Friday, April 22, 2011

Finally a Post on America's Budget Problems, Or Why Jesus Would Still Get Killed Today

Part of the reason scholars say Jesus died on what is now called "Good Friday" is because of the subversive nature of his message against the empire. This video breaks down the agenda of the majority party in the House, and while you or I may not agree with all of the solutions they offer, it is helpful to see the pictograph of the financial facts about where the government really spends their money...

Particularly troubling to me is not even the attempted de-funding of PBS (though that did piss me off), but the fact that our military budget received no cuts. And yet, currently, we are engaged in three wars and have been in war for the longest time ever in America's history as a nation. Trillions of dollars already spent. (For those who say the problem is Democrats and their spending, I remind them of the wars that Bush 1 & 2 got us in and the TRILLIONS of dollars that cost us. That's a lot of zeros people. $x,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx) And God only knows how much more (money) that will cost us. As an older, wiser Littlechap notes when addressing the nation in Stop the World I Want To Get Off (the show I'm doing right now), "Too much has been screwed up for too long for too many by two few." Sadly, he's correct.

My grandmother sent me a letter a few months ago in which she wrote, "I am concerned about the world as a whole, and USA especially. I have never complained of taxes. I can’t fix pot holes, keep up highways, provide police and fire protection, help with the homeless and those much less fortunate than I, and I appreciate a government who will do it for me. I remember the first income tax I ever paid, and how proud I was that I was earning enough money to pay taxes. What is with these people who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are so afraid taxes are going up?"

How proud I was to pay my taxes?! My how the world has changed. She continues, "Worried about the deficit – raise taxes I say. But on those who can afford it. I feel for friends who are living on their social security checks – because everything – everything, is going up. Utilities, gas, milk, bread, everything. I don’t know how they get by. Even those who have two wage earners, if it is small wages must be suffering – and single parents. But to those who are earning many thousands and up, I say divvy up guys!"

You see, huge companies in America aren't paying their taxes. Take General Electric who made over $5 billion of profit (in the US) and paid ZERO taxes. (And that doesn't count the rest of GE's profits made overseas that are not subject to our taxes unless they spend that money in the US). From 9 Things the Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes "It's true that the top 1 percent of wage earners paid 38% of the federal income taxes in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available). But people forget that the income tax is less than half of the federal taxes and only one-fifth of taxes at all levels of government. In Wisconsin, Terrance Wall, who unsuccessfully (shocker) sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010, paid no income taxes on as much as $14 million of recent income, his disclosure forms showed. Asked about his living tax-free while working people pay taxes, he had a simple response: Everyone should pay less." What a jerk.

So, not only are the individual millionaires and billionaires not paying their taxes, but neither are giant corporations. But, instead of taxing these people who have been getting away with ripping off their country (what patriots, huh?), instead of cutting military costs, the House has proposed cuts to many of the programs vital to our country today including Medicare for the elderly and education for our children. And as for wellness exams for women, birth control, HPV prevention? Gotta get rid of that! (Only 2% of what Planned Parenthood does is actual abortions which are currently legal in America and not funded by the government, but privately). In other words, let's continue to privilege the already privileged and make life more challenging for the middle class, poverty-stricken, women, children and elderly.


Want some figures? The budget proposed by the House cuts $8.5 billion from low-income housing, but keeps $8.4 billion for deductions on people's 2nd vacation homes (as in they've already got house #1 that they live in, and their vacation house #2, but this references house #3, their second vacation home). It cuts $2.5 billion for home heating for the poor, but keeps $2.5 billion in offshore drilling subsidies. It cuts funding for 10 million malaria bed nets that keep kids from dying, and not one line item from military spending.

I'm reminded of the popular Facebook post that was going around: Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401K's, took billions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves millions in bonuses, gave unlimited and undisclosed amounts of money to politicians and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither.

Our priorities are off as a nation. We will never be the leading nation in the world today with cuts in education and elimination of provisions for our people.

And if you want to play the "Christian" card regarding politics? Never in the gospels does Jesus encourage the rich to keep their money (he says render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and he references Micah's give to God 10% of what you make), never does he say keep the lepers on the outside of town and keep them "unclean," never does Jesus deny women or children the right to be around him or learn just like the men do. Never does Jesus say "don't feed the poor," "blessed are the rich" or "blessed are the war-hungry." And never does he talk about abortion, homosexuality, or abstinence before marriage.

So if you're gonna play the WWJD card, you better not talk to me about abortion or gays in the military or abstinence-only birth control programs in our schools. And you better not talk to me about war or the military or the death penalty. Because, as A.A. Bondy aptly wrote in their song, American Hearts, "If your God makes war then he's no God I know, cause Christ would not send boys to die."

Except his own. Because of Christ's subversive message of upside-down spirituality (drawing on God's long history of beseeching through the prophets)... because he commends those who when he was hungry gave him something to eat, when he was thirsty, gave him something to drink, when he was a stranger, invited him him, when he was naked, clothed him, when he was sick, visited him, when he was in prison, came to him, because whenever we do these things for the least of these, we do them for Christ.... because he did not fight Rome with swords on behalf of the oppressed Jewish people, but rather taught them how not (in turn) to oppress those weaker than them... because he called God (indeed himself) King and taught a way of life completely subversive to the materialistic, chauvinistic, hedonistic worldview of the Romans and even the Jews themselves (remember those money changers in the Temple?)... Christ was sentenced with capital punishment.

And because we as a church do not do an adequate job of taking care of the physical and spiritual needs of the people around us; and indeed because the church does not have the resources to do so even if we committed to this calling, the government has a responsibility to step up. It is the government of the people, elected by the people, who has the calling to protect us from mis-education, under-education, corporate oppression, and provide us with the opportunities to practice and embody our inalienable rights.

I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but for some reason, on Good Friday, it seemed appropriate. I do not whittle down everything Christ did in his life and death as political, but I'm sick of people who call themselves Christians mis-using the Bible to propagate their right-wing political (not Christian) agenda. And I'm sick of people only getting their news from Fox. So, here's some of the facts friends. I don't have the expertise to volunteer an adequate solution, but I do write my representatives bi-weekly advocating (among other things, and if you're a follower of my blog you probably already know what most of those are) that they tax the wealthy and cut military spending, in part because of my convictions as a Christian, but also because of my convictions as a patriot of the United States of America.

1 comment:

Lucy O said...

I'm not a political scholar or a biblical scholar, but you sure make sense to me.