Here's what I mean:
It means that oppressive income inequity is a Christian issue. In the United States, we are in danger of entering another "Gilded Age" like at the turn of the previous century, where we had anti-democratic concentrations of wealth and power. We are experiencing an increasing disparity between the ultra rich and the rest of the nation.
There is certainly nothing wrong with wealth made by working hard, working smarter, being entrepreneurial so that you can sell products in a robust capitalistic economy. But the rich no longer primarily get rich by these means; they get rich through investments that are tax-sheltered and by hoarding their wealth by not sharing in the tax burden. They get rich by getting the government to pass laws so that they can increase wealth, do business without risk (by government bail-outs) and through tax subsidies for corporations so that the taxpayers carry the burden of the risk of their doing business. Government is not meant to be in bed with the rich for their benefit. This is anti-democratic.
Republicans pass tax laws that are clearly for the purpose of making the rich richer and that do not help the middle class and the poor. In 2006, the average tax cut for households in the top 1% of American income helped the rich increase their income by 5% (those with incomes of more than $1 million - the top 2/10 of the top 1% of Americans - felt a boost of 5.7%). That’s much better than the 2.5% increase for the middle fifth of households, and scandalously greater than the 0.3% gain for the poorest fifth of households.
Also, tax cuts have been designed to protect the dynasties of wealth in this country through eliminating estate taxes enabling the transfer from one generation to the next huge wealth without any taxes being charged. The Republicans labeled these “death taxes” making it sound as if everyone who makes money through Daddy being rich should be able to get that money free and clear as if it was not income. Warren Buffet, however, just testified to congress that the use of the phrase "death tax" is "intellectually dishonest" and "clever, Orwellian and dead wrong." He testified that “dynastic wealth, the enemy of meritocracy, is on the rise. Equality of opportunity has been on the decline. A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward plutocracy."
Roth IRAs is another example. They were originally created to help regular Americans with retirement. In May, Roths were made available to the very rich. Now, Roths are being used not as retirement accounts for the middle class but as tax shelters for the very rich.
While the the Republicans and President Bush have worked hard to help the rich with these tax laws, they have cut $39 billion over the next five years from domestic programs like Medicaid and food stamps, and $99.3 billion from 2006 to 2015.
Evangelical Christians, instead of trumpeting the Republican part line, need to ask some hard questions about these facts.
There are going to certainly be some who favor a trickle-down economic theory. And that’s fine. It is part of the debate.
But it seems that the Christian needs to first know the facts and then assess these from a Christian vantage-point that takes serious the Bible’s injunctions about how societies and governments often do their best to favor the rich and oppress the poor.
"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." (Pr 14:31) "He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty." (Pr 22:16) "A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops." (Pr 28:3).
"Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless." (Isaiah 10:1-2)
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.'" (Zechariah 7:9-10).
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." (Jesus in Luke 4:18)
technorati: social action, politics, justice