Sam Wells contributes once more to our picture of what a “Christian economics” would look like – this time with some excellent insights regarding taxation. While the entire passage is a worthwhile read, he concludes with four key points regarding taxation:
(1) Taxation is not in principle a monstrous extortion. It is the price we pay for society.
(2) Taxation is the entry ticket into a civilized politics – one based on compromise and the understanding that no one will ever get exactly what they want.
(3) Christians have another currency: mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. Maybe we’ve been using the denarius so long that we’ve forgotten that we have an alternative currency.
(4) If you’re obsessed with how much tax Caesar’s taking away from you, you’re giving Caesar too much power over you.
The point is that true freedom does not equal freedom from taxation. True freedom is a freedom to flourish as human beings in society. But importantly, this type of economic theorizing is an attempt to build another type of economics, one that takes into account ethics and values and envisions what type of economy we can build so that it might coincide with these values. For example, a Christian economy is not fundamentally based on “Caesar’s” or “Washington’s” currency. Drawing from Catholic Social Teaching, we can add that an economy that reflections a Christian ethics will be in the service of human beings, the members of society, rather than having the workers be in service to the economy or economic growth.
These are worthwhile considerations for those who wish to build a more just economy, as well as those involved with Occupy Wall St. who are frustrated with the current global economy. This type of theorizing is important to enable us to articulate clearly what alternative it is that we hope to build.