The top one percent in the U.S. already owns a “stunning” 77 percent of the wealth. Meanwhile, those in the bottom ten percent are “net debtors”

According to an analysis by the People’s Policy Project, the top one percent in the U.S. already owns a “stunning” 77 percent of the wealth. Meanwhile, those in the bottom ten percent are “net debtors.” Non-partisan analyses have found that the GOP tax plan would make this gap even larger.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, even some billionaires agree that inequality is out of control, and that a more progressive tax code is necessary to remedy the problem.

“Three decades of data prove that tax cuts for the wealthy do not ‘trickle down’ to working people or grow the overall economy,” billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer concluded in a recent op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. “Let’s raise taxes on the rich…. Let’s boost wages to stimulate economic growth and job creation. It’s the only way we will create broad prosperity, rebuild the middle class, and give working families a fair shake.”

In an analysis (pdf) published Thursday that throws into stark relief the “unjust and unsustainable” nature of what economists have termed the New Gilded Age, the Swiss financial firm UBS found that the wealth of the world’s billionaires grew by 17 percent in 2016, bringing their combined fortune to a record $6 trillion—more than double the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom.

“We’re at an inflection point. Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905.”
—Josef Stadler, UBS
The report also found that there are 1,542 billionaires in the world and more than 563 in the United States alone, more than any other country.

Josef Stadler, lead author of the UBS analysis, told the Guardian that the firm’s findings demonstrate that the world is “now two years into the peak of the second Gilded Age.”

The extent of the world’s wealth concentration—just eight men now own as much wealth as half of the global population—raises a number of questions, one of which is whether the world’s population will continue to tolerate such vast inequities, Stadler said.

“We’re at an inflection point,” Stadler argued. “Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest—that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?”

But despite insistence from leading economists and institutions like the International Monetary Fund that raising taxes on the wealthy is necessary to shrink the growing gap between the billionaires and everyone else, many global powers are doing precisely the opposite.

 

From Richard Rohr’s meditations this last week:

Since the rift that occurred between science and religion with the Copernican revolution, Christian faith has had little to do with discerning the actual evidence that was commonly available in the present, in the mind, memory, heart, soul, and in creation itself. (Sunday)

Today’s scientists often seem to have more in common with the mystics than do many religious folks. (Monday)

Go—into the Mystery, not trying to hold God and reality but to let God and reality hold us—then I think religion is finally in its proper and appropriate place. (Tuesday)

If our God is both incarnate and implanted, both Christ and Holy Spirit, then an unfolding inner dynamism in all creation is not only certain, but also moving in a positive direction, and with a divine goal that is always set before us. (Wednesday)

Science and religion should be natural partners when it comes to caring for our common home. As Christians, we have a clear mandate to steward Creation. (Thursday)

“An objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world.” —Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Friday)

Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

Faith and Science The Shape of Reality  Tuesday, October 24, 2017

As I shared in my book The Divine Dance, and earlier this year, I believe that the Trinity is the very shape of the universe. Reality—like God’s own self—is a flow of mutual giving and receiving. [1] God as Relationship, or Trinity, can actually allow our scientific and spiritual cosmologies to finally operate as one, because we are inside of a flow instead of a prison.

Spiritual intuitions are almost always on some level correct. Only when we literalize them and make them wooden, mechanical, and fundamentalist do they lose the flow—and the flow is where the life always is. Show me a single example of life where there is not movement, growth, and change. What we could know as a Divine Wave, we have for the most part related to as a static particle god. This demotion made a whole bunch of Christian dogmas appear to be about magic—purely transactional exchanges with a later reward only for an exclusive few. Our “good news” was no longer catholic, or universal, but merely ethnic, cultural, and earthbound.

The “Perennial Tradition” (gathering common and recurring themes in all the world’s wisdom lineages) invariably taught some version of “as above, so below,” as Huston Smith insisted. “God in heaven” was usually seen to mirror any ideal “earth below.” We see echoes of this reciprocal language in the Lord’s Prayer: Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). If we update this language for the quantum era—moving from the “Great Chain of Being” to the “Nested Holarchy of Being,” as the philosopher Ken Wilber puts it [2]—we can also speak of as within, so without. If all reality is a holon and has a fractal character, as physicists tell us, then each part contains and mirrors the whole. If the cosmos as we know it originates from a “Big Bang”—from a “Let it be”—that means that one point explodes with life and gives birth to the many lives. And the original DNA somehow remains intact.

When does this many cease to be one? When did this one ever not contain the many? Never! This is what the relational pattern of the universe is teaching us, from Godhead to geochemistry and everything in between. The shape of the cosmos—quasar to quark—is a reflection of the Trinitarian God.

How do we learn to recognize and participate in this flowing reality? Scientists and mystics alike tell us: Be present! Experiment! Stay curious. This is Contemplation 101. Let go of what you “think” is your mental center—it is normally too small to understand the atom, galaxies, or the energy that births and animates all existence. Such momentous truth can occasionally be caught but it is not easily taught. We relied far too much on verbal education instead of full- bodied transformation. Moses’ burning bush was not an intellectual exercise, nor did Teresa of Ávila’s ecstasies happen in a classroom. We rightly speak of faith as a “gift” as opposed to any reasoned conclusion. You fall into it more than reason toward it.

We’re standing in the middle of an awesome and major Mystery—life itself—and the only appropriate response to this is humility. If we’re resolved that this is where we want to go—into the Mystery, not trying to hold God and reality but to let God and reality hold us—then I think religion is finally in its proper and appropriate place. Anyone who has undergone God is humble; in fact, they are the most humble of all.

Gateway to Silence:
Divine Reality, endlessly knowable

References:
[1] For more on the Trinity, see Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations beginning February 26, 2017, https://cac.org/knowing-through-loving-2017-02-26/.
[2] See Ken Wilber, “From the Great Chain of Being to Postmodernism in Three Easy Steps” (2006), 2, 4, www.kenwilber.com/Writings/PDF/FromGC2PM_GENERAL_2005_NN.pdf.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 55-56, 73.

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