Thursday, November 3, 2005
Susan Pace Hamill (Alabama) has posted An Evaluation of Federal Tax Policy Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics, 25 Va. Tax Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2006), on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
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 80% of Americans and well over 90% 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 are 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.