Blessed Are the Rich. Woe to the Poor

The Sunday gospel reading on November 7 was from Luke 6; Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor.” He also says “Woe to those who are rich.”

Many in Congress seem to have it backward.

They want to extend tax cuts to the richest two percent of Americans–to maintain, and perhaps increase, the growing inequality between that group and the rest of us. Did you know that the richest one percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from nine percent in 1976? Did you know that from 1980 to 2005, more than 80% of the total increase in U.S. incomes went to the richest one percent?

And did you know that even the rich would receive continuing tax breaks on the first $250,000 of their income–that’s a tax break of $61,000. So everyone is getting a tax break–except, of course, those too poor to pay taxes. What many in Congress–and its not just Republicans, although they are leading the charge–want to do is to give these rich folks continuing breaks amounting to $370,000.

Just think: if these rich folks–whom I think would not actually miss the money–shared that $309,000 (difference between $370,000 and $61,000) with the nation, it would amount to more than $800 billion over a decade. We could pay down the national debt quite a bit, and even manage to extend unemployment insurance to those still chronically out of work.

Who will guide us in these decisions? Tea parties? Politicians seeking favors from fat cats? Ideologues who never met a tax they did not want to cut or corporate welfare they dislike? Or Jesus and the Hebrew prophets (from whom Jesus drew inspiration)?

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