By Geoff Openshaw

wealth_inequality

I’ve been thinking about wealth inequality lately. Elder M. Russell Ballard talked about the “equally worrisome … ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor” in the April 2012 General Conference. Now I know that wealth inequality is a touchy subject, and I don’t want to err too political when having a discussion centered around Latter-day Saint values. However, I believe there are many discussions worth having, and I really enjoy seeing the thoughts of others. I often learn of perspectives and ideas that my feeble mind fails to think of as I write an article.

Personally, I think there will always be certain “classes,” for lack of a better term. Communism – while never really employed in its purest form, so we can’t judge it perfectly – has still been a failure. China is now just authoritarian and single-party while mostly eschewing hardcore communist ideology. North Korea is a bit more intense, but it’s, well, North Korea. Pyongyang, ftw!

But groups of people of similar socio-economic ranking do – at least ideally – enable the aspirant and industrious to have something to work for. That’s not to say that hard-working people are automatically wealthy. On the contrary. I’ve known countless people who work their tails off and are blessed in many ways, but not necessarily economic ones. Hard work ?wealth.

The scriptures contain a few verses about the importance of there being a lack of poor. Note that, though. Alleviating poverty is different from eradicating socio-economic strata.

But let’s look at a few verses:

  • Acts 4:34-35 – “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of land or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold. And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and the distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”
  • Moses 7:18 – “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them”
  • 4 Nephi: 3 – “And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.”

What we are talking about here is disparity, not any alleged evil of there being money. Income disparity is a problematic issue for many countries, but the United States has the highest gap between rich and poor of any developed country. That’s pretty alarming.

Should we, as Latter-day Saints, be more concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor? President Monson is definitely big on this. There’s also a great Mormon podcast and blog called No Poor Among Them, which discusses LDS approaches to alleviating poverty. Also, Mormon Dems (just take it with a grain of salt, dear Republicans) wrote a far more in-depth article on this than anything I can provide.

There’s an interesting dichotomy here as the bootstrap-loving, western American, MBA-centric Mormon cultural behemoth gels with what many would erroneously call leftist idealism.

I’m more interested in your thoughts than in rattling off my own poorly-formed ideas. I’d love to be taught by all of you. The United Order was not socialism. State-run welfare has its flaws. Church-run welfare still has its flaws. There is no perfect solution.

Watch the video below (not a This Week in Mormons creation). It’s over a year old, but it should certainly make one take pause and at least think about income disparity, in the United States or elsewhere.