We might think that, on his way to Good Friday, Jesus is only visiting Blue states whose governors and legislators share his values of spreading the social franchise and welcoming all to his table. While this might be a good campaign strategy, Jesus for the most part is boycotting states where citizens are reasonably well-fed, well-educated, and well-cared for. In his journey to the cross, Jesus is therefore spending most of his time in Red States whose governors and legislators believe in punishing the poor for their poverty and rewarding the wealthy for the hard work their money is performing on their behalf.
The latter was illustrated by a recent column in the New York Times (Feb 13, “States Consider Increasing Taxes for the Poor and Cutting Them for the Affluent”). The column documents how governors and legislators from Red states are shifting the tax burden away from the wealthy and onto the shoulders of the poor. “Favorite targets for the new taxes include gas, e-cigarettes, and goods and services in general.” Since the tax rate is the same for all income brackets, the tax burden falls disproportionately on the shoulders of the poor.
The beauty is that, in theory, raising taxes on the poor allows Red state governors and legislators to ease the tax burden from their wealthiest citizens.
At the same time, some of those governors — most notably Mr. LePage, Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and John R. Kasich of Ohio — have proposed significant cuts to their state income tax. They say that tax policies that encourage business growth provide more jobs and economic benefits for everyone.
Nor does it seem to be a problem that state revenues have plunged since these lawmakers took up their war against the poor. (Who wants to live or do business in states with crumbling infrastructures, ill-funded schools, and no one wealthy enough to purchase the goods they are producing?) Small government is good. Right?
Which is why citizens in South Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Georgia, and Mississippi should be lining up for their audience with Jesus who is making a b-line to those states whose mission, it would seem, is producing “the least of these” about whom the Lord spoke so eloquently in that speech. Oh, yes, and he is promising hell fire and damnation to the good governors and legislators promoting this atrocity.