Our in­equal so­ci­ety

The Church of England - - COMMENT -

It is hardly sur­pris­ing that we are gov­erned by a coali­tion of the wealthy and priv­i­leged when you con­sider that this is a cul­mi­na­tion of a process that has seen wealth tilt to­wards a very small per­cent­age at the top of so­ci­ety.

Fig­ures this week re­veal, star­tlingly, that the wealth of Bri­tain’s five rich­est fam­i­lies is more than the com­bined worth of the poor­est 20 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

A re­port by Ox­fam (‘A tale of Two Bri­tains’) re­veals the glar­ing in­equal­i­ties and how they have wors­ened in re­cent times. But it is not just this glar­ing con­trast be­tween the very poor­est and very rich­est that will al­ways be with us but the fact that this con­cen­tra­tion of such great wealth in the hands of so few is at a time of con­sid­er­able stress and cost of liv­ing dif­fi­cul­ties for mid­dle earn­ers as well.

I’m not sure what the po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tions are to these vast in­equal­i­ties of wealth and I’m not in favour of forcible re­dis­tri­bu­tion and puni­tive taxation, yet it is clear that some­thing has to be done to en­sure that the econ­omy is re­bal­anced away from an over-re­liance on property and fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

This is nei­ther a left wing nor a right wing con­cern. The great­est in­jus­tices that we can see to­day are to do with in­equal­i­ties, debts, the ero­sion of self-re­spon­si­bil­ity and the fail­ure of mass ed­u­ca­tion. These are in­evitably com­plex is­sues that the Church of Eng­land should be look­ing at care­fully. In these chal­leng­ing times we stand on the edge of op­por­tu­nity like that of the early 1980s. The plight of the in­ner cities were ever more press­ing and the Church of Eng­land re­sponded with a se­ri­ous and in-depth the­o­log­i­cally-in­formed study of prob­lem, in the form of Faith in the City.

Surely it is time for the Church of Eng­land to form a sim­i­lar com­mis­sion to ex­am­ine in­equal­ity and debt at a time of enor­mous so­cial and eco­nomic change.

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