Tuesday, May 17, 2011

For Some California Religious Leaders, Money Is Not the Root of All Evil

A new piece at Cal Watchdog today claims that many religious leaders in California are joining forces with the state's many, many tax advocates to push for new levies to fund public schools. The author, Wayne Lusvardi, then proceeds to rip apart the supposed "moral legitimacy" of tax hikes.

Unless they support higher taxes, AC/DC clearly will burn in hell.
And he raises a lot of good points. Citing a February report from the Legislative Analyst's Office, which found that "virtually every aspect of the K-14 (public school) mandate finance system is broken" and that, if a mandated service does not serve a fundamental purpose, "the mandate should be eliminated," Lusvardi questions the idea of throwing tax dollars at failed programs and cushy jobs while so many Californians are hurting. He also points to a 2009 LAO report that recommended ending mandatory jobs and programs that were costing the state billions for programs not related to teaching or school administration. Furthermore, he asks, how is it ethical for public-school advocates to decry every potential cut to school budgets without making any reference to how tax dollars are spent?

Good points all, but we have a simpler response to the idea that tax hikes for public schools can ever be ethically justified: since when is the concept that the ends justify the means consistent with the teachings of any organized religion? Strictly speaking, you can never use an end to justify an action, because no end can ever be known with certainty; you can only justify an action on its own merits. And what's the action being proposed here? Misleading people in an attempt to get the government to confiscate their property by force, so that that property can be turned over to an education system that even the LAO calls hopelessly broken. In other words, it's fraud and forcible theft. And we're pretty sure that none of the major religions (and very few of the minor ones) are okay with it. So, much as you might like the idea of smarter children, this is not a justifiable means to that end. Period.


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