Friday, November 19, 2004

Trumping the Poor with Tax Cuts and War

Part Three - Something Worth Fighting For

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words during a period of America's history that nearly brought our nation to the brink of violent revolution. While President Lyndon Baines Johnson waged a domestic war on poverty, he was also beginning to wage a foreign war on communism in Vietnam. It wasn't economically sustainable to pursue both. And as Herbert Stein said, "If something is unsustainable, it tends to stop." Eventually, LBJ had to choose.

Statistics coming in right now put us in a similar situation. The national budget for 2003 increased defense spending by $42 billion while cutting domestic spending by $9 billion. Budget projections see a freeze in domestic spending for the year 2004. The tax cuts of three years ago are going to cost the government some $674 billion in revenue that could have been used to balance the budget and go to those who needed most. (Question: What did your $200 refund really accomplish? Sub-question: Could you have lived without it?)

Bush wants to make the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent. And with the support his party received on Nov 2, it seems as if he will have little opposition. My problem is not with Bush's tax cuts per se, though you'll note that I've said on several occasions how I feel they benefit the wealthiest of Americans. But now's not the time to get off topic. Now's the time to get Biblical.

In the book of Ezekiel, God declares that the guilt of Sodom was not primarily due to sexual sin, but to ignorance of their social responsibilities. “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy (16:49).” In other words, God didn't destroy Sodom because of rampant homosexuality. God destroyed this "wicked" city because she would not share the abundance of her wealth with the poor and needy. This is more than just a little, bit eerie. This is prophetic. This hits close to home. And this is Biblical.

Where do our priorities lie as the body of Christ or as a nation where lassiez-faire liberty is our most cherished of rights? How can we best use the resources we have been blessed with to bless those who have a greater need? If freedom is worth fighting for abroad, isn’t freedom worth fighting for here at home as well?

When we go down the crapper as a nation, don't point the righteous finger of indignation at gay marriage. Take a page from Ezekiel, and look at our country's refusal to take care of our brothers and sisters in need. It's not too late to stop listening to our Protestant popes and to start actually reading our Bibles.

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