South Africa: From Pareto to Piketty, Confucius to the Qur'an - How Do We Deal With Inequality?


None of the major religions, which account for a more than significant portion of humanity, embodies a belief that we must replace a system of production for profit and a society ostensibly based on greed and self-interest with one that is commonly owned and planned for the needs of all.

It matters not whether you think greed is good or bad, whether inequality is necessary or not or whether the power afforded the rich creates an imbalance that marginalises people. That said, greed in itself is hardly an attractive quality and nor is power for the sake of it, let alone the unsettling image of the gluttonous set against the starving.

Christianity and practically all religions rail against the driven love of lucre while encouraging good deeds and charity. Indeed, in some religions, charity is enshrined as a requisite tithe on wealth. Rent-seeking and usury are almost universally frowned upon. A fair and humane appeal is encouraged - a helping hand, and in the words of Pope Francis, "a generous solidarity... an ethical approach which favours human beings".

This is not to be confused with an ordering and levelling of the world. Indeed, the Qur'an says, "historically, mankind has always...

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