Ben Carson attacks Donald Trump's tax plan
Yesterday, Ben Carson criticized Donald Trump’s tax plan. He was right, but for the wrong reasons.
According to CNN, Carson said:
"I also strongly believe that every American should pay something according to their means. We are all Americans and we all have the same rights and responsibilities."
Under Trump's plan, which the businessman unveiled Monday, individuals who make less than $25,000 (and $50,000 for married couples) would pay no income taxes.
Carson has previously said that he supports taxing everyone at 10% based on the biblical principle of tithing.
Carson says, “[A]ll Americans … have the same rights and responsibilities.” So, does he consider the ability to pay taxes a right or a responsibility? His use of the word “should” implies that he considers it a responsibility. That implies condoning coercion to exact it. But being a contributing, functioning member of society suggests that it’s a right, or more appropriately, a privilege.
For example, this writer is familiar with a local church that was experiencing dramatic growth some years back. They had a fundraising drive to buy a pipe organ, asking members to pledge a given amount over a period of time. Before that period ended, they had another drive to build a ministry center, soliciting separate pledges. And before either period expired, they had grown to the point that they needed a larger sanctuary, prompting yet another pledge drive.
At the third solicitation, a woman in the congregation looked at her pledge card and said, “I don’t know how much to write down. To fund the pipe organ, I sacrificed my budget for eating out. I gave up my monthly visit to the hair dresser for the ministry center. I want to donate toward the new sanctuary, but I’m not sure what I can give up.”
“That’s all right, Mary,” the pastor replied, “Everyone is aware that you’ve been on a fixed income since your husband died. You don’t need to give any more.”
She was incensed.
“Don’t tell me I can’t participate, Reverend! I’m as much a part of this ministry as you are. I'm just not sure how much to write down.”
Echoes of Jesus’s commendation of the widow’s mite reverberated.
Trump’s efforts to demonstrate empathy on those of lower estate by excusing them from contributing to ownership of the nation’s affairs relegates millions of Americans to parasite status without their consent. It’s only the players who get the honor, not those who merely warm the bench. Sideliners know that. Everyone does.
As many a comedian has pointed out, if 10% is enough for God, it should be good enough for the government. Carson’s allusion to the “biblical principle of tithing” is apropos. When Moses gave the Law to the Israelites, the priesthood was the civil government. So the tithe was the equivalent of our income tax. Malachi said that it puts food in the storehouse – relief of the poor – and Paul said that tribute is a righteous requirement to pay the salaries of those who institute the government.
The exorbitant tax rates currently leveled on the producers are more extortion than participation.
Everyone who is aware of the great fortune of dwelling in the most abundant society recorded in history should have a modicum of gratitude. We should all desire to have some skin in the game, to be participants rather than spectators.
Trump’s “zero tax rates” deny many that honor.