Obama Reparations Radio Interview Begs a Question: Does Wealth Redistribution Actually Help the Poor?

A 2001 radio interview of Barack Obama surfaced yesterday in which he said that “one of the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement,” and one of the limitations of the Warren Supreme Court, was that although they won such formal rights as the right to vote and “sit at the lunch counter and order,” they “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth.” A caller to the station, WBEZ Chicago 91.5 FM, then asks if the courts are “the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place.” Obama responds that “you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally,” but a more effective approach is “the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change.” Does the radio interview demonstrate that Obama harbors radical views? Continue Reading...

Is John Wesley’s Economic Advice Sound?

Writing a commentary for the United Methodist News Service, J. Richard Peck encourages readers to heed John Wesley’s advice on economic policy. “In short, Wesley called for higher taxes upon the wealthy and laws that would prohibit the wasting of natural products,” says Peck. Continue Reading...

God Hears the Compassionate

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.” Proverbs 21:13 I remember being very young and hearing a minister dramatically describe the flames and fires of hell in a sermon. Continue Reading...

Kuyper, The Problem of Poverty

Readings in Social Ethics: Abraham Kuyper, The Problem of Poverty. References below are to page numbers. With next week’s reading of Rauschenbusch in view, here’s how Kuyper evaluates Christian socialists: “Socialists constantly invoke Christ in support of their utopias, and continually hold before us important texts from the Holy Word. Continue Reading...

John Wesley, ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’

Readings in Social Ethics: John Wesley, “The Rich Man and Lazarus.” References below are to page numbers. A warning on the dangers of riches: “‘There was a certain rich man.’ And it is no more sinful to be rich than to be poor. Continue Reading...

In Service with and for Others

While I was in seminary in Kentucky, students were required to complete a relatively extensive service project that assisted and helped the poor and marginalized in our community. My group volunteered at a teen pregnancy center, others at nursing homes, or with organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Continue Reading...

Who is favored?

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. Continue Reading...

Objective and Subjective Well-Being

Gary Becker and Richard Posner examine the increasing gap between the rich and poor in terms of wealth and income. This gap was most recently highlighted in a report that “the richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth,” and the richest 1% hold 40% of wealth. Continue Reading...