November 2014
Billie Silvey
$18.30 goes for food
$6.60 is spent on recreation and amusement
$5.80 buys clothes
$2.40 buys alcohol
$1.50 buys tobacco
$1.30 is given for religious and charitable
uses (and only a small part of that goes
outside the U.S.)

"I wonder how the villagers on the crowded
plain--a third of whose people are suffering
from malnutrition--feel about the folks on the
hill?"

I wonder how God feels about it, but actually
he's already told us:  

"If anyone has material possessions and
sees his brother in need but has no pity on
him, how can the love of God be in him?  
Dear children, let us not love with words or
tongue but with actions and truth" (1 John
3:17-18).

Since the Great Recession of 2008, our
nation has made great strides toward
economic recovery, but all the money has
gone to the rich.  

Since 2010, overall family income rose 4% in
real terms, but median income fell 5%.  In the
past three years, the lower class has seen
its income decline; the middle class has
stayed roughly flat; and the upper class has
seen its income rise.  

And most of this rise has benefitted the
richest of the rich.  According to
Emmanuel
Saez, who tracks economic inequality in the
U.S., a newer, greater problem is "wealth
inequality."  The top 0.1% owned 7% of total
U.S. household wealth from the 1930
through the 70s.  By 2012, that figure was
22%  Today, their share of wealth "is almost
as high as in the late 1920s," which was just
before the Great Depression!  

Both the government and the economy can
adopt principles that aggravate the problem,
and often they seem to do so.  It must be
tempting to help those who can respond in
kind, but for fairness' sake, it's important to
write laws and adopt policies that help those
who need it instead.  It's important--and it's
right!
The Rich Get Richer
Since the 2008 recession, we seem to be
recovering.  But, in reality, most of the gains
have been made by those who are already
wealthy.  

Overall, the average annual family income
rose four percent, but the
median income
(when you divide total household income into
two equal parts, the income that falls in the
middle) fell five percent.  According to the
Federal Reserve, over the past three years,
the poor have suffered a decline in income,
the middle class has seen their income
remain roughly flat, and the upper class has
experienced an income rise.

Republican tax cuts for the wealthy have
exacerbated the problem.

It isn't just the case in this country.  Income
inequality and the growing wealth of the few
is a worldwide phenomenon.

Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand, in their
book
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made,
suggest that we "consider the world as if it
were shrunk down to a community of 1000
persons:

"In the town of 1000--
180 of us live high on a hill called the
developed world;
820 live on the rocky bottom land called the
rest of the world.

"The fortunate 180 on the hill have 80 percent
of the wealth of the whole town, over half of all
the rooms in town with over two rooms per
person, 85 percent of all the automobiles, 80
percent of all the TV sets, 93 percent of all the
telephones, and an average income of $5000
per person per year.

"The not-so-fortunate 820 people on the
bottom get by on only $700 per person per
year, many of them on less than $75.  They
average five persons to a room.

"How does the fortunate group of
hill-dwellers use its incredible wealth?  Well,
as a group they spend less than 1 percent of
their income to aid the lower land.  (In the
United States, for example, of every $100
earned: