Quote of the day

“The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated, Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources…

…A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.  It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.”

– US Catholic bishops on the budget debate.  Read more.

  • Annie

    Could not agree more!

  • brother jeff

    You can’t take them seriously when they use obamaspeak. Higher taxes, which are immoral in this horrendous economy, are called ‘revenue.’

  • Rick

    I don’t think the bishops were strong supporters of tax cuts for the wealthy even before Obama. To label their objection as Obamaspeak is Republicanspeak (Ryanspeak?).

    The bishops are saying they think it’s immoral, in any economy, to DISPROPORTIONATELY withdraw support from the poor and weak. That is a CATHOLIC position not just a Democratic position. I’d like to thinks that a Christian Republican would agree! The bishops are asking the government to think PROPORTIANATELY: to look fairly at the poor and wealthy, and at cuts and taxes.

    Brother Jeff, how is it moral to address the budget by keeping taxes low for the wealth and reducing or eliminating services to the poor, sick and elderly? Whatever you do to the least of my brethern . . .

  • Will

    The Michigan Catholic bishops issued a similar statement (www.micatholicconference.org). Among other things, the Michigan governor and legislators are considering eliminating an earned income tax credit for low-income households and reducing payments to public universities and k-12 schools.

  • HMS

    Rick:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comment!

    Your use of the word, Ryanspeak, is interesting to me! When Paul Ryan entered the scene a while back, I did some googling to find out about his background.

    He is quoted as having said at a talk given at an Ayn Rand forum: “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

    I find that statement disturbing.

  • Brother jeff

    ‘tax cuts for the wealthy’? Lol. How Orwellian. You mean keeping the rates where they were under Bush 43. There has been no cut and the ‘wealthy’ already pay 90% of all taxes. The usccb also fails to address the real harm tax increases cause to an economy, especially one as overtaxed and overregulated as ours is, including slowed economic activity and higher unemployment.

  • Art ND’76

    If we are to maintain our current system of legalized mutual plunder, then I agree that we must be fair about it to those less fortunate. However, I would like to see more discussion of how this government of ours that legalizes gross violations of the 7th commandment (and legalizing an act does not make it moral) gets set in order. It occurs to me that there is a problem with concentration of power in both the government and industry that in both cases lead to powerful temptations to violate many of the commandments in the Decalogue. The more power is concentrated in the hands of a few in either government or industry, the more powerful the temptations to do wrong and the greater the blindness of those people in power to the wrongs they commit.

    This is why I am for a smaller government, but also for better laws to keep businesses smaller and in competition with each other. I think that in both cases, smaller size will be more honest because of transparency and competition.

    As for caring for the poor, this is the mandate for those in the church, not the government. The law can not distinguish between the truly needy and the charlatan. It just can’t. Even the church will have difficulty with that, but for government to pass laws that attempt to benefit the needy and not the charlatan results in laws so bewilderingly complex that the needy are not served and only the clever charlatans benefit.

    If we truly want to be on the path to prosperity, we need to at least try to minimize the various legal forms of theft. I don’t think a society where each class is engaged in trying to legally steal the most from the other classes can be prosperous.

  • Jim Dotter

    Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; but give unto God what is God’s.

    BIG HINT THE POOR BELONG TO GOD NOT CAESAR!

  • rick

    You could be right that caring for the poor is the Church’s responsibility, but isn’t what the Catholic Church teaches. The bishops were articulating Catholic teaching. They are simply reminding us that as individuals, neighborhoods, individual Churches, communities, states and one nation–all of us have an obligation to the poor. If you read the Church’s social encyclicals from the 19th century on they are very clear that the government has an important role in addressing the needs of the poor.

    Brother Jeff (are you a Catholic religious brother?) your arguments are sound Republican viewpoints on the economy. But all you seem to be looking at is the economy–where do people it in? It’s a very materialistic perspective, philosophically deserving some of the same criticisms the Church leveled at Marxism. How would a Catholic, conservative Repulican implement the bishops’ reminder about what the Church teaches about the responsiblities of the government for poor? I know that Catholic teaching is incompatible with how the Democrats look at abortion and same sex marriage. It Catholic teaching also incompatible with Republican economics?

    Art, which 7th commandment are you talking about. The 7th Protestant commandment (adultery) or the 7th Catholic commandment (thou shalt not steal). I’ve read you comment both ways and you make interesting inferences however I read it.

  • rick

    Here is a link to a pastoral letter by Pope John Paul to the various countries in North and South America. It gives a very clear, though long, explanation of the church’s teaching about the relationship beteween the Church and governments, and the rich and the poor. Chapters 54 – 64 provide the most information.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_22011999_ecclesia-in-america_en.html

    Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est also discusses the responsiblities of the government AND Church toward the poor.

  • Art ND’76

    Rick,
    In other places I have qualified it as the 7th Catholic commandment. I meant it as “Thou shalt not steal”. I am a cradle Catholic who experienced a reversion several decades ago.

    Since the just distribution of tax revenue was being discussed, I limited my comments to that.

    In a democratic republic it may be argued that taxation does not constitute theft, but only in as much as that republic gives those being taxed a direct say in being so taxed. I submit that in the United States this is far from true, with the vast majority of money coming from a group that is far from having a similar power of the vote. This means that the group being so taxed has to rely on persuasion to have any influence, and that persuasion can in many cases only take the form of corruption.

    However, big businesses or small ones in cartels use contract law to commit theft through fraud or inducement. Even though these acts are legal, that does not make them moral before God’s 7th commandment. In that sense, I can agree that in protecting people from this type of abuse governments have an important role to play in protecting the poor.

    My point is that while it is certainly a worthy concern to make sure that immorally legislated and collected tax revenues are distributed with concern for the poor, to only look at that aspect of the problem is to ignore not one, but 2 elephants in the room.

    First, that the money to be used to help the poor (assuming it really does, which is also not a good assumption – it may go to the non-poor or it may be spent in ways that are not truly helpful to the poor) is immorally collected because in large part it is collected from a small minority of people who have no real say (other than through corrupting influence) in how much is collected from them.

    Second, that helping the poor is better achieved through voluntary actions by individuals and neighborhood, church, community, state or national associations (that are enabled and protected through law, not mandated by law). This leads to competing voluntary associations, with competition for donors and those needing help having choices about who they go to get help from. I think that trying to perform charity through law just doesn’t work for so many reasons, but primarily because charity is by definition an exercise of free will, whereas law is an instrument of coercion against free will – so how can law be used to force charity?

    Finally, my opinion is that the best charity reduces the future need for it. There would be a lot more prosperity if people didn’t try to use the law to steal from each other.

  • Art ND’76

    Rick,

    I am familiar with that document, but I wrote my reply before seeing your second comment.

    However, you will see much of the basis of my comments in paragraph 2 of section 54 of that document.


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