Home arrow Articles arrow DAMAGING DISPARITIES IN WEALTH AND INCOME arrow CONCENTRATION OF WAELTH: AN ELECTION ISSUE
Home
Articles
Bible Studies
CONCENTRATION OF WAELTH: AN ELECTION ISSUE PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 01 July 2015

 CONCENTRATION OF WEALTH: AN ELECTION ISSUE

By Jim Jordal

Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who constantly record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights, in order that widows may be their spoil, and that they may plunder the orphans.

Isaiah 10:1-2 (NASB)

Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression …being done under the sun. And behold, I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but [the oppressed] had no one to comfort them.

Ecc. 4:1 (NASB)

In the first passage above Isaiah pronounces woe upon powerful people who misuse their exalted positions to legislate evil laws depriving the poor of justice. In the second passage King Solomon decries the suffering of those oppressed by the holders of power, from who there seems no escape.

 Action by rich, powerful manipulators of law and finance to deprive citizens of their basic right to a decent existence is still sin, deserving of Divine judgment.

If this issue is not foremost in 2016 electioneering, it ought to be. God does not require absolute economic equality for all people, nor is He against wealth. What He does demand is that wealth not be acquired by fraud or oppression, that it not be used to further oppress the needy, and that it not become an idolatrous substitute for faith in Him.

Great fortunes often hint more of fraud, manipulation, oppression, and shady legality than of diligence, innovation, wisdom and foresight. You may be familiar with the so-called "Robber Barons" of American history exemplified by John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Andrew Carnegie. These captains of industry, better known as greedy pirates to their victims, amassed great fortunes through diligence, foresight, and willingness to take great risk. But they also practiced cutthroat competition, union busting, manipulation of the law, favor-currying with governmental officials, and whatever other questionable actions it took to build their empires.

Maybe they deserve the accolades of history as true pioneers acting in an era of almost uncontrolled free enterprise. Perhaps their certainly unethical, if not illegal, activities in pursuit of success can be forgiven because there existed no better examples or standards. But can we ignore the cries of the laborers whom they robbed or killed, the families who cried for justice, of even the competitors who were swindled or overpowered by reckless, brute economic power?

And what of great fortunes today? Even though they may be free from taint, they still threaten our basic institutions and values. Obviously, if an increasing percentage of total wealth is concentrated at the top of the income pyramid, there must be less available for bottom groups.

Perhaps the greatest curse upon the earth arising from extreme wealth is the arrogance and pride that too often accompany great wealth. Some favored people believe their good fortune is well deserved since they are smarter, more diligent, more willing to take risks, and even luckier than normal people. What they fail to realize is that their wealth is a product of the work of others, and of favorable societal conditions for the creation of wealth that are not of their own making. Unfortunately, their inaccurate perceptions of economic reality often transfer to the poor, whom they consider to be lazy, immoral, unable to effectively manage their own lives, and therefore undeserving of legitimate shares in the economic pie.

From a purely economic viewpoint, excessive concentration of wealth is dangerous because it allows too few persons to make market decisions affecting everyone else. Thus we have union-busting activity, price manipulation, virtual slave labor, monopoly power, environmental degradation, and a host of other practices damaging to economic democracy and justice.

There will always be income differentials defined by some as unfair and even oppressive. What we need is to make sure they do not arise from unethical, unfair, and unscriptural practices, but from legitimate differences in human abilities and diligence.

This should certainly be worthy of serious discussion by the hopefuls seeking to become leader of the nation.