Yesterday I read this very concerning article in the Huffington Post about Tom Perkins contention that people with more money should get more votes. His idea is that you only get to vote if you pay taxes and the more taxes you pay the more votes you get. He says that the rich are being threatened. Yet the facts don’t show that.
According to another article on CNN:
1. Workers are taking home their smallest slice of U.S. income on record: At around $15.8 trillion a year, the United States produces more in annual economic output than ever before, but it’s not the worker that’s benefiting. Instead, corporate profits now account for their largest slice of that pie on record, whereas the slice for workers has been steadily declining.
2. Inequality has widened: The recovery has been good to families earning more than $394,000 a year, but the other 99% of Americans have barely felt it.
Whereas income for the richest 1% had grown 31% from 2009 to 2012, income for the rest of Americans has barely budged in recent years, growing just 0.4% over the same time period.
That means the richest 1% of American families have captured 95% of the income gains in the recovery, according to economists at the forefront of income inequality research, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.
The concerning thing to me is that the rich and powerful have more clout than ever. The influence of the Koch brothers on the recent government economic upset shows that. And through misinformation and media clout they can make us believe that their views are right.
So what does the Bible really say about wealth? That is not an easy question to answer and there are many interpretations of Jesus’ words on the subject. One thing I have noticed however is that when the rich interpret what Jesus says it usually justifies their wealth, when the poor interpret it usually emphasizes their exclusion.
How we interpret what the Bible says depends on who we stand with. Perhaps that is part of the reason Jesus encourages us to identify with the poor because when we do we really see his perspective not just on wealth but on life. Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God the Beatitudes tell us (Luke 6:20 NIV). Perhaps that is because only the poor really see the values and priorities of God’s kingdom. We need to see from the perspective of the poor in order to really understand what God wants to say. Unfortunately so much of what we interpret about money in the Bible tends to be from the perspective of the wealthy. And we want to believe it because consciously or unconsciously we hope that one day we too will be wealthy.
Ched Myer’s has really helped me understand this perspective. His perspective on The Parable of the Talents is both revealing and challenging. His views on Sabbath Economics have helped to transform my thinking and move away from the conditioning of the wealthy
We need to not just know what the Bible says but why we believe it. Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve both God and money. But we certainly keep trying.