June 11, 2003 -- One Republican is finally making moral arguments to support his tax policies. Unfortunately, they’re the wrong arguments and the wrong policies. Alabama’s Governor Bob Riley has just shepherded through the state legislature the largest tax hike in the state’s history, justifying a greater tax burden on the prosperous on the religious grounds summed up in the slogan “What would Jesus do?”

Alabama’s tax code—like most other state codes—is complex and needs changes. But approaching reform from the wrong moral premises guarantees immoral results. For example, Adam Cohen in a New York Times editorial supporting the tax hike notes that “Christians are prohibited from oppressing the poor.” So it’s “oppression” if an individual creates wealth and fails to hand over enough of it to others? Of course, without the creators, for example, of logging companies in Alabama, there would be no timber industry jobs for Alabama citizens or for employees of stores and other enterprises that serve them.

Collectivism—from the Left or the Right—maintains that individuals who create wealth can only retain it with the permission of those who did not create it. Individualism maintains that if you earn it, it’s yours, and you need answer to no one but yourself.
For those like Governor Riley who believe in the Biblical decree that Christians “take care of the least among us,” private charity at least does not punish the productive. A tax collector with a government gun does.

spiderID=207

Edward Hudgins

About The Author:

Edward Hudgins is the former director of advocacy for The Atlas Society, the author of numerous Atlas Society commentaries, and the editor of several books on politics and government policy. He is now research director for the Heartland Institute. He has also worked at the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

Donate to The Atlas Society

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please consider making a donation. Our digital channels garner over 1 million views per year. Your contribution will help us to achieve and maintain this impact.

× Close Window
Anthem Slider

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive the most recent news and articles directly to your inbox.