So, as you may or may not know, I have had the privilege to participate on the St. Olaf Debate Team. The incredibly basic gist of what we do is engage in structured arguments with the intent of proving the other wrong. As you can imagine, one of the most popular ways to oppose the effectiveness of someone’s idea is to attack the costs. For example, it might seem like a good idea to build a green public transportation system within one’s local metropolis, but if I was to introduce the extreme financial costs that come with installing such an infrastructure, things start to appear less viable. This is a very popular argument, and to counter such a case before it arises, my debate partner and I often champion a very unorthodox means of payment.
Taxing these bad boys. In order to pay for all of our ambitious ideas, we would often say that we would introduce a tax on all religious institutions. This was always fun to throw into an argument, so I was hoping that elaborating on why we claimed it was such a good idea would promote some good discussion. Here goes nothing.
Okay, so the main and obvious reason to tax something is to get money out of its existence. So, how much money would the Federal Government receive if we chose to install such a tax on religious property? Well, according to sources, it could be upwards of 71 billion dollars. For the sake of a cleaner walkthrough, I am going to round this number down to 60 billion. 60 is a nice number, but 60 billion is a little harder to grasp. How much could 60 billion dollars pay for?
Look at this flying bad boy! You like that he is flying? Me too! If you were to, for some crazy reason, spend all the revenue from this new tax on launching space shuttles, you could do it over TEN times a month. Needless to say, this a large amount of money, and this could be spent to improve everyone’s lives, and not just on those who attend the assorted religious properties. To clarify, this tax would still not apply to any of the charity aspects that a religious institution may hold, such as food banks, which have tax exempt status for non-religious reasons.
Of course, a really good idea would allow everyone to benefit. How, you may ask, could any religious institution benefit from paying taxes? Well, they could all have the freedom of a louder voice! Since they would pay taxes, religious institutions would no longer have to be in fear of having their political views stifled, which has been a complicated issue for quite a while because tax exempt groups cannot double as political action groups. Because this would no longer be the case, these theological social clubs would actually be able to express their political views down to the preferred candidate, which not only promotes freedom of speech, but allows for more unified communities as well.
The one problem that people may bring up is the issue of constitutionality, and how this plan might infringe on that idea. After all, is not the power to tax the power to destroy? Keep in mind that within the context of the First Amendment, there is nothing stopping those who are religious from continuing practice. In fact, what this new tax would do is get rid of a tax exemption status that showed privilege to those who do practice a religion that requires a separate physical institution. After all, it would be just silly if there was a sprawl of atheist clubhouses in every town in America that all benefitted from tax exemption, wouldn’t it? So, if you want to be more constitutional, this seems like the right course of action.
So, this is the end of my food for thought. I hope it might shed some light on an idea that does not get much attention. Or, it could just be some food for thought. Either way, I hope you enjoyed my wordy proposal.