Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Response to my "Speaking of Faith" broadcast

Among the hundreds of responses I've had to this broadcast, is the following substantial one from someone who only identifies her/himself as "Free Polazzo":


I appreciated your presentation on "Speaking of Faith". It is important to raise the questions you did, even if we don't know what the answers are. After all, that's what makes it a fun topic.

You mentioned on the show and Christie recapped the fact that "fixed prices" were introduced by Jewish and Christian businesspeople. As a Jew I learned that we needed to treat other Jews fairly. As a Quaker I learned that we needed to treat other people fairly, no matter what (if any) faith/culture they belonged to.

I have learned that it was The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) who began the fixed price in the West as a way to practice our Testimony on Equality and our Testimony on Truth. They/we believe in one standard of truth in all cases, so that when you ask for a price you get the same price no matter who you are. Even a child could be sent to the store without fear that they would be ripped off. (I guess the practice does save time, too, like you said).

Quaker Entrepreneurial Activity

Early Quakers were mainly from the yeoman and artisan classes: there were very few from the landed gentry or labouring class. Many were traders and craftspeople. They were well educated and literate. Because of official persecution, they were prohibited from working in the government, attending the universities, and entering trades in a corporate city. A number had their tools, such as looms and agricultural equipment, deliberately broken. Many became traders. They usually sold goods for a fixed price, rather than bargaining, as was the custom, and developed a reputation for honesty. "Their produce was sound, their prices fair, their services honest, their word good and their agreements honourable" (Walvin p210).

See: http://www.casi.org.nz/quakersinbusiness.html

So, consumers found out that they could send their children to stores owned by Quakers and that they would be treated fairly. This helped Quakers to thrive and encouraged others to adopt their practice.

Thank you for working to bring to consciousness the issue of people working without considering the ethical issues of their actions. As an accountant, I can attest to the fact that much of the "profit" we measure does not ever consider the long term health of the society or even of those working for the company that is earning the profits.

There are Quakers who have organized to consider the questions you ask. For example:


Remember that what made the "West" successful was not what happened in the last 50 years, but what happened 300 years and more ago. We are just reaping what we sowed. Something that we will be doing in the future but without the same great results we know have.

A more recent analysis of why some countries did well for their populations and others have not, was done by a Quaker Historian/Economist, Jack Powelson. It is a wonderful treatise on the basic issue of our times. How to be "successful" and also "ethical", although that was not his stated goal in writing the book:

See his book on line at: http://tqe.quaker.org/wealth-and-poverty/

Enoyed your blog. Looking forward to more.


Free Polazzo
Douglasville, GA, USA Sphere: Related Content

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