Archive for October, 2010

Why a Flat Tax Would Be Better.

22 Oct

This is the first of a 3 part series on taxes.

1. Flat Tax

2. Fair Tax

3. Basic Economics and the Laffer Curve

Flat Tax

Today in America we have a progressive tax system. The greater your income, the greater percent of your money goes to the government.

One rate to rule them all.
Google was in the news yesterday when it was discovered the company pays only 2.4% income tax.

As it works out, almost half of Americans pay no taxes and the wealthy can afford lobbyists to influence legislators to create tax loopholes and accountants to utilize them. The tax rates are so prohibitively high, it’s worth the extra cost of paying lobbyists, attorneys and accountants to figure out a way around them. If businesses and individuals didn’t have deductions and credits, businesses would shut down and people wouldn’t have enough money. We’ve created a tax system that’s unrealistic.

A flat tax means one tax bracket for everyone. The US government would make the same amount of tax revenue if everyone and every business paid 13% income tax. That’s about equivalent to rate that applies to the poorest Americans who pay taxes.

Almost no deductions or credits.
The only way for one tax rate to work is to get rid of all of the “loopholes,” or tax break incentives.
Deductions and credits are used to provide incentives to manipulate people into certain behavior. We want people to be homeowners, so we reward them and renters have higher income taxes as we punish them for renting. We want people off cigarettes, so we smokers pay higher taxes. The government rewards people monetarily for behavior that the politicians-in-power like, and punishes people monetarily for behavior the politicians-in-power don’t like.

The theory is that taxes should be used to provide government with the money it needs to fulfill it’s constitutional responsibilities. Taxes should not be used as a reward and punishment system to manipulate choices of the citizens.

The resistance, of course, is that we like our tax deductions and tax credits. If this is an argument it simply reveals that it is not just those on welfare who are dependent on the government. It means we are if we’d avoid a more just system because we want to chase after government financial rewards for good behavior.

The 13% rate includes deductions for mortgage, rent (so renters don’t have a heavier tax burden than owners), and not much else. The system also includes help for poor Americans.

Benefits of a flat tax
A flat tax would mean everyone would have ownership of government. We  would not be dependent on the government dole to give us back our tax dollars, we’d all pay something, relative to our income. A sense of ownership would do wonders for the half the country that doesn’t pay taxes today.

The IRS could all but shut-down. Payroll costs go down. Americans would save millions of hours and dollars preparing their taxes. How difficult would it be to calculate 13% of your income?  The tax form becomes a half-page worksheet.

The greater your income, the more dollars you send to the government. The lesser your income, the fewer dollars you send. How straightforward! At the same time, it would help us back away from the class warfare language that the Obama administration has been pushing. We’re supposed to hate the rich (arbitrarily defined as those who make over $250K), and love the poor (arbitrarily defined as another income bracket).  Why? If the poor have money, they have the ability to use what they have to move up through income brackets. If rich people have money they tend to invest it in companies that hire people at lower income levels, which is job creation.


Posted in Politics


About the open letters about Planned Parenthood funding.

21 Oct

I recently posted open letters to Kohl’s and Staples asking if they support Planned Parenthood. Kohl’s replied that they do not, and I’m still waiting to hear back from Staples.

What is my purpose in writing these letters and figuring out if these large companies where I spend money are financial-backers of abortion?

It’s an interesting struggle, figuring this out, and I’d love any thoughts you have to contribute to a discussion of this kind.

What’s the point of me writing to Kohl’s (who confirmed within 1 business day that they do not donate to Planned Parenthood)? If a clothing store supports Planned Parenthood, I may be able to buy the same clothes from another source. I can’t, however, go without pants altogether. That would be showing the world something, but it wouldn’t be showing them Jesus.

Am I responsible for what Kohl’s, Staples, or other companies do with their money? To answer this, I think about Jesus’ command that the people of Israel pay their taxes, and this money was used to oppress them as well as wage war against others. Jesus didn’t put the responsibility for Rome’s crimes on the people paying taxes. There is no indication that Jesus thought that by paying their taxes they were guilty of Rome’s crimes.The responsibility of the people was to be law-abiding citizens, and to live at peace with all people as far as it was up to them.

So what is our personal responsibility today? The direct application is that we should pay our taxes as required bylaw. A more general principle about money is that we are supposed to be good stewards. Unlike taxes, buying products is not required by law, it it discretionary. (Except for healthcare under the Obama-Pelosi-Reid plan.) That is, while we need clothes, we aren’t obligated by law to buy our clothes from a specific store. Every dollar spent is a vote in favor of who you’re giving the money to.

For a long time I avoided WalMart because of horrible customer service. I avoid Casa Bonita because the food is awful. I avoided The Sharper Image because it was expensive. I walk out of movies and get my money back if it’s overly obscene (Anchorman, Super Bad), a mockery of the very book it’s supposed to based on (The Runaway Jury) or a comedy that’s not funny at all (Napoleon Dynamite). These are all understandable, and I’m adding another category to this list: stores I’ll avoid because of what they do with their profits.

My goal isn’t to start a boycott to shut a place down or put people out of work. My goal is to take the personal responsibility that is given me in being a good steward of the money which God has put me in stewardship.

Do I bear personal responsibility for what someone else does once I give them my money? No. But I do bear responsibility for giving it to them in the first place. Why give my money to a place that supports crimes against humanity when there’s another option?

I’m willing to go to one store over another to save $5. But am I willing to spend the $5 extra if that less of the money that leaves my stewardship is then used for evil? Is $5 worth more than a human life? (Certainly of the $5, perhaps a few cents will be used as a donation to Planned Parenthood and pays for a tiny fraction of an abortion. But by going down this road, we’re making an argument that supporting a certain percent of evil is fine, or else you’ll end up calculating a price tag on a human life. I don’t think that following that logic will lead us to a good place. I think it’s safer to base the argument on good stewardship.)

Would you buy coffee from Al Qaida if it were cheaper than Starbucks? Hopefully you answer “No, because I’d be sponsoring evil just to save a few dollars on a latte.”  I’m proposing that this is the same reasoning we should be using whenever we spend the money under our stewardship.

An investor takes someone else’s money and invests in companies. Good investors will research what they’re investing in to make sure it’s worthwhile. They do their research before investing. And while the investor isn’t responsible for a CEOs decisions, they are constantly watching these companies and the people who lead them to make sure it’s still a good way to invest this money that others have put under their stewardship.

Why would we consider stewardship of God’s stuff less important than an investor’s stewardship other people’s investment funds?

I’m not arguing for making your own clothes from cotton grown in your backyard to avoid the chance of some of someone else being a bad steward. I’m not arguing that you bear personal responsibility for what Microsoft or Starbucks, Mardel’s or Chik-fil-a does with their profits. Perhaps in the future I will make those arguments as I explore these issues, but today I am simply arguing the following:

It is worth the time to learn about where you’re investing God’s money, and choose the options that contribute least to evil according to the information you are able to obtain.


Bambi’s mother: Materialism’s moral self-defeat

20 Oct

Bambi's Mother

I was recently speaking to someone about materialism, and I was curious as to how someone who believed only in the natural realm would argue morality.

Evil is that which a good person would stop if they could.

This naturally begs the question: If evil is solely determined as being the opposite of what a good person wants, then what is a good person? An example was given to disprove the existence of a good God.

If Bambi’s mother dies a slow and painful death, that’s something a good person would stop if they could. Therefore, that’s evil and if someone had the power to stop this and they were good, they would stop it. An all powerful God could stop it, but doesn’t, therefore, there is no morally good all-powerful God.

There are many fallacies in this example, but perhaps one will suffice. Materialism rejects God because God would stop that which is morally evil. Having removed the concept of God, the naturalist has also removed the concept of good and evil. In removing the God of the Bible, they have removed that which justified their question the God of the Bible.

In the perspective of materialistic evolution, the natural is all that exists. Some atoms banging together became rocks, and other atoms over time, became Bambi’s mother. There’s no moral superiority of Bambi’s mother. She’s just an accident of nature and though prettier than a rock, has no moral superiority over the rock. In the materialistic world, how is a deer morally superior to a deer’s corpse? Certainly the deer feeds Bambi, but the deer’s corpse feeds the entire forest with nutrients. From the perspective of the naturalist, then, the illustration is that a blob of matter changes due to the world around it. There’s no moral evil there.

“But,” one may object, “the question isn’t just about death, but about agony and pain.”

Yet the same naturalist will argue that pain, like pleasure, is merely the cause and effect of matter and energy bouncing around. Again there is no morality there. The real “evil” is that the deer evolved an ability to feel pain.

Or perhaps the real “evil” is that blobs of matter we call humans evolved a sense of compassion for the pain of other blobs of matter.

While the materialist may say a Christian’s worldview has to deal with the problem of evil, the materialist’s worldview has to deal with the problem of not being able to explain either evil or good.

In other words, the materialist says that human suffering is evil and disproves any moral deity, but they will say in the next sentence that humans are inconsequential byproducts of the evolutionary process and are nothing more than small blobs of matter that are part of the gigantic blog of all matter. They will say that human suffering is an insurmountable challenge to God, but then declare the human suffering is of no consequence at all.

Evil is only defined as that which a good person would stop, and a good person is only defined as a person who stops that which is evil. Evil is only a concept in that it relies on there being a firm definition of goodness, until we ask about goodness, and we find that it can only exist if there’s a firm definition of evil. Having removed any non-material moral force, there is neither a definition of good or evil, so the entire moral argument fades into non-existence.


Open letter to Staples about abortion support

19 Oct

This is a copy (without my full name and address) of an email I just sent to Staples.

Dear Staples:

I shop at Staples for office supplies, computer supplies, and have chosen staples as my source for purchasing very expensive equipment.

I read today (here: that Staples financially supports Planned Parenthood.

Like more Americans, according to Gallup, I believe that abortion is morally wrong because it is taking the life of a human (by scientific definition).

Because Planned Parenthood is in the business of promoting and providing abortions, I naturally have moral objections to my money being used to fund them.

Is it true that Staples supports Planned Parenthood? What is the nature of this support? Does a portion of my every purchase go toward funding Planned Parenthood? Is it a matching program where the Staples corporation matches contributions made by employees?

Please respond as soon as possible as whether I shop at Staples in the future depends on your response.

I am also posting this letter publicly online and will post your response as well.

Thank you for your time,



Open letter to Kohl’s about abortion support

18 Oct

This is a copy (without my full name and address) of an email I just sent to Kohl’s department store’s community relations department.

Dear Kohls community relations:

I shop at Kohl’s for my clothes, shoes, towels, and other things. I am a Kohl’s card holder. We frequent Kohl’s for myself, my wife, and my children.

I read today (here: that Kohls financially supports Planned Parenthood.

Like more Americans, according to Gallup, I believe that abortion is morally wrong.

Because Planned Parenthood is in the business of promoting and providing abortions (which according to science is taking the life of a human) I naturally have moral objections to my money being used to fund abortion.

Is it true that Kohls supports Planned Parenthood? What is the nature of this support? Does a portion of my every purchase go toward funding Planned Parenthood? Is it a matching program where Kohls matches contributions made by employees?

Please respond as soon as possible as I need some new jeans, but whether I shop at Kohls in the future depends on your response.

I am also posting this letter publicly online and will post your response as well.

Thank you for your time,



Breast Cancer: A quick clarification

17 Oct

It has come to my attention that some readers thought my previous posts indicated that I do not care about it, or that I do not care about those who are affected by breast cancer.

That is not the case. I am in favor of cancer awareness and a cure for breast cancer. I am in favor of fundraising to provide funding for those who need help covering medical expenses and for research costs for a cure.

My question has been: As a disease that is the cause of death of only 2% of Americans, why do we seem to care about it more than the things that kill 98%?

I recognize that talking about humans by numbers and percents may sound the opposite of compassionate for those that are affected by any death, whether the cause is a 1% killer or a 40% killer. That hasn’t been my intention at all. My intention has been the reverse, to encourage people to care about the 98% of human deaths and those affected by them as we do about the 2%.

1 Comment

Posted in Culture


Why Breast Cancer (part 2)

12 Oct

Last night I asked the question:

Why does one disease that causes 2% of deaths every year get more attention than all other causes of death?

Breast cancer ribbons are on license plates, political buildings, food products, and apparently even football player uniforms. But it causes 2% of deaths. The leading cause of death kills 20 times as many people. That leading cause of death – that which kills more humans in America is abortion.

All things being equal, we should put our most effort into fighting the leading cause of death (abortion) – 20 times the effort we put into breast cancer awareness. For every breast cancer ribbon, there ought to be 15  heart disease ribbons. For every “I love boobies” bumper stickers, there should be two “I love people who don’t remember me” bumper stickers to promote Alzheimer’s disease which kills nearly twice as many people every year.

But we don’t – we don’t walk twenty miles against abortion for every one mile we walk against breast cancer.

So something is not equal. What are the factors?

Last night I speculated that one factor was the sexualization of culture. It’s about breasts, so we care. I also wrote that we wrongly tend to get our self-image and confidence as a man or woman based on our physical appearances, and for a disease to attack one very clear symbol of being a woman is for the disease to attack our frail self-view.

But I missed what may be the biggest factor.

This morning a friend read my blog post on Facebook and wrote

…Cancer also moves people because it is scary – there may be some ways to reduce your risk, but it is not nearly as preventable as say heart disease which is the #1 killer. We know that diet, exercise, maintenance of an appropriate BMI, etc..will drastically reduce risk of heart disease and stroke but there is no such “simple” formula for breast cancer prevention. It affects women of all ages, races, socioeconomic status and is very likely to significantly affect one of your loved ones (and mine)…

By the numbers, we all have more loved ones affected by heart disease and other killers than breast cancer, but about what makes it different from other diseases, I think she was right. Cancer is different than many diseases because they can be prevented. It’s a sneaky indiscriminate killer. It’s not a gang member that shoots you because you’re in the wrong part of town late at night. Like the flu and Alzheimer’s disease, it’s the killer that breaks into your home at night when you’re sleeping. These non-preventable diseases are scarier (though the argument could be made that it’s the preventable ones that need more awareness so people can prevent them).

Breast cancer can affect any adult woman, regardless of many factors, including health. It’s not a “fatty disease,” which could have been prevented or limited if someone kept themselves more attractive. It’s not a disease that only affects old people.

So why do we care more about deaths caused by breast cancer than anything else, including other non-preventable diseases like Alzheimer’s and the flu? From this perspective, because we value the lives of the people affected more than we value the lives of those killed by other causes. We value the lives of pretty young women more than the lives of fat old men.

The message we communicate by the emphasis on breast cancer is thus:

  • Your life is more valuable if you are a woman, and less valuable if you are a man.
  • Your life is more valuable if you are young, and less valuable if you are old.
  • Your life is more valuable if you are skinny, and less valuable if you are overweight.
  • Your life is more valuable if you are a mother, and less valuable if you are a father.
  • Your life is more valuable if you are an adult, and less valuable if you are aren’t born yet.

Perhaps this is incorrect – leave a comment and let me know so we can figure out this riddle: why does the 2% killer get more attention than everything else.

Again – I’m not downplaying breast cancer, or breast cancer awareness. I’m just trying to figure out the disproportionate attention which seems to communicate that the 2% of people who die of breast cancer are more significant than the other 98% of humans who die every year.


Our obsession with breasts: breast cancer month

11 Oct

Breast cancer is not the number one killer in America. It is not the number one killer of women.

All cancers, as a category, are the #3 killer, below heart disease, which is #2. But breast cancer kills less people than stroke (cardiovascular disease), chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents (unintentional injuries), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nephritis-nephrotic syndrome-and-nephrosis, and even the flu, according to the CDC.

Despite all of these other causes of death killing more of our loved ones than breast cancer, it’s the disease that gets the most attention. The capital building here in Denver has a big pink ribbon on it, as do cars on the street, and food packaging in every grocery store.

I’m not questioning people’s desire to have a cure for diseases. I’m questioning why one disease trumps so many others which together are 50 times as fatal.

It seems that this is our proud-as-a-peacock display of the objectification of women. We care more about breast cancer, even though it’s only the cause of 2% of deaths in America, because it’s about breasts. Promotional material has gotten more honest, at least, like the “boobies” bumper sticker I took a photo of recently. [Post continues below.]

"Boobies" bumper sticker

It’s understandable that we use our bodies as part of our self worth, and that’s another reason it’s significant. We value our bodies to the level of idolatry, and judge our self-worth as men and women by things that set us apart from each other, particularly in sexual ways. This self-view is something Christians are supposed to fight against as it is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Jesus taught that one’s life is more important than any individual body part (Matthew 5:29-30,6:25), and Paul taught that the marks of true femininity was not in appearance, but in character and good deeds (1 Timothy 2:8-10). (The same is true of men, who are supposed to stand out spiritually and in prayer, lifting holy hands in praying for their authorities without anger or disputing.)

Obviously men like breasts for primal, cultural, and primarily sexual reasons as well. Perhaps that really is what it all comes down to for many people – we support breast cancer research more than anything else because heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t make us think of sex.

I hope we have a cure for breast cancer soon. I also hope we have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other killers. I am troubled that a disease that ranks so low on the list has taken over because the over-sexualization  of our culture.

Please leave comments if there’s reasons I’m unaware of that this 2% killer trumps all others. I’d be interested to learn the answer to this riddle.

Oh – and what is the number one killer in America? Abortion is the number one killer in America. For every 1 woman that dies from breast cancer, 20 babies are aborted – and this only includes legal abortions that are are reported. Twenty.