Friday, May 19, 2017

The Distribution of Talent: Bug or Feature?

In Richard E. Wagner's To Promote the General Welfare, he writes

Criticism of such distributional outcomes [singers and athletes receiving more income than others] is ultimately a criticism of people for liking to watch singers and athletes perform, as well as possibly a criticism of God for restricting the supply of such talents. [p. 23]
Has God ever given us a reason for His restriction of talent? Possibly, when He said "this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted in that the rich are made low."

God could solve poverty, but so can man. "For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves." Inequality is the beginning condition, but it's not God's desired ending condition. In fact, the presence of economic inequality is the foundation of sin. Our continuation in inequality disqualifies us for spiritual blessings we would otherwise be experiencing.

As Marion G. Romney said in 1966, "What prohibits us from giving as much in fast offerings as we would have given in surpluses under the United Order? Nothing but our own limitations." God's uneven distribution of talent isn't a bug of the human experience, it's a feature, and one that makes it possible for us to sanctify ourselves. We shouldn't criticize God for creating an initial endowment we have the power to alter, and we shouldn't use the threat of violence to take from others or force them to give under duress. All I can justly control is myself.

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