“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.” – Jeremiah 50:6
It’s apparent that America has lost her way – our treasury is worse than empty, it is overflowing with debt. Our people are not only disenfranchised with their station in life, but with their lack of opportunity to better it. Our national debt exceeds 15 trillion dollars, our Social Security Fund is bankrupt, and our citizens occupy the streets… filing for government aid to get them through tomorrow. Our politicians are unwilling to balance our budget and, lacking Vision for what we are trying to achieve, they enact legislation to increases our debt even further. But it is not enough to realize we are lost – recognizing the symptoms does not cure the disease. Observing America’s current state of affairs does not reveal the solution, nor does it serve to change our course. In order to affect positive change, we must understand why America lost her way.
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.” – Confucius
It is only when we look to why our founders insisted on a limited government and why our forefathers penned income tax as the 16th Amendment that we also discover why our nation is failing today. We can witness the current downfall of Greece and remember the collapse of the Soviet Union… we can note that government welfare programs are ineffective, government retirement programs go bankrupt, government officials amass wealth and power… we can observe as individuals flock to register for government unemployment, disability, food stamps, housing, and other government paycheck disbursement programs… and we can see working taxpayers protest. But it is not until we see why these things are happening that we can begin to chart a better course.
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
The reason why federal aid programs fail is that they seek to replace goodness with government, love with law, charity with taxation. And Man is not meant to live this way. Throughout the annals of history, civilizations have always perished when they have tried such a thing. Not simply because government is inept, inflexible, and corruptible, but because it is not the way of our creation. For us to see why government aid programs fail to bring upon a “Great Society,” we must not only look to the statistics which display as much. We must look to the fact that we are trying to eliminate “please” and “thank you” from our lexicon, trying to replace goodness with legislation, trying to replace charity with entitlement, God with government. Instead of trying to better the course of man through mentorship, charity, and opportunity, federal aid programs try to alter the course of man via a faceless entity called government – and we are meant to experience the former. We are supposed to encounter hardships, to learn from them, and then to emulate the mentors who help us to get back on track. We need these things in our society. Once we can accept this, we can see why our government aid programs are failing and perhaps, we may once again discover the courage to eliminate them – to remove them from our society, to repeal them, to walk away from this failed vision… and find our way forward.
“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.” – Milton Friedman
Similarly, we can recall the days of extreme family wealth coupled with vast poverty and long for a better America… we can remember that this country has always had to fight for equal opportunity for its lower classes… we can observe the Occupy Wall Street movement of the 99%ers… we can recognize that in order for new entrepreneurs to bloom, old entrepreneurs must provide them an opportunity to do so. But it is not until we see why.that we can embrace the notion that the wealthiest of us must give a higher percentage to balance our budget, to further our society, to promote our Body.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35
The reason why “fair tax” structures are infeasible and undesirable to us as a society is because they seek to replace forgiveness with fairness, opportunity with equality, drive with circumstance. And Man is not meant to live this way. Throughout the annals of history, civilizations have always perished when they have tried such a thing. Not simply because a people will revolt against perceived slavery, an aristocratic system, or a lesser lot in life, but because it is not the way of our creation. For us to see why “fair” tax systems fail to bring upon a “Great Society,” we must not only look to the statistics which display as much. We must look to the fact that such systems keep those of us who have erred in life, and those of us who have experienced misfortune, from ever being able to be born again. They try to eliminate “you’re forgiven” and “new life” from our lexicon, to replace the land of opportunity with the land of fairness, a staircase with a room. “Equal” tax structures work to prevent man from altering his course instead of trying to better the course of man — and we are meant to experience the latter. A society needs Grace – the ability to fail, to encounter the ramifications, and to try again. Once we accept why our government’s “fair” tax codes and Trickle Down Economics are failing, we may once again discover the courage to reject them, to walk away from this failed vision… and find our way forward.
“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”– Adam Smith
One must only investigate the statistics on poverty to see the lack of worth in government aid programs; One must only tour the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island to see the disparity caused by “fair” taxes; and One only need to stare in dumbstruck awe at the national debt accumulated as a result of combining the two. But we must search our very soul to see our proper course forward. We Americans like to view ourselves as caring, loving, and compassionate… and We are. We Americans like to view ourselves as strong, independent, and industrious… and We are. But to talk about us as a creation, well, we Americans are reluctant to do that. We mistakenly feel that to do so violates our principle of separation of church and state – so we continue to deny our nature and look to Man’s principles of government and fairness to find answers. This is the failure of our day.
“I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life – that is to say, over 35 – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”– Carl JungWe are right to have a separation of church and state – for our Creator has reserved the right to call each of us individually and our Government has no authority to dictate otherwise. But we must also embrace the nature of man as a creation. We misapply the principle of separation of church from state when we decipher it to mean that the state replaces our church. For it is when we deny our nature, that is when we die.
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”– C. S. LewisNot since Moses wandered the desert did our Creator provide food for the hungry. Instead, He works through us, as individuals embodied with his Spirit, to take care of one another on an individual level. Because this is the way of things. The Good Samaritan is not a parable displaying the effectiveness of government, it is a message displaying our calling for goodness. The Samaritan did not pay the innkeeper because his money was taxed to do so, but because he decided to. He recognized and responded to his inner spirit – he discovered the value of charity. We cannot attempt to legislate this discovery – to create government programs that distribute monies. Our Creator does no such thing with us. Instead, He gives us free will and directs, empowers, and shepherds us to respond individually to those in need. Why would we think our government is best to do otherwise? Most of us will be, at one point in our life, both the child and the parent, both the needy and the giving, both the bankrupt and the property owner. And we are meant to be – for it is both through asking for help and in deciding to assist that We grow. It is through receiving and giving that our soul develops. Our nation will continue to weaken as we continue to ignore this truth. Instead of asking for help, we register for benefits… instead of deciding to give, we submit our taxes. It is not how we were meant to live — it is not how we were created to be.
“And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” – Luke 20:25
Not since Noah and the Great Flood did our Creator implore us to pay our “fair share” for our life choices. Instead, He works through Grace to allow us to achieve our potential, even when our individual station in life does not deserve it. Because this is the way of things. He provides an avenue for change, a road to success, a chance for redemption. This is the message He gives us. The parable of the poor widow who gives less than a penny in the collection plate is not simply a message of how good it is to give, it is a recognition that she gives more than the rest when she gives out of what she requires, rather than out of her excess. Although tithing a flat 10% is given in the Bible, it was never the intended endgame. For from those of us who have been given much, much will be demanded. It is the meaning of the Parable of the Talents. God’s world is not one in which everyone gives the same percentage of income. Why would we think our government is best to do otherwise? If we are to embrace a proper tax code for America in our world, we must embrace a disproportionate tax structure. Our nation will continue to weaken as we continue to ignore this truth. Instead of balancing our budget, we accumulate debt… instead of allowing for growth, we widen our wealth gap. It is not how we were meant to live — it is not how we were created to be.
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” – Luke 12:48
Such is the paradox: For although we must strive not to make God into man through government aid programs, we must also strive to embody God via man in our tax code. We must both resist the urge to legislate charity and resist the urge to legislate fairness – even while we are charitable and fair. We must embrace a society that allows suffering and demands an unjust tax code even while we are a loving people who demand justice. This is the paradox of our day and what our generation must rediscover.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers
There was a brief time in our nation’s history where we have done this – a time when we had a lack of government aid programs, but a tax code that sought a higher burden from our wealthier citizens and corporations. There was a time when America realized the Vision, a time when America coupled our founders’ notion of limited government with our forefathers’ realization of income tax. It was deemed the “Roaring 20’s” so successful it was. It was a time of great industriousness, great success, great wealth, great learning, great invention, and a large middle class. It was a happy time, one filled with love and respect, and we danced. It is a time we must return to if we are to prosper in our day. Why must it be so? Because this is the environment in which we were created to thrive…
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.” – Friedrich Nietzsche