We live in historic times.
Economist Thomas Pikkety, in his best-selling 2014 book “Capital”, says that by 2030 the top 10% of the population will control 60% of the nation’s wealth. This is a level of inequality unmatched in human history.
One of the questions posed by social scientists is “how long will the disenfranchised put up with their limited circumstances before they demand change?” I wonder that myself. It is interesting to see generations of college students (from the 1990s until now) wrestling with such grotesque tuition rates and, so far, largely unwilling to protest the state of affairs beyond a few grumbles on social media or in casual conversation. This may speak to the complex ways in which modern American society, in subtle and unsubtle ways, discourages protest, particularly when they involve declarations of unfairness.
An even more difficult question is, how did such a state come about? Did the powerful and influential see society’s winners and losers and decide that the losers’ compromised state was of no concern? Did lawmakers think they had no responsibility to lessen the misery of the poor? Did business owners believe perpetual low wages would not present increasing problems for their workers as the years went on and the cost of living rose?
The Bible, particularly through the voices of the prophets, contains harsh words for those who allow injustice to continue. Our society is careening toward serious problems because we’ve allowed injustice and inequality to get worse and worse. To add insult to injury, the election of openly religious officeholders has only increased the misery of the poor; it is a point of shame that as we become more outwardly religious, our poverty has exploded.