Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
2 Corinthians 8
What do you think the Apostle Paul would think about inequality in the US? I think everyone can agree that people that work harder should have more and people that refuse to work should have less. But I don't think people quite grasp how obscene the situation is in the US.
I read a great analogy that I think illustrates it well, so I'm going to try and reconstruct it in today's dollars. Let's suppose we are going to watch a parade. People are going to pass by and each one represents a US household. The parade will last 12 hours. And their height will be proportional to their income.
We'll set the mean income ($52,000 in 2009) at 6 feet tall. Those that would earn twice that would be 12 feet tall. Those that earn half would be 3 feet tall. The parade starts at noon with the lowest income earners and ends at midnight with the highest earners.
Each person will represent 1000 households and even still people are zipping by pretty quickly. Almost 3 per second. The first people are below the knees and there are a lot of them. By about 1:30 they are 1'9". It's 3 o'clock before they are an inch and a half shy of 3 feet. At 4:30 they are finally 4 feet.
At 6 o'clock the parade is half over and our paraders are 5'9". There are a lot of people between this height and the pro basketball player height. By quarter after 8 our paraders are 8'8". At 9:30 we see our first 12 footer. At 11 o'clock, with a mere 1 hour left, we're over 17 feet.
They're changing much more rapidly now. 23 feet at 11:30. At 11:53 we are looking at the top 1%. He's 44 feet tall. And it's getting much larger by the second. At 11:56 they are 64 feet tall. With half a minute left in the parade they are 195 feet tall. The last seconds deliver us people as tall as skyscrapers, and more. Now, it's a little odd to talk about income at this stage, because the wealthiest people see their net worth grow due to investments, which they don't necessarily receive as income. A little apples and oranges going on here, but just consider someone like Bill Gates. In a good stock market year he can see his fortune grow by $10 billion. That year he's over a million feet tall, or 218 miles tall. He's beyond the stratosphere, beyond the still further mesosphere, and he's basically completely outside the earth's atmosphere.
Sure, hard workers should take home more. Should they get 218 miles more while a tomato picker sweating like crazy gets 2 feet worth? Is that what the Apostle Paul would think?
Sources here and here.