Corruption

Faith and Justice Connection: The Corruption of the Common Good

EDITOR'S NOTE: Each month, Sojourners send out a Faith & Justice Newsletter to folks who are interested in intersection of faith and social action. This month, we pulled content from the magazine and our blogs relating to the corruption of the common good. Enjoy.

This year’s election cycle is expected to cost more than $6 billion -- the most expensive in U.S. history. During election years, members of Congress spend on average 40 to 70 percent of their time fundraising. One quarter of one percent (.25 percent) of donors provided two-thirds of all the campaign cash spent during the 2010 election. In a recent article for Sojourners, Nick Penniman argues the problem is only going to get worse.

This influx of campaign cash and the influence of special interests in Washington should cause even the most idealistic citizen to ask whether our politicians have completely lost sight of the common good. If the basis of democracy is each person having an equal voice in government and having her or his interests weighed equally by elected officials, then democracy in the United States appears to be profoundly broken.

Christians need to wrestle with these questions and discern how we’re called to respond. While our hope resides firmly in Jesus Christ, we can’t ignore the power of government to protect the poor and improve the lives of millions. The command to love our neighbor as ourselves means we cannot ignore the corruption of the common good. 

Lobbyists Spend A Lot of Money to Make Your Taxes Confusing

I finished up my taxes last night. I didn’t think much of the hour I spent on the phone with my dad making sure I filed correctly. Taxes are always complicated, right?

Well, maybe that’s because the folks at Intuit (the publishers of TurboTax) want them to be.

Matt Stoller over at Republic Report pointed out that the ReadyReturn program in California sends tax payers a form showing how much they owe in taxes. Then they just sign it and send it back. It costs less for the state to process and it saves tax payers a lot of time.

During the 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama promised to implement something similar on the federal level. What happened?

Stoller also notes that since 2008, Intuit has spent a good $9 million on lobbying. And according to one of their investor reports, keeping taxes complicated is a top priority:

Our consumer tax business also faces significant competition from the public sector, where we face the risk of federal and state taxing authorities developing software or other systems to facilitate tax return preparation and electronic filing at no charge to taxpayers. These or similar programs may be introduced or expanded in the future, which may cause us to lose customers and revenue. For example, during tax season 2010, the federal government introduced a prepaid debit card program to facilitate the refund process. Our consumer and professional tax businesses provide this service as well.  

If that doesn’t make you mad, take a look at why you are probably paying $500 more a year for your cell phone then you should be. 

It's Finally Over -- and It Was Wrong

Finally, as President Obama has announced, this American war will soon be over, with most of the 44,000 American troops still in Iraq coming home in time to be with their families for Christmas.

The initial feelings that rushed over me after hearing the White House announcement were of deep relief. But then they turned to deep sadness over the terrible cost of a war that was, from the beginning, wrong; intellectually, politically, strategically and, above all, morally wrong.

The War in Iraq was fundamentally a war of choice, and it was the wrong choice.

#OccupyWallStreet: Playing with Fire and Corraling the Golden Calf

As Christians we have a decision to make. In times of hopelessness and long periods of waiting for things to get better, will we let ourselves be cast into the all-consuming fires of idolatry?

Or, will we stand up against the false gods and catch the flame of the Spirit in our hearts and minds?

Our nation may very well be on the threshold of a crucial change. Who will you be standing with?

As we waste time fanning capitalism's raging inferno, the best parts of ourselves remain frozen.

#OccupyWallStreet: A Generation Finds Its Voice

A TV reporter broadcasts from the NY protests last week/Photo by Tim King for Sojourners

I had seen people my age start successful businesses, become pop-stars and even play a key role in partisan political campaigns, but I had never seen them develop and sustain a social movement.

Sure there have been more focused shifts around issues like educational equity, LGBT rights or global poverty that my generation has had a hand in shaping, but nothing that quite had the look or the feel of what I imagined the anti-War or Civil Rights movements of the 1960s to have been. I assumed we -- my contemporaries ( I'm 27) -- simply didn't possess the interest or the will-power to accomplish something that big.

I was wrong.

In Case You Missed It: #OccupyWallStreet's Official Statement

396px-Wall-Street-1

From the official statement by #OccupyWallStreet: "As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power."

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