As this column shows, government waste, fraud and abuse is rampant at all levels. Seldom, however, has any politician attempted to give divine sanction to government greed in the style of California Governor Jerry Brown, who once wanted a California space program and recently signed off on a $68 billion railroad train. The former presidential candidate has been campaigning for his Proposition 30 tax increase, and says that support for it is a Christian act.
“It’s like tithing,” Brown told the congregation of a Los Angeles church on November 4. “You’ve got to pay. And it’s not about me, it’s about us, it’s about we, it’s about us together.” He also quoted the Bible, the Gospel According to Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given much shall be required.” Here is the Rev. Brown’s interpretation. “We are asking those who have (been) paid the most money, those who’ve been most blessed, to give a little back in our time of need.”
The implication is that wealthy Californians—and Brown considers those making $250,000 a year to be millionaires—did not achieve their earnings through hard work and creative effort, such as making useful products people are willing to buy. Rather, they were simply “blessed,” another way of saying wealth was simply handed to them. He failed to provide biblical exposition on how much government taketh away.
California taxes personal income at seven rates including a top rate of 10.3 percent, second-highest in the nation, and more than the biblical tithe of 10 percent. That is in addition to federal income tax, sales tax—which Prop 30 will increase—property tax and many other levies. The second-highest rate is 9.3 percent and a single California worker pays that rate at an income of only $48,000. This in a state where one department hid $54 million for 12 years, which prompted state senator Noreen Evans, to wonder how much more “deceit and thievery” is going on. The bible-quoting governor is not interested in that moral question.
He wants even more money from the people, not to offer any new programs or services but simply to fix the financial mess California politicians have made. And now abideth government waste, fraud and greed. But the greatest of these is greed.