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Proposed CSAI: Escalating Inequality

Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs) are issues selected by Unitarian Universalist member congregations for four years of study, reflection and action. 

Issue

Upward mobility—the American Dream—has become a myth. Concentration of wealth and power has skyrocketed. Dr. King’s dream of justice and equality has fractured.  Half of all Americans are impoverished or struggling, as the middle class shrinks and billionaires take the profits. Where’s our commitment to the Common Good?

Grounding in Unitarian Universalism

Our Unitarian Universalist (UU) tradition places its faith in people to create a more loving community for all, guided by “justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.” Challenging extreme inequality has now become a moral imperative, just as prior generations have led movements from abolition to civil rights and marriage equality.

Topics for Congregational Study

  • What do the numbers show about the expansion of extreme wealth and increase in struggling households?
  • What are the lessons to be learned from the history of movements for economic justice, here and abroad, dating back to the last Gilded Age?
  • How are social classes formed and what practices will help us transcend class barriers in our congregations and communities?
  • What do studies say about the indirect social outcomes of growing economic inequality? These include hidden effects on hierarchy, discrimination, segregation, minorities, physical and mental health, education, violence, punishment, political polarization, and public services.
  • Study root causes of inequality, such as corporate globalization, “free trade,” outsourcing, privatization, tax shifting and evasion, subsidies and bailouts, monopoly, suppression of labor, money in politics, “externalizing” social and environmental costs, “free market”/libertarian ideologies, deregulation, unlimited income/wealth.
  • Where to begin: Money out of politics, minimum/living wages, debt servitude/predatory lending.  Justice and fairness in taxes and trade.  Re-regulate Wall Street and empower workers.  Grow opportunity through better healthcare, education, public services, cooperatives, media, democracy.  Develop a deeper understanding of classism.
  • Distinguishing among the moral, social, economic, political, and sustainability implications of inequality, imagine a new strategy for the Common Good—“caring and sharing” on a societal level.

Possible Congregational / District Actions

  • Collect current and historical resources on inequality, written and online, from here and abroad.
  • Enlighten yourselves via discussion/film/study groups on the effects, causes, and history of inequality.
  • Develop a variety of spiritual experiences to inspire UUs to transcend barriers of class.
  • Organize action agendas on select issues, networking with other congregations and allied secular and interfaith groups.  Collaborate, as feasible, with UU organizations like state Legislative Networks, UUJEC, and UUSC.
  • Join to develop a vision of the common good that animates a movement toward sustainable well-being for all, to reduce demands on the earth’s resources, and to nourish the soul by sharing life’s essentials.

Related Prior Social Witness Statements

  • Amend the Constitution: Corporations are not Persons and Money is not Speech (2013)
  • Raise the Federal Minimum Wage to $10 in 2010 ( 2008)
  • Single-Payer Health Care (2008)
  • End Present-Day Slavery in the Fields (2008)
  • Support Immigrant Justice (2006)
  • Support for the Millennium Development Goal One: Ending Extreme
  • Poverty (2005)
  • Economic Globalization (2003)
  • Economic Injustice, Poverty, and Racism: We Can Make a Difference (2000)
  • Working for a Just Economic Community (1997)
  • A Job, A Home, A Hope (1995)

For more information contact socialwitness@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, August 1, 2014.

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