05 February 2007

Slogans and politics

In arguing for Congress to raise the minimum wage, Jim Wallis asserts that God hates inequality. Here's Wallis:

When the gulf widened and injustice deepened, the prophets rose up to thunder the judgment and justice of God. Their words reveal that God hates inequality. That's our theological foundation – God hates inequality.

There can be no doubt that God cares for the poor and vulnerable, and that we have a responsibility to care for them as well. Granted, too, that the prophets, pointing the people back to God's law, communicated his command to do justice. Yet is inequality the same as injustice? I cannot help wondering how Wallis would interpret Jesus' Parable of the Talents.

There may be much to be said for raising the minimum wage. But there are others who, while genuinely wishing to help the poor, fear that raising the minimum wage could be counterproductive, leading to higher unemployment. While I tend towards the former view, I readily admit that there can be legitimate disagreement on the issue among those genuinely seeking the welfare of the poor. Throwing biblical prooftexts or pithy slogans at the issue will hardly be sufficient to settle it.

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