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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

On the margins

Am I right that the two solutions to the national budget crisis most often suggested are (1) eliminate services to the poor and (2) raise taxes on the rich. If democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch, I suppose it is not surprising to see two non-middle class groups targeted. And, since there is no constitutional right to government services or low taxes, budgets it would seem would directly reflect the will of the majority.

When presented with scriptures about the treatment of the poor, perhaps most graphically in Matthew 25:31-46 although it is far from a unique scripture on the topic, I am perplexed by those who profess to be Christians that advocate for option (1).

Of course, this opens me up to a charge like, "Then how can you be in favor of no-fault divorce laws given Matthew 5:31-32's requirement that divorce only be granted in the case of infidelity." But, the thing is, the prohibition on divorce suggests that followers of Jesus should not get divorced, but for limited circumstances. The position on the poor says that followers of Jesus should take care of the poor. I can vote for a supporter of a no-fault divorce law and not get divorced. I don't know if I can vote for a supporter of kicking people off AHCCCS and still claim to care for the poor. Also, I'm pretty comfortable with the fact that the institution of marriage is radically different now than in Jesus' time--most people recognize that this command was directed at helping women who previously could be cast out for no reason. By contrast, I think poverty is still poverty.

Now, I personally think the best solution to the budget crisis is to raise everyone's taxes. Certainly before we start eliminating/modifying by elimination Medicare. I support a progressive tax rate, but it makes more sense to me that we all should bear a relatively higher burden in order to support our priorities. But if we are going to pick on one group on the margins, it is hard for me to see how Christians can advocate for picking on those at the bottom.

As Bill O'Reilly says, "Tell me why I'm wrong."