In 2008, Bishop Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, released a list of “Seven Social Sins,”  including three economic social sins: excessive wealth, creating poverty, and contributing to the widening gap between rich and poor. Each of these three social sins names and highlights particular aspects of economic structures and culture in contemporary society. In my opinion, inequality is perhaps THE moral question we, as a society, cannot ignore any longer.

To expose both the reality and dangers posed by inequality in the United States, I recommend the new Vanity Fair article, “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” by the 2x Nobel Prize winner and Columbia economics professor, Joseph Stiglitz.

The upper 1% of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40% . . . While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall.”

Throughout the article, Stiglitz examines the reasons for this growing inequality and argues why the current levels of inequality in the United States are profoundly dangerous.

America’s inequality distorts our society in every conceivable way. There is, for one thing, a well-documented lifestyle effect—people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means. Trickle-down economics may be a chimera, but trickle-down behaviorism is very real.”

I highly recommend Dr. Stiglitz’s  exposé.