God Bless Us, Every One: Economic Lessons from A Christmas Carol
- John Mark Reynolds Torrey Honors Institute
- 2010 16 Dec
Scrooge repented of his greed and changed at Christmas. His sin was not his wealth, but his misuse of that wealth. Thank God the American and British governments of the 18th century did not confuse wickedness with wealth. Nobody should act like Scrooge, but the problem was his love of money not his money.
As a boy I heard people laugh when a rich man died: "It will only take six feet of earth to bury him," they said, and I became aware that hating the rich was a vice that my poor home state indulged in at will. It is, I think, one reason we were, and are, poor.
No human being should be given special treatment because of his wealth or lack of wealth. No human being should be punished because of his wealth or lack of wealth. The United States should treat each citizen justly. When justice is denied the poor, the nation suffers, but when justice is denied the rich the nation will also suffer.
Jesus does not love Scrooge more than anyone else, but He does not love Scrooge less. When the government forces Scrooge to do what it thinks proper, it removes the ability of Scrooge to freely repent and do what is good himself.
It would be immoral not to cut the taxes of the wealthy, because we are cutting everyone else's taxes. Our present system where we take a greater percentage of the wealth of the rich is simply legalized theft based on covetousness. It enriches the state and does little to help the poor. Some citizens lose liberty and other citizens become wards of the state. You cannot free Cratchit by enslaving Scrooge.
Taxation is a necessary danger. Without consent of the taxed, any taxation is wicked and consent is hard to get. The majority is always tempted to vote themselves the property of the minority. Graft and tax breaks based on bribes from the rich are unjust, but so is pandering to the mob by stealing from the rich to enrich government.
God takes ten percent from all, rich and poor. Tyranny buys influence by pandering to the mob or the plutocrat with tax policy. Favoring either rich or poor dehumanizes one at the expense of the other.
Hatred of the rich is based on the sin of covetousness. He has and I want. Not all taxation is based on covetousness, but when we judge the rich as "not needing" his own money, then Cratchit is in danger of deciding for Scrooge what Scrooge needs based on Cratchit's desires.
Second, hurting the rich is not the same things as helping the poor. Read the chapter "Scouring of the Shire" at the end of the Lord of the Rings. When we take from the rich, the poor never get most of the money, because those who tax use it to enrich themselves. Punishing wealth, instead of wickedness, is punishing success, and we will always get less of what we tax. Cratchit is likely to trade an oppressive individual, Scrooge, for an oppressive state. History says individuals are more likely to repent than governments!
Third, asking the rich to pay a greater percentage of their income than the poor is unjust. Property rights are an excellent measure of liberty. If I lessen one man's right to his property, then I have made his liberty less. To let some men keep all their liberty (or property) because the state arbitrarily decides they have "too little" and to take liberty from another man because the state decides he has "too much" is unequal treatment under the law.
Finally, taxing the rich to support this particular government is empowering the real robber barons. Both political parties have wasted billions of tax money and will waste billions more if given the chance. Giving these politicos more funds is like handing the keys of the car to a drunk that is staggering out of liquor store on his way to Vegas.
You cannot redeem Scrooge by giving his money to the town looters and moochers.
The poor should receive equal treatment under the law, but so should the rich. We cannot steal from the rich and give to the poor and anticipate anything but hoods running our government. This Christmas Scrooge should give, but not because a group of moochers and looters made him. Instead, America should cut the tax burden on all and each American should pay his fair and equal percentage. Rich and poor: "God bless us, every one."
John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Professor of Philosophy at Biola University. In 1996 he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. John Mark Reynolds can be found blogging regularly at Scriptorium Daily.
Publication date: December 16, 2010
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