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Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Growing Gap Between The Rich and The Economically Illiterate PBU16

For the longest time, I've laboured under the false conviction that I had an obligation to be concerned about the well-being of those less fortunate than myself. Perhaps I was brainwashed by Christianity. Consider the message behind Acts 4:32-37 for example:

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

It's practically the communist manifesto. A layman's reading of the text above led me to conclude that sharing and caring for others was an important "culture of life" value. Little did I know that I was simply economically illiterate. David Morris of the Institute for Local Self Reliance writes...

IN 1998, WITH much fanfare, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis formally launched its "Economic Literacy" initiative.

As President Gary Stern explained: "Economic literacy is crucial because it is a measure of whether people understand the forces that significantly affect the quality of their lives."

The initiative includes student essay contests. This year, the Minneapolis Fed invited high school juniors and seniors to tackle this question: "What role, if any, should the government play in addressing income inequality?"

To guide the students, the bank issued a primer. "One often hears the phrase, 'The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,'" the primer begins, and then refutes the adage because "income inequality is widening [while] ... poverty rates steadily decreased." The primer concedes that some people believe inequality weakens society's bonds but wants the students to know that there are "possible external benefits of income inequality ... In fact, some contend that ... income inequality provides incentives for those who are at low- to middle-income levels to work hard, attain more education and advance to better-paying jobs."

The Minneapolis Fed received nearly 250 essays from high school juniors and seniors from 39 schools in six states. The overall winning essay is titled, "Income Inequality: Not a Government Issue."

The winning essayist writes,

"the average CEO is paid over 400 times as much as the average worker" but explains, "Without these top earners to aspire to, the productivity of the American economy would collapse."

Read It:

It's a good thing Kenneth Lay is out there to aspire me to make more and more money, or I probably would've spent the rest of my life aspiring to nothing more than food, shelter, and affection, and a modicum of self-esteem. Just think what might have been!

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