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Extreme inequality

by on October 15, 2015

Fitzroy-Island-aerial-shot‘The poor you will always have with you.’ Jesus said that. So it’s no surprise if there are poor people and rich people. No scandal. Some will always make good, others will suffer disasters. It happens. C’est la vie…

But now do a thought experiment with me: imagine an island with 100 families on it, and enough food for 100 families. One person on the island steals and hides half the food. He has far, far more than his family needs. Meanwhile 29 other people grab nearly all the rest. They have enough for their fams, and a little to spare. Leaving 70 families to share the leftovers: which turns out to be enough for 3.

Do you think that’s what Jesus had in mind when he said you have to expect some poverty?

How do you feel about what happened on the island? Imagine you were in charge there: what would you do?

That island is called planet Earth. Check out this graph.


On the left is how much money the person owns in assets. In the middle is how many people fall into that category. On the right is the total wealth possessed by that block of people.

So in the dark blue there are 3.3 billion people who own less that US$10K. They are 71% of the world’s adults. That 71% of people owns 3% of the world’s wealth.

Check out the yellow. People who own over US$1 million. They represent 0.7% of the world’s adult population. They own 45% of the wealth.

In other words the top 1% owns more than 50% of the wealth.  They have extreme wealth. The bottom 70% own less than 3%. They face extreme poverty.

What does all this add up to? Extreme inequality.

Let’s go back to the island. Two questions for you.

  1. Are you the one guy who got hold of 50% of the island’s food? Check the pyramid to find out. Are you in or near the yellow segment?
  2. Let me ask you again, if you were in charge of the island, what would you do?

Jesus also said something else about poverty:

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,  who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table. 

You can read how it pans out in Luke 16.

One last question: what does it mean to preach Jesus, if you are the guy who is keeping 50% of the island’s food for yourself and your family?

From → General

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