Monday, January 22, 2018
The Gap Between Rich and Poor
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan
who are on Mount Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
who say to their husbands, “Bring something to drink!”
The Lord God has sworn by his holiness:
The time is surely coming upon you,
when they shall take you away with hooks,
even the last of you with fishhooks.
Through breaches in the wall you shall leave,
each one straight ahead;
and you shall be flung out into Harmon,says the Lord... Amos 4:1-3
Leaders from many countries have gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Summit. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be there, apparently ready to declare that Canada is "open for business." This forum recognizes that there really is a global economy and issues such as technology and the health sector and environment will all be part of the discussion.
This summit coincides with the release of an Oxfam report on the growing gap between rich and poor in the world. As part of the press release we read:
Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report published by Oxfam today to mark the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos.
Oxfam’s report, ‘An economy for the 99 percent’, shows that the gap between rich and poor is far greater than had been feared. It details how big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics. It calls for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few
82% of the wealth created last year went to the richest 1%, while the poorest half of humanity got nothing.
I heard a representative from Oxfam today who also noted that the owners of some textile companies will make more in a few days than one of their workers will make in a lifetime.
While some of these eight billionaires including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are committed to giving away much of their wealth to benefit those at the lower end of the economic scale these facts are still sobering.
While we consider this in terms of the global economy the gap between rich and poor and the inequalities which go with it are not new. The prophet Amos lived in the 8th century BC and his hard-hitting message wasn't popular then and still isn't . Calling the rich and powerful to have a conscience, to prosper ethically and with regard for the wellbeing of others, is never going to sit easily with some. Jesus tossed a few "woes" toward the rich in Luke's version of the Beatitudes and warned against wealth without responsibility. Actually, all the major religions address these concerns.
I have no problem with Canada being part of a global economy. I do hope that we are part of a global discussion on what a fair and equitable economy for all can be.