#2 son sent me a paper to proofread. His topic was income inequality, something which we are seeing today in the United States far more than in the past. The average worker now must work for a month to earn as much as the top 1% earns in a single hour.
Thomas Malthus famously argued that giving help to the poor was a mistake. If the poor had enough food to eat, he figured, they’d marry and have children, and there would be more poor people — and less food for each of them. Malthus assumed that the poor were unable to create wealth, and also seemed to assume that the rich could be as populous as they chose with no negative consequences.
Friedrich Hayek said the world isn’t fair, so what the heck, but also felt that people — and certainly a government — who tried to even things up would fail, and would be the target of dissatisfaction when they did. He pointed out, too, that any government plans would be assigning greater importance to some things (perhaps food and housing) than to others (perhaps education and health care) while individuals might not make those choices for themselves. “Once government has embarked upon planning for the sake of justice,” he said, “it cannot refuse responsibility for anybody’s fate or position.”
Many people today claim that without poorly paid jobs, the poor would have no incentive to work harder. I think this is what they have in mind when they wax lyrical about their early jobs flipping burgers. Galbraith, looking at that argument, points out that it would mean that the rich have no incentive to work and will therefore become lazy if they are allowed to keep their wealth. Looking at the children of the rich, we can often see the justice of this claim, but Galbraith meant it as a counterargument to the idea that income inequality provided a reason to work.
Adam Smith believed that, if everyone simply did what was best for him or herself, things would mystically turn out better for society. This seems like a bizarre claim, though Plus magazine explains it with reference to the Prisoner’s Dilemma and also points out that Smith believed in God.
Jesus, who did not figure in #2 son’s term paper, said to give to the poor, and that we cannot serve both God and Mammon (greed). He was not apologetic about this at all.
The song for today is “Rejoice, Rejoice, the Savior Comes.”
Rejoice, rejoice, the savior comes, the savior promised long,
Let every heart prepare a throne and every voice a song.
He comes the prisoners to release, in Satan’s bondage held ;
The gates of brass before Him burst, The iron fetters yield.
He comes the broken hearts to bind, the bleeding souls to cure
And with the treasures of God’s grace to bless the humble poor.
Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace, Thy welcome shall proclaim ;
And heaven’s exalted arches ring With Thy exalted name.
The words are very similar to those of “Hark the Glad Sound.” Philip Doddridge, a Nonconformist minister, wrote those words in 1735. He died of tuberculosis in Portugal less than 20 years later. I can’t find the composer of the tune, but I like it a lot. You can totally sing this around the house or while driving to work. If you’re not driving, it would sound very nice played on a fiddle.