Over the course of US history, one thing setting the US apart was the embrace and recognition the value of an individual. The US has attempted to keep the well-being of the individual in mind. Look no further than the Declaration of Independence (US, 1776) to see that every individual holds value because “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with…rights [such as] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
In the same way, every individual should have the opportunity to pursue a standard of living that makes these rights a possibility, but unfortunately, there are many people who live under the poverty line and basic survival is in jeopardy. Poverty has fallen dramatically worldwide over the last two centuries and there is hope it will be eliminated by 2050, however, there remains at present an unacceptable amount of poverty within the US borders. Strong economic growth is the key to reducing poverty in the future (Hillebrand, 2011).
The historical record shows that market-friendly policies and competent governance are critical to growth, but there is little understanding how the combination of those factors need to be applied to eliminate poverty. The fact poverty remains is evidence we still don’t have it figured out.
Surprisingly, the answer may be found in scripture. The economic system designed by Yahweh for the Israelite people was not focused solely on financial growth, but on community health (Horsley, 2009). For instance, interest was forbidden because it was detrimental to the whole. Yahweh’s economic system did now allow for a separation of politics and religion (Horsley, 2009). All three were parts of the same system that provided for a healthy community. Economic systems need to begin to focus on community health and the harmony they have with politics and religion to eradicate poverty.
Hillebrand, E. (2011). Poverty, Growth, and Inequality over the Next 50 Years. Meeting presented at the How to Feed the World in 2050, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Horsley, R. A. (2009). Covenant economics: a biblical vision of justice for all (1st ed). Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Walt, S. M. (2012, January). Whether or not the U.S. is declining is the wrong question. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/01/26/whether-or-not-the-u-s-is-declining-is-the-wrong-question/