I was pretty fired up when I wrote yesterday's post. I probably should have given it more time before I wrote it. I'm not taking back the points I made, but I just want to clarify some of them and add a few other things to clarify my position.
So just in case it wasn't clear from yesterday, the main point of my post was to call out the author of the article, Susan Thistlewaite, for passing judgment on other Christians. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, so none of us has justification for pointing the finger at another, especially in regards to their Christianity. I don't want anyone to think I was doing the same thing she had and suggesting that the way I practice Christianity is better than hers. That's between God and her (or God and myself, either way).
I also want to clarify that when I talk about opposing huge tax hikes and supporting the needy through charitable donations I am not at all suggesting that federal, state, and local governments shouldn't provide assistance to those who need it. It seems like that is a common misconception about conservatives in general (as Susan Thistlewaite's article suggested), though I won't speak for all conservatives when I say that isn't true about myself. I believe very strongly that as a nation and as communities, providing assistance to the needy is a responsibility. I'm not sure who we are if we turn our backs on them. Christianity aside, that is simply part of the foundation of America and the spirit of America. We'd all be better off, in fact, if the government spent more of its budget on helping people who are struggling.
That brings me around to the tax end of that matter. The government should spend more of the budget it has on social services. My opposition to higher taxes isn't about hating the poor or wanting them to die in the streets. It's about the fact that our leaders do a disgraceful job of handling the tax revenue they collect. We currently have the highest level of federal debt in our nation's history. Obviously at this point getting that under control is going to require less spending and more revenue. I hope that most people get that. But for future reference, there's a lot of wasteful spending going on in Washington D.C. Have you ever read about Congress from a billing standpoint? I'm talking about how much of the federal budget, tax-payer dollars, goes to funding Congress. It's insane. If the numbers aren't sickening enough, when you find out how that money is used you'll be even more shocked. Just look at the Congressional calendar to see how many weeks of the year they spend on vacation. Consider the fact that they get full-pay retirement after serving one single term. Would you like to work for two years and be paid your full salary for the rest of your life, even if you never worked again? Sounds nice... unless you're the one who is paying for it. Additionally, there are special laws that only apply to Congress as well as laws that members of Congress are exempt from following. Hello, they're the ones who make the laws!
It's my strong belief that two simple changes would make all the difference in the way our laws are made, as well as free up some of that budget money: Congressional term limits, and a public servant's salary. First, if there were Congressional term limits you would find candidates seeking office who actually cared about meaningful and important legislation. Currently, too many of our lawmakers are in Congress for a career and serve lobbyists and special interest groups who fund their campaigns instead of serving their constituents. Second, as public servants, members of Congress should be paid a salary comparable to other public servants (e.g. police officers, firefighters, teachers, etc). Even if their salaries were higher than local public servants, it would still be far more reasonable for the job they are doing -- voting on legislation as representatives of citizens in districts around the country.
If you found yourself with bills higher than you could pay due to irresponsible spending, would you go to your employer and demand more money? Of course not. That makes no sense. So why would we let the government - our employees, don't forget - demand we pay them more as a result of their wasteful spending? They can do a better job with the money they have and they don't have to cut social services to do it. They threaten that first because they know the majority of people are against those cuts.
I can acknowledge that in certain circumstances a more liberal government is for the best and even necessary. I see the merits in it, again, for some circumstances. Government is never (yes, I'll say never) a good thing when it is one extreme or another. Point being, opposing higher taxes doesn't mean someone is also opposed to social services. I don't really understand why that is usually the assumption in across-the-aisle political discussions. It does mean, for me at least, that I'm opposed to forking over more money for our government to misuse (and I mean genuinely misuse) while We the People struggle to get by.
Whew, I'm starting to feel better. I hope this did offer some clarification since I know conservatives are often seen as judgmental, bigoted, and hateful. And while I know some of them may be, I do my best not to be any of those things and I'd like to be an example of a conservative who isn't. Rather, I hope that someone would say they know a conservative who is caring, compassionate, respectful, and reasonable. Even if they only know one.