Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 16, 2000
WCR Letters to the Editor
Flat tax editorial was off the mark
I have come to expect a well thought-out and insightful commentary from the WCR editorial column. But the Oct. 2 editorial, "The injustice of the flat tax," where the WCR attempted to disguise its ideological opposition to the so-called flat tax (or, more precisely, the single-rate tax) in theology is off the mark. Let's look at what I understand to be the theological basis of your disagreement with the single-rate tax.
Hmm, let's see . . . we should share the abundant resources with which we have been blessed, and . . . the modern welfare state of big government and heavy taxation has its foundation in Christianity, where the second principle supposedly follows from the first.
So let's call a spade a spade and look at the single-rate tax for what it is in this "dog-eat-dog" world we live in. Specifically, let's look at what it is about the single-rate that makes it so much worse than our present tax system.
How about the fact that low-income earners will no longer have to pay any income tax under the single-rate tax? Sounds uncharitable, doesn't it?
How about the fact that the single-rate tax stops making a single-income family with the same total income as a dual-income family pay any more tax than the latter, thereby putting an end to the traditional marriage penalty? Clearly unchristian.
What about the fact that the savings that tax lawyers are presently able to find us through loopholes will be much smaller, very likely sending these types (our modern-day tax collectors?) to more honourable work? May God bless their souls.
But there is worse ... the new tax system gives all of us, rich and poor alike, - hold on to your seat - a tax break! The end is definitely near.
Wait a second, you may object, that is not what the WCR argued. Okay, you are right. What is so contrary to Catholic social teaching, according to the WCR, is not that we are all left better off by the policy, but that the rich and the poor get substantially better tax breaks than middle-income earners.
Jesus, being the middle class suburbanite he was, would be overturning tables at Alberta Treasury were he present, physically speaking, in this province today.
I leave the WCR and its readers with one final question: Is envy part of modern Catholic social teaching? The last time I checked envy was a capital sin.
Flat tax not only unfairness
Re.: Oct. 2 editorial, "The injustice of the flat tax."
You say a flat tax is not fair. But how fair are our present federal government policies?
When low-income workers pay into Employment Insurance 12 months a year and never collect, while high-income seasonal workers collect large sums from EI, is that fair?
Say a 40-year-old has worked his or her way through high school and university and advanced in their field through long hours of dedicated service, to a wage of $70,000 a year, then loses more than 60 per cent of those hard-earned wages to taxes . . . is that fair?
Our grandchildren are inheriting approximately $600 billion of federal debt . . . is that fair?
There are many things in life that are not fair. For our Catholic newspaper to attack one party's untested tax policy, is that fair?
You quote theology. May I quote Scripture? If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Hmm, is that fair?
Liberals did battle tax
I was most impressed with your analysis of the unfairness and inequities within the Klein flat tax scheme. However, I must take issue with your comment that there has been no serious debate over the merits of the Klein flat tax.
During debate in the Legislative Assembly on Bill 18: The Alberta Personal Income Tax Act, the Official Opposition vigorously and repeatedly pointed out that the Klein flat tax erodes the progressive nature of the current tax system and redistributes the tax burden more heavily on middle-income Albertans.
In fact, Alberta Liberals noted that a graduated tax on income proposal, as implemented in other Canadian provinces, would help preserve the progressive elements of our tax regime, as well as providing middle-income Albertans with fair and equitable tax reductions.
I, along with my Alberta Liberal colleagues, presented a detailed criticism of the government's plan along with suggestions for change during nearly 18 hours of debate. Only Bill 11 received more time and attention in the Legislative Assembly.
Unfortunately, the Klein government refused to listen to our advice or the advice of a great many other Albertans regarding the inequity and unfairness of the flat tax.
Instead of listening to Albertans, the premier and his government decided to limit debate on the flat tax by imposing closure on its very own legislation. So much for caring and listening to Albertans.
Howard Sapers, MLA
Liberal Treasury Critic
Lynch discouraged political involvement
Re: John Lynch's session at Assembly 2000 as reported in the Sept. 25 WCR.
John Lynch owes Prime Minister Chretien an apology for judging his state of conversion. Jesus did not judge - he urged people to change their ways but he didn't judge them.
Lynch is quoted as saying "how we treat each other is the best way to follow Christ." Is Lynch following Christ when he treats a fellow Catholic in such a dismissive and callous manner?
Is such a generalization regarding Chretien's Christianity-in-office, respectful of the integrity, the dignity, the sincere effort and the unselfish service of another?
As leader of a democratic and pluralistic political party and prime minister of a country of many beliefs and cultures, Chretien is subject to many voices and must strive to achieve consensus and workable solutions to complex, multi-faceted issues.
Complete congruence between one's personal convictions and one's political actions is sometimes impossible.
Making moral decisions, in the political arena, is not always easy if one is to respect the voices of others.
In his session, Lynch encouraged Catholics to get involved politically. I agree. It's part of our vocation as Catholics to be part of the political process. I have done so myself.
However, his disrespect and unfair criticism and judgment of Chretien likely had the effect of discouraging political involvement.
Why is it that so many think politicians are fair game - that they can be belittled, that their level of Christianity can be judged, that they can be denigrated so easily?
Lynch went too far - to say that Mr. Chretien never has been able to follow Christ's teaching, while in public office is an affront to all Christians.
I expect to see a public apology in print in the WCR soon.
I also trust that Archbishop Collins will discourage his social justice people from judging others in all of their activities.
Pop spirituality provides opportunity
I enjoyed your article by Charles Moore about pop culture providing easy, non-committal religion-substitutes (WCR, Sept. 25).
While I agree for the most part with what he says in the article, including that pop culture's version of spirituality can become a substitute for legitimate religion in some cases, I have to say that I disagree with his implied assertion that providing a "religion-substitute" is their intent. I also do not agree that "pop-spirituality" is necessarily harmful.
From my perspective, adding spiritual content, however diluted or even misguided, into pop culture is most often a good thing. It gets people to think about deeper issues than sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. While that is not the same as teaching people the full revealed truths, I think it is a baby step in the right direction that should be encouraged to expand into richer expressions.
I don't think we should be condemning initial steps toward including some profound issues in the entertainment media's products. Instead, we should be encouraging them to include more and better issues, and to explore them in better ways.
We should also be using the inclusion of these issues in pop culture as a bridge between quasi-truth and revealed truth when dealing with those who use pop culture's attitudes as the reference point for how they view reality. St. Paul did the same thing while trying to move the Greeks to a true understanding of their "unnamed god."
The danger comes not from these questions being raised in humanistic or erroneous ways, but from us, if we don't reach out to those influenced by pop culture and present a compelling and profound answer to those questions.
I highly doubt that George Lucas proposed the Force as a substitute, non-committal religion. Unfortunately, there are some poor souls who might make it one. But perhaps their understanding and acceptance of the Force as a God-substitute might make it easier for them to eventually reach an understanding and acceptance of the true God. And that, I believe, is what George Lucas had in mind.
Trudeau changed our nation
During the past week TV broadcast an uninterrupted line of mourners filing passed the coffin of Pierre Trudeau. During his life many people were struck by his charisma. His excellence and qualities were articulated during the week and I'm sure his name will go down in history as a most brilliant prime minister.
In reviewing information from files during that era I find that Trudeau struck a decisive note at the very beginning of his career in public life.
As minister of justice he engineered extensive changes in the Criminal Code with respect to contraceptives, divorce, and abortion. Trudeau had introduced the issue of abortion into Parliament early in 1968 at a time when he was minister of justice.
After the summer election, Trudeau became prime minister and John Turner succeeded him as minister of justice, and became responsible for piloting the bill through Parliament.
The amendment to the Criminal Code, approved by the House of Commons in May 1969, making legalized abortion possible, is the worst legislation in the history of this country.
Many people still do not understand the full consequences of the 1969 legalization of abortion and its full meaning. They seemed unable to grasp the difference between legalizing abortion and legalizing lotteries, or divorce, or homosexuality.
In the early 1960s abortion was just beginning to come to people's attention, but there was a more hotly debated issue of legalizing contraceptives and widening grounds for divorce.
The divorce law was passed in the summer of 1967; contraceptives became legally available about the same time as abortions, in May 1969. There was much debate and arguments by those who wished to return to a sane tradition.
In looking back at those three bills - divorce, contraception and abortion - and examining the morality of the nation since, contraception was the main culprit as it encouraged the immorality of fornication.
What a legacy! Yes, Trudeau and others from his government have certainly changed our nation.