A Call for Truly Radical Wealth Redistribution
- Monday, November 21, 2011
Read Part I of this two-part series: Let's Occupy Our Own Streets.
Of all the issues swirling around the Occupy Wall Street protests, the one that seems to have struck the most sensitive nerve is financial inequality. It prompted one writer, whose article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, to accuse the protesters of calling for “radical wealth redistribution.”
He didn’t define what he meant by “radical,” but you could sense his outrage over the idea of wealth redistribution and his disdain for the protesters.
The problem is, no one is defining their terms very well – the protesters or those protesting what they think the protesters are protesting.
Wealth Redistribution Done Right
At first glance, I don’t believe in “wealth redistribution” either, at least not forced wealth redistribution. The idea is an opportunity and initiative killer.
However, I do believe in the type promoted by a small group of “radicals” a couple of thousand years ago.
In the book of James, thought to have been written by Jesus’ brother, the author implored people to put their faith into action, personally helping those in need.
Far too many of us are doing far too little in this area. Generosity research shows that the average church member gives less than three percent of his or her income to their church – far lower than the biblical standard of “tithes and offerings.”
Could it be that the solution isn’t “out there” somewhere, but closer to home? Could it be that the most significant reform needed isn’t on Wall Street or in Washington, but in our own hearts, our own relationships, and our own wallets?
What if we didn’t wait for someone else to help – the government, social service agencies, the church? What if each of us generously supported our place of worship and gave generously to individuals in need? Now that would be radical.
What if we actually told our close friends and family members when we had needs instead of keeping our problems to ourselves out of fear of embarrassment or not wanting to be a burden? Now that would be radical.
And to the degree that the government can play a role this area, what if our political leaders came up with ideas and cast a vision for increased individual generosity, instead of spending time on ideas destined to reducepeople’s charitable giving? Now that would be radical.
Being the Change We Want to See
The more I think about the Occupy Wall Street protests, the more it seems that the issues all come down to one question: Who’s responsible?
And I can’t help but remember the research of Arthur Brooks, author of “Who Really Cares.” He found that people who believe the government should do more for people tend to be less personally generous.
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