Scott & Sarah Kennedy

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Two Eye Catchers From Real Issues

Growing tax take threatens democracy

Our economy is booming and the government's treasure chest is bulging. The total tax take figures released last week show a rise of 40 percent since Labour took office. Since 1999, the government has collected an extra $34 billion.

The government has more of our money that it needs. More than reason or justice demands.

So why can we not have tax cuts? The move from 33 cents in the dollar to 39 cents for those earning over $60,000 was obviously unnecessary. That rate now affects 10 percent of all tax payers rather than 5 percent two years ago.

There are a number of very good and just reasons why any government should not take an excessive amount of tax off its citizens. First, it gives the state too much power. It is a temptation to manipulate its citizens' favour with handouts and to consequently build up an expectation of dependency. The danger is that rather than being primarily used to help the poor, excessive funds will be used to increase the number of dependent votes.

Democracy is threatened as more voters get tied into the status quo and the government continues to be tempted to support a captive voting bloc.

Collision of religion and politics

Media coverage in New Zealand of the horrible events in Beslam, Russia, has shown little insight into the important context of both history and religion. The identity of the Islamic terrorists appears to have been obscured and the silence on the religious faith of those killed is disarming.

In the region of the Russian Caucuses Mountains, which is predominantly Muslim, the area of Ossetia is the only Christian enclave; its 700,000 residents are almost all of the Orthodox faith. It is there that the Islamist terrorists deliberately carried out the slaughter of children, women, and men.

What we need is some depth of media investigation on issues such as this where religion and politics collide. Religion and politics are inextricable. The common false assumption is that the secular media is neutral and religion prejudiced. Worldwide, the intersection between religion and politics is going to become more intense, so understanding the two in context is even more vital.


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