Editor’s Note: The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics released a new research report entitled, “Why Does Income Inequality Exist? An Economic and Biblical Explanation” by Dr. Anne Bradley, Ph.D. This week our blog is highlighting the key findings from this report.
We are fallen people who are created uniquely. Our gifts are different in nature, combination and degree. We are called to use our gifts toward the common good and that implies our work. In a series of articles, I have asserted that you can use your God-given gifts for the common good by embracing your talents, focusing in on your comparative advantage and creating value. This does not only occur in the church, in fact, most of our professions are outside the church.
Markets are a space where we can unleash our creativity and serve the world through innovation. Markets bring us goods and services that make everyone better off, including the poorest among us. By bringing our creativity to the market through goods and services we serve each other. We use our creativity to make others better off than they were before.
The market is only capable of rewarding through profit and it punishes with losses. These are in terms of dollars. Because the goods and services we bring to the market are valued subjectively by the purchaser, income inequality is a fact of economic life and economics pervades all of our life choices.
The following are the key messages from our week spent thinking about income inequality:
- Diversity is a Biblical premise of Creation. We are born with different gifts.
- By focusing on our gifts we can unleash our comparative advantage and bring value to the marketplace by serving others.
- In a free society, absent cronyism, disparity of wages is not a sign of injustice.
- If we care about a society that reduces poverty and assists the poor, we should be concerned not about income inequality but the relative prosperity of those at the bottom and their income mobility.
- An opportunity society is the best way to unleash the creativity and dignity with which we are created and serve others with our gifts.
Income inequality is a natural part of the human condition. We are created uniquely and that means that there is no universal Biblical standard for income equality. The question that must be addressed biblically and through public policy is the relative prosperity of the poorest among us and their ability to gain income through the pursuit of their gifts.
To that end, we need an opportunity society which embraces our uniqueness, unleashes our creativity and potential and serves the common good. Markets have empirically demonstrated that they are better than any other system at lifting the poor out of destitution.
The big question is where do we, in the United States, stand and in what direction are we headed? Are we embracing leaders and policies which foster an opportunity society? Can the poorest among us advance their well-being and actually be able to flourish by unleashing their gifts on the world? I assert to you that only a society which understands and respects the human condition borne out of our unique creation in God our Father can ever enjoy long-term flourishing and a world that lifts up the poorest to be the best that they can possibly be.
In this video, Professor Robert Lawson of Southern Methodist University weighs in on these questions.
Question: In what ways has this article helped you to think differently about income inequality?