if it is allowed to continue.

"When we for instance look at Latin America, we are looking at the direction of our own future, unless we consciously defend healthy social policies", said the Bishop of Lapua, Jorma Laulaja.

The bishops complain that neo-liberal economic doctrines emphasise freedom instead of justice. As an example they draw attention to the free movement of international capital. The bishops propose taxing the profits earned from these movements. They think Finland could actively participate in creating an international regulating system.

In their public statement, the bishops say that the Nordic welfare society is an achievement which shouldn’t be let wither away. The state is an important agent in defending the weak and justice, they think. They also believe that it is irresponsible to build society only on the basis of economic growth.

In their statement, the bishops consider it worrying that even when production increases, employment falls. As social expenditure remains high, there are more and more cries that the welfare system is too expensive. The bishops disapporove of such attitudes. They express strong belief in the basic moral assumption of Nordic societies which is that all members of the society must enjoy basic rights.

The bishops say that even if in the short term social justice with its financial costs may seem like a break on economic activity, it is vital for a sustainable economy. Trust between citizens is an important part of social capital, they emphasise.

The bishops defend continental European humanistic liberalism. They believe the Lutheran ethical thinking and the best traditions of the working class movement have pointed to the same direction.

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