Attention Tea Party Advocates

Thanks Elizabeth.  There are no self-made persons in this country. And there would be no social fabric to this country were it not for taxes— no roads, no fire department, no police department, no traffic lights, no garbage collectors,  etc.  And as Elizabeth says, we have an obligation to those who come after us, to pay it forward.  For example, we need enough money in the S.S. system so my children will have it when their day comes to need it.  Frankly there are two things needed for that to happen: 1) of course we need to be fiscally responsible, and 2) no matter what, we need to RAISE TAXES.  Yes you heard me, raise taxes.  We need to all pay our fair share for living in the country we do, with the lowest tax rate in any industrialized Western democracy.  Sooooooo, it’s time to stop whining about taxes.    Do we need to reform the tax code so the wealthy pay their fair share—– you bet we do.  Do we need to reform the tax code to eliminate ridiculous loop holes?  Of course we do.  Should major corporations have to pay their fair share of taxes?  Of course they should.   Are there some people paying a disproportionate amount in taxes—- yes there are (see Warren Buffet’s point about himself and his secretary).

It is interesting that one of the things that both Jesus and Paul insist on is——- paying your taxes!    I’m just sayin’ –do your civic duty and stop whining. The fact that the tax code is not perfect is no excuse for screaming for lower taxes—- fix the code, and make sure everyone, including major corporations pays their fair share.   Enough said.

  • disappointed

    Where is the post telling the OWS crowd to shut up repay their student loans and take a shower? Of course BW3 never calls out the lefties. This piece is so arrogant it is hard to know where to begin. It is a good example of why I rarely read this blog anymore. I am very interested in what Ben as a Biblical scholar. But too often we get a movie review, a critique of a rock ‘ roll drummer, or something of comedy central. Ben as a Bible scholar, among the best, Ben as an economist, among the worst. C’mon Ben…your better than this.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Daystar: You will be pleased to know I have and do critique the occupier crowd as well. Their sense of entitlement is not what I would hope for. And I’m all for paying back school loans…. my own kids are about through with that. If you actually pay attention you will discover that I am an equal opportunity critiquer of the so-called left and the so-called right. The point is, they both have shipped plenty of water when it comes to live on the basis of Biblical principles—– which includes pay one’s fair share of taxes. BW3

  • Luken

    This post by Mr. Witherington is just another example of:
    A. His ignorance of American History
    B. His ignorance of any sound economic theory
    C. His inability to move beyond a very shallow understanding of anything other than his chosen field. A renaissance man he is not.
    D. His near blind adherence to the left right paradigm. While simultaneously giving lip service to objectivity.
    E. Believing that cute little “sound bits” satisfy the requirement for intellectual due diligence.
    F. Continually fails to see the connection between the welfare state and the warfare state and how one enables and promotes the other.
    G. Consciously or otherwise adheres to the broken window fallacy.

    I would encourage everyone to do there research before accepting Mr. Witheringtons political or economic beliefs at face value.

    Mr. Witherington, do your homework on
    A. The business cycle
    B. Moral hazaard

    Also, please consider ceasing in your advocacy of Force to achieve your goals.
    ( if you think that stealing by majority approval isn’t using illegitimate force/ cohersion then perhaps I can’t help you)

    FYI I am not nor have I ever have been a member of the tea party.

  • Anonymous

    So….Luken, are you actually saying that any form of taxation is theft? Really??? Really??? I have one thing to say about that—- it’s clearly not a Biblical position, but perhaps that does not bother you. Nor is it a sound theological position since everything actually belongs to God, we are only stewards of God’s property— that’s all. So…… it’s irrelevant to me that you are not a Tea Party advocate…. the question is, what are you advocating? Even libertarians I know of are not as extreme as this, nor for that matter are most Anabaptists. BW3

  • Luken

    Perhaps you should stop making over generalizations based on: I talked to so and so and they say X and they claim to be Y so that’s the final word on what Y is.
    Also, what is it with your obsession with political labels?

    I would respond to your question on taxation by asking: how many people does it take before theft becomes taxation? If someone washes my car without permission then steals the money that’s sitting on my dash board as payment. Is it still theft? What if 10 people do it? How about 100,1000,10,000? How many until it becomes okay to take what God has gifted to me because YOU find it to be beneficial to society?

    “Really… Really”

    Yes! I would disagree with you that it is clear from scripture. I’m not going to argue that point with you because that is your area but I’m going to go with the biblical scholars who I find to be more logically consistent in that area.

    If God has given me a gift in the form of stewardship of my property is it okay for another man to try to use force to take what God has given?

    The plan fact of the matter Ben is this: when a man holds a gun up to me and demands my money it makes him a thug. When you use the force of government to steal my money it makes you a thug that lacks the courage of his convictions. Kind of like a mafia don uses made men to collect his protection money rather than having the guts to show up himself.

    Anyone that advocates force to take the fruit of someone’s labor away from them it’s violence against that person, period. You can play word games by saying that property is a gift but the facts still remain that you are taking something that is not yours Ben.

    Explain this to me, what is wrong with seeking the greatest good for the largest amount of people through persuasion and voluntary action rather than cohersion and violence as you so gleefully advocate for???

    I do value scripture and that is why I am opposed to the illegitimate use of force and aggression against other people. Why don’t you join me in opposing those things Ben?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Luken:

    I can’t join you because your interpretation of taxation is completely unBiblical! Besides….once more with feeling— it is not your property— its God’s! So who exactly is the government stealing from— God??? No way, for it’s God who gave us his word and it says very clearly in Rom. 13.6: ‘For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing.’

    How about that—- the rulers are God’s servants, and sometimes they do indeed know better than I do, what ought to be done in terms of my service to my fellow human beings. In short, I can’t join you because frankly I have a duty to my government to my fellow human beings, to the body of Christ. Let me be clear. Doing good to the body of Christ and to all is not optional, its a commandment of the Bible. For me at least that has the force of law. I don’t call it coercion or theft just because God has rightly demanded it. And only an extreme misreading of the NT would warrant calling any and all taxes an inappropriate demand.

    Ben W.

  • Luken

    I guess I better start sending my tithe to the state then. Golly, you have opened my eyes. You must paint the rear windows in your car black, because you sure love your blind spots.

    Just because it is a moral good to pay taxes now doesn’t mean we are prohibited from seeking to change that structure. God’s agents change. Does Paul admonishing slaves to obey their masters also condone the very institution of slavery? Or, was he simply unconcerned with political revolution, focusing rather on a spiritual revolution?

    You seek to institute political force as a normative that would bring about spiritual revolution in exact contradiction to Paul impetus. Since you love political labels I’ll add one to your title: Neocon!

    Who is twisting scripture? Once again your political proclivities cloud your judgement Ben.

    I’m sure you make a fine slave BW3. To bad it’s to the wrong master.

    Ps. Elizabeth Warren is a hack. Are the OWS folks disingenuous because they protest corporations while wearing clothing which were made by
    corporations? I think not. A lack of options do not negate legitimate grievances.

  • Anonymous

    As I’ve thought about your post and the subsequent responses both by yourself Dr. Witherington, and those who responded, I still have some concerns about the way your speak of the tea party.

    But let me make this my response to what you’ve said, as a Christian who has spent the last twenty years working with the poor in urban America.

    First, as a Christian, there is no question that my money and belongings ultimately belong to God. And it’s very clear Biblically that I am mandated to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, which means that I am to pay my taxes. I have no dispute with this.

    However, there’s an interesting challenge here. My house isn’t titled in God’s name, it’s in mine. Nor is my pay check written out to God, it’s written out to me. Why is that when God owns it all? Because I am a steward of all that God has given to me to manage. Thus, I have responsibilities to handle the money I have wisely and properly. I am also mandated to care for the poor, needy and lost out of the resources I have.

    One thing that is very unique to recent history, especially in the United States is that as a citizen of the United States, I have authority to participate in the stewardship of our government. And I have a voice to speak about the stewardship of our country. One of my biggest concerns is that our government is being very poor stewards when we borrow excessively to spend way beyond the government’s means. I’m also concerned that as the government can, they help the economy grow which will produce jobs to those who are poor.

    So, I find that while not perfect, the Tea party is more willing to require stewardship and proper handling of our resources, certainly than those who are in power currently. This is why I am deeply concerned about where our country is going, and that we are not as a nation being good stewards of the money and resources God has given us.

    Thanks for considering what I have to say.

    Dave Capp

  • Steve from Oz

    Maybe you should do some research on other Western democracies. The countries with the biggest governments and highest taxes are consistently the happiest and have the lowest rich-poor divide. Ie. The Scandinavian countries and Australia.