Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just How Small Should a Government Be?

As I was reading and responding to another of Griper's Posts; "Taxes, Blessed are the Poor.", there were so many issues that came up relating to Taxes that I couldn't say it all in the Comment Section of that Post.

I got thinking about another whole Tax issue when I was reading a Comment by BB-Idaho that was submitted to the Linked Post on 4/19/09, at 2:38 PM. In this Comment, I found it interesting that the Flat Tax Rate that he was suggesting contained an 11% Tax Rate, which isn't much different from the 10% that is spoken of in the Bible. I wonder if everyone really did give 10% of their Income to the Church, if the Church could do a lot of the things that the Government is currently doing.

Another interesting thing to note about Taxes is that when Taxes go up, often Donations to Churches and Charities go down and when Taxes are down, Donation go up.

The idea that the Churches and Private Charities should be taking care of people, rather than the Government is an interesting one that is held by some Republican Christians. The problem is that not all Republicans think this way. Many Republicans just want the freedom to keep their money and let the Poor fend for themselves. They forget that some of the Poor are actually Handicapped or Disabled. Aside from the Physically Challenged and the Mentally Challenged, some people are also Emotionally Challenged in ways that hinder their ability to function in our Society. Due to the basic Selfishness of people in general, if the Government wasn't supporting the needs of those who genuinely do need the assistance, would there be enough money Donated to Churches and Private Charities to take care of these needs?

One thing that has concerned me quite a bit in relation to this is that the Severely Challenged are better able to get Governmental Assistance than those whose Physical, Mental and/or Emotional Limits are more Minor, yet even Minor Limits and Handicaps can prevent someone from succeeding in a Capitalist Society. Remember, we are not talking about Laziness here. We are talking about actual real Conditioned or Genetic Limits.

Below the Post that I Linked to above, we had a really interesting discussion about the Flat Tax verses the Progressive Tax System, as well as the Fair Tax System that has been suggested by Mike Huckabee.  In the Post that you are reading now, I am addressing the idea of expanding the role of Churches and Private Charities to meet more of the needs in our Society.

Before we carry this idea too far, let's consider the fact that the Government also provides Fire Protection and Law Enforcement, so we obviously do need some Government.  Another problem that comes to my mind is whether or not the Church could really handle the burden when people really do genuinely need on going help due to a very real Handicap that prevents them from working not only temporarily, but indefinitely.  Isn't the task of caring for such people a rather large burden to place on a Church?

I guess the question that I am really asking to some of you Republicans is how far exactly do you want this "Small Government" idea to go?  Where should we draw the line between the Reasonable and the Extreme?  Just how much of the needs of Society should be handled by the Government and how much of it should be handled by Private Churches and Charities?  I'm not sure that I know the answer to these questions, but I eagerly await your Responses.


The Griper said...

if you want to bring religion in as well as the handicap you have the story of the good samaritan to guide your thinking on this issue.

you might also remember that the very same people donate to charities as well as pay taxes so, if the people can fund government to provide the services then it can be done outside of government too. and right now they are funding both. so, if the government gets out that leaves more money for charities doesn't it?

and since you agree that taxes are coersed while donations are voluntary then it would appear to me that allowing charities to do the job is more in accordance to biblical teachings than government doing the job.

the fact of the selfishness of people is a little overdone too because by your own admission there is an inverse effect going on here between donations and taxation.

also, lista, what percentage of the population are you talking about?

Lista said...

"The very same people donate to charities as well as pay taxes."

This is the reason for the Charitable Donation Deduction.

I've already stated that "When Taxes are down, Donation go up."

As far as Scripture goes, there is also the Statement that Jesus made, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mark 12:17, KJV). This is also repeated in Luke 20:25.

"21) So the spies questioned him; 'Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right and that you do not show partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22) Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?' 23) He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24) 'Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?' 25) 'Caesar's,' they replied. He said to them, 'Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.'" (Luke 20:21-25, NIV)

From the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we learn that it is also right to be giving directly and not just expect the Government to do it.

"Also, Lista, what percentage of the population are you talking about?"

That's an interesting question. If Charities did the work, rather than the Government, what percentage of the people would actually donate and what percentage of the population would be left without any help? This is the problem in a nut shell.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Lest you forget, "smaller" or "limited" government also pertains to its jurisdiction and the breadth of its authority. The Federal Government has (and continues to this day) made a mockery of any concept of Federalism (that is State's Rights). It [the Federal Government] seems to have forgotten that it was the states which created it not the other way around. As such, the power lies with the people (i.e., the states) and not with a central or national government body.

Additionally, one cannot claim to be moral or just if they are unwilling to permit an individual the right to keep the fruit of their labor without giving even a penny of it to another.

We could debate, as the day is long, on whether or not an individual should or should not provide a portion to those truly in need. However, I don't find it to be a fair practice to assert that one ought to do it based on moral grounds all the while mildly suggesting the use of force to get those unwilling to comply.

As to your question with respect to "small government", it is my belief that Federal Government be as limited in its scope and jurisdiction as possible.

Aside from providing for the Nation's Defense, local police forces for protection against loss of life, loss of property, and loss of liberty at the hands of either foreign despots or domestic criminals, a just court system, and the establishment of a monetary system (preferably one secured by Gold or some other such precious metal)I see little else (from a FEDERAL perspective).

Lista said...

Thanks for your comment, Soap. You have made some very interesting points.

Griper also has this Federalism Focus and once I understood what he was saying, I realized that I agree with him. We forget sometimes, though, that when ever someone is talking about the issue of "Smaller"/"Limited" Government, or any other Government issue for that matter, they are not always necessarily just referring to the Federal Government.

With Griper, I've learned that I have to specify which I am talking about or he will assume that I'm talking about the Federal Government. It seems that I've left out this detail again.

There are two issues here, not just one. One it that the Federal Government is far too large and has far too much power and the other is that once our focus is returned to the State level, how small should we go?

Name: Soapboxgod said...

On the state level I'd say much to the same degree as with the Federal Government. There's likely to be a bit more depth on the state level but the beauty of Federalism is that if you don't like the government apparatus of once state, you simply move to another.

If we permit the Federal Government to be the arbiter of all things, where on earth would one turn??

Lista said...

I agree with you, Soap, in relation to the Federal Government. On the State Level, I haven't decided yet.

The Griper said...

how small? that is easy to answer. it should be only as large as the Constitution allows government to be and that includes the States for they are governed by a Constitution also.

it is when governments go beyond their authorized powers that the abuse of the rights of the people begin.

The Griper said...

and when Jesus declared that we give unto Caesar he meant everyone not just the rich. so, even the poor are expected to pay taxes.

everyone needs to give to God which is God's thus the same for Ceasar. so, your quote only supports my theory not yours.

Lista said...

I like your first comment, Griper.

As to your second comment, the quote from the Bible relating to giving unto Caesar Says Nothing about what the Tax Structure should be, but only that what ever it is, pay your Taxes.

The Griper said...

and to pay your taxes would include the poor. when the bible declares that 10% be given to the church, didn't that include the poor as well as the rich?

Lista said...

Yes, but I don't think that the promise that God will bless us when we "Tithe" to the Church refers to the paying of Taxes.

The Griper said...

then you don't believe that God will bless us for doing our duty in things other than spiritual, huh? both, tithe and taxes go to support an entity that depends upon the labor of its members. and if government is suppose to do what churches do as you propose how can we say that God would not bless that man who paid taxes as he does tithe?

would not what he said about the woman who gave but a penny to the church be just as applicable if she had given that penny up as taxes?

Lista said...

Oh for Pete's sake, Griper. You are always putting words in my mouth. I never said that. It's just that there is a special blessing promised for Tithing and that blessing is specifically for Tithing, not Taxes.

The subject of this Post was whether the Church should be doing some of what the Government is doing, but I'm not sure that the Bible gives a clear answer to this, nor does it specifically state what the role of the Church is in direct relationship to the role of the Government.

It just seems that when the Donations start to go down due to a very Heavy Tax Burden that the Government is beginning to steal some of what ought to be given to Churches and Private Charities instead.

Will God bless this practice? I don't think so, yet He does and will look after the Poor and Oppressed, regardless the the Political Climate.

Besides, Donations are Voluntary and Taxes are Coerced. How can God bless something that we are forced to do and thus not given out of the goodness of our heart?

Lista said...

Once in awhile I even think about the idea of how Political Christians should really be. I do think that Christians should be Political, yet we also should not forget our main objective, which is to help people find God. This is why there have been times in which I have attempted to write about Politics and than felt strangely led to write about Spiritual things instead.

When Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mark 12:17, KJV), perhaps at least one of the implications of these words is that Taxes and Politics is not as important as our Relationship with our Creator. I have to keep reminding myself of that over and over again as I Blog.

Jesus did not seem to have much of a Political Opinion. He was more concerned about the Spiritual Condition of Man.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

"It just seems that when the Donations start to go down due to a very Heavy Tax Burden that the Government is beginning to steal some of what ought to be given to Churches and Private Charities instead."
Whoah whoah whoah. Let's be clear about one thing here. A church and/or a private charity has no more justification for the confiscation or a claim of entitlement to one's wealth and or property than does the government. What you have just asserted is that government is taking money which is due to the church or private charity.

That is not the case. The wealth is the property of the individual who labored for it. If they so desire to gift it to a church, a private charity, or heck their cousin Larry, then that is their right solely by choice.

There is no moral justification for staking a claim to the productivity of another. To infer otherwise is to advocate slavery.

Lista said...

Now Soap,
I just got finished saying that "Donations are Voluntary and Taxes are Coerced." You're not listening very carefully. What I'm saying is that the Government is taking money that the people would Willingly give to a Church or Private Charity if the Government hadn't taken it from them first.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Very well then. I'm just trying to keep you honest here.

Let the original post be edited to reflect:

"...the Government is beginning to steal some of what individuals might otherwise give to Churches and Private Charities instead."

Lista said...

She just nods in agreement.

The Griper said...

we might also add that we, as citizens, have an obligation and duty to support our governments just as we do for the church we belong to.

to me, the state(governments) begins to steal our money when it takes on problems to solve that is outside of their jurisdiction or role in society. this means when they go beyond the bounds assigned to them by the Constitution they are under.

Lista said...

Yes Griper,
That's why Jesus said that we should pay our Taxes.

You've expressed your emphasis on what the Constitution says before and I'd have to really study the Constitution in depth in order to know more fully what you are saying.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Truth be told, it doesn't take a real in depth study of the Constitution to know what it permits the government to do. In fact, I'd argue that it is precisely this sort of "in-depth" study which has led to the distortions which both political parties have used to their own party's interests.

Lista said...

Perhaps part of the problem is that a lot of the voters are Uneducated, but don't you see, when all that many of the Republicans do is Vent their Anger and talk about how Stupid Voters can be, this does not really Educate anyone.

When I speak of Anger, I'm not really directing that at you, but at a lot of what I see happening on different Blogs.

Too often we assume that our opponents know things and just express anger without Fully Explaining in Simple Language the real reasons why we believe as we do. At one time, there was this Link on Griper's Blog that Evaluated what Level of Education a Blog is written in.

Griper's reflects High School Level and mine is apparently simple enough for those in Grade School to understand. Or was it College Level and High School Level? I don't remember, yet what I'm trying to say is that though I felt a little bad at first, because believe it or not, I do have a College Degree; even so, talking simply is actually a positive because there are a lot of Uneducated people out there who are Voting in our Elections.

I don't know whether this comment is a response to your above comment or to the comment I just recently responded to on Kris' Post, relating to the Tea Party, in which you told me that I should brush up on my "Case Law", as if you thought I was a Law Student or something.

Well, that sort of made me smile, but the point is that not everyone is Educated and there are many who Vote that have no clue at all what the Constitution says and Unfortunately, Venting Anger, as many Republican do, while talking over their heads, is not going to persuade anyone. Somehow, we need a way to get this information out there in Simple, Non-Angry Language.

Lista said...

Again, I'm not directing the comments about Anger at you, Soap. I guess I'm just thinking about anger because of a few of the Blogs I've visited recently and also some Political Email that I've received. All that's directed at you is the idea that not everyone Understands the Constitution and we, therefore, need to keep our Political Communication simple. Haven't you ever heard of KISS? That stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

I agree wholeheartedly that much of the Republican base has simply resorted to nothing more than defensive tactics. In so doing, they're offering no real solutions but instead just criticism of EVERYTHING Obama does (even to the most trivial and mundane of subjects).

When I referred to brushing up on your case law, it wasn't as a means to point out your educational level on the subject but rather it was to point out the fact that we've historical evidence which supports my assertion.

As for educating the electorate, I think people need to have a desire for the acquisition of knowledge. You cannot educate people who do not have this thirst for knowledge. I have not problem with people that are truly uneducated on an issue or subject. What I do have a problem with is when people profess to be knowledgable or informed on something that they are not.

Lista said...

Maybe in some subtle way, I am admitting that even I do not know as much about the Constitution as I should and I really do need to read it so that I can talk more intelligently to people in the Blog-a-sphere.

I understand what you mean, though, about how "in-depth" study can lead to distortions. I think that people have also done this quite a lot with the Bible.

When I think of possible subjects for my next post, "Reaching the Uneducated" is one that comes to mind.

It's funny how people are so often Defensive and Critical of their Opponents. The Democrats did the same thing when George Bush was in office.

Aside from not knowing much about Case Law, Soap, History too, is not my best subject.

As to Educating the Electorate, I think that the Media is doing a really good job of Educating them, or mostly Mis-Educating them in foolishness, yet they are effective in their Quest to Mis-lead. Some of those who have a better Understanding of what is actually true, though, need to do a better job at explaining these things in a very simple manner that even the ignorant can understand.

Just as when Products are Less Expensive, more Low Income people buy them, so also when Information is Easier to understand, more of the Uneducated will take the time to Actually Try. This is basic Economics and it works within many things other than just money.

Lista said...

I'm going to admit something to you, Soap. I'm really not that smart when it comes to Book Knowledge, I've admitted many times that I am a slow reader and I'm not a Political Junky like a lot of those on the Blog-a-sphere, but I do know how to Reason and Think and if someone takes the time to explain something to me, I do have the ability to Understand.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Lista, if you'd like an idea as to what I perceive as the legitimate size and/or scope of government, let me suggest that you read What it means to be a Libertarian by Charles Murray.

Lista said...

I find the Libertarian Philosophy to be a little Extreme, Soap. For now, I think I'll just read the Constitution.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

As with anything Lista, the principles and premises can be taken to extremes. To that I say that you do yourself a great disservice if you (to use your own previous assertions) merely resort to a "black and white" thinking process in this regard.

Lista said...

That's Interesting Soap,
Believe it or not you have touched on another subject that I've considered Posting on. You're causing me to start listing some of them. In one of my above Comments, I mentioned, "Reaching the Uneducated", Posted on April 27, at 8:27 AM.

From your most recent Comment, you have reminded me of another subject that I was considering, "Black and White verses Too Much Compromise", or actually "Excessive Gridlock verses Rushed Compromise" by not even Taking the Time to Read a Proposition, or in this case a Stimulus Package.

The problem that I am having right now is such a typical one for me. I have so much that I want to Read and Comment on at other people's Blogs, that I tend to lack the time to really think about and develop the things that I've listed for myself to Post about on my own Blog, but I'll tell you what. Choose one of these two topics and I'll try and make it into a post.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

I certainly have something to say with respect to compromise.

Lista said...

Ok, Compromise it is. I'll make it my goal to Post something on the subject tomorrow.

Silverfiddle said...

Such discussion is predicated upon the false premise that if the federal government doesn't do it, it won't get done.

This is a scary mindset.

Lista said...

You are Darn Right it is and it Requires a Considerable Amount of Faith and that is Just the Problem. Even if this was the Right Way to Go, Convincing the Majority (51% of the Population) to have this Kind of Faith is Simply not going to Happen.

Allowing the Church to do just a Little More than it does and for the Government to do just a Little Less is not Really such a Bad Idea, but Taxes are Going to have to Be Low Enough that there is Enough Money Left in People's Pockets to Cover what Churches and Private Charities would Need to do and the Government is Greedy, so what are we to do?