Abortion, War and Taxes – UPDATED

The formerly very liberal and very pro-choice Bookworm is thinking long and hard about abortion arguments in the 21st Century:

I dreamed last night about the first ultrasound I had when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was sixteen weeks pregnant, and had been throwing up non-stop for 15 1/2 of those sixteen weeks. I was not happy. I resented the parasite within me. And then I saw the sonogram image and discovered that the parasite had a little round head, two arms and two legs, and an incredible spinal cord that looked like the most exquisite string of pearls. That image did not instantly reconcile me to the next 26 weeks of non-stop vomiting, but it made me aware that “the fetus” is not simply an aggregation of cells, or a thing indistinguishable from a dog or a chicken fetus. It’s a baby.

This is a long and thoughtful piece that I urge everyone to read and contemplate. Catholics may not agree with everything she writes, but they’ll agree with lots of it; I was surprised and gratified to see Bookie express the often-controversial idea that a baby conceived in rape is an innocent life, undeserving of dismemberment and death.

That is an issue that demands a genuine bit of social research; do post-rape abortions heal, or do the women who get them feel further violated and harmed? What do the women who have chosen to let such babies live have to say about it? I suspect the answers are themselves keeping the questions from being asked.

Another question I would like to see brought into the public square -and bear with me, for a moment, as I play Devil’s Advocate: if pro-life advocates (like me) object to their tax dollars being used to fund abortions under Obamacare (and I do), and if they want their objections to be seriously considered, then why shouldn’t those who are anti-war object to their tax dollars being used to fund the effort in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the multi-fronted war on terror?

Now, the argument will be made that a strong national defense is necessary to the survival of a nation, while legal abortions are not, strictly speaking, “necessary,” (except, for some, to the survival of a mother). But if the pro-lifers manage to keep their tax monies out of the reach of the abortion industry, they can expect to see a similar effort made about funding the “military-industrial complex.”

Although it will be very interesting to see under what sort of president, and what sort of congress, such arguments are made.

Perhaps we will have to establish some sort of “public conscience escrow account” into which taxpayers can assign a proportionate percentage of their taxes, to insure that those monies are not contributing to acts and policies which they find objectionable?

Of course, that will open a huge can of worms; those against performance art may say they don’t want their taxes to fund the NEA. Those who dislike green research may demand that their money be held in escrow until such time as we begin drilling for oil in ANWR.

Those who are fed up with politicians may insist that not a dime of their tax money go to subsidize political campaigns, congressional junkets, congressional barbershops and gyms, and so forth.

A Public Conscience Escrow Fund could quickly turn into the biggest pot o’cash in the US Government Coffers! And since its funding would be tax-payer directed, it would seem only right that the taxpayers themselves get to determine how these enormous held-in-suspense funds could finally be used.

I suggest these funds be used to build parks and playgrounds, establish scholarship funds primarily meant for music and art lessons, small-group (home and neighborhood) schooling and scholarships for un-outsourceable, bluecollar vo-tech training and the study of hard sciences.

I mean it for the children who will get to be born because their abortions were not publicly funded, but whose cities were not destroyed due to (unfortunately necessary) publicly-funded self-defense. Perhaps they will be the ones who will -through the universal languages of music, art, industry and discovery- convince some to stop strapping bombs to themselves, so that others need not arm drones and men.

Too peacenik-y?

Yes, it is too peacenik-y. But isn’t it nice to dream, even for a few minutes, that all of our passionate and clashing differences can be put to rest in a human (and therefore ultimately faulty, ultimately imperfect) world? The truth is, however, that we will never be at rest, until we rest in a Peace that is beyond all understanding.

This post, and my Devil’s Advocacy is not meant to offend, merely to illustrate how complicated things get, practically all by themselves.

I’ve got a project to work on, and I confess
I am terribly “blocked” with regards to it; blogging may become lightish. For those inclined to prayer (and who may already be praying for Sweetie) if you could whisper up one for my Elder Son’s job intention? He may have a line on something after being unemployed for much too long; I would be so grateful for your prayers! Thanks.

UPDATE: Bookworm has posted a response to this blurb expounding further on what we’re discussing here. You’ll want to read it.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Liz

    “That is an issue that demands a genuine bit of social research; do post-rape abortions heal, or do the women who get them feel further violated and harmed? What do the women who have chosen to let such babies live have to say about it? I suspect the answers are themselves keeping the questions from being asked.”

    I really hate to be the devil’s advocate here, but in the spirit of what you wrote elsewhere in the post, I have a question.

    If abortion was shown to be beneficial to all women’s health, and giving birth to a rapist’s baby was proven to be bad for their mental health in all cases, would you support abortion, even in limited circumstances? From what I’ve read here and elsewhere, I’m guessing the answer is no. Is it not a bit dishonest try an argument against your opponents that you wouldn’t accept if it was used comprehensively against you?

    [I don't think you hate playing Devil's Advocate all that much; it's fun! :-) I am not trying an argument "against my opponents," however, merely positing that the answer to such a survey might not be to their liking. Let's face it, it might not be to my liking, either, but that doesn't mean the study should not be made, which more exactly addresses the point. Would I support limited abortion if it was proved to be "good for all women?" Would you support a ban on abortion if it was proved to be "bad for all women?" Of even if it could be conclusively proved that abortions significantly increase the risk of breast cancer? I still have no choice but to err on the side of life, always. -admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    On objecting to tax dollars being used to fund this or that –

    If you must ask, there are well over a trillion dollars worth of spending that I object to. Most of the federal budget, in fact.

    But — abortion is different than a mere matter of conscience. And everyone knows that. Notwithstanding their assertions to the contrary, and even without the accompanying winks and nods and elbow jabs, everyone knows, including the pro-aborts, that it involves the killing of innocent human life. It is different.

    That said, one would do well to read some Thoreau — Civil Disobedience was all about being willing to be thrown in jail for refusing to pay taxes to fund the Mexican-American War.

    [Now, Bender, stop showing off. You know you're much smarter and more edumacated than I am! -admin]

  • frossca

    –why shouldn’t those who are anti-war object to their tax dollars being used to fund the effort in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the multi-fronted war on terror?

    You mean like this?

    [Never seen the show -admin]

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  • dry valleys

    Now The Byrds, there’s a group! I got into them through Gram Parsons, who I discovered via Elvis Costello- worra chain that is, eh?

    You’re Still On My Mind

    All good stuff- they’ll be listening to this in 100 years’ time, you know. Now the above isn’t an original- I’ll be hunting out the original. Only fair since it was EC’s cover of Gram Parsons songs that got me on the journey.

    As for where our taxes are & aren’t spent. I disagree with it in seriousness, as it would end up in some very unpleasant places. I also oppose means testing. They say “Why should Stephen Hawking get Disability Living Allowance when he is rich?” I’ll tell you why, because having decided that disabled people should be paid benefits (which I think they should as they currently are) it is important to have all disabled people supported. It produces silly outcomes, but silliness is better than withdrawing money once someone earns a certain amount, which has the perverse incentive that people will work & save less.

    Likewise, if we are going to have child support (& that to me is a big if- having children is a CHOICE that you shouldn’t make if you can’t provide for them- I use contraception on the rare occasions I see action because I’m too responsible to father a child I couldn’t provide for adequetely) it should be universal rather than means tested because it just messes things up.

    You’d be amazed at how much administration costs, seriously, & how many perverse incentives are built into the system.

    But I’ll tell you one good thing about choosing where my money goes. City banker scum wouldn’t get one penny in bailouts, they’d be told to either have a sensible business model or go bankrupt. Obviously I approach the issue from the left but I don’t think conservatives would file any complaints over that, eh?

    I don’t use a commercial bank any more- I have gone to a building society for this very reason.

    But you see what I am trying t say- I am always wary of schemes to save money by giving to some but not others. I have seen too much of means testing when I did voluntary work.

    Don’t know if you noticed this. “Perhaps too prone to making easy generalisations”, indeed. I could have told her all this. Funny how life in the reality-based community dispels the prejudices of those used to mixing amongst people like themselves- I could have told her that & so could any of my working-class neighbours but she never asked.

    [Sadly, I find that the sin of being "too prone to making easy generalizations" is all to prevalent on both the left and the right. It would be a better world if none of us ever did that. But we do. You control the instinct to do so better than most. -admin]

  • dry valleys

    You’re Still On My Mind

    Excuse me- bit late at night & what I said above is something I say very often on British blogs. The comments that are about my habitual themes tend to be imperfect because, you know, it gets boring with all the repetition…

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  • Maureen

    I object to abortions on the basis of feminism – bear with me on this. One of the principles of feminism is that women can and should be on control of their bodies and by extension their lives. Agreed. But that should also extend to understanding how to have good sex and NOT get pregnant. I came of age in the 1970′s and even then getting good information or birth control was pretty much a hit and miss situation – yet I was able to have good sex and not get pregnant because I made a point of controlling the situation (like knowing when I was fertile and not having sex then was the minimum that needed to be done).

    In today’s world, where sex and reproduction is openingly talked about, and there a many, many options for birth control, there is NO reason for any woman to get pregnant ‘by mistake’ or that it ‘just happened’. It usually means that that women in question couldn’t be responsible enough take control of their lives and if abortion is readily available many young women feel that it is no big deal. That is not in keeping with the feminist principle of taking control of your life. Yet I find many women ignore that part of feminism and rather take the passive view.

    As for pregnancy by rape – tragic, tragic, tragic, but again it is not the child’s fault (nor the woman’s) and adoption in many forms are available along with a huge amount of counseling options.

    Pregnancy that is endangering a woman’s life – again with the advances in medicine – how often is that really the situation?

    Anyway – that’s my take on the situation.

  • EdGi

    Actually, if public funding passes we will have no more legal right to refuse to pay than the leftee crazies have to refuse paying for public funding of defense. The difference is most of them have never opposed Socialist violence and liberally fund socialist revolutionary violence, while your point assumes the fund would only be used for positive goodies. The anti-war crowd was never anti-war, just anti-US.We are pro-life, not pro-abortion for those we don’t like.

  • http://www.avoiceintothevoid.wordpress.com Sue

    I too have wondered about people deciding not to pay taxes to fund war in regard to the abortion argument and conscientious objection. However, upon reflection, I believe it comes down to the Constitution (when it is being properly upheld). Our government was created a specific way to do a specific job. Part of the government’s job, based on the Constitution, is to have a standing army to protect the people. Abortion was never a “right” based on the Constitution, and it certainly was never to be publically funded. That’s ideological scope creep. The judges keep coming up with ideas that were never meant to be enforced or funded by government, and really everyone knows it, but a lot of folks want it, and often they’re the ones with the power.

  • http://chrisnicel.typepad.com/knittingsanity Terri K

    My then-19 year old son came home from his first semester at college with this idea – you should be able to choose which government programs you want your tax dollars to support. The programs that do the best job get the most money – those that don’t, are wound down. If you think that its important to have abortions funded with tax payer dollars – then you can point your money in that direction. If you think it is important to fight the war – then you can directly fund it.

    Programs would have to compete for your dollars – similar to the charitable campaign drives at the office.

    I think it is a genius idea ….

    [Sort of turns the government into a market, doesn't it? -admin]

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  • Elizabeth K.

    Your post made me wonder this: if public funding of abortions does pass, do you think we’ll see a stronger pro-life movement emerge? Perhaps it would create a crisis that could foment a movement, drawing people out of the woodwork who have been lukewarm up to this point (like, I admit, me–I’m not sure I do that much to further the pro-life movement. But what if I was funding them? That feels quite diffferent, and worthy of action. And yes, I’m embarrassed to realize this in this moment). Just a thought.

  • Ymarsakar

    The escrow account will just be raided like social security. You have to actually remove the power of the purse from Congress, meaning Constitutional Amendment.

    You can avoid doing this, but that just means the new system won’t be as strong or as permanent.

    The new system should give as much of the power of the purse to the individual as is feasible. The individual should decide how much of their tax money is allocated to which government sphere or program.

    An escrow just means people put money in a pot, that other people will then start arguing is theirs.

    An individual foundation means that that person’s money will never be used, using digital signature and paper trails, for anything other than what that person has authorized.

    That’s the power of the purse. The ability to bleed funds from a program absolutely if not enough people volunteer to fund it.

    This is a far more drastic power change than the one you advocated, Anchoress. But it is necessary if you want real reforms of the system.

    Minor changes to how Congress doles out money is not going to change their corruption quota.

    Once politicians are actually forced to convince the people to pay for defense or healthcare, by each and every tax paying person, this redistributes power back to the people, where it matters. Power is no longer in the hands of faceless bureaucrats, spy agencies, or politician clans.

    We’ll see how many people volunteer to pay for the common defense vs those that are the Left.

    As the Marines say. They’re paid to protect the United States. For Berkley, however, they do it for free.

    Charity on this order should be sustainable. And the moral law will be better for it.

  • Ymarsakar

    I think it is a genius idea ….

    It seems this idea isn’t all that rare.

    But that raises the question, if the answer to American decay is so easily arrived at, why isn’t the power mongers getting it done?

    The answer is obvious. They aren’t going to let their power be redistributed back to the people they stole it from.

    Hope and Change for ya.

  • Greta

    I believe that the reason topics like this become an issue is that the federal government and the federal court have distorted the constitution. The federal government by law should only have the powers given to them by the states. It use to be when the federal government wanted to change laws, they went through the amendment process which was very difficult and required huge majorities in congress and then state approval. If you had a small group of people who wanted to change the agenda, it was blocked. The beauty of this system was that we could all agree and support the federal government doing the things they were authorized to do and most issues could be left to the states. This meant that if Ohio or Indian wanted certain laws, as long as they did not violate the constitution, they were able to do this. Those who did not like them could move to states that allowed those things. If you wanted abortion you could live in a place like New York. But when you have a federal government or court stopping on the constitution, you force Ohio to live with legal abortions. Also programs such as those fighting poverty are best handled close to the needs in the states. This also allowed the federal government to operate without those hotbutton flash issues.

    As I remember, in WWII, you had bond drives and people chose to contribute and the government had to sell the people that fighting the war was the right thing to do. If the federal government knew this going in, they would not get involved unless there was overwhelming support and they would have to do it right or it would lose support of the people and funding from the people. After the war, Eisenhower warned of the growing military industrial complex because all of a sudden the powers the congress and president had gained in fighting WWII and Korea were left in place and expanded. Now you had congressman and senators able to use the power of the purse for their own use. Usually after a war we took the swords to plow shares. I realize we had become a super power and had global responsibility, but believe that we would have been far better off to have to learn to live with everyone without the huge power of weapons. In fact, the USSR was doomed in doing the same and it has hurt us as well.

  • http://minoroutside.blogspot.com cminor

    Anchoress, I’ll happily give up the benefits of federally funded abortion; will pacifists give up the benefits of federally funded defense?

    Do realize, Greta, that those bond drives were over and above taxation, conscription, and recruitment to work for the war effort; it wasn’t a simple matter of fundraising the war through volunteerism. Conscientious objectors who refused any involvement in WWII were also imprisoned and sometimes pretty horribly treated.

    Regarding Bookworm’s remarks on Thoreau and our collective lack of heart for prison and confiscation, years ago I came across a civil disobedience idea which, if less heroic than Thoreau’s, could if widely supported make a statement. It originated as an antiwar protest, but could be applied to other federal funding projects. Each taxpayer withholds one dollar from his/her tax payment, enclosing a note explaining that this is done in protest against federal funding of abortion and inquiring what proportion of the individual’s taxes are being used to take human lives.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    I don’t know about how smart I am.

    I thought that the Rescue movement — having read Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail — would actually accomplish something. Had only one in ten thousand given his or her support, it might just have ended abortion — but, instead, they tsk-tsk’d, and turned against the movement, and millions more are dead today.

    **Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. . . . As for adopting the ways which the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man’s life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconcilliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. . . . Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. . . . If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight.**
    – Civil Disobedience

  • tom in ohio

    KISS, “keep it simple stupid” is sometimes a good principle. Abortion is intrinsically evil, always and every time and maintaining an army is not.

    So we are speaking of apples and oranges.

    The decision to oppose abortion is not optional for a Catholic. opposing this war or that police action is.

    Again . . . apple and oranges.

  • dry valleys

    Aye, the “left” & “right” are perhaps evenly matched in making extravagant assertions & talking any old toss so long as it winds people up. But I just find the “left” less objectionable than the “right”, as much as others don’t.

    I do not read Melanie Phillips’ work as I don’t particularly care for it. But I wonder if this new wisdom she has picked up will make it into her writing. Of course she is still going to be right-wing. But her time amongst the no-hopers will not be forgotten :)

  • Air65Cav

    During the Vietnam War, war protesters withheld the portion of their income taxes used to fund the War. (Remember the semi-Catholic priests – the Berrigan brothers.) They went to jail. It was (and is) a clear violation – citizens do not have the right to pick and choose the legislative programs that they wish to support.

    Not funding abortions is a LEGISLATIVE fix. Likewise legislators could decide to stop fundng wars. But withholding taxes is a crime – how many would be willing to go to jail. Very few even at the height of the anti-war fervor. The Vietnam War was over when Congress defunded it – at a time it was being fought 100% by the Vietnamese.

    2nd Point – Giving the average citizen the right to fund/not fund government programs is not “genius” – it’s the sort of sophomoric idea that sounds good in a bull session at 1 AM. Do you really think the average citizen will spend the time to investigate the worthiness of a trillion of programs? Do you really think military programs should be funded based on the “popularity” of various wars?

    If voters cannot be trusted to “turn out the bums”, how can they be trusted to investigate the relative worth of ICE? Put anothere way, ND, a Republican state, elected Dorgan the Democrat because he brought home the pork. So, ND voters support wasteful programs that benefit them, while opposing great programs that benefit others.

    Emotion is nice but clearer thinking is better.

  • CHS

    re: the peacenik-y song. The lyrics are taken nearly word for word from Ecclesiates 3.

    [Yes, they always have been. The song and graphics and music group, still peaceniky. :-) -admin]

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  • Rhinestone Suderman

    All I can say is, the American taxpayer is expected to pay for too many things, many of them useless, or even counter-productive (such as the foreign aid we continually send to the Palestinians, and other countries, which, somehow,never seems to get the actual people it’s intended to help, but ends up lining the pockets of third-world kleptocrats.)

    I’m with Ymarsakar on this one; give the people the power to decide what they will, and won’t, pay for.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Cminor, I like the idea of withholding a dollar from taxes, as a protest.

  • Ymarsakar

    But I just find the “left” less objectionable than the “right”, as much as others don’t.

    Sacrificing liberty for temporary security is always something that becomes less objectionable the more people do it.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Ymarsakar, exactly.

    There are a lot of people who have no problem with being supported by the state, and object, loud and long, when anybody points out the flaws in this scheme.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And, of course, eventually they start objecting to those who don’t want the government to take care of them.

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  • dry valleys

    ISLAM4UK banned (lots of responses on the blogosphere, mainly opposing the government’s decision for various reasons).

    I am hardly shedding buckets of tears over this but I think banning them is the wrong approach. Firstly, Choudhary has set up various front organisations which have been banned, & it hasn’t stopped him. Secondly, I don’t think he has that much importance- I said the following & see no reason to change what I have said:

    “what really concerns me is that Choudhary & his fellow tits, while they probably don’t have much support at all, distract attention from the people who are not terrorists, who oppose political violence, who are in some ways model citizens but are also deeply reactionary & opposed to the sort of liberal, secular values I support- with the MCB being top of that list.

    They get credit for slagging off Choudhary, but how hard is it to do that? Anyone can cheaply get a few points for it. It doesn’t mean they oppose Islamism, sharia “law” & what have you.”

    That is the fact of the matter. They have to state, as I have done, that they oppose sharia “law”, think that the homophobia & sexism rife within Islam should be opposed (for example, by supporting women’s refuges) & most of all oppose things like this incredible misuse of taxpayers’ money.

    I has been impressed on me that silent majorities stay silent. No one particularly cares what most people think, as most people will never express themselves forcefully. You will always have a society shaped by those who shout the loudest.

    I do not earn a great deal, so once we’ve piled up bailing out bankers, hare-brained panderings to the religious lobby/lobbies (paid for by the state), it’s not hard for me to get 100% of my earnings. I will give my money to the charities I have supported such as girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

    When we are going round the world. Some extremely troubling stuff coming out of Africa, such as Uganda, where homosexuality is now a capital offence, & repressive laws of that kind are common.

    It is in the west that women & gays get the best deal, I certainly wouldn’t want to be a powerless person of any kind in the Third World. You wonder whether the governments in these countries really can’t think of anything better to do, such as creating a proper infrastructure & removing corruption in the state & trade barriers so they can become more prosperous.

    You wonder, really, what goes through some people’s minds.

  • Mary

    Eh, people are allowed to object to the war. They can vote for those who would stop it, they can rally against it, they can lobby Congress against it, and the rest of us have no problem. Furthermore, our Congressmen can stop it.

    Abortion? Those who support tax-funded abortion have vapors at the idea that anyone, even the baby’s father, express the idea to the woman that she not have it. And she’s not been elected to that post; she’s chosen it.

    Funding that which you have some control over is different from funding that which you have no control over.

  • dry valleys

    Cafteria Catholicism on the right

    [Of course, you see the same thing on the left, where progressive Catholics run with those pronouncements from Bishops, the Vatican or the Pope that they like (environmental, anti-war, etc) and ignore and jeer at those they do not like (abortion, etc). This is the problem. The right and left have both become reactionary mirrors of each other. admin]

  • nan

    Too peacenik-y? No, I don’t think so. The Byrds produced a great song with words from the bible( including”a time to kill”). And Forrest Gump – the story of a beautiful person dealing with a cruel world with dignity. I was a young person during that period of our nation’s history. I was appalled at the deaths of so many fine young men and wasn’t convinced the war was necessary, but I love my country and am proud of our young men and women in uniform. I despised the flag burners back then and the army haters now. I’m afraid our president, many if not most of our legislators, and most people who consider themselves liberals despise our servicemembers,or at the very least, look down on them. As for the abortion mentality – I never could understand it. I was pregnant at the same time as a friend of mine. She was having testing done(unusual at that time) to “make sure” her baby wasn’t “retarded” like her brother. She would have aborted if the testing, not very accurate at the time, had indicated the likelihood. This was a well-educated woman who had graduated from a Catholic college, back when Catholic colleges were supposed to really be Catholic. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that kind of thinking. Sorry for the rambling, but that song brought back memories.

  • David Meyer

    Although I believe that public funding of abortion and public funding of the war effort are neither morally nor Constitutionally equivalent, take your Public Conscience Escrow Fund a step further and you have an excellent argument for small-is-beautiful government: Government should provide, and tax to fund only a minimal, uncontroversial, constitutionally mandated set of services. The people are then free to support with their less-taxed funds programs outside the government’s mandate each according to his conscience.

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