Flint Discussion Forum

Economic Inequality - November 25, 2014, 7:00 p.m.


The purpose of this session was to explore economic inequality as a social justice issue in order to identify values-oriented possibilities for individual and church responses.

Participants were introduced to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) website and guided through the main points (listed below) of the 1997 General Resolution on “Working for a Just Economic Community.” Session participants could identify few positive changes since 1997 except the recent approval of increases in the minimum wage here in Nebraska, and in other states, in the 2014 midterm elections. Recent international survey research shows that most people believe the inequality between the highest paid, e.g., CEOs, and the average worker is about 30 to 1; in reality it is more than 300 to 1. A video clip was used to illustrate this point with graphs showing how extreme the gap has become in the U.S. Asked what would be notable if economic equality were magically achieved, participants suggested changes in education and other services.

However, the story of how the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte captured everyone’s attention. The city government avoided the “charity trap” in the organization of a universal food system that provides affordable and organic nutrition to everyone. See the description by Marcia Leise at this link.

A 2014 Statement of Conscience Study Guide on economic justice provides an opportunity for First Unitarian to become involved in the exploration of this important contemporary problem and to help with the statement that will be presented in four years for General Assembly approval.
 

 

SUMMARY POINTS

Minimum Wage

Employment Policy

Government Restrictions

Consumer Boycotts

Federal Tax System

Concentration of Ownership

Health Plan

Labor Organization

Labor Reform

Corporate Charters

Legal Aid

Public Education

Concentration of Wealth

Economic Power

Increasing Disparity

Democracy is at Risk

Corporate Welfare

Government Spending & Funding

Legal Recourse

Homelessness, poverty & degradation

Unjust Blaming
 

 

  • Garrett Hardin - The Tragedy of the Commons.  Article from December 13, 1968
    (Reprinted in Library of America vol. “Environmental writing since Thoreau,” pp. 448-449)
    “It is one of the peculiarities of the warfare between reform and the status quo that it is thoughtlessly governed by a double standard. Whenever a reform measure is proposed it is often defeated when its opponents triumphantly discover a flaw in it.  As Kingsley Davis has pointed out, worshipers of the status quo sometimes imply that no reform is possible without unanimous agreement, an implication contrary to historical fact. As nearly as I can make out, automatic rejection of proposed reforms is based on one of two unconscious assumptions:
                (i) that the status quo is perfect; or
               (ii) that the choice we face is between reform and no action;
    if the proposed reform is imperfect, we presumably should take no action at all, while we wait for a perfect proposal.”

 

 

 

  • Excerpt from Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer. “The Gardens of Democracy,” p. 19   (Mr. Liu was the fall 2014 Holland lecturer.)
    “This [current failure to address our serious problems] is not just about economics or politics; it’s about imagination and our ability to conceive of new ways of conceiving of things. It is about our ability to adapt and evolve in the face of changing circumstances and the consequences of our actions. History shows that civilizations tend eventually to get stuck in the pat-terns that had brought them success. They can either stay stuck and decay, or get unstuck and thrive.”

 

 

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