The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. Psalm 24:1
The creation belongs to God. We have been given responsibility to care for it, lovingly tend it, and responsibly use it. When, in our brokenness, we hoard resources, violate and plunder the earth carelessly and greedily, when we take more than we need at the expense of others, it violates God's intention.
In an increasingly interdependent world economic order, unfair systems benefit some people while hurting others and harming our planet. The current design of the global economic structure is increasing the disparity between those who have more than enough and those who have too little. The church has a responsibility to speak on behalf of and stand with the poor, oppressed, and marginalized.
Economic globalization refers to the growing integration and inter-connectedness of the national economies through increases in trade, investment and, to some extent, immigration.
We can’t halt globalization. But we can and need to carefully choose the rules and laws that govern it. A “neo-liberal” policy framework has shaped the past 30 years of rapid globalization. Contrary to the way it sounds, neoliberal policies are more commonly supported by politically conservative, not liberal, people.
Neo-liberal policies are grounded in the belief that markets provide the best economic outcomes and that the unfettered buying and selling of goods and services (including people’s labor), without interference by regulations (such as protections for workers or the environment) will provide the optimal economic outcomes.
Neoliberal beliefs are put into practice through policies that:
- Promote international “free” trade and investment (money flows) unhindered by regulations or protections for workers and the environment.
- Decrease the role for governments, including deregulation, tax cuts, reductions in safety net programs.
- Expand the role for corporations, including in sectors and services traditionally handled by governments including education and health care (privatization).
Neoliberal policies are imbedded in international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and in activities of the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. These policies have also been incorporated into U.S. laws, leading to a weakening of labor and environmental protections, consumer and product safety oversight, regulations of commerce, and other aspects of our legal and regulatory framework that governs business practices.
Many people are concerned that neo-liberal policies have led to:
- Rising inequality of income both in the global North and South
- Slowed economic growth
- Increased financial instability (as we saw in the United States and around the world in 2008)
- Slowed improvements in social indicators, such as infant mortality and life expectancy
- Increased corporate power.
UCC General Synod Resolutions and Pronouncements
A Faithful Response: calling for a more just, humane direction for economic globalization describes the impact of the past 25 years of enhanced economic globalization and calls for fundamental changes in the rules and institutions that shape this integration.
General Synod 27 affirmed the Accra Confession: Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth and recommended it to the church for study, discernment, and action in Affirming the Accra Confession: Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth.