Bush, Don't Do It
program for "faith-based" initiatives first reminded me
of the Catholic parish in rural Kentucky where a small group of
volunteers – of very modest means managed to sustain a population
of poor families larger than that of the entire parish. Perhaps,
I thought, federal assistance to such initiatives might lead to
a departure from failed bureaucracies and expensive boondoggles,
towards voluntary work and common sense.
recently, I have heard "second thoughts," an increasing
sense of alarm at the damage government funding might inflict on
church-based programs. Dependency, dilution, bureaucratization,
even debasement, threatens those programs that take the easy money.
record is indeed convincing: one need only observe available evidence.
In the past forty years, for instance, Catholics have watched their
universities, charities, and even their national spokesmen become
indistinguishable from the institutions and individuals of the liberal
there are surely some Good Samaritans out there who believe it cannot
happen to them. For those "true believers," let me recommend
reflection, not on the possible and future consequences of government
funding, which they insist they can avoid, but of the clear and
present evil inherent in the very character of the funding itself.
few basics again, from the Christian point of view: First, virtue
is based on freedom. Being free to do evil, we voluntarily choose
good instead. There is no virtue in a mandatory action: it is exacted
Christian charity is voluntary and reciprocal. The man thrown
into the ditch by robbers thanks the Good Samaritan, but the Good
Samaritan thanks him as well: "Thank you for giving me the
opportunity to help you, my brother in Christ." Love, and gratitude,
abound on both sides.
contrast, the taxpayer swears (or worse) as he ponies up to the
IRS, fearful for his freedom, even his life, should he refuse. Likewise,
the recipient of government funds smugly demands his entitlement:
"Gimme!" No love is lost, or expressed, on either side.
Spiritually, the exchange is a disaster.
"social work" and Christian charity are polar opposites.
Mother Teresa always insisted of her Missionaries of Charity, "We
are not social workers. Early in the morning we receive the Body
of Christ. All day long, then, we go out and find Him in the poor,
the starving, and the dying."
government bureaucrat who expressed such sentiments would, of course,
be fired, tried, and jailed for breaching the "wall of separation
between Church and State." He would be guilty of the worst
of offenses, a hate crime, for it is impossible to love both Christ
and Big Brother.
these preambles, it is self-evident that the government funding
of "faith-based" initiatives would irreversibly pollute
and thwart the charitable efforts of any group that accepts the
funds, no matter how those funds are used. Why? Because there is
no moral possibility of doing good with ill-gotten gains.
of judging these "faith-based programs" by where the funds
are going, a Christian should look at where they came from. Indeed,
we need only to consider the fundamental rules of a virtuous life,
the Ten Commandments, to realize that the government funds offered
to "faith-based" groups flow from a process that breaks
every one of God’s laws for His people. (Note: I use here the Catholic
order of the Decalogue; however, the government, in the spirit of
equality, breaks all the Protestant Commandments too).
First Commandment proclaims that no false gods shall take
the place of the Lord our God. "The fear of God is the
beginning of wisdom," says the Good Book, but the modern
state prefers Hobbes’s dictum that fear of the government
Leviathan should rule society. Fear of the IRS is the subtext
of every sham "tax reform." Our elected representatives
worship the golden calf that provides the funds that guarantee
their reelection. Some of them even love it.
Second Commandment prohibits taking the Name of God in vain;
I well remember the stout teachers’ union member at a government
meeting in our rural county. She strode to the microphone
in defense of raising taxes on home-schooling Christian families
to fund incompetent government teachers: "After all,
Jesus said, ‘render unto Caesar,’" she crowed triumphantly,
glowering at the Christian parents.
could have been much more honest by quoting Saint Paul: "slaves,
obey your masters." The vanity, and hatred, was palpable.
Her numbers are legion.
Third Commandment requires that we honor the Sabbath, but the
government requires many families to send out their members
to work on the Lord’s Day so they can pay their ever-rising
tax burden. My neighbor works two weekend jobs. It is hardly
the IRS has threatened my own diocese not to use its newspaper
or services to address "political" issues, such as abortion, homosexuality,
and other objective moral evils, or it will risk losing its tax-exempt
status. The IRS does not honor the Lord, His day, or His Word.
Fourth Commandment requires us to "honor our father and
our mother." Yet the all-powerful state expropriates
from us the funds with which we would take care of our parents,
spends it immediately on vote-getting schemes, and then parcels
out a pittance in "Social Security" that makes our
parents forever dependent on – you guessed it – government
largesse. As the number of workers declines, the government
will no doubt highlight the wisdom of "voluntary"
euthanasia for aging parents who are soaking up so much of
our tax revenues and posing such a heavy burden on their children.
shalt not kill," says the Fifth Commandment. Yet, the
power to tax is the power to destroy, even to kill. Ever-increasing
taxes and the lowering of the child deduction, which was relatively
huge fifty years ago, constitute formal government encouragement
not only to have fewer children, but also to abort pregnancies
that might deter a career path or impede a second job
taken on, of course, in order to pay the taxes due on the
income from the first job. Furthermore, the Catholic Church
teaches that any crime of force is a breach of the Fifth Commandment,
as well of others that might be broken. Does anyone believe
that taxes could be collected without the threat of force?
shalt not commit adultery," says the Sixth Commandment,
but the marriage penalty encourages couples to live in sin,
so they might save enough money eventually to overcome the
tax code’s barriers to marriage and children. Religious couples
can still live married, moral lives, but against the grain
and inherent disincentives of the tax code.
shalt not steal," says the Seventh Commandment, and thus
we hear the slobbering repetitions by IRS apparatchiks before
Congressional committees that "voluntary compliance"
is the foundation of our successful tax system. As Saint Augustine
says, "without justice, what is the state but a band
of robbers?" Does anyone even pretend that the tax code
is just? Consider the most insidious tax of all, inflation,
the secret levy designed by politicians, past and present,
to push people into ever higher brackets, while making their
earnings worth less and less, all to profit private government
interests and politicians. If this is not theft, what is it?
shalt not bear false witness," says the Eighth Commandment,
yet lies swarm around the tax code like bees around my Azaleas.
Christians enthused by the prospect of federal funding need
only take heed of the reams of deliberate falsehoods and crimes
that procure the funds. Former Senator Packwood’s diaries,
published in the Washington Post, detail how, after a particularly
heartwarming roll in the hay with one of his staffers, Packwood
was feeling so good-natured that he used his fiat power as
the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to give a former
staffer a tax break benefiting the group he was now lobbying
the IRS admits that its answers to a majority of questions it
receives are false. And political critics of the regime or of
the IRS are persecuted by tax authorities mouthing slogans of
shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife," instructs the
Ninth Commandment, but, thirty years ago, tax-and-spend liberals
joined forces with feminist radicals to force wives and mothers
by the millions into the taxpaying work force. The trillions
wasted in the "Great Society," which devalued the
currency by almost ninety per cent, also created a generation
of day-care children, so government unions immediately preyed
upon day-care workers to organize them. The hateful Leviathan
coveted the freedom of stay-at-home mothers, so it forced
them into the workplace, collected their taxes, destroyed
their families, and gained even more power over their children
and their caregivers. All in all, "mission accomplished"
for the missionaries of envy.
shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods," says the Tenth
Commandment. Yet the Marxist ideology’s graduated income tax,
espoused enthusiastically in the Communist Manifesto of 1848,
is based precisely on institutionalized class envy, with covetousness
next to Godliness in the ranks of secular virtue. This idolatry
is cheerfully embraced and perpetuated by contemporary politicians
like would-be Speaker Gephardt, who breaks several Commandments
at once as he foments envy of the "winners of the lottery
of life," defying God’s Providence in order to increase
the power of the state.
of these tendencies are well-known to economists, in detail much
more vast and explicit. But many religious believers distrust economics,
to the point of rejecting economic analysis as "materialistic"
in a world in need of "morality." Rest assured, the engines
of statism recognize this inclination all too well, and milk it
for all it is worth. Analysis is replaced by sentiment, sentiment
by ignorance, and ignorance is manipulated by myth, and then lies.
Thomas Hobbes himself, we can see from these cursory reflections
that God and the Ten Commandments are the greatest enemies of the
Leviathan. No wonder the statists want no mention of either in their
boot camps, the government schools.
father taught law for thirty years. He used to tell his students,
"If you take the first bribe, you may as well take the rest."
Perhaps we might conceive of a "faith-based" initiative
endowed with the wise leaders and good fortune that might evade
the disastrous consequences that government funding has inflicted
on other once-private areas of human endeavor. No matter – the funding
is the first bribe. However adroit those leaders might be in remaining
"independent," they cannot change the objective reality
that the U.S. tax code providing the funds breaks every single one
of the Commandments that God gave to Moses.
all, the road to the Golden Calf is paved with government grant
Manion [send him mail] is
a small businessman in Virginia, An adjunct lecturer at Christendom
College, he has taught ethics at Boston University and is a founding
member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.
© 2001 LewRockwell.com