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How Do You Determine What Is a Person's Fair Share of Taxes, Other Than by the Ballot Box and a Gun?
March 6, 2009
Jim Wallis is a member of President Obama's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This is President Obama's version of President Bush's faith-based initiatives. He promoted this strongly in his 2008 campaign.
Providing money extracted from taxpayers is a pay-back to those religious groups that got out the vote. Bush did it. Obama is doing it. This money is irresistible to these groups: "free money." This money makes dependents of the institutions that receive it. It cannot legally be used to promote sectarian religion, meaning anything that has to do with God. This secularizes the tax-funded mission of these organizations.
Jim Wallis is a big supporter of President Obama and federal money. He has spent his career promoting the welfare state.
Let us begin with the Bible. The prophet Samuel warned the Israelites:
The king will take your best fields, as well as your vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his own officials. He will also take a tenth of your grain and grapes and give it to his officers and officials. The king will take your slaves and your best young men and your donkeys and make them do his work. He will also take a tenth of your sheep and goats. You will become the king's slaves (I Samuel 8:14-17).
A tax of 10% is tyranny, Samuel said. Anything exceeding this is unfair.
Fast forward 3,000 years. Mr. Wallis invokes a favorite political liberal shibboleth, the fair share.
I wrote about this back in 1993, in an article titled, "The Politics of the Fair Share." I made this point:
When a politician speaks of everyone paying his fair share of taxes, he always means the rich should pay a higher percentage of income than the poor. Meanwhile, politicians offer to the middle class -- the eligible voters who actually vote -- their fair share of the loot that will be stolen from others by means of the ballot box. Almost no one questions the legitimacy of using the ballot box to confiscate the wealth of others. The debate centers around who should pay their fair share "someone else" -- and those who will collect their fair share: "us."
In the name of Protestant evangelical theology, Jim Wallis needs to address this moral issue. He doesn't. Instead, he speaks in the name of a political advocate whose party has just won a national election.
America's religious communities are required to ask of any budget: what happens to the poor and most vulnerable -- especially, what becomes of the nation's poorest children in these critical decisions?
This follows a time-tested political formula: "When you are about to take away some crucial freedom, do it in the name of the children."
The values of the American people [who, precisely, are they?] should also be applied to the budget, e.g. fairness (everyone paying their fair share) [who determines this?]; opportunity for all Americans [opportunity to do what to what, at whose expense?] ; fiscal, personal, and social responsibility [like a $1.7 trillion budget deficit] ; balancing important and different priorities [on whose scale?]; defining security more broadly than just military considerations, as it is related to economic and family security too [at whose expense, administered by which Civil Service-protected agency?]; compassion and protection for the vulnerable [at whose expense?]; building community [with a Federal gun]; and upholding the common good [as defined by whom?].
The president's budget [a $1.7 trillion deficit] is a step toward restoring the value of the common good to our policy. It is a step to rebalance our priorities, protect the vulnerable, and strengthen the middle.
It contains major investments [a code word for government pork] in the president's three priorities: significantly expanding health care coverage [which at present is in the hole for $72 trillion], focusing on climate change [I notice no one says "global warming" these days] reduction and developing renewable energy, and investing in education [secular humanism by law] -- early childhood programs, strengthening and reforming public schools, expanded opportunities for college -- all of which will benefit low-income people. There are also specific changes in important areas such as tax policy, food and nutrition programs, housing, needed aid to veterans, prisoner re-entry, global food security, and increased foreign aid for combating pandemic disease. It's a budget aimed at redressing the imbalances [excluding the imbalance of $1.7 trillion].
When a government agent sticks a gun in your belly and says, "Hand over your money; it's only fair," you will understand the politics of the fair share.