So, here it is, Sunday. There is a little bit of snow on the ground here in Maryland, but I understand that in parts of the country it is very cold and snowy. I know that some of you plan on religious services today. Maybe I can be of help. Although I am a grownup and have given up childish things a long time ago, and I have assumed responsibility for myself (as well as my wife and dog), I know that for some, having an imaginary friend seems to be the way to go. Hence, you go to a church or mosque or synagogue.
Today, being the Christian day of prayer, allow me to give you some quotes from the Christian Bible and show how American Christianity handles them.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.‘ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.’” — Matthew 25:41-45
“He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.” — Proverbs 22:16
“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'”
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” — Proverbs 14:31
Ok, you get the idea. Actually, on helping the poor, the Jewish Bible, Christian Bible, and the Qur’an are all very consistent. There is no equivocation. YOU SHOULD DO IT! In fact, if you didn’t help them then it implied that you weren’t much of a person, and god would not be very happy with you. Whether or not you believe in Jesus, or Allah, or the God of the Jews, the ages have shown that these quotes are indeed words to live by.
Now, lets see how some American Christians interpret this. I think you will be amazed. To pick a “random” person, let’s talk about Governor Brownback of Kansas. There is no question in my mind that he thinks he is a devout Christian. He thinks about Jesus, god, the bible a lot. When Governor Rick Perry of Texas had his “pray in” this past summer and invited all the state governors, Brownback was the only one to accept the invitation. From what I have read about him when he was a Senator for Kansas, he was a very devout Christian.
Now Brownback is Governor of Kansas. This is a golden opportunity for him to put his beliefs in action. So what has he done? According to the Kansas City Star (January 17, 2012) he just proposed a budget that will raise taxes on the poor and lower taxes on the rich! The poor of Kansas, who probably cannot afford the taxes that they now pay will have to pay, on the average, $156.00 more per year. Those Kansas citizens who earn more that $250,000 per year will see an average cut of $5,200.00 on their tax bill.
A right-wing libertarian group, The Kansas Policy Institute gave a statement “It’s wrong to increase taxes on one group of people while providing tax relief to another,” said Dave Trabert, the policy institute’s president. “There should be uniformity in tax policy. The same policy should apply to all classes of taxpayers.” Let me stress again, this was not from a group of “irresponsible liberals”. The Kansas Policy Institute is a group that usually could be counted upon to support a conservative politician.
Economics is certainly not my field, but I have learned that the way you put more money in circulation is to lower the taxes of people who will not or cannot save the money that they will retain from lower taxes. These are, obviously, those who live from paycheck to paycheck. This is all common sense, isn’t it?
But proponents argued that the governor’s tax plan is intended to spur growth by putting more money into the hands of taxpayers in hopes that they will, in turn, reinvest that into the state economy. Nonsense! He is taking money AWAY from people who would most certainly spend any extra cash that they have.
State Sen. Les Donovan, chairman of the Senate tax committee, was sympathetic to the governor’s plight. “The governor is a compassionate human being,” said Donovan, a Wichita Republican. “He doesn’t want to harm poor people. Trust me, he doesn’t want to do that.” When the best that your supporters can do is to apologize for you, you should know that you have a problem. Trust you, Mr. Donovan? Trust your governor? Why is that?