“A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.” Gerald R. Ford
G. K. Chesterton was an accomplished novelist, poet, biographer, and journalist. He often wrote about Christianity and current events. In 1932 he attended the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin and wrote: “Dethrone God, and the state becomes God. It is only by believing in God that we can ever criticize the Government. Once abolish God, and the Government becomes God…Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.”
Money is power and our government is taking more and more of it.
What would you do if you had 30% more of your money? 30% is what the average American pays in taxes. Things like sales, gas and cell phone taxes are virtually invisible, but are still taxes. Add to that, other items that are taxes but called other names like permits, licenses or user fees. All those fees go to the government. They’re taxes by another name.
While the Bible commands us to pay our taxes, Scripture also warns of overbearing governments. The Bible has an insightful history of King Rehoboam who lost much of his citizenry who rebelled against him because he planned to overtax them. When they intreated him for needed tax relief, he harshly told them: “My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions’” (1 Kings 12:10-11). Supreme Court Justice, John Marshall, saw full well the power of taxes, responding in a ruling: “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy … [is] not to be denied.”
High taxes are discouraging. They discourage hard work and entrepreneurship. Why work hard or be innovative when government takes more and more? It undermines marriage and the home. Both spouses often have to work just to take care of the basics because government is taking so much of their necessary hard earned money to give it away to others.
Politicians throw supporters the “red meat” of promised tax cuts. Tax cuts without budget cuts are always short lived. Other politicians rally support with the promise of new programs by taxing the rich. But in America, we’re all rich.
America is on a downhill slide into Socialism, which is essentially an atheistic governmental system. Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opium of the people.” As a country becomes more socialistic, it also become more atheistic, as the worship of God is replaced by the worship of government. The State becomes God. We look to the state to give us our rights, freedoms, livelihood, jobs, meals, education and healthcare. There’s no appealing to a higher authority because the State is the final authority. (Please understand, this is not to say that Capitalism is a biblical economic system and without its problems.)
The 8th commandment says, “Thou shalt not steal.” Yet, what’s the basis of a socialist government? Stealing, or as Frédéric Bastiat, the 19th century French economist, called it, “legal plunder.” Government should protect our right to the fruits of our own labor, not take it from us. Part of the Creative Mandate is to work and enjoy the fruit of our labors (Gen. 1:28).
Just one example, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has proposed a 70% federal income tax on incomes above $10 million. Is it really possible to tax the super-rich to fully fund some of the popular new initiatives?
Here’s a hypothetical exercise to test out the theory (World Magazine, 04-13-19). The Trump administration has requested $4.7 trillion in spending for 2020. One way to raise this revenue in a progressive manner would be to confiscate all income, starting with the wealthiest Americans. Based on the latest Social Security wage statistics tables from 2017, raising $4.7 trillion starting at the highest income levels would require ALL of the taxable earnings of over 35 million Americans. The government would have to completely take away all taxable income of individuals earning over $65,000 in 2017 in order to cover the proposed spending for fiscal year 2020. If, on the other hand, we were to outlaw billionaires, a good place to start would be the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.
So, if we confiscate billionaires’ money until we fund the 2020 federal budget what happens? Surely that would cover years of federal spending and leave plenty left over for new programs…or would it?
The budget proposal of $4.7 trillion annually represents $13 billion daily. If we start with Forbes billionaire No. 1, Jeff Bezos, with $160 billion in net worth, we can fund the federal government for 12 days. Who’s next? Bill Gates and his $97 billion will get us to January 20. Next is Warren Buffet with $88 billion. That takes us to January 27. This isn’t going very well. We’ve reduced the three wealthiest Americans to food stamps, yet we’re not even out of January! If the government takes all of the wealth of the Forbes 400 (a total of $2.9 trillion), it would only fund the federal government for 225 days. But now all of those billionaires aren’t taxpayers but a welfare expense for the government. They’re no longer a revenue source. We also have bankrupted state and local governments that are equally dependent on the success of these wealthy Americans.
The Lord Jesus pointed out that taxes were a moral issue when He said, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). Scripture teaches tough love. 2 Thes. 3:11: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” History warns us that our country can’t sustain a continued increase of governmental programs, increasingly higher taxes and allowing capable individuals to not work. Add to that, it’s morally wrong to overtax and discourage individuals from using their creativity and abilities. There are no simple solutions and it won’t happen quickly. It begins with a reasoned dialogue and problem-solving thinking.
The Church is responsible to disciple which includes biblical money management, personal responsibility, commitment and generosity for those who truly need assistance. God’s Word teaches personal responsibility not dependence on government. Socialism is an unbiblical governmental and economic system. We dare not deify the State at the risk of our very souls.
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