Monday, December 16, 2013

Income Inequality: An Evil?

There has been a lot in print lately about correcting income inequality, as if it’s an established human right for everyone to have identical incomes. However, before we conclude that there is something righteous about establishing income equality, let’s first re-examine a few things, namely Marxism – the proactive attempt to attain this goal and, with it, a “worker’s paradise.”

Marxism has been tried, and it has never produced any semblance of any kind of paradise. Instead, in each place where Marxism has created its “paradise,” it has required walls, threats, work camps, murder and Gulags to convince its populace that they were living in a virtual paradise, despite their strenuous attempts to flee it! One Soviet Christian, Alexandr Ogordinokov, wrote about the “paradise” to which he had been sent:

  • Concentration camps are scattered over the vast expanse of Russia, behind tall fences of barbed wire and high-voltage cables…you are buried in the tomb-like twilight of solitary punishment cells; the oppressive silence of faceless days turns time itself into an instrument of torture…Hunger gnaws at your belly, and cold numbs your flesh and desperation courses through your blood. (Marvin Olasky, Prodigal Press, xxiii)

This description could describe any communist death camp, whether in Cuba, Cambodia, China, or Vietnam. But why? Is there something endemic to income equality that produces horrors? Perhaps – Here are some possibilities:

1.      Income equality requires massive government control to ensure that income is equal – something that requires repression and coercion.

2.      Income equality has never been identified by any of the major world religions as a human right or even a goal. Although the Bible places a lot of emphasis on caring for the poor – a responsibility that many churches gladly undertake – there is no biblical mandate to establish income equality. Instead, all major religions are reluctant to undermine individual initiative in this manner.

3.      If income equality cannot be demonstrated as a right – and it clearly undermines initiative and creates a destructive sense of entitlement – it then becomes difficult to rationally justify it. Therefore, if reason fails to justify income equality, then coercion becomes inevitable with its Gulags and barbed-wire fences.

4.      Moral relativism – and this has been so closely associated with progressive Marxism – also undermines rationality and therefore must rely upon coercion. If all morals are simply relative to the person or culture, there is no objective moral truth or moral good upon which to base income equality. Therefore, such a program is inherently incoherent and indefensible.

5.      Christianity also tries to address the problem of human suffering. However, it identifies sin as the problem – an analysis that goes far deeper and more universally than the Marxist economic analysis. Consequently, the ideal of income equality to produce a better world represents a different, competing, and anti-Christian hope for a better world. Such a hope does not issue forth from the major world religions but from progressive atheism.

6.      In order to promote such a hope, unsupported by reason or history, the “progressives” must defensively damn every other hope as evil and regressive. Therefore, in order to implement their hope for a better world, they must suppress or remove alternative thinking. Here are just several examples of this contempt and intolerance endemic to an insupportable hope:

·         Karl Marx: "In simple truth, I harbour hate 'gainst all the Gods." His dissertation stated that we should "recognize as the highest divinity, the human self-consciousness itself!"

·         Nikolai Lenin: "Every religious idea, every idea of god, even every flirtation with the idea of God, is unutterable vileness."

·         Nikita Khrushchev: "We, Communists ... are atheists ... Public education, the dissemination of scientific knowledge, and the study of the laws of nature, leave no place for belief in God ... We consider that belief in God contradicts our Communist outlook." "We remain the atheists that we have always been; we are doing all we can to liberate those people who are still under the spell of this religious opiate."

For them, capitalism is an evil, an impediment to the attainment of income equality. It therefore must be eliminated.

But is capitalism really an evil? As a farmer, I decided that I had enough tomatoes to sell on the roadside to make a little extra money. Was this an evil? Actually, by providing more tomatoes to the market, my tomato stand would tend to lower the overall price and contribute additional wealth to the community. Nothing evil about that! I didn’t take any food out of anyone’s mouth. Instead, I contributed food.

If I had even more tomatoes to sell to justify hiring a picker, would this have been evil? Certainly, the hired help and his family wouldn’t have thought so, and I can’t think of anyone else who would have objected, apart from a Marxist.

This is not to say that capitalism cannot be used for evil. Any institution can be! The UN and even Congress have been used for evil, but I wouldn’t suggest that we therefore dismantle them! Nor am I advocating for unbridled capitalism. Every institution requires its checks and balances. All are inherently corruptible!

This brings us back to the question of evil and a realistic hope in the face of this evil. The reason that our best-conceived institutions turn evil is because we are evil and require a Savior. Our Bible presents us with the only adequate hope to address the evil:

  • We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:20-21)

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