Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Extreme Income Disparity: Traditional Wisdom as Contemporary Counsel

Author: David Lyle JEFFREY, Professor, University of Baylor University



In the light of contemporary analysis of extreme income disparity in the USA and China, here reviewed to establish the urgency of this problem, I turn to the thinking of Confucian and biblical authors who confronted it as an ethical more than an economic problem. I draw on the wisdom of the ancient texts, especially to reveal their concern to show that economic solution cannot be achieved without address to the ethical foundation.

Extreme income disparity in the dominant world economies has become a worry for economists, policy makers and cultural analysts in many countries, not least because of the risk of social instability. Despite excellent tracking data, such as the GINI coefficient and related studies, it has become evident that this problem will not be solvable by economics or short-term political pragmatics, but requires to be grounded in a deeper ethical concern for the common good. Ancient sages from the Confucian and biblical traditions, as well as more recent economists such as Adam Smith and the Wall Street financier and Confucianist Miles Menander Dawson have distilled this ancient wisdom as appropriate counsel for those who govern today. These perspectives merit consideration in our own analysis and developing policies.



extreme income disparity, Confucian ethics, biblical ethics, Adam Smith, Miles Menander Dawson


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