Politicians speak of social justice but do they know the true meaning of the expression? The irresponsible ignorance (because it is based on ideology and expedience) is common both to the Left and Right Wings of the political spectrum. Consuetude has it that social justice is to be perverted through policies that mask social envy through and through; creating thus imbalances in society. Does the system need a reset?
When people speak of social justice, they mainly look at taxation as the main solution to all social ailments, however today's taxation has generated macroeconomic disequilibriums that ended up negatively affecting businesses and people (labour force and their respective families), thus, ironically bringing about social injustice.
The Left usually defends that the rich have to pay more taxes, because they earn more, and the poor should be exempt from paying income taxes (which is not just either since the opposite of "paying more" is "paying less" not not paying at all); whereas the Right can be divided into three camps:
- Every single citizen, with no exception, should pay a flat income tax (NB: in America, you also have payroll tax at State level, therefore I haven't grasped yet how a flat tax would play out at state level vs federal level)
- Progressive tax rates with no exemptions – every citizen contributes to the Government Pot
- Progressive tax rates with exemptions (European style) – the rich pay their fair share (30% min-35% max) and the poorest families are exempt from paying income taxes
The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the LORD, to make atonement for your souls. -- Exodus 30:15With the establishment of monarchies and republican governments, that spent more than they raised in revenue, imbalances were created since either the poor or the rich were excessively taxed according to the political expediency at the time. Then, upon the creation of socialism/communism, jealousy and resentment of the wealthy was born and, from that period onwards, the custom has been to burden the wealthy with a spendthrift State that teaches the poor are second class citizens (i.e. not worthy of contributing to the State's coffers) whose function, in society, is to remain statistically poor by increasing their income through non-taxable single or compounded social benefits. This creates an imbalance and teaches moral corruption to societies.
Taxation that Fosters Social Responsibility
In the past, Censuses were done for Taxation purposes and, therefore the earlier quote refers to the census tax commanded by G-d to the Children of Israel. The Lord decreed a flat tax and commanded that the rich would not pay more and the poor would not pay less than that. Exodus 30:15 is the very embodiment of fiscal justice, and at the time there was no social imbalances in society (not only because there wasn't any jealousy among the tribes, but also because they were bound to the commandment regarding Gemilut Chadassim and Tzedakah, which stamped the sense of social responsibility upon the Jewish People from inception).
Society needs to reset. We need to go back to the basics. While we defend the right to the freedom of the individual (liberalism) we also recall that the individual has duties towards his/her community – i.e. social responsibility. Having said this, instead of transferring social duties to the State, businesses and people would do well to follow basic spiritual principles: to give assistance to the widow and the orphan; support the religious ministers/High Priests; respect and assist the foreigner (for you were a foreigner in Egypt), your workers for (remember that you were a bondman in Egypt) and even the disabled for they have place in society; so “that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deut. 5: 25)
Justice implies equilibrium not fairness per se (since fairness is very much open to interpretation). If we want social justice then we need to restore balance. In order to restore it, States need to purge themselves of any bias against spiritual teachings, they need to set aside populism (i.e. social resentment) and they must reset their Tax Laws in order to achieve fiscal justice, so that we reach our goal (social rightness). As part of that reform, States also need to start 'teaching' social responsibility to all their citizens: every single one of them, with no exception, has to pay taxes – they must do their bit and contribute to their country's economic health. Giving assistance is not giving handouts nor breeding second class citizens.
There can be perhaps a compromise between temporal and spiritual tax systems? In any case, we need to agree upon the need for a new tax system, one demanding that we all do our share, as the way towards Social Justice.
Another recipe to Social Justice: Clans & Tribes.
[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]