Friday, October 28, 2005

Budgets are Moral Documents

So I was talking to Nick earlier, and we got onto the subject of God's Politics, by Jim Wallis, an evangelical minister and political activist. I remember writing in an earlier post that I wanted to cover several parts of his book over several posts, and I have yet to follow through on that, and by chance I ran into this article from CNN (courtesy Digby) about budget cuts in Congress:
House Republicans voted to cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices as various committees scrambled to piece together $50 billion in budget cuts.

More politically difficult votes -- to cut Medicaid, food stamps and farm subsidies -- are on tap Thursday as more panels weigh in on the bill.
President Bush met with House and Senate GOP leaders and said he was pleased with the progress.

Wallis devotes a chapter of his book to budgets called "Isaiah's Platform: Budgets Are Moral Documents." You can guess where I'm going with this. The religious contribution to politics should not be excluded to abortion and gay marriage; on the contrary, religion informs and judges all political actions. One place where religion has the most to say, but is consulted the least, is in budgetary decisions.

Budgets disclose the priorities of the parties involved, be it on the family, business, organizational, or governmental level. Isaiah reveals to us what our priorities should be:
"No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live a lifetime.... They shall build houses and inhabit them: they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit: they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen will long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear their children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord..." (Isaiah 65:20-25)

When tax cuts are lavished upon the richest among us and corporate welfare spending is bloated in record levels to the detriment of aid to the poor, protection for our children, and programs that level the playing field so that all Americans have equal opportunities, the government is guilty not only of bad policy, but of moral failure.

To put it another way, this type of behavior is not just impolitic: it is sinful. To quote Wallis: "And those politicians who utter the words of religion and faith, yet who supported this exclusion of the poor, deserve to be called hypocrites."

No comments: