A group of protestant bishops and other leaders, mostly from the mainline, recently wrote a letter to congress urging them not to make serious tax cuts because of its potential to impact the poor both at home and abroad.
A noble sentiment, to be sure, but is it good economics? It includes this line:
Discretionary programs that serve the poor and vulnerable are a very small percentage of the budget, and they are not the drivers of the deficits. Unchecked increases in military spending combined with vast tax cuts helped create our country’s financial difficulties and restoring financial soundness requires addressing these root imbalances.
There is no mention of the housing crisis; of the poor stewardship and worship of the almighty dollar and the American dream that led many to purchase homes they couldn’t afford. Instead, the blame is laid at the doorstep of two things that the left does not like: the military and tax cuts. Nevermind that the military is a major distributor of aid and assistance to foreign countries (think of the Marines following the Tsunami) and in domestic crises ( the Coast Guard following Katrina, or the National Guard after, well, everything). And nevermind that tax cuts free up capital to be used for job creation – which is precisely the medicine needed to treat poverty.
The nanny state is untenable. I think I could make a case that it is un-Christian, too. In his “Choruses from The Rock” T.S. Eliot wrote,
They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
The transfer of moral agency away from the individual to the state is a serious problem in modernity. By and large, the Church has bought into this notion that the state can do our morality for us. There was a time when it was the duty of the churches to build hospitals, care for the outcast, and feed the hungry. After Marx, we are apt to worship the state and look to it to do all our ministry for us.
More and more I think that we get the politics we deserve by not doing our job in the social sphere. If Britain is any example, the state is evolving into a beast too hungry to satiate, and we want to keep feeding it. All the social welfare programs in the world will not best the original program of social justice: Christ working the world through his Church.
Let us lament that the state still has anyone left to help. If Christians in America were doing our jobs, the state would have much less room to step in.
Still that increasing a few taxes and cutting military spending will solve things? Check this out:
P.S. I only found out about this letter because I am on the mailing list of the IRD. I don’t like the IRD; I think they are as obviously in the pocket of the right wing as this letter indicates our church leaders are in the pocket of the left wing. But I stay on their mailing list because it’s the only way I find out about crazy things like this that my church does. A necessary evil, I suppose.