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Daf Yomi: What the Rich Owe the Poor.

Literary critic Adam Kirsch is reading a page of Talmud a day, along with Jews around the world.

One of the major subjects of American politics today is economic inequality. Over the last 30 years, we know, the vast majority of the new wealth created in our country has gone to the richest 10 percentor even the richest 1 percentof the population. Indeed, the problem is not just national but global: It was recently reported that the eight richest individuals in the world own more wealth than the poorest 3.5 billion put together. How can this be justified in a society founded on the principle that all men are created equal? The philosopher John Rawls proposed, in his book A Theory of Justice, that a just society could allow differences in wealth only to the degree that they benefit the least well-off. It would be just, for instance, to allow brain surgeons to earn much more than street-sweepers, because brain surgery requires special skills and extensive education, and the street-sweeper himself might one day need the services of the brain surgeon. But when inequality becomes so massive and self-sustaining, and it is so difficult for those born poor to escape poverty, how can it be justified?

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Author:Kirsch, Adam
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Date:Jan 24, 2017
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