Letter: Morality and the Budget

Letter: Morality and the Budget

To the Editor:

Sister Marge Clark discussed "morality and the budget," and argued that "unmet needs" must be the starting point of building any budget [“Discussing Budget Morality,” Reston Connection, Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2012]. 
Sister Clark is exactly right that budgets and morality are intertwined, but she is precisely wrong on the problem and the solution. America's fundamental moral problem is that too many people think they have a right to steal from other people and to borrow money they have no intention of repaying. Such theft is not merely inherently sinful, but corrupts the recipients, undermining their character and inculcating envy, resentment, greed, and pride. This is not Christianity; indeed, this is the moral inversion of Christianity. We must never confuse the Christian duty of voluntary individual charity with the state-mandated theft and redistribution of wealth.
Our basic moral duty with respect to government spending is to minimize and balance it. It is grossly dishonorable and immoral to live at the expense of others, and to borrow money that one cannot repay. This is as true for governments as it is for individuals. Therefore, the starting point of any budget must be to determine a level of revenue that does not cripple economic growth or require borrowing. Then, we must pay for essential government services—police, firemen, courts, prisons, and schools. Only then should we address the genuine needs (not wants masquerading as needs) that private charities cannot meet.
The Sister urged a compassionate vision for the future. The best way to show compassion for our children and grandchildren is to stop borrowing money. Every dollar we borrow today is another chain around their necks that will constrain their opportunities and reduce their standard of living.

James Perry