Taxation as a moral value

Posted: Jun 05, 2005 12:00 AM

Voters animated by moral and religious values made a difference in the last election, returning Republican George W. Bush to the White House. Some say they made the decisive difference. So, it's not surprising to find Democrats looking to make inroads with these voters.

But it is amusing.

It began during the last campaign. The Washington Post reported last October that Democratic nominee John Kerry was "evolving" from someone "reluctant to discuss faith in the public square into a Democratic preacher of sorts."

Yet it is President Bush who finds himself regularly accused of mixing religion and politics. There are several reasons for this, his faith-based initiatives and his personal statement of faith ranking the highest. However, one rarely if ever witnessed him speaking from a church pulpit during the campaign (though he attends church regularly). Nor did he make a habit of explaining his political positions in terms of his religious views. On the other hand, Kerry was constantly before church congregations speaking of his faith and its intersection with his politics.

In the waning days of the campaign, Kerry proclaimed, "My faith, and the faith I have seen in the lives of so many Americans, also teaches me that, 'Whatever you do to the least of these you do unto me.' That means we have a moral obligation to one another, to the forgotten, and to those who live in the shadows."

When it comes to abortion, Kerry sings a different tune about "the least of these." He told an interviewer, "I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist. We have separation of church and state in the United States of America."

And yet speaking more generally, in his book A Call to Service, he wrote that "our commitment to equal rights and social justice, here and around the world, is not simply a matter of political fashion or economic or social theory but a direct command from God."

And on the campaign trail, from church to church, Kerry attacked Bush and religious conservatives. "When I look around in this country," he told one congregation, "I see a whole bunch of people who talk about faith, I see a whole bunch of people who put it out there, but I see an awful lot of deeds undone, I see a lot of work to be done in this country."

At the New Northside Baptist Church in St. Louis, Kerry preached, "The Scriptures say: 'It is not enough, my brother, to say you have faith, when there are no deeds.' We look at what is happening in America today and we say: Where are the deeds?"

But wait a second . . . what about Kerry's deeds? And what about the deeds of other prominent Democrats who claim moral authority as protectors of the poor?

It's not charitable, of course, to condemn people for a lack of charity. Charity is something special because it is freely given, not something to be coerced or browbeaten out of someone. Yet, it is the Democrats, like Kerry, who raise this issue.

When Kerry was in a tough 1996 race for his U.S. Senate seat, Jeff Jacoby reported, "During the previous six years, it turned out, Kerry had given less than $5,000 to charity ? a minuscule seven-tenths of 1 percent of his gross income for the period."

The Democrats' 2000 standard-bearer, Al Gore, proved no better. His 2000 tax return on an adjusted gross income of $197,729 listed charitable donations of $353. When eyebrows were raised, Gore's spokesman explained, "Contributing financially to charitable organizations is certainly noble and should be encouraged and is something that the Gores have done when the resources were there. However, to truly judge a person's commitment to helping others, you need to consider what they have done with their lives and how they have spent their time ? and by that standard the Gores are extraordinarily committed."

In other words, merely holding a public office, for which one is well paid, makes one a highly moral person. Provided you are a Democrat, of course.

Kerry's efforts to win "moral issue voters" failed miserably. But now liberal reinforcements in the media are coming to the battle. A recent supposed news story on ABC World News Tonight proclaimed that "the message of helping the poor has not gotten a lot of attention in the public debate over moral values. . . . Many Christian groups are hoping to coordinate their efforts to switch the focus of the debate."

Liberals, progressives, Democrats (whatever alias they use) think that the taxes you pay amount to their charity. The mere act of voting to steal bread from the mouths of working Americans to fund any one of a zillion government giveaway programs should, they think, be accounted as their good work. Voting to raise your taxes, with some tiny fraction going to the poor, fills Democratic politicians with grace.

Meanwhile, they dismiss private charity, whereby individuals sacrifice freely to help those in need, as of little consequence. To Kerry and too many of his fellow Democrats, "good works" are those done only through government . . . making taxation their highest moral value.

It makes you wonder: Is government their god?