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Funding controversial causes

Is it right to take tax money and use it to fund abortions? Of course not. Of course, we know that the abortions are wrong, but unfortunately about half of society disagrees. But thankfully we can sometimes come to the agreement (though not often enough) that it is wrong to take "other people's tax money" and use it to fund causes that they find reprehensible and immoral.

In our society, a significant number of people oppose the war in Iraq. Is it right to take the money of these people and use it to fund the war? I submit that it is not. These people are being forced to fund an act that they find immoral and reprehensible. Sadly, people of faith are often at the forefront of justifying this coercive funding, which I demonstrated to be stealing in an earlier post.

Now I'm not saying everybody ought to agree with the opinion of the war protestors. I am personally a Christian pacifist, but I have to confess that a) the war against Iraq sounded pretty rational to me, as long as you accept the idea that we may use force to defend ourselves, which most people accept, and b) the people trying to make a case against the Iraq war honestly have yet to make a case that sounds rational to me. (And I've honestly tried to look. I even checked to see what Pat Buchanan said, because I assumed an honored Republican who opposed the war had to have some good reasons. But he couldn't get away from the same "Bush lied" nonsense I hear from complete non-thinkers. I was disappointed.)

But what I am saying is that we do not have the right to force our opinions on other people. Not in any way, and certainly not through forcing people to fund our causes. It would be wrong to forcibly take the money of other people to teach Christianity, to teach evolution, to fund abortions, to fund charities, to fund peace activists, or to fund wars, assuming the victims -- I mean taxpayers -- didn't agree with the cause and/or were not willing for their money to be spent in this way.

Here's a little fact that seems to be a big surprise to many on the Left and the Right: embryonic stem-cell research is not illegal in America. What is prohibited by George W. Bush's decision of 2001 is the use of federal funds for this research. The main reason is the justification I'm using in this essay: it is wrong to take money from people to use it for something that they are not sure is right, or are certain is not right. Private (and even state) funding of this research is still allowed.

So sometimes we recognize this principle. But violations occur all the time. The public school system might be the biggest example: we take money from "all of society" in order to educate "all of society" the way "all of society" wants. This means that our democratic institutions get to vote as to exactly what shall be taught: we can vote to teach evolution, or creationism; we can vote to teach homosexuality as abomination, or as alternate lifestyle. We can vote to teach history as leading inexorably toward liberty, toward democracy, or toward Marxism. We can vote to teach sexual abstinence and chastity, or fund contraceptives for children. Possibly every single identifiable group in society has their money stolen from them and used against them in our school system.

Want a more principled way to accomplish your goals? Do it with your own money. Honor what God said: "Thou shalt not steal." If you want something to succeed, donate your own time, money, and resources, and attempt to persuade others to do the same. If you do not have the resources to accomplish it, perhaps God does not want it done, or wants you working on something else. Concerned about underprivileged, uneducated children? Start a charitable work to help. Concerned about the lack some people have of health care? Start a charitable work to help. Concerned that some children who are existing with inadequate supervision (basically emancipated by default, which turns them into adults in my mind) don't have birth control and need it? Use your own money to provide it, not mine. (And stay away from my kids, while you're at it. They are not grown up yet, and I'm not turning them loose until they are.)

In so doing, you'll manage to accomplish whatever God wants to permit you to accomplish without committing the sin of stealing. You'll have a society where nobody is forced to fund something that they object to on principle. Moreover, you'll also eliminate the economic waste that taxation and socialism accomplishes: when we socialize an aspect of our existence, when we fund it collectively and coercively, we find that we always, always misallocate resources: some issues are overaddressed (meaning we spent too much to accomplish something that could've been accomplished for less), while other issues are underaddressed (meaning something we want done doesn't get funded). A collective, centralized system where decisions are made for everybody as a whole (rather than individually, as decentralized individuals pursuing the ends we believe in, independently) cannot possibly accurately calculate the relative worth of the needs that need to be addressed. But when we allow ourselves to function as God's ordained free market, we function as a gigantic distributed supercomputer that can and does do so, that outperforms any collectivists wildest utopian fantasy.

Are you worried that this won't work? Then let me ask you to do something: please support banning and terminating these annoying Susan Komen breast cancer marathons. Obviously private funding to cure cancer will never work, and these things are a major annoyance and inconvenience to me.

Obviously the Susan Komen foundation believes that something worthwhile can be achieved through voluntary funding. And since God commanded that we not steal, commanded that we respect private property even if we think we might be able to use it to do good like helping the poor (Acts 5:4), and promised to make sure that we always had an abundance (not that we could always obtain an abundance by taking what doesn't belong to us) in order to be able to perform every good deed He wants us to do (II Corinthians 9:6-12), God obviously believes this as well. Christians should never support funding "good works" of any sort through taxation.

But didn't God command us to pay our taxes? Of course He did. Pay them. Just don't tax other people. And once the money is taken, recognize it as Caesar's, not yours. Caesar was not one of God's people, and he certainly didn't use the money that he took from God's people for God's purposes. In fact, he used it to oppress God's people and fund immorality such as drunken orgies and idol worship. If somebody wants to take what is yours, do not resist them. But never pretend that God has authorized you to do the same.

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