Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We're All Very Predictable

The age old debate over free will and determinism is as relevant today as ever.

If we have significant amounts of free will, then people deserve what they get, now and forever. Punishment and retribution are justified. We may offer forgiveness and second chances, but it will be limited and temporary.

On the other hand, if most of our free will is an illusion and most people's fate is determined by nature, nurture and who they know (as growing evidence suggests), then we have two options. We will either ignore the less fortunate in our society and try to minimize their cost; or we will excercise compassion toward them by establishing economic safety nets, rehabilitation programs or some type of protective custody when rehabilitation fails.

Most of our current political debates, locally and nationally, can be understood using these 3 modalities.


As fiscal conservatives begin to exert more and more influence over the future of our state and nation, I pray they will remember to show compassion to the working poor, to children, the elderly, the disabled and the handicapped... all those who will never achieve the American dream; not because they're unwilling to work hard, but because they simply cannot compete in our modern economy
For various reasons beyond their control, some will always be at a disadvantage. We all know who they are. They are in our families, our churches and our communities. Often we refuse to acknowledge the reality of their plight, but the weak hand they were dealt is real, nevertheless. 

Religion, Politics & Wealth

The American middle class is no match for wealthy politicians and wealthy preachers. When it comes to money, they will outsmart and out maneuver the middle class every time. 

We're in the midst of the largest upward transfer of wealth in American history. Not only will our middle class children remain saddled with future debt, the middle class will pay more and more of the current interest on it.

Maybe not through income taxes, which are the lowest in 50 years, but through a myriad of other taxes that keep going up (sales, property, utilities, gasoline, fines, fees, licenses, payroll, etc.). The last thing we need is tax reform that further reduces the income tax and increases all other taxes. 

Remember, the only tax requiring the wealthy to pay more than the rest of us is the income tax. Of course they want to lower it! Yes, the top 50% of income earners pay most of the income taxes, but…they earn most of the income…so what’s the problem?