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Feb 16, 2011

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Tyson

So then he would agree that biblical social justice is more about the redistribution of the means of wealth, rather than wealth itself? That's where his train of thought seems to be heading, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to reach the station. ;-P

Michael W. Kruse

In this article, Sirico is doing more deconstruction than offering a fleshed out alternative view. He is addressing a pervasive tendency among theological types (particularly Mainline Protestant and liberationists) to define justice simply in terms of equalized wealth. This betrays a mindset that sees economics as a zero-sum gum where my gain is someone else's loss. It says that if the floor is the bottom of the wealth distribution and top is the ceiling, then the only way to raise the floor is to lower the ceiling.

The economy is not a zero-sum game. The global economy gets larger each year and it gets larger in almost every nation of the world every year.

So what is justice? Here are three ways you can envision justice and equality.

A. Everyone should have roughly the same amount of wealth.

B. Everyone should have a level of wealth relative to their need.

C. Everyone should have a level of wealth corresponding to their economic contribution to creating wealth.

If you equalize only on any one of these three then you will have radical inequality on the other two.

Society has a moral obligation to help with the needs of the poorest among us (Sirico would like call it a "social mortgage"). But their greatest need is to become integrated into the civic and economic life of the community. (And if you ask many of the poor what the most need, they will say a job, not more money.) Society also needs to have a sound economy, rewarding people according to their stewardship of resources. Simply leveling income will defeat both these aims. It reflects an exceedingly one-dimensional view of humanity and it frankly has more of the gospel of Marx than the gospel of Mark in it. ;-)

Tyson

Thanks for your response, Michael. I've only been reading your blog for a couple weeks and learning a lot. I appreciate your thoughts on the intersection of macroeconomics and our faith.

Quotable quote:
"Simply leveling income will defeat both these aims. It reflects an exceedingly one-dimensional view of humanity and it frankly has more of the gospel of Marx than the gospel of Mark in it."

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