The surprising connections among, taxes, religion, and Medicare for All

Background The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor even uses tax dollars. The Treasury destroys all the dollars it receives. It creates new dollars, ad hoc, each time it pays for anything.

Even if the federal government collected zero dollars in taxes, it easily could fund comprehensive Medicare for every man, woman, and child in America.

The sole purposes of federal taxes are:

  1. To control the economy by taxing what the government wishes to discourage and by giving tax break to what the government wishes to encourage.
  2. To assure demand for the U.S. dollar by requiring that dollars be used for paying taxes.
  3. To help the rich, who control America, get richer, that is, widen the Gap between them and the rest of us. This is accomplished by pretending the federal government can’t afford to fund such benefits as Social Security, Medicare, poverty aids, etc.

Because the federal government does not fund Medicare for All, most businesses pay for some part of a private healthcare insurance policy.

This gives the business great power, not only over your working day, and not only over your salary, but even over your health, just by the terms of the policies they provide.

The latest evidence of that power relates to religion. Businesses, more and more, are able to exercise religious bigotry, and the right-wing courts love it.

The federal government encourages charitable giving by providing tax deductions. According to the Internal Revenue Service, a charity involves these activities:

The exempt purposes set forth in Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. 

The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.

All but one of the above are for the benefit of the general public. That one is religion.

Religion is not charity in the true sense of the word “charity.” When you make a contribution to your religion, it’s tax deductible. But that gift goes to your own — what shall we call it — club, sect, group, creed, cult, faction, team, clan, clique, party, etc.

If, for instance, you happen to be a Catholic Republican who belongs to a country club and has season tickets for the Cubs, your gift to your Church is deductible, but your gift to the GOP, your country club, and the Cubs are not.

According to the IRS:

To define churches and other religious entities, some of the IRS guidelines consider whether or not an institution has:

  1. a distinct legal existence and religious history,
  2. a recognized creed and form of worship
  3. established places of worship
  4. a regular congregation and regular religious services, and
  5. an organization or ordained ministers.

 

The IRS doesn’t say who or what you must worship.

Based on that logic, I could start a group called, “MAGAs for Trump.”

From what I can tell, MAGAs are more worshipful of Trump than of any other “god,” I should be able to give tax-deductible gifts to the group.

And for sure, many football fans worship their team with much greater fervor than any god. So football tickets should be tax deductible.

Religion is something invented not by any supreme, magical entities in the sky but rather, by people.

Every culture down through the centuries seems to have invented religions. That is why there are, and have been, hundreds or even thousands of religions. Sun gods, moon gods, river gods, we have gods by the trainload. 

And no god is better or worse or more realistic than any other god.

The Romans and Greeks had many religons. Currently, we have such religions as Confucianism, Shinto, and Taoism. There are Japanese religions, Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, and Vietnamese religions.

We have invented Buddhism, Neo-Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Baháʼí, dozens of types of Christianity, Druze, Islam of various types, Khawarij, and Judaism of various types. And did I mention Mandaeism and Yazdânism?

Each little tribe hidden in the jungles of Africa and South America has its own religions. And by IRS definition, contributions to any of them would be tax deductible.

But why?

Why does the federal government wish to encourage these clubs, sects, groups, etc? Few of them are charities in the true sense of the word.

Most religions are nothing more than political groups hawking their gods, no different from the Dems and the GOP, selling their candidates.

The only thing that differentiates religions from Trump’s GOP is that religions are devoted to preaching myths. Hmmm. On second thought, maybe Trump’s GOP is a religion.

Judaism teaches that there are eight levels of charity. Look it up. The highest level is helping someone stand on their own gwo feet so they won’t need charity. The lowest level is to give unwillingly.

The other six levels involve different degrees of anonymity for the giver and for the recipient. For example, giving under the condition your gift will be announced to the world is a much lower level than giving anonymously.

But every level of charity involves giving to someone else, not to yourself. No level of charity involves giving to your own group, cult, clan, etc.

I’ll interrupt this discourse by saying I have no objection to charitable tax deductions. In fact, I consider all federal tax deductions to be economically beneficial.

The federal government has no need for your tax dollars so, in that sense, all deductions are good deductions. They all add stimulus dollars to the economy.

But if the primary purpose of federal taxes is to control the economy, I suggest that tax-deductible giving to religions is wrong.

It’s economically wrong because religions (most of them) are no different from advertising agencies or political parties.. They do everything agencies and political parties do and more. Religions often combine book and media publishing, radio stations, TV stations, real estate holdings, and speaking into massive income. 

But unlike secular publishers, broadcasters, real estate holders, and speakers, religions can receive tax-deductible contributions, giving them a huge economic advantage.

It’s legally wrong because giving preferential treatment to religious donations violates the Constitution’s establishment clause.

But most importantly, and ironically, it’s morally wrong because too many religions have a terrible moral history of murder, torture, various forms of corruption, and above all, bigotry.

And here is the latest immoral example to come to my notice. 

From Slate Magazine, Mark Joseph Stern, USING GOD TO DENY BASIC HEALTH CARE

Placing a boss’s claims of religious objections ahead of access to lifesaving medication is “morally and intellectu­ally repulsive,” said Mark Joseph Stern.

But a federal judge’s ruling last week that the government can’t require employers to cover PrEP antiretrov­iral drugs, which prevent HIV, could portend something far worse: bans on mandates for “almost any preventative care.”

A group of Texas plaintiffs argued that the Affordable Care Act’s rules made the complicit in potential “homosexual behavior,” drug use, and extramarital sex, violating their religious beliefs.

District Judge Reed O’Connor, known for trying to strike down the entire ACA in 2018, endorsed that argument.

But he also went further and ruled that the government agencies that decide on ACE requirements for preventative care lack the authority to create such policy.

The decision will be appealed. But it can give the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority “the opportunity it craves” to hobble these agencies.

All sorts of treatments — HIV tests, breast cancer screening, heart medication — could be next.

That would “shred the ACA,” and cause “grievous harm to millions of Americans.”

For example, if you are gay, and your boss’s religion bans gay sex, your company’s health insurance policy could refuse to cover any disease that came from your gay partner –not just AIDS but any disease. 

You go to the hospital for monkeypox? Your company insurance won’t cover it because you caught it from your gay partner, and your boss’s religion doesn’t recognize gay couplings.

And how far is this from denying insurance for someone of a different religion? After all, Muslims don’t recognize Hindus.

The Catholic hospital won’t accept you because you’re Hindu? The baker won’t bake your cake because you’re living together without official marriage? Here it comes.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Tax deductible gifts to religions cost the federal government money, just as Medicare for All would cost the government money.

Both those costs are economically beneficial because they leave money in the economy rather than taking money from the economy and giving it to the federal government, which destroys it.

Having the federal government pay for health care insurance is economically wiser than having businesses or individuals pay. When the government pays, it pumps growth dollars into the economy.

Further, the absence of comprehensive Medicare for All incentivizes businesses to pay for healthcare insurance, which gives them “moral” and religious power over employees.

We are seeing the return of government-backed bigotry disguised as “freedom of religion.”

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

9 thoughts on “The surprising connections among, taxes, religion, and Medicare for All

  1. One of your best posts, Rodger.

    I completely agree that religious organizations should not be allowed to accept deductible contributions, with a couple of exceptions. For example, small churches that do not, in any way, make political statements or actions might be allowed. However, I would have no problem with a blanket prohibition on charitable contributions to religious organizations. The vast majority of the congregants contributing to their churches would continue to do so even if they couldn’t deduct them. I have clients that tithe the required 10% no matter what. Deductibility won’t change that.

    Any church that uses one of the widely accepted holy books, such as the Bible or Koran doesn’t even have to register with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. I believe any religious organization should be required to apply for 501(c)(3) status and the IRS should be very strict about denying or revoking charitable status if the organization says one word about politics.

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  2. The best religion is realigion. Reality can’t be totally explained and is even more mysterious than Christ. How come universe?

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    1. Not sure what you mean by “good.”

      If you mean “moral,” each religion invents its own morality.

      But if you mean “scientifically accurate,” probably none are.

      Or if you mean “emotionally satisfying,” that depends on the person.

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  3. Apparently it is very easy to create your own tax-deductible church. John Oliver did it in 2015 to highlight the fraudulent nature of many televangelist churches on his HBO show. He actually created a legal church called Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. It seems the IRS rules and enforcement are so lax, it would seem quite likely someone could get away with MAGAs for Trump church.

    John Oliver show:

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    1. It isn’t the rules and enforcement that are lax. It’s the definition of religion that’s by necessity vague. That, along with the notion that somehow, whatever that thing called “religion” is, it should have special tax treatment.

      John Oliver proved it’s easy to create a religion. So? How do you think all religions were created? Jesus didn’t create Christianity. His followers merely started to worship his memory, and the whole thing morphed into a religion with new rules daily.

      If you begin to worship John Oliver, or even pretend to worship him, and you get some of your pals to do the same, and they get their pals to do it, soon you’ll have a religion in every sense of the word. Then you can begin to invent some myths about him, a few miracles, and voila! Religion

      Today, with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok et al, it’s pretty easy to form a real, honest-to-goodness religion. In fact, MAGA is on the verge of being a religion, if it isn’t already, with Trump as God or a cousin of God. There already are plenty of myths about him (We call them “lies.”) so just build from there. FOX News and QAnon will be happy to contribute some fresh lies.

      It’s happening right now before our eyes.

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  4. Most important thing the Federal Government gets from taxes is the information from the returns. Some of the tax havens and oil emirates upon lowering rates to 0% some decades ago still required quarterly or yearly informational returns with all the numbers as if they were remitting something still.

    They don’t need the money but they sure need that information in order to retain control. Bad hair combover expert Randy Wray has all the MMTers convinced that taxation is needed to ‘drive’ a currency giving it some forward momentum and relevance. Personally I do not think that is necessarily true.

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    1. Either Frankin doesn’t understand federal finance or he doesn’t want you to understand it. FICA could and should be eliminated totally, not expanded to higher-income people (who undoubtedly will find ways to avoid it anyhow). FICA pays for nothing.

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