This is a hastily-written response to this article in the Huffington Post.
Gah. While I tend to get just as angry about the actions of Republicans as those of Democrats, articles like this annoy me. I agree that the Republicans are leaving too much in the budget for defense and the propagation of endless undeclared wars (the “American Empire” as the libertarians call it). But Jim Wallis says: “And I don’t believe, as the Republicans keep saying, that the best way to help everybody is to keep helping the super-rich. That’s not smart economics and, as we say in the evangelical community, it’s not biblical.” I’m going to take for granted and set aside the fact that asking “What Would Jesus Do” in regard to our Federal budget is a completely ridiculous question, because as God, He is not limited by our concept of economic scarcity. (Remember the loaves and fish?)
It is smart economics, actually Jim… tax cuts for the rich benefit the poor much more than taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor. Go ahead and read that again if you want. It’s not intuitive, perhaps, but think about it: Who controls production of most of the food and other goods that the poor have to purchase? The rich. If they’re not directly producing the food, rich people and corporations are heavily involved in the production chain– e.g., they produce farm equipment, vehicles, fuels, construction materials and all sorts of other supplies that are part of the cost of doing business. So if you increase taxes for the rich, all they’re going to do is pass the tax burden on to the other classes by increasing the prices of the goods they produce (or they’ll just go out of business, which is no good for anyone). It won’t make them any less rich, trust me – except for not being able to sell as many goods to the people who need them. But if we reduce taxes on the rich and the big suppliers and food producers, not only will they produce food, housing, and other goods more cheaply (especially if there is adequate competition), but more jobs will be created here on our own soil because producers have less of a reason to buy labor overseas! It’s a win-win for rich and poor alike.
And on top of the economic reasons, it is Biblical: what always gets left out of these discussions is that there is no such thing as “public money” because the government HAS no money, it only has the funds it has taken forcibly (“taxed”) from the private sector. We wouldn’t be “helping” the rich by taxing them less, we would simply be allowing them to keep what they have rightfully earned through doing business or through inheritance. So if we are to honor the commandment “you shall not steal”, or even the golden rule for that matter, the concept of “public money” derived from taxation is off the table and must be replaced with voluntary donations. I believe that helping the poor is an extremely noble pursuit and is a vital (perhaps necessary) part of all Christians’ callings. However I refuse to do it with money that has been stolen from its rightful owners and laundered via the government (though don’t construe this to mean I don’t pay my taxes :). I am only within my rights to use my own time and resources, or time and resources that have been freely given to the cause via, for example, a church or other charitable organization. And if we weren’t taxed, we’d have a lot more money to give to our churches! One practical step in the right direction might be to make charitable donations tax-creditable, not just tax-deductable (i.e. every penny you donate to a church or charity would be deducted from your total tax burden, not just from your reported taxable income).
So reducing or eliminating the tax burden on all people is not only a practical solution because it would help rich and poor alike, but it is the only ethically responsible option! As usual, following the law God has given us has practical benefits in addition to being the right thing to do. To understand the impact of economic policies, you always have to look at the whole picture… from now on, any time you want the government to support a worthy public cause (and I don’t doubt for a second that there are truly worthy public causes), replace the word “government” with “money that has been taken from someone else”. If you don’t read anything else on the subject of economics, read this … and specifically for Christians, here’s a textbook written by my eccentric Econ 101 professor from GCC.
And now back to your regularly scheduled internet time-wasting… :)