At National Seminar we explored what income and wealth inequality looks like in the United States today and how this particularly impacts women and communities of color. The growing inequality is not an accident; we looked at the policy choices over several decades that got us to this point, and what policy changes could reverse the income and wealth gap. United Methodist Women can act locally and in national efforts to begin to bridge the inequality gap. An education and action model, in partnership with United for a Fair Economy, offers a workshop to engage more and more members in education, reflection and action. Plan to lead this interactive Overworked and Undervalued
workshop in your community soon!
Overworked and Undervalued: Women, Race and the Economy
Charts and Diagrams
Please let us know how your workshop goes! Your feedback will be used to revise the workshop. E-mail Carol Barton.
Income and Wealth Inequality
The United States has seen a major shift in concentration of income and wealth in recent decades, making life harder for the majority. While real incomes for the top 1 percent have grown 185 percent over the past 35 years, incomes for the rest of the population have increased an average of only 13 percent. Despite signs of "recovery," millions have lost homes, pensions, and jobs and are less secure.
Too many jobs pay minimum wage (or less for tipped workers), which cannot sustain a family. Women make up 75 percent of these low wage workers, and they are disproportionately women of color. Rising costs of higher education and student debt put a heavy burden on both young people and their families. Real estate booms in many urban areas have driven up the cost of housing, while low- and moderate-income housing programs are in decline. Despite important changes in health care access, a health crisis can become a financial crisis for families. Middle class jobs, such as teachers, nurses and professors are becoming more precarious and regimented.
What are the Root Causes?
This did not just happen on its own. Our current economic insecurity is the result of specific policy choices that have shifted wealth and income to the top: cuts in taxes for the wealthy and corporate tax cuts, cuts in public services, employer cuts to pensions and health benefits, predatory mortgage lending, stagnant wages with rising cost of living, work speed up, and shifts from the public to the private sector in everything from schools to roads to military to prisons, eliminating many unionized public sector jobs.
Why Get Involved in This Issue?
United Methodist Women is engaging in education to better understand these changes in economic policy and how they impact women, youth and children. We will be exploring these realities in our communities, state, and nation and taking action to seek greater equity and dignity, living wages, sustainable livelihoods and economic security for all. We will look at how inequality is a global issue. The United Methodist Social Principles affirm, "We support measures that would reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few." (Social Principles, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2008, p. 163).
"In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus began his public ministry with these words from Isaiah:
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' (NRSV, adapted)
Christ teaches that faith requires action for social and spiritual well-being and especially care for the poor and the oppressed. The early church understood that all were to share all that they had and especially care for the widows and orphans (Acts 2:44-245; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15)…The covenant community was called to observe sabbatical years in which the land was not worked and its produce was available to the poor (Exodus 23:10-11)…The prophets warn us that an economic system based on greed, economic exploitation, and the indifference to the needs of the poor is contrary to God's will and leads to ruin for the society (Amos 8:4-6; Jeremiah 22:13-17)." (Resolution 4052, "Economic Justice for a New Millenium," The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2012, pp. 546-547)
Educating Ourselves and Others
Justice for Low-Wage Workers
A Community of Women Empowered for Economic Justice: From the Program Book
Carol Barton, Executive For Community Action
At National Seminar, we screened the film “When the Bough Breaks.” The 7 part documentary series can be found at
. Watch the trailer below for a glimpse into the issue in the U.S.
“God remembers those who suffer;
He does not forget their cry,
And he punishes those who wrong them. …
The needy will not always be neglected;
The hope of the poor will not be crushed forever.” (Psalm 9:12, 18)
“Protect the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9)
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:20a)