RENDER THEREFORE UNTO CAESAR THE THINGS WHICH BE CAESAR’S, AND UNTO GOD THE THINGS WHICH BE GOD’S: SINCE WHEN HAS IT BECOME NO LONGER RIGHT, PROPER AND VIRTUOUS TO PAY TAXES TO THE GOVERNMENT?
This recent debt ceiling crisis in America really irks me no end. It underscores to me just how weak America’s institutions of civil governance have become in the face of the incessant onslaught of neoconservative lobbying.
America was founded upon the notion that government was at best a necessary evil, and, like Thoreau said when he retreated to Walden, ‘That government is best which governs not at all’. Unfortunately for Thoreau, we no longer live in a more simple, proto-industrial civilization, where we leave the poor to their own devices, and at best let them and the sick do the best they can to struggle to survive at the hands of ill-equipped, under-funded, and sometimes theologically-skewed health and social services agencies who often, in years gone by administered their charity based on some fairly uncompassionate standards of ‘worthiness’ and ‘unworthiness’.
We need a post-modern, and well-equipped state capable of providing the kind of government services which are needed in a highly complex, technologically advanced, fast-paced information-driven civilization, where people, places and things are increasingly exposed to very high and sustained levels of environmental stress, toxic loads of all sorts, psychological, physical and sexual trauma of all sorts, including the wars that we continue to ask our people to fight overseas, and a whole other host of unholy horrors too varied to mention.
Our state apparatus and our faith-based organizations need to work in collaboration to help our people cope with post-modern society, and for that to happen, everybody has to ensure that the state has the resources it needs to function.
This is why the near-default of America’s government only a few days ago underscores a fundamental flaw in her society’s ideology: The people who are making money in America today feel that somehow it is their God-given right to use their privileged access to the state and its resources to enrich themselves, while simultaneously arguing and aggressively lobbying to pass laws which will exempt them from paying little or nothing into the federal Treasury to support the government and its continued existence.
The super-rich in America be they individuals or corporations are proving to be some of the least patriotic people in the country, squirreling assets offshore and overseas, off shoring jobs, essentially doing everything to undermine the economic and hence political viability of their own country.
This is where Jesus comes into the picture. When asked by the chief priests and scribes if it were lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, our Lord simply said, ‘render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s and unto God the things which be God’s’. (Luke 20:25). In other words, regardless of what you think of the temporal power you live under, whether it’s a black President, or a Conservative Prime Minister who leads a Constitutional Monarchy that some French and even English Canadians think should be abolished, it is nevertheless right, proper and an act of civic and Godly virtue to pay taxes to the government.
This is so because while we live on this earth and bound in this veil of mortal flesh, we live at least in part by the laws of man, regardless of within which geo-political jurisdiction we happen to find ourselves at any given moment, whether it be as an individual, or as a corporate entity. It is therefore incumbent upon us to not, unless the burden is explicitly and egregiously oppressive and explicitly construed to impede our ability to conduct and engage in the lawful pursuit of worldly gain, to attempt to subvert the laws of the land in any way, shape or form which would result in the weakening of the civil power’s ability to establish law and order, and to keep such peace by any such means such as the raising of public monies through any lawful means of taxation that the civil power sees fit to levy in the best interest of the common good.
This, unfortunately, is exactly what has not happened in America. Men of great property and power have seen fit to engage in much lobbying and skulduggery in Washington so as to create a tax code and enable a corporate sector to essentially emasculate the three levels of government from their ability to cull any substantial quantity of their wealth so as to be used to pay down the federal debt.
Nobody is arguing that spending needs to be cut and that entitlements need to be re-examined. However, the greater question of corporate and high-net worth, super rich Americans paying no, or very little tax is something which nobody has yet to be able to tackle. America has created a plutocratic elite of super rich who’re above the law, yet purport to impose their vision of what they think the law should be on everybody else, simply because it suits their propertied interests.
Corporate America has hundreds of billions of dollars in hard cold cash which it is sitting on, yet not investing. I think that if they paid a fair share, say 20% tax on their net profit, and that if all super-rich multi-millionaire and multi-billionaire Americans did likewise, promptly, and continuously over the years, it would go a long ways towards paying down the deficit and the debt, both in America, and in Canada. Especially since those profits were accumulated in large degree because of the help of large inputs of government money in the form of health care, education, social services, defence, roads, bridges, airports, canals, ports, train stations, and so on, all paid for with money for which the government has had to, in many cases, go into debt to provide these services so as to enable the private sector to make money.
I think the private sector needs to show some gratitude now, and do something not only patriotic but virtuous and Godly and pay their taxes by rendering unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.
14, 3 trillion dollars is a lot of money for a country which has on its currency the slogan ‘In God we trust’. Perhaps the men of America’s richest establishment families are not only not trusting God, but also not obeying his commandments. Common people need to live within their means, that’s for sure. But the high and mighty who’re enabling them by their un-Godly system of easy credit and endless credit card advertizing, encouraging low-income people to live beyond their means so as to keep the economy rolling so as to make money for the wealthy, and so on: These are the people who need to be taken to task.
Ordinary people are only as good as their masters. If their masters act like un-Godly secular materialistic mad men, then so will most common men and women, and the Godly man or woman will be stuck trying to valiantly get their point across amongst all the monstrousness of mammon. Leaders need to lead by example, not by exhortation.
The near-bankruptcy and default of America is symptomatic of a greater malaise within her social fabric: The bankruptcy and default of her social and moral fabric. Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty need some Churchin’ up fast before it’s too late. America needs a government that can govern, not more think tanks. Tanks a lot. (Or maybe fewer tanks?)