Pro-Life Tax Policy – What Would Jesus Tax?

My colleague Susan Hamill, whom I’ve blogged about before, had a recent op-ed in the Birmingham News entitled Pro-Life Alabama Doesn’t Pony Up Cash. The meat of it:

Despite the recent and encouraging income tax reform, Alabama’s inadequate and regressive state and local tax structure does not remotely reflect a real pro-life community. As we debate the merits of the proposed legislation banning almost all abortions, we must confront the ugly facts proving that Alabama is not genuinely pro-life even though many Alabamians are against abortion. Until we are also willing to accept the high sacrifice of Judeo-Christian-guided tax policy, a pro-life justification for supporting this legislation is a hollow, low-sacrifice position with no moral credibility.

Susan and I probably disagree on many things but her passion and commitment are incredible, and her emphasis on religious claims to shape tax policy debates is brilliant. The Economist captured her campaign in support of Alabama tax reform with the headline “What Would Jesus Tax?” Democrats may be able to retake the White House without fully engaging policy debates within a genuinely religious framework. But they won’t win states like Alabama. And that will leave Democrats perpetually vulnerable.

I don’t know where Susan stands, party-wise, but she is providing an important roadmap for a national progressive strategy. Not bad for a tax jock. Not bad at all.

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2 Responses

  1. anon says:

    That’s a losing strategy… The religious right in Alabama is more interested in preaching intolerance than in trying to change the terms of the debate (about tax or about anything else).

  2. David Giesen says:

    A radical, Judaeo-Christian perspective on taxes can be gotten, I believe, by revisiting first principles. Experience the entire material universe independent of humanity. Premise a Creator. Presume, then, Creation. Challenge private economic gain in mere ownership of Creation because privatized economic rent of Creation alienates the rest of humanity from an equal enjoyment, as community, from the economic blessings of the gift that is Creation. A scenario for resolving the puzzle of private use of Creation without alienating fellow humanity’s economic interest in the Gift of Creation is for community to collect the market rent of land (and other natural resources)as the terms of private tenure. David G