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SPREADING THE WEALTH PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Jordal   
Friday, 05 December 2008

SPREADING THE WEALTH

By Jim Jordal

The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and live as foreigners with me. In all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption for the land.  If your brother becomes poor, and sells some of his possessions, then his kinsman who is next to him shall come, and redeem that which his brother has sold. If a man has no one to redeem it, and he becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it; then let him reckon the years since the sale of it, and restore the surplus to the man to whom he sold it; and he shall return to his property. But if he isn't able to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hand of him who has bought it until the Year of Jubilee: and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property.

Leviticus 25:23-28 (WEB)

This Bible passage is part of God’s Jubilee provision for a prosperous and free people living under the Rule of Law and by the wisdom of God. This particular portion settles the question of who should have access to wealth by assigning land (which was then the major productive resource, or way of earning money) to all families. Should anyone through misfortune or bad management lose access to the land, it could be redeemed back by the original owner or any relatives, or would revert back to them at Jubilee, or every fiftieth year. Thus permanent access to wealth and income was provided for every family.

Remember that it’s the principle that matters, not the specific provision. God intended that to secure an egalitarian and prosperous community all citizens should have access to a method of producing their own wealth, and should be protected against permanent loss of this ability.

You’ve heard it ad nauseum during the recent political campaign: "My opponent will share the wealth by raising your taxes, while I promise to allow you to keep what is yours by opposing any tax increases." It’s as if tax increases are inherently sinful, and tax cuts always good. But, as Paul Harvey says, "There’s more to the story."

Classical economic theory assigns wealth to those best able to sell their skills in the marketplace, or to in some way manipulate the market in their favor. They become wealthy while others remain at a disadvantage since what they have to offer is for some reason not valued by the market. But once they achieve financial success, persons of wealth usually attempt to preserve their nest egg by using whatever power they have to ensure that government initiates and maintains policies allowing them to keep their fortunes. Thus we have special-interest groups advocating against the inheritance (death) tax, progressive income taxes, social welfare legislation, and any other policies serving to transfer wealth from the rich downward to those less fortunate.

Taxes are not just for the economic purpose of raising money—they also have several important social purposes. One is to encourage certain activities beneficial to the nation and to discourage those less beneficial. Thus we give tax benefits to families who own their homes (tax deductions for interest on home mortgages), and businesses initiating various protections for their employees. But if this is so, why then do we also give tax breaks to corporations exporting jobs to India, or polluting air and water sources? Obviously it’s because they have enough political influence to gain passage of tax laws favorable to them even though the outcomes might be very damaging to the nation as a whole.

Another purpose of taxation is to share the costs of government so that all pay at least a fair share. This value of course breaks down when you see a poor family of nine children receiving free public education for which they pay a pittance in taxes. But we never consider the mego-rich who also pay a small percentages of their wealth but who prosper mightily from their use of educated workers, public highways to transport their goods, police to protect their wealth, and courts to decide issues in their favor. So who benefits most from government, and who should share a portion of someone else’s wealth.

Last Updated ( Friday, 05 December 2008 )