Fun with taxes! “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar…”

 “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them.

Mark 12:17

One of my least favorite tasks – and I know I am not alone here – is the annual ritual of preparing our taxes. And now, because I take care of my parents’ affairs too, I get to do it twice. Oh, joy!

This of course is one of the reasons I tend to do the deed at the last possible moment. This year, having just hit “send” on the electronic filing just a few moments ago, turns out to be of my earliest on record. Typically my practice is more along the lines of hoping April 15 falls on a Friday – like this year – so I can wait an extra day or two or three. But procrastination has always been one of my more fundamental flaws, and “scrambling at the last minute” happens more than I am comfortable admitting.

On principle, I really don’t have much of a problem with the idea of taxation. I like roads – and infrastructure in general; I appreciate schools, and public health, and parks, and taking care of our environment; I value the investment we make in the machinery of all three branches of government; I understand the importance of policing, and a functional national defense; I believe we have a collective responsibility to care for one-another, and the collection of taxes is the only way to equitably share the burden.

At the same time, I am deeply offended by waste and by spending that is excessive or extravagent.

Consequently, I tend to be more conservative when it comes to economic policy, especially in response to the fact that doing what is necessary to facilitate a booming economy generates a ton more useful revenue than increasing tax rates and pouring cold water on potential growth. In other words, 5% of a lot is always more than 10% of not much!

Fact is, I am very happy to pay taxes when the money is put to good use. I would gladly ante up, for example, an additional percentage point, or two, to provide Universal Health Coverage for all Americans. If this pandemic has taught us anything then it has demonstrated the community nature of public health.

We are the most prosperous, most inventive, most imaginative, most democratic, most well-resourced nation in the history of this world. There is nothing that we cannot achieve if we do it together.

It just might help, along the way, if we lived as if the teachings of Jesus were as important to us as some of those other things that tend to guide us…. – DEREK

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