The Moral Conundrum of Tax Expenditures

Recently I attended a seminar on addressing the lack of savings among the poor and policy proposals that might counteract that lack of savings. The first part of the discussion focused on policies that try to harness the power of incentives to help low-income individuals create long-term economic prosperity and a buffer against risk.

The second part of the seminar, in connection with the concept of savings incentives, focused almost entirely on the tax expenditures that the federal government “spends” in the tax code that primarily benefit the wealthy—the top .1% of the income distribution, whose incomes top $400,000 per year. The point: we “spend” more on programs on the rich than we do on tax transfers to help the poor save.

I don’t know what the ideal tax rate for the rich is to benefit everyone, and those who claim they do have much more than the “efficiency vs equality” debate in mind. Intrinsic in a tax debate is a set of moral values that weigh individual liberty, social goals, aiding the poor, combating corruption at all levels, and incentivizing the self-esteem that comes with economic independence and work.

Continue reading “The Moral Conundrum of Tax Expenditures”

The Woman with the Issue of Blood, the Law, and Modern Healing, Part 1

The Issue of Change in “The Church”

In the past few years, the online Mormon community has been abuzz with calls for more inclusiveness in the church. “Big tent Mormonism,” as it is being called, is becoming a talking point in some circles, while others stand wary of the extent to which the phrase and concept can be abused. There are so many ways in which we as a people are striving to become more culturally inviting and less insular.

However, taken to a quite plausible (not-so) extreme, calls for doctrinal change in addition to cultural shifts may not be far off. We as a body of saints do have good reason to be wary of politicized catch phrases. Quite common in this conversation and well within the realms of the Bloggernacle is a call for “The Church” (I put this in quotes for a reason) to stop mistreating members of such-and-such a group. When Church leaders say things like “There is room for you here,” there is often a cough coming from the back of the internet room saying, “Unless you’re ____.” Within this blank space, critics affix several classifications such as gay, female, black, unconventional, etc.

The Issue of “The Church”

“The Church” is made up of what I see as three distinct components: 1) Doctrines and ordinances of salvation administered by Christ’s Priesthood authority; 2) Prophetic leadership and revelation with Christ ultimately at the helm, including authority passed through Priesthood keys to local leaders; 3) Individual members and their families working out their own salvation through Christ. When anyone issues a call for “The Church” to do X, in order for me to feel that I can truly agree with the sentiment, I need to know what they mean by “The Church.”

Continue reading “The Woman with the Issue of Blood, the Law, and Modern Healing, Part 1”