Biblically, morally called to help others

A few thoughts in response to Ray Shamlin’s recent letter regarding taxes.

As a U.S. citizen, I am regularly disappointed to discover how uneducated some Americans are about our Constitutional Republic and the constitution that defines our country. The “missions of our government” are not found in an 18th century book written by a Scottish economist, but in the Constitution of the United States of America.

The preamble of the Constitution clearly states the goals of the Founding Fathers:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

In Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the first clause states that:

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”

What constitutes “the general Welfare” is cooperatively determined by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our federal government. Perhaps the Founding Fathers did consider Adam Smith’s economic theories and the Bible as they were determining a framework for our democracy, but they ultimately decided that a government free of an establishment of religion would guide our nation.

The founders of our nation also adopted a much broader view of what it means to provide goods and services to citizens than Mr. Smith theorized. Over the years laws that provide services such as public education, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have been enacted to provide for the general welfare of all Americans. Congress has also chosen to enact laws allowing subsidies and tax incentives for businesses and companies deemed necessary for the continued economic well-being of our country.

What Mr. Shamlin refers to as “redistribution of tax monies” flows from the poor to the rich in far greater amounts than from the rich to the poor. According to recent information in The Washington Post, of the taxes paid on a $50,000 annual income less than $3 would be allocated to social programs like food stamps, but about $1200 would be used for corporate subsidies to companies like Exxon. That might explain how our new President’s Secretary of State nominee received $180 million when he resigned as CEO of Exxon.

Mr. Shamlin chose a passage from 1 Thessalonians to justify his claim that taxes should not be used for “entitlement programs.” I suggest that he consider the following:

Deuteronomy 15:7 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.”

1 John 3:17 “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

I believe these two verses and many others serve as evidence that we are called both biblically and morally to provide for the needs of others.

Patricia Sheppard

Tar Heel