Thursday, May 19, 2011

The budget as a moral issue

The Wisconsin Council of Churches has reminded us one more time that the state budget is not just a political issue. Indeed, it is essentially a moral issue since it impacts virtually everyone. For churches, the priority among that 'everyone' are the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. Budgets cut ought to impact first and foremost those who are doing just fine. It ought to impact the least those who have greatest need of various programs and services.
God’s call to us as citizens of a democracy is to tell our elected officials where Wisconsin’s heart is – and where its treasure should be.
For people of faith, this is a good reminder - and an essential one.

On Sunday, the front page of the Journal Sentinel had this screaming headline (well, at least it screamed at me, really made my head hurt): Average Wisconsin CEO pay rises 27%.  Read it yourself. I don't care what those corporate-sponsored Repubs say, this wealth should be taxed and then taxed some more. What this kind of concentration of wealth represents in this society right now is a profound moral and ethical failure.

We're supposed to be relieved this morning because Scott Fitzgerald and some other Repub legislators are saying they want to preserve SeniorCare. This is fine, though we don't know if it will hold in the end, but it hardly begins to address the harshness and questionable ethics of Walker's biennium budget proposal - and now the way in which some of those same vulnerable populations are in danger of being disenfranchised by the Voter I.D. bill.

So, whether or not you are a person of faith, I think this document very useful in laying down the moral argument for a more just, equitable, and compassionate approach to the great budget debate, in large part because it doesn't allow us to escape these moral issues with bogus slogans about fiscal responsibility or the state being broke. Make the state less broke by restoring some measure of justice and equity to the tax code. Raise some revenue from wealth to make sure kids get a good education and our precious natural resources are preserved and Koch Industries is actually NOT allowed to add more pollution to our state's waterways, and mining companies and developers are NOT allowed easier access to the good of the commons for their own profit-making interests.

So, click here for the WI Council of Churches brochure, Faith and Facts. No matter how bad the final version of this budget, the ground needs to be laid now for the recovering of justice and compassion to the political culture of this state- not to mention to the electoral debates that will quickly follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment