An Evaluation of Federal Tax Policy Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics
Susan Pace Hamill
University of Alabama School of Law
Virginia Tax Review, Vol. 25, No. 3, Winter 2006
U of Alabama Public Law Research Paper No. 08-02
This article severely criticizes the Bush Administration's tax policies under the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics. I first document that Judeo-Christian ethics is the most relevant moral analysis for tax policy because almost eighty percent of Americans and well over ninety percent of the Congress, including President Bush, claim to adhere to the Christian or Jewish faiths. I also show that evaluating federal tax policy under Judeo-Christian principles not only passes constitutional muster but is also appropriate under the norms of a democracy. I then provide a complete theological framework that can be applied to any tax policy structure. Using sources that include leading Evangelical and other Protestant scholars, Papal Encyclicals and Jewish scholars, I prove that tax policy structures meeting the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics must raise adequate revenues that not only cover the needs of the minimum state but also ensure that all citizens have a reasonable opportunity to reach their potential. Among other things, reasonable opportunity requires adequate education, healthcare, job training and housing. Using these theological sources, I also establish that flat and consumption tax regimes which shift a large part of the burden to the middle classes are immoral. Consequently, Judeo-Christian based tax policy requires the tax burden to be allocated under a moderately progressive regime. I discuss the difficulties of defining that precisely and also conclude that confiscatory tax policy approaching a socialistic framework is also immoral. I then apply this Judeo-Christian ethical analysis to the first term Bush Administration's tax cuts and find those policies to be morally problematic. Using a wealth of sources, I then establish that the moral values driving the Bush Administration's tax policy decisions reflect objectivist ethics, a form of atheism that exalts individual property rights over all other moral considerations. Given the overwhelming adherence to Christianity and Judaism, I conclude that President Bush, many members of Congress and many Americans are not meeting the moral obligations of their faiths, and, I argue that tax policy must start reflecting genuine Judeo-Christian values if the country is to survive in the long run.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 95
Keywords: tax, ethics, religion, theology, biblical hermeneutics, federal budget, federal spending, and philosophy
Date posted: October 25, 2005
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