Paul Lewis is absolutely right in attacking the dogmatism that religion creates. People may be spiritual, without imposing their views on others, but when someone’s dogma overtakes their sense of humanity, they become strangely inhuman.
This is what accounts for John Ralfe’s duality. He is in real life a perfectly nice bloke who likes Bruce Springsteen, enjoys cricket and glories in the countryside around Nottingham. I would gladly spend time with the human being – John Ralfe.
Unfortunately, John’s duality contains another person altogether. As he prepares to address his 2000 followers in the hallowed halls of twitter, he dons the coat of financial scientology.
I did not realise that John is a financial scientologist until I read this exchange with Dennis Leech yesterday.
Dennis has hit – perhaps accidentally , on the cause of John’s divisiveness. I don’t know much about the science of financial economics, but it’s clear that it is an “ology”. I don’t know much about Scientology either – though their church is near me in Blackfriars.
Both Scientology and the religion of financial science appear to overtake normal happy people and create completely different people espousing stuff that makes no common sense.
To make Dennis’ argument graphically, we use this diagram
What it shows is that a collective pension scheme finds life difficult if it closes and easy if it stays open. That is because benefits are paid from income with an infinite time horizon and the market value of the assets are irrelevant.
Close a scheme and you have the problem of having to sell assets to pay benefits with a shortening of time horizons. This is the hard problem that people face with DC and it’s why DB schemes find it so expensive to wind up.
John Ralfe often explains the cost of buy out to justify why he considers that open DB schemes like USS are in deficit. This is because financial economics cannot accept that market values are irrelevant to “open” collective schemes. They need to be valued on the capacity of their assets to meet future bills (e.g. pensions).
This seems to me, someone who is neither actuary or economist, to make common sense.
What would happen in John lost his religion?
The frightening hold that financial scientology has on John may have no remedy. Since it cannot be cured by common sense, it looks like John will remain a latter day Malvolio to whom Toby Belch can tease
Out o’ tune, sir. You lie. Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
It is very hard not to feel sorry for Malvolio and it is very hard not to feel sorry for John Ralfe, at least the John Ralfe who puts on the cloak of financial scientology.
But as far as I know, Malvolio was always Malvolio, he did not enjoy Bruce Springsteen, or walk on the Dales or watch cricket.
My hope is that John will somehow forget where he hung the cloak of financial scientology and that someone puts in the charity box. Then – for sweet charity – that box is lost and burned and that John never again has to “insist on the science of financial economics”.
Because John is a really good bloke who is trapped by his dogmatism. Perhaps I should put him in a room with Paul Lewis.
That would learn him.