Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obama's Deficit Plan: Buddhism and Taxes

Obama Unveils Deficit Plan Containing $1.5T in Tax Hikes, GOP Cringes

Published September 19, 2011
by  FoxNews.com

Keying in on a populist message that millionaires and billionaires should pay more in taxes than their secretaries, the president announced a plan in Rose Garden that includes more than $2 trillion total in entitlement cuts and tax increases over the next decade.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/19/obama-to-present-balanced-plan-to-tackle-deficit/#ixzz1YQUMx2bd

The Practical Buddhist Responds

Buddhist scholars like to talk about taxes and fiscal policy, often in terms of the obligations of a king. They stress fairness and the common good. They warn kings not to make unreasonable demands, and to tax the poor "lightly."  The current debate saddens the Practical Buddhist. Why shouldn't the wealthy pay more, according to their means? Would generosity to the poor push us to the ugly edge of godless socialism?  The richest would hardly notice a modest tax increase in terms of lifestyle and freedom to spend. The poor would be deeply impacted. Here are some thoughts from Jü Mipham Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher from the turn of the 20th Century:

Advice on the Way of the King

Forcefully taking a reasonable tax from the wealthy,
even when they haven’t offered it,
is like being compensated.

This is not “taking what hasn’t been given.”
If one doesn’t care for the sentient beings
who haven’t any means, this is a wrong-doing.
If one doesn’t collect taxes which are reasonable,
and not take equally from the rich and poor
according to their situation, is that just?
From all subjects who pay taxes
take in accord with their land,
the season, and their wealth, without harming their home.
Do not burden them unbearably.
In the manner of a cow eating grass,
one shouldn’t destroy the roots.

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