Monday, October 22, 2012

Taxes, Trust, Generosity, & Simplicity

Taxes. These California props we have to vote on in a few weeks that will result in having to pitch in via more taxes from a variety of directions are challenging, when so many really have nothing to spare. Do I have enough? Yes, in the simplest sense. Are my needs met? Day by day. Can I spare more to help out for the greater good? Probably, and I do want to be generous as I follow Christ.

Then there is the other side...can we as a state and a country get to a place where trust is restored in our leaders and the choices they make with our limited financial and natural resources? The citizen's well is running dry. We cannot keep digging deeper into our empty pockets. My health care went up $100 a month this year, so we've already been pinched. Our local school district needs a bond approved to borrow $55 million, which will impact property tax for how many years? We don't have kids, so we did not take advantage of the tax-funded local schools. But I am happy to say the kids in my neighborhood did get an education, for which I am happy to have contributed. But what do we do when they need money the next time?

If we refuse to pay more in taxes with our votes because we don't trust leaders or just because we cannot make ends meet now, what are the consequences of that? Do our roads and bridges and school buildings collapse or does government spending slow down and we struggle to get to where we can live within our means -- and do with less as a state? All that to say, I'm a little short on insight and answers right now. God help us. Tough lessons ahead. More of them.

Besides all that, balancing a government budget at the state level or the federal level cannot be truly paralleled to balancing a family budget. So that leaves me out of pretending to understand the intricacies of it all at those levels. Well, I guess I'll just go shopping, and support our consumer economy. Ha! That's the big problem, too.

With a consumer based economy, if we live within our means and back off on shopping/consuming, our economy will be hurt. Consumer debt is a huge burden in the US. Living within my means is a great, practical, and rewarding idea. But not for the US economy. Neither candidate has directly spelled that out for me as they talk about the economy and jobs. If we have to buy to survive or thrive as a national economy, then what? I'd love to hear more about shifting the economy to a more stable foundation, but I don't know what that would be. Someone would have to sell me on the ideas. Ha. Sell. There's that consumer concept again.

So the tensions...taxes and trust...generosity with others and living within your simply in a consumer-driven economy. These are a balancing act. Learning to live without this or that keeps me learning to live within my means. Generous simplicity looks so different from the inside. Again, I don't know what to do when asked to pay more in various taxes to support critical needs in a time of obvious waste. Sigh. Time to go make a cup of tea and relax. Tea...reminds me of the Boston Tea Party, another historic moment in non-compliance with taxation. I guess these problems are not original to us.

1 comment:

Mrs. Coral Kenagy said...

How could I have missed these recent entries? I must now subscribe to your blog because I love all that you share just that much.

The tension is thick. Your questions are hard. The choices are tough. The lessons even more so.

One point that stood out- balancing a federal/state budget not being like a personal budget... I don't agree (completely). For me, it boils down to this: either you have it or you don't. Debt is not an option. Debt is anti-Scripture and at the base level it is just bad. Alas, I do not have that level clearance or experience either. :-) So, really, what do I know.