Friday, January 12, 2018

A Catholic Reflection on the Tax Plan

The Church, in Her "Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine", has a lot to say about economics.  We could go into all of it, but perhaps the best way to say it is this:

No systemic approach to an economy, is, in and of itself, virtuous and good WITHOUT individuals within the system CHOOSING to behave virtuously

Yes, the Church says in its Compendium that Communism and Socialism are, de facto, evil and wrong.

But capitalism is described with a more cautionary tone.  Capitalism CAN lead to good things or it CAN lead to disastrous outcomes, depending on the types of individual decisions that are made by individual people within the economy.

This is where the new Trump tax plan comes in.  Without getting into the details, pretty much everyone acknowledges that it is a plan that lets corporations keep more of the money they earn.  Democrats would argue that this is because Trump wants to help his business owner friends, and Republicans would say that the plan is a great thing because when companies keep more money, they can hire more people, thus more people work.

It is important here to note that the "Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine" places a HUGE emphasis on the importance of work.  The Church emphasizes that people deserve work, should work, should be paid fairly, should be able to support a family if they are willing to work hard, and that human beings derive a great deal of healthy dignity out of working a job.

If you're still with me, then, here's the point: what we ought to be doing as Catholics with regards to this tax plan is speaking directly to the CEO's and business owners around the country, both small medium and large corporations, and encouraging them to take this tax break and actually use it to create more jobs.

Republican talking heads who are out saying lots of jobs will just naturally happen because of this new tax plan, and that business owners will just naturally choose to not pocket the money are deceiving themselves and the nation.  Capitalistic societies take vigilance by the people and REQUIRE virtuous corporate leadership in order to produce virtuous and beneficial outcomes.

Democrat talking heads who are out saying that corporate leaders will just naturally pocket the tax savings for themselves are of course making blanket assumptions and are, in a sense, encouraging that outcome by telling everyone pocketing the tax savings just HAS to happen.  It is also a blanket and judgmental statement to say that "all corporate leaders are bad and greedy people."  We ought to be thankful for those who DO virtuously use their corporate leadership to help bring about a positive impact on the people they employ.

This tax cut for companies, as with capitalisim in general, is neither good nor bad up front.  It stands at a cross roads and needs our vigilance and it needs those in corporate leadership to choose jobs over personal profit.  We pray that they choose jobs.

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