Why didn't even Jesus address the first and greatest inequality of all?

Land.

That’s an interesting question. Especially given that it was addressed by the prophets before him already (from Isaiah 5)

Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left and you live alone in the land.

The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:

“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.

And there was also the Jubilee system built in even if it was never much followed.

Perhaps land and fields was considered to just be part of all the wealth that Jesus did so often discuss? He had warnings for the rich man building bigger barns … warnings for the rich in his parable of Lazerus. I suppose if it is harder for the rich to be saved than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, there is no reason to think that he wasn’t including land-owners and vineyard owners among those presumed rich. In fact land and livestock might have been closer to the normal traffic of commerce then than it is perceived to be in today’s world of stocks and off-shore tax havens.

They (we) are already in danger of the fires of hell. What more did you want Jesus to say? He tended to get pretty extreme if you wanted to press him on stuff like this … if some bodily organ was associated explicitly with wealth, you might receive council on whether or not you should prefer your soul, or go in search of a knife instead. So … how badly do you want to go there?

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I think people today can reasonably infer from Christ’s and Paul’s priorities that in today’s context, caring for land in order that it may better serve the community at large is a no-brainer. I’m with Wendell Berry on that. Paul thought Christ was about to come and stuff wouldn’t be around for even so much as a generation, which is why he was so free to say stuff like … “live as if you don’t even have a wife … as if you aren’t happy (or sad) … as if nothing is yours…” In short, don’t be invested in anything here (including your family!) because that’s all about to end. (1 Corinthians 7:29) We’re all pretty safe a couple thousand years later now in tweaking Paul’s advice just a bit there because we now know something he didn’t … that time is a thing, and we don’t know that history is ending any time soon, so we’d better default back to all the much better advice found nearly everywhere else in scriptures: that the way we carry on here very much does matter. (And Paul agrees - which can be seen by simply reading all the rest of his epistles on not just that snippet.) It’s why scriptures have to be looked at as a whole lest people start proof-texting for stuff they were just hoping to justify.

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I think Jesus’ priority was repentance to love from injustice in all our dealings and in the face of unrighteousness, social injustice, which you will always have with you. Hence the poor. Land justice is implicit in the second great natural commandment - be fair - which follows on from the first and greatest natural commandment - do no harm. Unfairness harms like nothing else.

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Land and what grows on it are something real. In Israel, the rent should have depended on the value of the crops produced on that piece of land until the Jubilee, when the land returned to the original owner. Very different than the speculation-based stock markets with its’ instruments that are even further from the reality. Much of the difference between the wealthy and poor depends on profits made in the stock markets, based on the speculated changes in the value of money, companies or raw material. If people would lose trust in the current money systems or the speculations that are incorporated in the selling and buying in the stock markets, we would have many new poor people.

There are many examples showing that ‘equal’ ownership does not lead to a paradise. Soviet union is one of the examples, although it could be claimed that ownership was never ‘equal’ in that country. When nobody owns the land or the crop, there is little motivation to take care of it - tragedy of the commons. An exception is perhaps the tribes where the children are grown to respect their land that does not belong to any human. A wise landowner ensures that the property keeps its’ productivity and value in the future.

A fair treatment of those who rent a piece of land or an apartment is another matter.

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Who’s talking about ownership? The equal shares of misery meted out in violent revolutions are not what the commons is about at all. They are an effect of unbearable injustice by the ruling class. The earliest Christians didn’t have that problem when they were communists, as they had love FIRST.

Earliest Christians loved each other but I would not say that they were ‘communists’. Think of the case of Ananias and Sapphira. What Peter said, shows that they respected ownership and there was no obligation to sell and give to others.

In addition to mutual love, one motivation for giving everything away was probably the expectation that Jesus would return soon - no need for the wealth or to leave anything for the children if the kingdom was close. Proved to be a good decision as the Christians probably lost what they had in the persecutions. Yet, loving others is not ‘communism’.

Injustice is another matter. There is much of that in the world. My opinion is that there is a need to have some limits to what the wealthy and powerful can demand from or do to the poor. Fair taxation of income is one way to ensure that the poor do not need to starve to death - an unpopular way to show love.

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‘And they held all things in common’.

Income tax and purchase tax are burdens on the poor. Wealth tax isn’t.

‘Communism’ and ‘communist’ have definite non- and anti-Christian connotations, even denotations. ‘Communal’ and ‘community’ not so much.

A well-designed and enforced graduated income tax (never gonna happen) and higher sales taxes on luxuries could be fair.

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I wonder if anyone ever thought of sabbatical or jubilee years as resets and equalizers before,

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Ah, I hadn’t read the thread first. A sabbatical year or two over the several centuries may have happened, but no jubilee ever that I’m aware of.
 

Tim Keller’s Generous Justice is a good read.

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The Church re-implemented natural communism in love. Without love it can’t work.

Income and sales tax as you describe is what the West does. And will never be fair no matter how graduated. Only restoring the commons through taxation of stolen land and all wealth generated on it and by its dispossessed is fair.

I doubt Keller gives it a mention.

Which is what inspired the jubilee. Evidence of divine genius for which there is no historical evidence of implementation unfortunately.

Opinions differ here, largely depending on the cultural background. Luckily, this is not a core issue for Christians although it is important for the society. No need for divisions between people despite the differing opinions.

I see no need for taxation of wealth if the person has paid fair income, sales or inheritance (etc.) taxes from it. It would be double taxation. The problem with the income taxation is that the wealthy may utilise holes in the legislation. It is common that the rich pay less income tax than an average citizen. Companies have been even worse in this respect (‘legal tax planning’).

Overall, the ties between wealth and land are not what they used to be. Think of Google, Meta (Facebook) or other companies that don’t own more land than what they need for their buildings. A person owning stocks of this kind of companies may be rich although he/she would not own any piece of land.

Sales or consumption taxes could be a whole lot less regressive than they actually are if they would just be paired with sensible measures like exempting certain whole categories (e.g. food, and some basic amount of housing / water / energy / medical). Some states here in the U.S. even do that, but they are a minority of states. The rich will always exert power to build and protect their holdings at the expense of everyone else. As Jesus taught - it shows where their heart is.

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All wealth comes from the poor. First by stealing land and creating the poor and then by turning them in to slaves and serfs. Nothing changes. Shareholders are slaveholders.

One day there will be a free market of properly taxed land. And all enterprises on it that increase its value. Even if it’s some trillionaire’s offshore bedroom.

He talks about redistribution and cites John Perkins.
 

Taxation and restitution are two separate issues. A graduated tax with zero or negative (payment of credits) at the low end can be fair.
 

Dumping real estate and wealth on the uneducated and the unequipped does not help them.
 

Not when Boaz is working alongside them.
 

Sure there will.

He was preaching to an occupied people. They weren’t the colonizers at that point in history, that was Rome.

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So He couldn’t address the Jewish establishment? He couldn’t remind them of their jubilee obligations?

How do we know he did not? Do we have an exhaustive list? The Bible was written for us, but not to us, I have heard. John 21:25

25 Jesus did many other things as well.(A) If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

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Looks like special pleading. It isn’t mentioned anywhere in the NT except in one spectacular example, without being explicated; it inevitably emerges from love in social action.

It’s the social gospel of the prophets. It’s why Sodom and Gomorrah were nuked.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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