To worry publicly about the increasing disparities of wealth and income in this country is to invite the charge of fomenting “class warfare.” Nevertheless, consider: Top CEOs earn 1,000 times the pay of an average worker—a ratio that has increased exponentially in the past three decades.
Only 15 percent of American congregations have grown by even one person in the last five years, according to the Parish Paper newsletter. There are no doubt many demographic explanations for why congregations’ memberships decline or plateau, but it’s also true that some congregations don’t know how to grow or don’t really want to grow.
Though his opponents tagged him as “embarrassingly liberal” and outside mainstream politics, Paul Wellstone won two terms as a U.S. senator, and he had a strong chance of winning a third term when he was killed in a plane crash while campaigning in Minnesota on October 24.
Americans are fearful these days. September 11 snatched from us (forever?) a feeling of invincibility, a sense of being safe and secure from foreign invasion. Now we keep getting homeland security warnings about the probability of another terrorist attack. Besides that, a crazed sniper is on the loose around Washington, D.C.
When he was running for president, George W. Bush decried “nation building.” It was not the task of the U.S., he insisted, to bring order to chaotic countries. The U.S. may be the global cop, but it is not the global social worker.
Dr. Paul Farmer, an infectious disease specialist known for his work in Haiti, has been to Liberia and planned to go back again in the fight against Ebola. According to Farmer, the outbreak of Ebola is a symptom of a very poor and weak health-care system in the three West African countries where it is spreading. In Liberia there is one physician per 100,000 people, compared to 240 in the United States. The president of Liberia points out that the Dallas Cowboys stadium uses more electricity each year than her whole country. Vaccines and drugs don’t exist because Ebola’s victims are poor and—so far—not very numerous (London Review of Books, October 23).