Inequality isn’t a new problem, but the current administration seems determined to make it worse. The subtitle for Trump’s new budget might as well be: “The Rich Get Richer and The Poor Get Poorer.”
The Prison of Privilege is a pamphlet written by William R. Miller, Ph.D. and published by the Faith & Money Network. In it he refers to a book titled, The Spirit Level which he says “meticulously documents how both rich and poor fare worse if they live in a more unequal society, one where there is a large income gap between rich and poor.”
While statistics vary depending on the scope of a study, Oxfam’s 2017 international report prepared for the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos showed that the gap is worse than had been feared. Titled “An Economy for the 99 Percent” the report explained that saying, “New and better data on the distribution of global wealth – particularly in India and China – indicates that the poorest half of the world has less wealth than had been previously thought. Had this new data been available last year, it would have shown that nine billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet.” Now, a year later, “eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.” Six of those 8 men are Americans.
In his work titled The Prison of Privilege, Dr. Miller went on to say that “such injustice is obviously much harder on the poor, but the rich also pay a price of inequality in society. On average, as a people we are (whether rich or poor) less healthy, more obese, more depressed and anxious, take more psychiatric medications, have more teen pregnancies and infant mortality, more violence and homicide, more prisons, more alcohol/drug problems, and die younger, in direct proportion to the size of the gap between rich and poor.”
Rick Steves, who is probably the best known travel guide in the world, wrote a great article called “Innocents Abroad.” “Travel,” he said, “paints a human face on our globe, making the vast gap between rich and poor vivid.” He went on to say “Crass materialism and a global perspective don’t mix.” And he added that “The world needs America the beautiful. But lately, the world sees America as more aggressive and materialistic than beautiful.” The entire article is on his website and is well worth reading for his insights.
I started this article saying that inequality isn’t a new problem. That is evidenced by the fact that Plutarch, who lived from c46 – c125, wrote in an essay on ethics that “The imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”
Inequality is a serious and growing problem that all of us need to know enough about to understand the difficulties it creates. In his recent book, “Born on Third Base,” Chuck Collins listed three things we need to do to solve that problem: (1) Establish stronger social safety nets, (2) Institute fair rules that don’t give one business or segment of society preference over others and (3) Break up concentrated wealth.
Subsequent articles on Inequality will provide information from a number of sources on each of those three things.
Will you read them in search of your marching orders?
Blessings on your work,