I appreciate Jason’s thoughts (as always). He is always very thoughtful and thought-provoking. I think some clarifications on my part will (hopefully!) result in showing that we have more common ground in politics than is currently visible.
First of all, what did I mean when I said “cut spending?” First of all, what I meant was pork-barrel spending. Special projects that the government really shouldn’t be involved in, like all of these earmarked for 2008.
That’s a lot of money to be spending in a bad economy that has no relevance to the government of this country and the necessary infrastructures.
As to programs that benefit the poor, now is not really the time to address such issues, in my opinion. They should rather be addressed when the economy is on sounder footing.
That being said, it is very questionable whether such programs benefit the poor in the long run. Everyone should be able to admit that Social Security and welfare benefit the poor in the short run. However, welfare comes with the inherent temptation to avoid seeking work, and simply to filch off the rest of the incomes of America. This kind of thing is far better done by the churches (which have really dropped the ball on this one, in my opinion), which can also keep welfare recipients accountable to turn them around (when possible) to becoming profitable members of society. At the present rate, it is quite easy simply to live on welfare one’s whole life while being perfectly able-bodied. This should not be the case.
That being said, I do not think that the military should be in Iraq. I used to think that Bush had done a good thing, but now I am on the other side of the issue. The reason is that America simply cannot be the world’s police force. We need rather to concentrate on our own borders, which will be just as effective at keeping out terrorism, and much cheaper as well. If we don’t have to be the world’s police force, then the military will not need so much money either, while still being able to be the best of the best (which is still the best deterrent to invasion).
When I say that the church needs to speak prophetically, I admit that I was not clear as what aspects of the government need to be clearly critiqued. However, over-taxation is a no-brainer. The government currently requires more of our income than a tithe. Is the government more important than God? I have a hard time believing that, for some strange reason. God requires no set amount (not even 10%, although I think that is a good goal, or even starting point), although He did in the Old Testament. However, 10% is a generally recognized amount as corresponding to good stewardship. If the government needs more than that, then they are simply doing too much. The government is not the salvation of people. Neither is it the answer to our societal ills.
My question for Jason is this: when we see government not only allowing, but encouraging the murder of millions of innocent lives in abortion, are we supposed to retreat behind our Word and Sacrament, and not excoriate the government for such tyranny? What would Isaiah have said? What would Jeremiah have said? Of course, I realize that our government is secular. However, all the Old Testament prophets railed against secular governments almost as much as against their own governments. I think Jason is more than competent to speak out against the murder of the unborn.