Why the Redistribution of Wealth?

Because it is the right thing to do.

3 Nephi Chapter 6:

  4 And they began again to prosper and to wax great; and the twenty and sixth and seventh years passed away, and there was great order in the land; and they had formed their laws according to equity and justice.

  5 And now there was nothing in all the land to hinder the people from prospering continually, except they should fall into transgression.

  7 And it came to pass that there were many cities built anew, and there were many old cities repaired.

  8 And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.

  9 And thus passed away the twenty and eighth year, and the people had continual peace.

Sounds much like the United States since World War II.

  10 But it came to pass in the twenty and ninth year there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions;

   11 For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.

  12 And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.

Great inequality resulted as wealth and the privileges of wealth became limited to a small few.

  13 Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.

  14 And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.

Extreme inequality, the hallmark of the current American economy, cannot sustain any cooperative existence, whether it be the church in Nephite times, or the contemporary democratic nation-state (also known as a Republic).

  15 Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.

In my reading, the great inequality preceded the pride (which of course, preceded the fall.) There seems to be something very American about being blind to the problems of inequality. Maybe it is because of our belief that we all benefit from this inequality. While we might benefit from the limited types of inequality which allow for innovation and inequality, extreme inequality and extreme gaps between the very wealthy and the rest of us result in financial arrangements which not only hurt the poor but also the middle class. It was not the CEO’s of these companies that are suffering because of the recent financial and economic troubles but the middle class person who placed their trust in their 401k and their home value.

How do we address this problem? The redistribution of wealth. Do not allow those who use greed to their benefit to be the sole benefactors of that greed, particularly given the extent to which the social structure makes it possible for this very wealth. Some speak as if redistribution is immoral, when it is actually immoral not to look out for the good of all. This is the meaning of a republic: a nation-state which looks out for the good of all and not just the few. Those who condemn the redistribution of wealth as somehow being un-Constitutional are unwittingly rejecting the idea of a republic in favor of oligarchy.

What about private efforts of charities and churches? These are great. However, they only can address the symptoms of inequality (poverty, hunger, want, unemployment, and underemployment), they cannot solve the problem because they have little impact on the larger institutions of our society which buttress inequality. The only solution is public efforts on the part of our representative institutions (Congress).

What about markets? Of course, markets have an important role in any good economic scheme. But we must remember that people (all people), are more important than markets. Markets are useful mechanisms, but they have little intrinsic value in and of themselves.

Do not fear the redistribution of wealth brothers and sisters. Hope for it. It is the only possible means by which this nation (and all just constitutional regimes) can be saved and maintained.

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