Monday, April 18, 2011

The Three Types of Just Taxation

The last in my series on Subsidiarity and the Culture of Death.

Just taxation, should be all from just three sources: Tariffs, Tribute, and User Fees.

Property owners, Business owners, and certain others use the majority of services that Governments have as absolute duties.

Property owners first- Tribute. This is mainly about police services, social services, and the commons within a community. As such- counties and cities should rightly collect this tax- and no higher form of government should be involved in the initial collection. Local property taxes should do.

Then business owners- small businesses are good for government, as they reduce the need for social services. But big businesses are bad for government- they externalize costs to the rest of the community, and this is where Tariffs come into play. Counties and cities, once again, should be the primary collectors of this tax at their borders. This can be done with toll roads.

Finally- Usage taxes. Special services such as parks and recreation departments, should be operated just like any other business- and charge for admission.

I'm not precluding higher forms of government- they too have their purposes, especially in a modern federal democracy- but I would like to see them limited in collecting their taxes in Tribute and Tariff- tribute by taxing the revenue of smaller governments in their jurisdiction, tariff at their borders.

I believe that by applying subsidiarity to taxes, we will begin to have a much more just government. And that's what the government SHOULD be about- Justice.

Roe V. Wade destroys Subsidiarity

Bet you thought Roe V. Wade was only about abortion. It isn't. Oh, abortion is what it is known for- but it had a secondary effect.

It expanded the Interstate Commerce Clause to Intrastate Commerce.

It claims that Congress has the right to regulate business transactions that occur entirely internally to a State. This is a MAJOR grab of federal power- and while not the first, prevents lower and smaller government from taking absolute power locally.

Subsidiarity is a Catholic ethical concept that can be simply stated as "Big Government creates corruption, so any just duty of government should be carried out with the smallest economic unit of government available". Austrian economists have a tendency to agree- that's what SMALL government is all about.

So therefore- even pro-choice libertarians, should seek the reversal of Roe V. Wade. Not because it's against abortion- but because it's against subsidiarity.

5% for Debt, 5% for Life

This will be the first of three articles- and this is the only realistic one- on how to move from the culture of greed, culture of death we currently have, to a culture of justice as far as taxes are concerned. A recent post on facebook got me thinking about this in a new way for me; on why consumption taxes are more just than income taxes, but like the gay agenda, I do not believe the evidence leads to the conclusion most libertarians and fiscal conservatives think it does- because like usual, these groups are thinking "what's my situation and how can I move the pain to somebody else?" when what we should be really thinking is "how can we band together as Americans, and make this sustainable for all?".

My fellow Americans, we have a debt habit. We are being unjust to our own future, charging ahead on the credit cards our children will have to pay. And we're making sure there are fewer children- so each child will not only have to pay for his parents, but also for his neighbors and people he never met who selfishly had no children of their own.

Within current law, I'd like to reverse this, with three minor changes to the tax law- three for life, one for debt. And thus I present the plan: 5% for Debt, 5% for Life.

1. 5% for Debt. As I showed in my previous post; Do you think your taxes are to high? 5% increase across all tax brackets is a lot more affordable than it seems, because of how tax brackets work. In good years- 5% is the deficit. So here's my proposal- for every percentage point under 8% average unemployment falls for the year, every tax bracket goes up 1% on federal income taxes- with all of that money earmarked specifically for debt reduction. And Family Planning under Title X should be seen for what it is- a luxury cost that reduces the number of people we're going to need working to pay off this debt.

2. 5% for Life- put WIC under FICA, raise FICA Taxes 5%, remove the upper cap on FICA entirely. Every American citizen between the ages of conception to age 5, and 75 to Natural Death, should be considered unable to work but valuable just for being human- and thus the rest of us should pay for the "least of these", those must vulnerable to being killed for a profit. And since this effectively grants personhood rights to the unborn- that reverses part of Roe V. Wade under the 14th Amendment.

Every conservative libertarian should be able to go for this- as should every progressive, because it's hard to progress to the future if you don't have a future.

Next I'll explain why, despite this being unjust, Roe V. Wade gives us no choice but to attack from this angle.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Modest Plan to fix Social Security and the Economy

The Economic Cost of Abortion and the generation immediately preceding it is staggering. The lost of 30% of Generation X & Y has caused a major depression, and by 2037, Social Security will be flat broke.

Here is a modest, four step proposal to fix the problem:

Step 1. Make FICA a flat tax on all earnings, with no cap.
Step 2. Raise retirement age for non-disability payments to 88.
Step 3. Make abortion illegal.
Step 4. Issue 12 million green cards for illegal aliens already living here, and 42 million green cards for new immigrants, to replace our working age population murdered by abortion.

How Rob Bell Brought Evangelicals closer to Catholicism

Though this is a review of Rob Bell's Book Love Wins, I'm going to start out with six much more Catholic Quotes:

"The Bible, sacred Tradition, and the writings of the earliest Christians testify that the Church teaches with Jesus’ authority. In this age of countless competing religions, each clamoring for attention, one voice rises above the din: the Catholic Church, which the Bible calls "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). " Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth, Catholic Answers

"The need for integrity obviously becomes necessary after death, for entering into perfect and complete communion with God. Those who do not possess this integrity must undergo purification. This is suggested by a text of St Paul. The Apostle speaks of the value of each person's work which will be revealed on the day of judgement and says: "If the work which any man has built on the foundation [which is Christ] survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor 3: 14-15)." - Pope John Paul II, on Purgatory, in his great series of homilies on the subjects of the last things, John Paul II on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

"I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of
love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always
and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to
excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742)." Diary of St Faustina of Poland, who had private revelations from Jesus and Mary on the subject of Divine Mercy.

Dare We Hope that "All Men May Be Saved"- a quote from a title, Fr. Hans Urs von Balthazar, a Swiss theologian who was writing about this way back in the 1980s and 1990s

"Maybe the greatest threat to the Church is not heresy, not dissent, not secularism, not even moral relativism, but this sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms." -Archbishop Timothy Dolan, apparently in a tweet from his blog

"If you stay on the Bus, 'tis Hell. If you Get Off the Bus, 'twas but Purgatory"- bus driver in The Great Divorce by CS Lewis.

Now that I'm done with my five quotes- on to Rob Bell's Book, Love Wins. First, you should know I'm biased- a faithful orthodox Catholic following the teachings of the soon-to-be-beatified John Paul The Great, who was the Pope for the majority of my life. As such, I truly do believe that the Roman Catholic Church has the Fullness of the Truth of Christ- and that while other religions and other denominations have bits and pieces of partial truth, Only the Mother Church has the "big picture" of Christendom, and thus, Western Civilization.

Pastor Bell's book merely confirmed this for me. He's closer to the truth than most of his fire-and-brimstone TV-show-and-8000-seat-church pastors out there, that's for sure. He has at least come to the completely correct conclusion that a God of Perfect Mercy and Perfect Love does NOT sentence people to Hell for eternity- that when that door is locked, it's locked from the inside, by people who don't understand God very well. He has returned from the predestination-ism of Calvin and the Puritans to the "soft universalism" that the Catholic Church has taught for the last 2000 years; Hell exists, we can see it every day in our fellow men, but we have no definite teaching that ANYBODY, not even Judas, has been left there for eternity (though that's a danger, as Pastor Bell's book says, of getting into the habit of rejecting God's story in favor of our own).

But he's missing some details. And they're not insignificant details either.

The most glaring detail he's missing, and it's because he's come from an evangelical background, is HISTORY. He's got the message of Christ right. He's got the conclusion correct. But he's missing 2000 years worth of debate about the subject, and even goes so far as to deem history irrelevant to the conversation, more than once claiming that "time doesn't repeat itself". Maybe not exactly, but history does indeed teach that those who don't learn the lessons of history- are bound to repeat the same mistakes. Which leads us to one of the MAJOR mistakes of the Protestant Reformation that hampered Bell in writing this book.

Without a good understanding of Purgatory- NONE of us, even with the grace of Christ, deserve Heaven. You can be the best Christian ever. You could follow in the very footsteps of Christ with all he did. But God isn't just Perfect Mercy, he's Perfect Love- and that means TOUGH love, which includes Perfect Justice. NOBODY can come to him without conversion from sin, conversion from believing the "Wrong story" as Bell writes. And so without purgatory, he's left with all sorts of "creative tension" between the idea that some will reject God's grace and all are invited in. But as Pope John Paul The Great teaches- ALL who believe, even if we have the wrong story, have the hope of having that story corrected after death in Purgatory. We can still, painfully, have our story, our will burned away- if we haven't already done it here on Earth.

Hell is real. I see it in the faces of the homeless I volunteer with. I see it in the pain of the addict and the abused. But Heaven is real too- I see it in the Roman Catholic Mass, but also in the peace of the monk and the nun, and in the innocence of children. John Paul The Great, when he gave the homilies linked to above, caused a scandal when he said that Heaven and Hell aren't PLACES, but rather STATES OF MIND.

Which is where I think Bell failed for the third time. And in so doing, I think *some* will misinterpret his work, as they did John Paul The Great, as they did to Hans Urs von Balthazar, as millions of Catholics did in the "Spirit of Vatican II" in the 1970s. They built that faith that Archbishop Dolan considers so dangerous, this faith that consists only of "sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms." Fear of Hell has a purpose for some. That purpose should NOT overwhelm the Love of God, true- but God's Love wouldn't be love without a fear of Hell. We cannot stay addicted to sin and enter Heaven. We MUST go through Purgatory- we must follow The Way, The Truth, and the Life if we are to join life instead of death. I don't think Bell entirely sidesteps this; he repeatedly gives us stories where those who are disobedient to God, "build their own hell". But I do think he downplays it to a dangerous degree. ALL are offered the Grace of God. But not all souls in the past have taken God up on that grace- and as Sister St. Faustina teaches in her diary:

"Today I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of real torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one's condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it - a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, ....the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies. These are the tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. There are special tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like.

I, Sister Faustina, by the order of God, have visited the abysses of hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence. I cannot speak about it now; but I have received a command from God to leave it in writing. The devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God. What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: that most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell. When I came to, I could hardly recover from the fright. How terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the covnersion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O my Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend You by the least sin. (741)" Diary of St Faustina on Hell

But note she also writes:
When the sisters got up at eleven o'clock at night to keep vigil and welcome the New Year, I had been writhing in agony since nightfall, and this lasted until midnight. I united my sufferings with the prayers of the sisters who were keeping vigil in the chapel and atoning to God for the offences of sinners. (1451). When the clock struck twelve, my soul immersed itself more deeply in recollection, and I heard a voice in my soul: "Do not fear, My little child, you are not alone. Fight bravely, because My arm is supporting you; fight for the salvation of souls, exhorting them to trust in My mercy, as that is your task in this life and in the life to come." After these words, I received a deeper understanding of divine mercy. Only that soul who wants [to be damned] will be damned, for God condemns no one. (1452)
Oh, how beyond comprehension is God's mercy! But- horror -there are also souls who voluntarily and consciously reject and scorn this grace! Although a soul is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that interior vivid moment, so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God. But sometimes, the obduracy in souls is so great that consciously they choose hell; they make useless all the prayers that other souls offer to God for them and even the efforts of God Himself..(1698) Diary of St Faustina on Hell

Without this choice- which to Rob Bell is merely a tension- God's Love simply isn't love. Without giving us the freedom to choose Hell, Hell will be as much of a surprise and a scandal as Heaven.

And so I end with the prayer Our Lady of Fatima asked all Catholics to pray, at the end of every decade of the Rosary, for the hope that all souls may be saved:

"O my Jesus, Forgive us ours sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy." - Our Lady of Fatima

If this has moved you- I encourage you to look up the Chaplet of Divine Mercy- and pray it every day at 3:00pm- the traditional time Christ died on the Cross for our sins.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Do you think YOUR taxes are too high?

In a pro-life discussion recently, I suggested that we could eliminate the deficit & provide full funding for WIC for every child between conception and 5 years old with a mere 5% increase in the top marginal tax rate. That got me the comment that it would raise real income taxes to more than 51% on the wealthy- but tax brackets don't work that way.

Here is how tax brackets *really* work., with a handy calculator that I will deconstruct below- but of course, this leaves out the now nearly 20% FICA taxes, right?

Not quite- FICA doesn't have an infinitely large top tax bracket- FICA ends at $106800 of income- it tops out at $21300 per individual earner.

So let's do some calculations on what demographers now tell us is the top of the upper middle class- a single businessman, sole proprietor, earning $500,000/year (to earn more you have to be a hedge fund manager or have a lot of capital in investments).

According to the Calculator on the MoneyChimp site that means:

Tax: $ 152314 a percentage of income: 30.46 %
Tax Bracket: 35 %

Adding in the FICA:
Tax $ 173674 a percentage of income: 34.7348 %
Tax Bracket : 35%

Now let's rerun the numbers with a 40% top tax bracket, changing no other tax brackets:
FICA: $21300
8500-0 * .1 = $850
34500-8500 * .15 = $3900
83600-34500 * .25 = $12275
174400-83600 * .28 = $25424
379150-174400 * .33 = $67567.5
500000-379150 * .40 = $48340

Total Tax: $179656.50 a percentage of total earnings: 35.9313%
Marginal Tax Bracket 40%

Leaving our small business owner $320,343.5 to reinvest in his business, give to charity, or live on, in accordance with his property rights under US Law and _Caritas In Veritate_.

For a mere .9313% increase in *real* taxes as a percentage of total earnings, we could achieve the pro-life goal of having good nutrition for every child between conception and age 5 (to do that you've got to feed the mother between conception and birth of course) and pay the federal debt back down below 60% of GDP, just like it was back in the Clinton Administration the last time WIC was fully funded and the deficit was below 60% of GDP.

Isn't that worth the cost?

And if you're thinking, why do this during a recession, may I suggest you read this rather interesting economic theory:
The $38.5 Trillion hole nobody talks about

Answering the question of the poor woman trying to choose between feeding her family and another birth with "We will support you in beginning to raise this child" is the only truly moral answer to economic abortion.
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Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
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