The recent woes of Northern Rock (and to a certain extent the earlier panic in the USA) seem to be related to the state of the ‘Sub-Prime Mortgage’ market. ‘Sub-Prime’ seems to be something of a euphemism for ‘mortgages for people that can’t really afford them’ and as the BBC’s investigation seems to indicate, some brokers have got round this unfortunate problem by persuading would-be borrowers to lie about their wages.
Now if the normal pattern of things occurs it is likely that first of all the brokers will have their wrists slapped for ‘mis-selling,’ and then the borrowers will complain that they only took loans on ‘expert advice’ and so are not responsible at all.
The thing is, they are BOTH responsible. It is not a valid argument to suggest that because this is a ‘financial’ matter some kind of ignorance is a defence – because the issue (for the borrowers at least) is not so much ignorance as blatant falsification of information. If genuine ignorance meant they failed to appreciate they would be over-stretching themselves financially that is very unfortunate, but what on earth is going on in a society where people will lie in this kind of transaction without thinking it is wrong?
The God who made this world built the pattern of blessing for truth-telling into the very nature of things. As our society moves further and further away from His way it is no surprise that things go wrong.
I am not an economist so the following statement is problem reductionist in the extreme, but if over a long period of time we had not been encouraged to purchase properties beyond our means, it seems likely that prices would not have risen as quickly as they have done, due to the simple laws of supply and demand.
Regardless of this point, we must work and pray for a society which sees the inherent value in truthfulness, and much more than that, a society which begins to take note of the One who is entirely true, entirely good and entirely faithful.