No, I haven't got something stuck in my throat - I have been prondering the future effects of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
As I sat and watched Gideon unwrap his plans I wondered what the real-time results would be. I noted, with some amusement that the word 'cut' was habitually replaced with the word 'saving' - prestidigitation perhaps but a shroud to the truth nonetheless. They are savings only for the Government, but without exception cuts for the rest of us. Euphemistic speechmaking at its best!
Anyhoo - I didn't want to become party political here so I won't. My role as priest is to watch and wait for the effects of these marvellous savings to become reality for the people among whom I work and to walk with them as they feel the pinch in their own way. 490,000 lost jobs - wow - that is two-thirds of the population of Buckinghamshire!
It seems to me that simple measures are the way forward, and this is but one example (not a comprehensive savings review) - and it surrounds the redistribution of wealth.
Using retail as an example, I turn my attention to Tesco. I am an example of Tescofied Man; a one-stop shopper, preferably online, for all my family's needs. Shame on me! I wonder what positive effect there would be on our local society if we all relied more on the local traders for our produce (lest we forget that it is still the harvest season). If I gave my bakery business to the High Street baker, my meat needs to the High Street butcher, my fruit and veg needs to the High Street greengrocers - and so on. I know Tesco employs lots of people, but employees-per-customer ratios for Tesco must be far lower than those for my local Butcher etc. Soon, many people will need jobs, and if we allow our shopping pounds to be more widely distributed, I wonder if more people will find some greater sense of security, that more jobs might be created somewhere. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't think so.
For me, my Tescofication is a product of over-busy living, convenience and yes, laziness. I need to rethink how I live, and yes, even spend just a pound or two more on what I buy. Surely it would be better for every shopper to spend a tenner a week more on their needs and for that money to more more widely distributed not among shareholders, but among the business stakeholders in their own community. I must also commit to this on an ethical level too, and the excesses of some Fairtradeism might have to be re-thought too.
In short, we as Christians need to support, first and foremost, our communities and neighbours. It will cost us time, cash and convenience, but in an age where the word 'saving' means 'redundancy' then we have little choice.