Why Is There Social Inequality?

May 13, 2014

Why Is There Social Inequality?

            There is much discussion in these days about what is considered the scandal of social inequality.  People are saying, “It isn’t fair that some have so much while others have so little.” The proposed solution is to take from the rich and give it to the poor.

It is unfortunate that so few are willing to take the initiative to inquire into the reason for social inequality.  The most common explanation is that not everyone has an equal opportunity.  There are, however, many other factors to take into consideration.

A cause for social inequality that many seem to be reluctant to consider is the fact that many have a lack of initiative.  The Bible says in James 4:2 “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” That is a lack of initiative.  If people are without work, they aren’t very apt to find a job if they don’t take the initiative to go look for one.  Our system of welfare payments is making it altogether too easy for people to be derelict in their duty to provide for their own needs.

I had an experience as a missionary in Argentina that illustrates the lack of initiative.  Once some children started coming to our church.  I went to visit the family.  The father of the children told me that he couldn’t get work because of a heart condition.  After meeting him I frequently saw him around town.  The children started coming to our door once or twice a week to beg for food.  We felt it our duty to give them something.  After a few times of giving them food, I realized I wasn’t doing right.  The next time they came for food I told them. “Look, it’s your father’s duty to provide for his family.  Go tell him that he needs to come and ask for food.”

A few days later he came and asked for food.  I greeted him kindly and engaged him in conversation.  I told him I would like to help him and suggested a way for him to provide for his family.  In Argentina those who live on a paved street feel it is their duty to keep the street clean in front of their house.  In fact, they aren’t respected if they don’t.  I told the man, “I’m sure there are people up and down this street who would be willing to pay you something for sweeping their street.  You can explain to them that you need money to feed your family and that you would be glad to sweep their street if they could give you something.  You can work at your own pace.  That way you won’t put a strain on your heart.  To help you get started, I’ll even loan you a broom and shovel.” He thanked me kindly and left.  He never came back for the broom and shovel.  He didn’t come back to beg for food either.

What do you do about the enterprising, ambitious people who work hard and get ahead?  Should we discourage them and demand that they slow down because they are getting too far ahead of those around them?  I think not.  That is the beauty of the free enterprise system.  When there is a shortage of jobs, some might be willing to work for less than minimum wage in order to have a job.  Unfortunately, employers are obligated to pay the minimum wage.

Many times there is inequality because there are those who don’t have any initiative to work and get ahead.  Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” We don’t need to feel sorry for those who aren’t willing to help themselves.  It is as if they have chosen a laid back life style that doesn’t generate much of an income.

Many find themselves living in poverty because, in their childhood and youth, they had little initiative to study.  Parents and educators need to motivate children to learn.  I have often told young people, “When you go to the doctor ask yourself, ‘How did he or she get to be a doctor?’ To be sure, it wasn’t by watching television and playing electronic games.  If you don’t study, you won’t have anything to offer when it’s time for you to go out and look for a job.

There are others who live in poverty because they don’t know how to spend their money.  They waste it on luxuries and entertainment and don’t have money to pay for legitimate needs.  What they need, more than anything else, is a course in money management.  Along with that, of course, they need self-discipline with their spending habits.

A cause that is often cited for inequality is the lack of opportunities.  That may be true in some cases, but again we need to look for an explanation for the lack of opportunities.  Employment may be stagnant in some states, but in others there are job openings.  Unemployed should be willing to seriously consider moving to the states where they can find work.  Yes, there are sacrifices to make in moving, but consider the benefits

Some find that there aren’t jobs available in the field in which they were trained.  In that case, they need to be willing to take a job that pays less.  They can’t say there aren’t opportunities just because there aren’t jobs available in their field.  Many college graduates are driving taxies and working in fast food restaurants.

It is difficult to restore initiative in those who have lost it.  It is also hard to instil initiative in those who don’t have it.  A wise saying we have all heard is “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Need  motivates initiative.  In the Bible we read “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Hunger is a good motivator.

Christians are commanded to remember the poor.  Galatians 2:10 says, “We should remember the poor.” Psalm 82:3-4 also says, “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.    Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.” Jesus said “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” The time will never come when we don’t have poor among us.  In Proverbs 19:17 God promises to reward us when we lend to the poor.  “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”

We have reason to wonder how this promise will be fulfilled when a portion of our wages is withheld by the government and given to those they think are deserving of it.  It appears to be God’s plan that we give to the poor of our own free will, and to those who we think are deserving of it.  In spite of the fact that the Christians are taxed to make it possible for the government to have a welfare program, Christians are still noted for being charitable givers.

There is no doubt that there are those who are poor through no fault of their own.  They are the ones who should be helped.  Local people are always more qualified to know who they are.

Financial help is not the only kind of help the poor need.  Many times their economic needs are being met by welfare.  They still need social and spiritual help.  They need for someone to be their friend and help them in decision making.  Those with physical handicaps may be lonely because they can’t get out.  Many times people find themselves in poverty because of their life style.  It may be that they are addicted to gambling, drugs or alcohol.  My article on “The Drug Culture” has some suggestions about helping people with those problems.  Not always, but sometimes the poor are more humble and willing to accept help.

Above all, people need spiritual help.  They need to know that they can be a child of the King if they put their faith in Christ for salvation.  You may not help them get out of the poverty bracket, but you can help them find a life that is worth living and the promise of a home in glory.







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