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Sunday, 3 September 2017

Thou Shalt Fill Out An Exemption Form

Churches don't pay taxes, and there's allegedly a good reason.

So the argument behind this is that if churches paid taxes, then they would be forced into making political statements and supporting the individuals that would offer to lower their taxes. Which means that church and state would no longer be divided.

Which is...patently absurd.

For one thing, the stance of tax exemption creates its own political support. Why would a church ever afford any kind of support to change that? It's a law that is in dire need of re-evaluation, surely.

Or maybe the argument is that they shouldn't have to pay taxes because they shouldn't pay for the fiscal needs of their community because they attend to the spiritual needs of their community. Which means that their priests and clergy and other assorted staff should do it for the sake of the community too, right? SO they shouldn't benefit or be able to claim any money from...oh.

I like the idea of people paying proportionate taxes. Like, it is a proven successful model. Even the most incompetent and buffoonish of governments in most democracies seems to do a slightly better job than individuals would if they paid no taxes but had to provide everything themselves.

It's already reasonably easy for those with means to just...avoid paying taxes if they want to. It's hard to ignore that fact. That's not cool. I suppose that it would be naive of me to think that people who push trickle-down economics would actually willingly let some of their wealth trickle down. Stupid of me.

But if you're fabulously wealthy, AND vaguely religious? ...well you just...sidestep it all.

I can't imagine that there's an army of revenue service people chasing down every rich preacher who claims that their private jet is for congregational or spiritual purposes. Probably too busy writing angry letters when someone misses £10 from their council tax payment.

The thing about taxes is that...when something needs doing for the benefit of everybody, it is easier to draw from a pool that has already been assembled - and spend in a way that (in theory) people qualified to make the decisions have prescribed as best - than it is to just let everyone keep their taxes and hope that they all do the right thing. Most drivers don't know how to resurface a road (though I live on the Isle of Wight so I have doubts about some of the professionals too), most mortals don't know how to spend their money efficiently on shares of medical hardware, and most homeowners don't know how to put in individual flood protection.

We take it for granted. We grumble about the taxes we spend, as we walk on a pavement, over a sewage system, under streetlights, on streets not under several gallons of water.

And then something happens like Harvey.

Not just Harvey obviously. It's the example I am drawing from as it bears relevance to my initial point. Storms, floods, awful shit like it happens all over the world with terrible regularity, and is only getting worse due to man-induced climate change (YES IT IS SCIENCE NO IT IS NOT UP FOR DEBATE). But what you need, when something like that happens, is a large amount of centralised resources with which you can help those locally.

Those who have, panic. They want to shore up their investment, their stuff, their things, their resources. They want to make sure the house stays locked so, while they wait it out in their aunt's house in Missouri, they won't have to worry about the silverware being snatched away. Because, you know. When I am drowning, I always go for the silverware.

So it's common for the wealthy to hoist up the ladders and leave everyone else to fend for themselves, and thus worthy of comment and compliment when they don't.

Joel Osteen.

This Tim Allen looking motherfucker.

So not only does this guy run a faith-based scam - as I call all "prosperity churches" and the like, who seem to make those in charge of them very wealthy and not a whole lot of prosperity goes anywhere else. Not only is he made rich essentially through playing shell games with people's beliefs, but he doesn't pay any damn taxes.

Houston gets dumped under enough water to swallow the Alien Mothership from Independence Day - and this guy's massive church just...sits there with the doors locked and bolted, while the city's mosques and other religious institutions immediately offer sanctuary and aid to anyone who can get to them.

Takes this guy three days to help, at all. In that time, even Dumpy Trumpy has managed to put a hand in his pocket, though seemingly unaware that perhaps his cuts on flood protections and other federal investments might make him doing so seem to be two-faced in the extreme.

And Osteen's excuse? Tax-dodging conman Osteen? That preacher who looks a lot like the dude from Home Improvement? He says he didn't open up the church...

...because the city didn't ask him to.

Which is of course why the Good Samaritan was like: fuck this guy by the side of the road, the Pharisees haven't told me to help him.

Which is of course why Jesus didn't feed the five thousand, because he didn't have any official requests from the local government.

Which is why Oscar Schindler didn't save anyone, because there's no way the Moravian protectorate's administrator would have given him permission.

So not only has he taken away people's money, which they may have been taxed on, which could have been allocated to FEMA and other localised measures - nor has he paid any taxes of his own on that money, which again could have gone into protective measures - but this fucking great ugly-ass building that he built with his effectively stolen money didn't even open its doors until the waters had started to subside.

They are shitweasels, people. Shitweasels who don't deserve what they have.

And that's why they should fucking pay tax.

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