When I was poor and complained about inequality they said I was bitter; now that I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want to talk about inequality.
There are two visions for America a half century from now. One is of a society more divided between the haves and the have-nots, a country in which the rich live in gated communities, send their children to expensive schools, and have access to first-rate medical care. Meanwhile, the rest live in a world marked by insecurity, at best mediocre education, and in effect rationed health care. . . . Economists have even given it a name, a “dual economy,” two societies living side by side, but hardly knowing each other, hardly imagining what life is like for the other.
To turn $100 into $110 is work. To turn $100 million into $110 million is inevitable.
There’s no more central theme in the Bible than the immorality of inequality. Jesus speaks more about the gap between rich and poor than he does about heaven and hell.
We must never ignore the injustices that make charity necessary, or the inequalities that make it possible.
When someone works for less pay than she can live on . . . then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The “working poor,” as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.
I didn’t dream about [fame]. I dreamed about getting my kid more than one pair of shoes, or how to make $165 worth of groceries last all month.
All but the hard-hearted must be torn with pity for this pathetic dilemma of the rich man, who has to keep the poor man just stout enough to do the work and just thin enough to have to do it.
[The U.S. is] number one in military. We’re number one in money. We’re number one in fat toddlers, meth labs, and people we send to prison. We’re not number one in literacy [or] money spent on education. We’re not even number one in social mobility. Social mobility means basically the American Dream, the ability of one generation to do better than the [previous one]. We’re tenth. That’s like Sweden coming in tenth in Swedish meatballs.
People have criticized me for seeming to step out of my professional role to become undignifiedly political. I’d say it was belated realization that day care, good schools, health insurance, and nuclear disarmament are even more important aspects of pediatrics than measles vaccine or vitamin D.
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
It’s a fact: black people in this country die more easily, at all ages, across genders. Look at how young black men die, and how middle-aged black men drop dead, and how black women are ravaged by HIV/AIDS. . . . How did we come here, after all? Not with upturned chins and bright eyes but rather in chains, across a chasm.
There are thousands of kinds of injustice but there is only one kind of justice — equal justice for all. To call for a little more justice, or a moderately gradual sort of justice, is to call for no justice. That is a simple truth.
All too often, when we see injustices, both great and small, we think, That’s terrible, but we do nothing. We say nothing. We let other people fight their own battles. We remain silent because silence is easier. Qui tacet consentire videtur is Latin for “Silence gives consent.” When we say nothing, when we do nothing, we are consenting to these trespasses against us.
I swear to the Lord / I still can’t see / Why Democracy means / Everybody but me.