Playing Robin Hood
President Obama has been taking a lot of heat lately (lately, meaning for the last 5 years) about his propensity to want to play Robin Hood. You know, taking from the rich to give to the poor. However, he’s not the first one to do so. And they were not all Democrats. Let’s begin with God.
The Bible tells me that God has a propensity to play Robin Hood, too. He asked folks who were owed money to periodically forgive debts. Fields were to be left with some grain in them so that the poor could reap from a harvest they did not plant. And as the rich were expected to give larger and more expensive offerings to the temple, they were disproportionally supporting the theocratic infrastructure.
At the same time, however, there is a limit. God did not require an entire flock to be sacrificed or for the majority of a field to remain unharvested.
I think most can agree that Bill Gates should not be at the same tax rate as one of the baristas at Starbucks; and, most (but not all) will agree that his tax rate shouldn’t be so high as to force him into the same standard of living as that barista. The great debate is and always has been where to settle between these two extremes.
Some will say that benefit programs are a form of welfare, and welfare is just forced charity, and since charity shouldn’t be forced, folks should voluntarily support others without government interference. That’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t work. If I look at the amount of philanthropic giving that my clients do, there are as many generous rich people as there are those of modest means. And the stingy exist on both ends of the income span.
That’s why God had to make it rather clear…if you have a field you will leave some for the poor. If you are rich you will give more to the temple. Yes, he wants people to have a cheerful heart in giving, but that doesn’t mean that if your heart isn’t cheerful you don’t have to give…it means you have to get your heart right.
You may think that giving to God is fine, and maybe the Church, but this doesn't pertain to the rest of the entities on Earth, especially the government. After all, the government is not perfect; it’s full of deceitful, greedy people who only do what is needed to keep their pockets lined and their votes intact.
Although I’m not that cynical (though I’m not exactly completely trusting either), it wouldn’t matter if they were all crooks: governments, even bad ones, are ordained by God to rule over us. So unless you can point to a chapter and verse that says they are asking you to violate one of God’s commands, then you need to be content to obey the law.
That contentment to obey doesn’t mean complacent. And since taxes and spending are done as a decision of imperfect man, by nature it won’t be perfect. Unfortunately that probably means that not only are the idiots on the other side of the political spectrum wrong, you likely are too. It is through debate and (dare I say it) compromise that a more perfect solution can be found.
Let’s try that.
This article was published under the title "Be content to obey (tax) laws"
in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on March 2, 2014.