Monday, August 22, 2011

Jesus and Taxes

A conversation about money and politics played out on my Facebook news feed last week, as my friends shared their thoughts (and re-shared the thoughts of others) about how to solve our current "debt crisis."  

Three things caught my attention:

1.  Warren Buffett's op ed piece in the New York Times
His premise is simple - the "super rich" should pay more taxes to help reduce the national deficit.  It was fascinating to read of one of the wealthiest men in the world make a case for why people like him should shoulder more of the economic burden.

2.  Jon Stewart's Daily Show rant 
The Daily Show host offered some crass, sarcastic, enlightened additions to Buffett's piece a few days later...and took several shots at Fox News pundits (which is, pretty much, his m.o.)

3.  This nugget re-posted by several friends
"In the 1950s & 1960s, when the top tax rate was 70-92%, we laid the interstate system, built the Internet, put a man on the moon, defeated Communism, our education system was the envy of the world, our middle class thriving, our economy unparalleled.  You want that back?  Raise taxes on the rich."

* * * * * 

I'm not sure if raising taxes on the wealthy is the right thing to do.  I doubt it's the answer to our economic problems.  Additionally, I find it helpful to not demonize any group of people - rich or poor.  

I do know, however, that Jesus was pretty hard on rich people in his day.  He aligned himself with the poor and made it known how difficult it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of heaven.  

It makes me wonder how followers of Jesus are to consider such matters, based on his teachings.  

Give to Caesar what is Caesar's?  
You will always have the poor with you?  
Sell all you own and give to those in need?  
Blessed are you who are poor...but woe to you who are rich?  

I imagine a biblical / theological argument could be made on both sides.  

What do you think?  Where is Jesus in the midst of this conversation?

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