Onward, Christian Taxpayers

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Alabama's Republican governor, Bob Riley, has tied support for a $1.2 billion plan to raise taxes to Christian duty.

Interestingly, as this AP account makes clear, Riley's plan includes tax breaks for the poor:

"According to our Christian ethics, we're supposed to love God, love each other and help take care of the poor," he said. "It is immoral to charge somebody making $5,000 an income tax."

That sort of talk riles the head honcho at Alabama's chapter of the Christian Coalition, who retorted, "To give tax relief to the less fortunate is something we can all agree upon, but all families deserve tax relief."

Alabama is facing a $675 million deficit and Riley's plan has garnered support from places that organized Christian groups traditionally associate with godless heathens, including the largest state teachers union and the Democratic party.

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  1. fyodor,

    Yes.

    Luc,

    Tax relief in Canada?

  2. Ray,

    Hmmm. Pretty damn mild as eruptions go, I would say. So what has been said here that you consider the freaking out of fringe elements and intellectually vacant?

  3. Alabama is not taxed to death. Alabama’s problem is that its tax structure is too heavily dependent on sales taxes. When the economy goes sour, Alabama howls in other words. Which is of course why they suspended juries for civil trials last year, as well as the trials, because the revenue stream had been severely cut by the economic downturn. BTW, I am from Alabama.

  4. foyo

    It?s a non-story. That this post even exist proves my point.

    You tell me, what about this post is even slightly relevant?

  5. “You see, God is on my side! So you have to be in favor of what I’m doing, because otherwise you just aren’t a good Christian – which God will punish you for, of course!”

    God I just hope that doesn’t actually work. I can only hope that people are not sufficiently gullible and stupid to fall for such crap.

    If nothing else, the “poor” in the time of Jesus don’t exist in this country. “The poor” the Bible talked about aren’t people who can’t afford a 800 sqft house or a car – they were people who would likely litterally starve to death on the streets, if I recall correctly. If you think beggars and the homeless aren’t treated well now (and you probably ought to), we manage outright heavenly treatment in the US compared to their treatment under The Roman Empire.

    People who earn $5,000 a year (and who are these people, exactly? you can’t pay rent with that, so they must be homeless, too) would be pretty damn wealthy by Biblical standards. But then, that’s the kind of thing you get when you invest a single document with blind faith, no historical context, and seek to live your life accordingly (Constitutional jokes are predicted).

    But I don’t think even Riley believes this crap, nor do I much believe most of the politicians peddling their pious acts believe even a percentage of what they are saying, and they sure as hell don’t live in accordance with it.

    Oh, and by the way: I don’t recall the Bible saying anything about raising ANYONE’s taxes or giving special tax incentives and breaks to monopolistic utility companies, the lying rat bastard. But then again, it has been a long time sense I read it.

  6. “Since” I read it, damn it.

  7. Ray,

    Relevant to what, to you? Or to the issue of how a governor is trying to win support for a tax package by invoking Christian morality?

    If it’s the former, I can’t answer for you.

    If it’s the latter, well Nick seems to be pointing out the irony of the situation in which some of those who would normally invoke such ideas are against the package while those who normally revile such reasoning are with him. Which I’d say is interesting if not quite earth shattering. But interesting enough for a blog post anyway. You don’t think so?

    I don’t see any eruption of knee-jerk anti-God sentiments in the post. I suppose it’s entirely possible that Nick is tittering and sneering behind his keyboard, but it doesn’t come across that way, at least not to me.

    Of course, it would be ridiculous for me to be defending Nick’s post if that were the only reason for my response to you. But if that’s your only basis for this enormous and terrible hostility towards religion you see here, I suggest you look in the mirror before accusing anyone of overreacting and being a fringe element at the mere mention of God.

    Sheesh….

  8. http://www.census.gov/govs/statetax/02staxrank.html

    Here’s an interesting table that shows the ranking of the various states and their tax collections. Alabama ranks 26th, about a $1,000 per capita behind the leader, California (Texas and Florida are close 2nd and 3rd – without income taxes) and about $500 ahead of #50, South Dakota.

    Read it any way you want to. The way I see it, though, is the states considered to have a generally better business climate have higher taxes. Go figure.

  9. Shit. Got my columns mixed up and mixed gross collections and per capita. Never mind.

  10. We’re going in an awful lot of directions here. Governor Riley invoked religion because the largest group lobbying against him is the Christian Coalition, plain and simple.

    He’s trying to engage them at their level. How do you fight an opposition purporting to stand for Christian values, without talking about your own view of those values?

  11. At a conference last weekend for Alabama newspaper editors, one of the tax plan’s supporters said that it was a good thing that Alabama has such low taxes now, because that gives Alabama room to work. Other states, he said, are in bad financial shape but already have high taxes and so cannot raise taxes much more. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he’d just admitted that high taxes don’t solve fiscal problems.

  12. Funny how Riley says that giving to charity is a Christian duty but doesn’t mention the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Last time I checked I didn’t pay taxes voluntarily, and if I decided not to pay them I would quickly find myself in jail. So, if Riley wants to be Christian about this maybe he and the state should stop stealing our hard earned money.

  13. Kristopher,

    Your point would seem to beg the perennial (maybe even Biblical?) question, do two wrongs make a right?

    Still, I agree that it’s worth considering the context and that Riley may have been reacting to rather than merely initiating a God-based discourse. In fact, maybe this only made headlines for its man-bites-dog aspect…?

  14. martin and lucifer:

    The point is not only that the people benefitting most from the state’s activity are not paying for the benefits they receive. You are both mirror-imaging each other in assuming that the underclass is the main beneficiary of such ill-gotten gain.

    Martin, when the state intervenes to benefit someone at someone else’s expense, the main beneficiary is almost always the plutocracy. So making people pay for their own damned stuff generally benefits the little guy and hurts the rich parasite. The elite just use “progressive” packaging to sell it to the suckers.

    The Meat Inspection Act, despite the popular mythology of Upton Sinclair and “trustbuster” TR, was passed at the behest of the big meat packers as a means of cartelizing the industry. The main beneficiaries of subsidized roads are not the people who get to drive their SUV’s from the split level ranch to Wal-Mart, but the giant corporations that get to externalize the inefficiencies of large-scale distribution on the taxpayer. And I’ll bet ADM and Cargill had a lot more to do with passing the food stamp program than the powerful voting bloc of food stamp recipients.

    Every time you look, you’ll find it’s the same. Woody Guthrie’s picture may be on the box, but David Rockefeller is inside. The faux “progressivism” of the left is just as phony as the faux populism of the right. No matter the rhetoric they use to sell it, the beneficiaries are the same.

  15. foyo,

    New Alert, Stop The Presses!

    A backwater politician has used the G word in order to prop up his latest scheme, apparently in order to sway his bible belt constituents.

    Although this is a little used tactic by politicians in the history of man, it is still nonetheless dangerous.

    Freedom Fighters on both the Left and the Right have reacted accordingly by devoting forums, blogs and newsletters to announce this travesty of liberty – that a public offical would use religious terminology.

    On second thought foyo, you’re probably right. Everytime some pol somewhere makes even the most meaningless mention of God, people around here do not have a knee-jerk anti-religon reaction. Everyone is completely objective on the issue, and why, that story about Alabama, we would’ve been talking about their tax plan anyway, religiosity or not.

  16. Render unto Caeser, that which is….

    There are exactly 18 true christians living in the United States today. ‘Tis much harder to be amongst the 144,000 than you think. Hurry, hurry, we’re almost full, fool.

  17. Plutarck writes: “People who earn $5,000 a year (and who are these people, exactly? you can’t pay rent with that, so they must be homeless, too) would be pretty damn wealthy by Biblical standards.”

    Boy, that’s a good measure of a nation:

    “The United States of America, where the poorest are slightly better off than a Jerusalem pauper in the time of Herod.”

    Something to be proud of, that.

    Plutarck, you aren’t very well acquainted with actual conditions of poverty, are you?

  18. Ray,

    “A backwater politician” I.e., the governor of Alabama.

    “it is still nonetheless dangerous.” Of course, no one here has said that. A lot of us don’t think highly of the tactic, including you, who called it “shameful.”

    “that a public offical would use religious terminology” Of course that’s not the issue. The issue is that he’s saying it’s one’s Christian duty to vote the way he wants you to.

    “the most meaningless mention of God” I would imagine there’s plenty more meaningless mentions.

    “Everyone is completely objective on the issue” Yeah sure, everyone else is biased but you.

    “why, that story about Alabama, we would’ve been talking about their tax plan anyway” So did YOU turn the conversation to the tax plan?? No, you called people names when no one was even reacting the way you claimed. To wit, despite your prolific use of sarcasm and overstatement and straw man tactics, you still cannot point to anyone’s posts in this discussion that warranted your hypocritical bit of tirade.

  19. foyo,

    “that a public offical would use religious terminology” Of course that’s not the issue.”

    If Riley hadn’t entoned God, we would be having this conversation? You’re wrong again.

    Riley’s rhetoric is harmless, unless of course you genuinely fear that our government is going to slip into theocratic control anytime soon. America, with their big screen TV’s tuned to “Who wants to sleep with a rich guy” isn’t falling into an evangelical trap as far as I can see.

    We talk about demagoguery in general because class warfare and race baiting are divisive and dangerous but this focus on religion is simply so people like you can vent on your own prejudices.

    “you still cannot point to anyone’s posts”. . .

    To wit, the very first post was a religious joke, albeit a harmless one.

    Subsequent posts have been about the separation of church and state as if we were slipping into an evangelical theocracy.

    Your first post focused on the religious part of this issue.

    A couple of posts later, someone claims to have been converted to atheism because of remarks like Riley.

    And on and on, including the raison d’etre of this forum; if Riley hadn’t used religion, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    And “stupid” was used as an adjective in context to Lefty, so it wasn’t given as a name. And Lefty doesn’t exist so it doesn’t matter.

  20. foyo,

    Where are all of my straw men anyway? Do you actually know what the term means?

    Hypocritical tirade? This implies that I have spoken in a contradictory manner of have somehow exercised a double standard. Where did you read any hypocrisy in my posts?

  21. Ray: Your second post contains at least one straw person. Most of what you wirte after that is based on your own false premises. You are a hypocrite because you are wrongly accusing other posters of being reactionary so that you can go on your own knee-jerk tirade. (oh the poor persecuted christians, not even safe on a libertarian blog) It’s funny how one innocent, partly humorous, mention of christianity brings out the persecuted few to defend their religion against all the heathen.

  22. knee-jerk religionism or anti-religionism aside…

    i do get somewhat alarmed when the leader of this country (for whatever that’s worth) says things in public like “we’re all sinners” – because being a sinner in this particular worldview requires some form of punishment. that human beings are automatically fucked, as it were, just for being human beings is not a diagnosis of a problem, but the problem in the first place.

    it becomes a bit more alarming when you consider that the big three (christianity, judaism, islam) all have expiration dates attached to them – if people genuinely believe that their existence will be ended by an angry omnipotent being and his horde of monsters/demons/angels/what have you, what sort of effect does this have on their ethical reasoning? assuming he’s sincere – a trait i try not to automatically slap onto any politician – what does this mean for the boundaries of his behavior?

    at the same time, all is not lost. ashcroft belongs to a cult which is afraid of social dancing. that makes me feel a bit better.

    for what it’s worth i view religious and secular eschatology as a metaphor of the passing from the sphere of influence into the dustbin of history, rather than a forecasting of actual events. see warming, global or ragnarok for more details.

  23. Ray,

    x-ray has described well what pushed my own button. Out of Christian-like charity, I will now drop my sword. You win, if you like.

  24. x-ray,

    The preferred usage is “person of straw,” you flesh-ist bastard.

    Did you know that over 2 scarecrows are set on fire every year?

    OK, I’m done.

  25. thanks joe, I’ve struggled with the terminology ever since johnny cougar, uhhh mellen… never mind

  26. x-ray or fyodor or whatever your current name is:

    When Nancy Pelosi trots out a single black mother and bemoans the fact that she doesn?t qualify for a tax cut and therefore Right wingers are evil, that is dangerous rhetoric and should be discussed, critiqued etc.

    Every time a pol mentions his own version, view or whatever of the divine, unless he is trying to push that view into some kind of kind of legislation, who cares what his personal beliefs are.

    Riley?s intonation of God in context of his tax plan has nothing to do with religion, he simply threw some religious rhetoric into the mix to pander to his bible belt constituency. Thus this thread is much ado about nothing except people venting their own prejudices against Christianity.

    I?m not arguing for religion in public policy but against the irrational emotionalism that passes for objective thought around here.

    Also, you still have failed to grasp the actual meaning of straw man and your reason for calling me a hypocrite does not fit the definition of hypocrite.

  27. x-ray ne fyodor,

    You could prove me wrong by explaining that his tax plan is somehow biblical and then you might have a case where a public official was interpolating his religious beliefs into official policy.

    Otherwise you only have a not so different tax plan that is being sold to the locals via religious rhetoric. Big deal.

  28. i’m not fyodor, i swear it on a stack of a bibles.
    merriam webster: Main Entry: straw man
    Function: noun
    Date: 1896
    1 : a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted
    Main Entry: hyp?o?crite
    Pronunciation: ‘hi-p&-“krit
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English ypocrite, from Old French, from Late Latin hypocrita, from Greek hypokritEs actor, hypocrite, from hypokrinesthai
    Date: 13th century
    : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
    – hypocrite adjective

    now, please review the entire , comparing your hysterical posts and everything else anyone said. i rest my case

  29. the words Ray and thread were missing from that post

  30. x-ray ne fyodor,

    Quoting myself:

    ?Riley?s intonation of God in context of his tax plan has nothing to do with religion, he simply threw some religious rhetoric into the mix to pander to his bible belt constituency. Thus this thread is much ado about nothing except people venting their own prejudices against Christianity.?

    Show me the straw man.

    As I?ve said nothing of my own religiosity or virtue, show me my hypocrisy.

  31. I prefer the Oxford American but the Merriam-Webster is free online:

    Main Entry: 1ir?ra?tio?nal
    Pronunciation: i-‘ra-sh(&-)n&l, “i(r)-
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Latin irrationalis, from in- + rationalis rational
    Date: 14th century
    : not rational: as a (1) : not endowed with reason or understanding (2) : lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence b : not go

    If Ashcroft or Bush ever actually implement their religious beliefs into official policy, I’ll be the first to throw a fit. As it is however, irrational people like yourself condemn a person for their beliefs alone, regardless of their propensity, perceived or real, to cloud their view of their own public duty.

  32. “The mere mention of a Christian God and the fringe elements freak out as if Torquemada is still a fresh memory.

    ?Just the other day I was busy being oppressed by the authoritarian Christian hegemony in my community and I thought ?If I only had the freedom to . . .?

    Did you write that Ray? Where is the freak out, above that post?

  33. That this thead even exists x-rayodor.

    If Riley were attempting to interject his religion into the tax policy than all of this would have a point but of course, as even you know, his was empty rhetoric. And thus we have this thread for everyone to vent their prejudices.

    Past this point I’ll only be repeating myself so unless you can produce an actual straw man I’ve constructed or any hypocrisy on my part, I’ll leave you to your venting.

  34. You win, Ray. Mr Gillespie’s post was absolutely dripping with freakishly elemental hatred. I stand corrected. Note to self: stick to politics when chatting with Ray.

  35. Ray: since I’ve had a couple of beers and a fattie, I’ll just thank you for the chuckle I got when I read your first post about Lefty. Since I consider left wing doctrine as amusing as christian doctrine, your interpretation of Matthew 7:1 is truly… touching.
    No hard feelings.

  36. Reminds me of the joke:

    Why did God invent Catholics?

    Someone has to pay retail.

  37. I’m a resident of Alabama and have been writing extensively on Ammendment 1 (as the tax and accountability plan will appear on the ballot) at http://theworldaroundyou.com.

    There is a lot more than just a tax increase in this plan and the Governor is trying a variety of tactics to get his message across.

  38. What I want to know is where are the traditional left-wing backers of separation of church and state? Normally, they wouldn’t sit back for such a blatant mixing of religion and politics. Oh, wait: This is religion invoked for the cause of raising taxes. It’s so clear to me now.

    Seriously, however, Riley seems to have abandoned using religion as a justification for his tax hike. Instead, his new ad campaign refuses to refer to tax increases at all, instead billing it all as a “reform package.” (Everyone in Alabama knows that the “reforms” will be undone in short order, while the new taxes will remain.)

    And it’s unclear if the poor really will get a break. Like everyone else, they will be socked with new excise fees on everything from autos to oil changes. And while their property taxes are supposed to go down, the effect of that will be undermined by Riley’s recently mandated round of property revaluations. (Riley is also counting the Bush tax cuts when he says that the total tax bill of most Alabamians will go down.) The only people sure to come out ahead under Riley’s plan are at Alabama Power, the utility monopoly that has long been one of Riley’s major backers.

    But here in Alabama, we’re getting nothing but a constant stream of propaganda in favor of Riley’s proposals, helped by major conflicts of interest, like, for example, the fact that The Birmingham News’ point man on its tax coverage is a member of a group that supports the plan.

  39. If people, especially officials with power, believe that some day they will have to answer to a higher authority, one that is beyond any human control, it benefits us all. Imagine what they would feel free to do, if they feared judgement only by humans. However, it still depends on what they make themselves believe to be right and wrong. It is made worse, if they fancy themselves to be the arbiter of that higher authority’s tenets.

  40. Let’s see. Alabama needs to pay its bills. It can raise some revenue by raising taxes. No, that’s not it. Alabamans are already taxed to death.

    Or, it can hack some more fat out of their bloated state government. Yeah, that’s it. Their schools, roads, jails and hospitals are already overfunded.

    Believe it or don’t.

  41. Lefty, you are aware, of course, that Alabama has more community colleges (and more duplication of programs) per student than almost anywhere in the country, right?

  42. Lefty,

    Schools would have PLENTY of funding if spending were controlled by people with a rational reason to use the money economically. I never thought I’d quote Milton Friedman, but when you spend other people’s money on other people, as opposed to your own money on yourself, it’s not much of an incentive to be efficient. Especially when the “other people” are a captive revenue source who can’t take their business elsewhere and allow you to fail as a result of your incompetence.

    Jails are WAY overfunded. Just release the half of inmates who are in there for stuff that shouldn’t even be crimes.

    And roads should be paid for, not from general revenues, but by user fees based on who imposes the most cost to the system.

    As for taxes, I believe that cuts should be done from the bottom up, because the state’s activities have been designed mainly to benefit the people at the top. Every penny of savings should go into increasing the personal exemption.

  43. According to Santa Barbara CA state senator Tom McClintock this morning (on AM 920 KVEC) Californians pay $270,000 a year per classroom. Per classroom. Where is that money going? Certainly not to each classroom.

    Schools are overfunded – they’re just mismanaged as well.

  44. martin,

    Didn’t you just contradict yourself?

    Yea, the value of invoking religion to back a particular public policy program is consistently dubious at very very best. At what level of income would tax relief become moral for a good Christian? Obviously, there would be as many answers as good (heh-heh) Christians….

  45. Lefty doesn’t exist. It is someone trying to stir the pot because no one is that stupid.

  46. Let’s see, the fairest tax system would be a 100% pay-per-use system, wouldn’t it? Not only for road use, for everything. After all, if you buy something you have to pay for it too. If you have children in school, you pay for the courses each child takes etc. After all, you have to do the same for college. School not run economically? Take your business elsewhere. Can’t afford it?Don’t send the kids to school.
    If you get caught speeding, you not only pay the ticket, you also pay for the officer’s time, use of equipment, etc. If you decide to contest the ticket, you pay court cost, the judge, the clerk and so on. After all, if you go to the hospital, you have to pay too. Payment plans available, credit cards cheerfully accepted. No money to pay up? Do paid community service. Jailbirds are charged a daily fee to cover the cost. Jail not run efficiently? Take your business…..,hmm, needs to be worked out. Maybe a free market in jails would work.

    That might leave the politicians high and dry though. How are we gonna assess the time they spend on one person’s business? To begin, lobbyists could be billed for the time a legislator and staff spend on their business. Could be a fee structure like a law firm. So many pages read and written, so many copies, time on the phone in 10 minute increments etc. Lots of possibilities here.
    Too poor to pay for any of it? Get more ambitious and you will be better off!

    Sound silly? Not too much in a society where too many people seem to worry a lot about the other guy getting too many services and paying to little for them in taxes.

  47. Sorry, I’m still trying to get over the concept of coming to Canada for tax relief. I mean, really, are you ALL stoned?

  48. Statements like Riley’s are part of the reason I became an atheist.

  49. The more I think about my little scheme, the better I like it.
    What if a politician can’t make enough money that way? Why, go out of business, of course. LOL

    Aw, heck, they’re just gonna pass a law and make us all pay!

  50. “That sort of talk riles the head honcho at Alabama’s chapter of the Christian Coalition, who retorted, “To give tax relief to the less fortunate is something we can all agree upon, but all families deserve tax relief.””

    Yeah, I remember that part from the Bible, where Jesus was prevented from healing a leper because there was a rich man with a paper cut who needed some healing and demanded fairness.

  51. If you people were serious about devolving federal power to the states, you’d realize that raising state taxes is part of the process. That’s why the governor gets to count the Bush tax cuts.

    But, of course, you’re not.

  52. The mere mention of a Christian God and the fringe elements freak out as if Torquemada is still a fresh memory.

    ?Just the other day I was busy being oppressed by the authoritarian Christian hegemony in my community and I thought ?If I only had the freedom to . . .?

    This guy?s use of religious terminology is shameful but the knee-jerk anti-God reaction such instances like this always draw is simply ridiculous. The hue and cry that erupts every time some two bit pol uses a divine reference is an intellectually vacant stance. If Christians had half of the zeal as their anti-God counterparts we?d all be converted by now.

  53. You idiots. I told you to give away all of your wealth to the poor and follow me. Unless you’re giving 100%, you shouldn’t bother calling yourself a christian. As a bonus, if you give 100% of your income to charity, you won’t have to pay any income taxes.

  54. Ray,

    Just curious, are you refering to posters here, or what?

  55. politics, religion… most people treat them as one and the same. Which is most of the problem.

  56. Uh, Rick? Render unto Caeser, et al. Taxation is not theft under any conceivable Christian doctrine.

    But this does clear one thing up: Riley is making the same mistake libertarians make. To wit, believing that a few ticks in tax rates one way or the other is a great moral concern, rather than a policy issue to be debated on pragmatic grounds. Although, to be fair, an appeal to end the suffering of the poor does have more moral substance than an appeal to let upper income people afford the leather seats instead of having to settle for cloth.

  57. So we can kill the poor on moral grounds then since it ends their suffering.

    Thanks uday, I mean joe.

  58. ray: is the desire to stop gay marriage rooted in politics, religion or both? can you actually separate the religious opposition to homosexuality as a whole from this sort of policy?

    i don’t think it’s bigotry to point out that the western tradtion has certain traits which, to an outsider like myself, seem worrisome any more than it would be bigotry to wonder about the tendencies of a zealous environmentalist in formulating policy. both worldviews share the notion that there is an end to this world, that it is coming, and that the only hope in getting out of it even remotely successfully is in doing exactly what you’re told to by the people who know best.

    mr. bush may feel he’s a sinner. and that’s fine. but declaring the rest of us sinners is not. political rhetoric or not.

  59. Ray, X-Ray, Foyodor et al.,

    Not trying to intrude on your blog flame war, but it seems to me a libertarian-oriented website might find it relevent to discuss any instances when a politician uses flimsy reasoning to justify increasing taxes or state power. Shouldn’t matter whether it’s religion or secular reasoning. I don’t think anyone here has suggested that the governor is violating Sep of church and state by making these comments. (That’s a straw man located in at least one or two anti-anti-christian oriented postings above). Further I think I could agree that he’s merely trying to win the support of a large Christian voting block and that his statements are fairly harmless in-and-of themselves. Nonetheless, what we have here is an example of a POLITICIAN USING FLIMSY REASONING TO SUPPORT A TAX INCREASE. Libertarians, athiestic or religious, should be bothered by this. Yeah, there’s been a few sarcastic anti-religous comments made, but the bulk of postings seem to be related to the relavent issue here. So shut up already, unless you’ve got something useful to add.

  60. Jon H,

    I think that Plutark is familiar with the conditions of poverty, that is why he made his remarks. Very few people in America are truly poor, by world or historical standards. Maybe the only ones who really fit this bill are the homeless, most of whom are mentally ill or addicted to drugs. It is a debatable issue about what to do with these people, but they hardly represent the typical low income American.

    The poor in our country live better than most of the world’s people. Even in the poorest households, you will find non-dirt floors, non-thatched grass roofs, electrictiy, heat in the winter, running water that is reasonably safe to drink, indoor plumbing, and refrigeration to keep food safe from rot. You will probably also find a TV set, and maybe even cable and/or a VCR. The poor often have limited access to health care, due to not having insurance, but I bet they’ve got way better access to it than most people in the developing world. They all get a free state financed education, even if it’s not the greatest education possible. Starvation is virtually non-existent: recent studies have shown that the poorest Americans, if anything, consume too many calories and are more likely to be overweight.

    I think this is a really good measure of our nation. We’re not doing too bad on this issue.

  61. “Riley’s plan has garnered support from… the largest state teachers union and the Democratic party.”

    Gee, Whata shock. Republicans in Alabama should know their govenor is way off course when the Dems and teachers union are going for it. I’m not a believer but what about the idea that taxation is theft so there is nothing Christian at all in raising taxes. In a land of church-state seperation, religion used properly should be a countervailing force against the state.

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