Easter greetings to our WBC/Micah colleagues,
Income inequality is a topic about which much has been discussed and written recently. President Obama described inequality as "the defining challenge of our time," candidates in the recent presidential election raised the issue, and notable economists (e.g., Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz) have written extensively about the subject.
This month John Fontana brings the matter to our attention. He presents two articles that have different perspectives and probably create tension when thinking about capitalism, the common good, and inequality.
Arthur Brooks is the President of the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. His lengthy article, "Confessions of a Catholic Convert to Capitalism," appeared in a recent issue of America.
In his essay Brooks tells the story of his conversion to Catholicism, and builds an argument that free enterprise has helped fulfill the anti-poverty goals of our faith. But, he acknowledges that the system has limitations and warns to avoid any temptation to create false idols out of wealth or markets.
In contrast is the message delivered by Angus Deaton, a former Nobel laureate in Economics, as he reviews a new book, "The Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution - Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic." The author of this text is Ganesh Sitaraman, a Vanderbilt law professor, who postulates that growing inequality will destroy the American Constitution which is premised on the existence of a large and thriving middle class.
the reviewer, and apparently the author, believe that inequality is back in full force, and that America faces the threat of a takeover of government by those more concerned about self-enrichment than the common good. Growing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population is the consequence of the growing gap between the rich and middle class.
Among his questions for reflection, John Fontana first challenges us to look at these issues from our own experience. He then seeks our viewpoints about the future - is there a better way to manage free markets for the advancement of the common good?
Enjoy these timely articles.