Let’s play a game. You can choose between two jobs. One pays $50,000 and the other pays $100,000. You know, or can guess, that if you take the first you will give about $5,000/yr in fast offerings and other gifts to the poor. If you make $100,000 you will give about $15,000. You will also pay several thousand more dollars in taxes, but we’ll set that aside. So in one case, you consume about $45,000 and in the other, you consume about $85,000.
Which do you take?
In the one case, you are clearly raising yourself above your fellow man. You are living on way more than average person, even as you produce more as well. The Book of Mormon is very explicit that inequality leads many people to think themselves better than their fellow man, in fact there are references all through the standard works to being equal in earthly things. Money makes us prideful, just like a fancy degree does. For some, the weak among us, it may be better to avoid that temptation entirely. For others, the gifts to the poor will keep us from being prideful, or maybe not.
Of course, you are also providing substantially more for the poor. So which matters more, inequality or poverty? Do you take the job that relieves poverty, knowing that you are explicitly creating inequity? What if you only planned to give the same $5,000 in either job?
Empirically, this question is easy to answer. The vast majority of people would not only take the money, but they wouldn’t give the $15,000. And those who do don’t appear to be any happier than those making half as much.
*Let’s ignore any differences between jobs. And we will make the assumption that the money you earn is based on what you have added personally to the world’s goods and services and are being paid for it. Thus it is not as if someone else would get the high paying job if you don’t. If this is hard for you to envision, think of it as a kind of self employment.