What's Wrong With Inequality

The debate over income inequality is a perennial one, but President Obama has made it the cause du jour with a renewed emphasis in his upcoming State of the Union speech. He has invoked Pope Francis in his renewed campaign to brand inequality as the “defining challenge of our time.” Even New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is getting in on the action.

These men are not lonely voices crying in the wilderness. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll reports almost half of Americans believe the wealth gap is a serious moral problem.

Poverty is unquestionably a serious concern, but even if poverty were eradicated there would remain an enormous income gap between the family living comfortably on $100,000 a year and people like Oprah Winfrey, Bono and Bill Gates. So what exactly is the problem with income inequality? Some think there is a theological problem. Jim Wallis has claimed—when calling for an increase in the minimum wage—“God hates inequality.”