Obeying ceasar
#21
(12-06-2011, 10:13 PM)SaintSebastian Wrote: St. Robert's main examples are the pagan Roman emperors and the Gentile rulers who ruled over the Jews and he sees the condemnations of Constance as a parallel proof.

In regards to how the a state is first established, he ultimately traces it back to Adam, who ruled over everyone until he died. More generally, he explains it like this, although he doesn't really explain exactly when this happens. The presumption seems to be that most governments that exist were originally established like this at some point, even if that point is lost to history.

That seems like a bit of a cop out. I can't think of a single nation-state on earth in existence today whose point of establishment is lost to history. Most modern regimes followed some other toppled regime, so their point of origin is known. Take Iraq, for example. The current government was established by the United States, which toppled the previous regime via an unjust war. In other words, brute force, not the consent of the "collected body," as Bellarmine phrases it, has established governmental power. This does nothing other than reward murderers with legitimacy. Follow the chain of "legitimacy" back, and you'll see that Saddam Hussein did the same thing.

If I lead a gang that intimidates and murders enough people in a geographic area to the degree that I can assert my will as I please, do those people over whom I'm "ruling" need to render obedience and submission to me as their "legitimate" ruler? I don't buy the argument that they should recognize my authority because God has allowed me to come to this position by His passive will. God does not reward sin. I have gained my power through wicked actions. Why should people honor this with their obedience and consent?

In a sense, most, if not all, states begin this way. Even democratic states are not established via the power (or consent) of the collected body. They are only established by the MAJORITY of the collected body within a society, which can then impose their will upon the minority, right or wrong.

All of Bellarmine's arguments seem to rest on the collective consent of the ruled, but I can think of no instance where there is unanimous consent to be ruled by a particular ruler. And this consent must be something ongoing, if it is to be legitimate, in Bellarmine's system. I don't consent to be governed by the decrees of the president and the US Congress. But I have to out of fear that I will be imprisoned if I fail to obey their laws, both just and unjust. The consent to be governed by the governed, in most instances, is an illusion. While the saints cited are great minds and put the right moral principles to work in thinking of this, I think we can licitly claim that their insights with regard to political theory can be limited.
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#22
(12-05-2011, 10:51 AM)Walty Wrote:
(12-05-2011, 06:25 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: That being said, you don't have to obey any law that is openly repugnant to the divine or natural law (cf. Leo XIII, Diuturnum 15; CCC 2242).

Yes, I think that some forget that the Jews lived relatively comfortably under Roman rule.  They were allowed to do their thing without Rome forcing them to sacrifice to gods or somesuch.  The Jews (and here I mean mostly the Sanhedrin, for I've read that most Jews didn't mind the Romans all that much at the time of Christ) merely wanted a kingdom for themselves, not for the glory and proper praise of their God.

There was no reason for them not to render unto Caesar what was his.  Now, in a world where your tax dollars go to abortion, things are a bit different.

Some of their tax dollars went to buying idols for Roman temples, paying Roman soldiers wages to occupy their country and no doubt eat pig and other filthy animals which would have meant the Jews suffering their import or probably raising them on the soil of Israel and I don't doubt a large amount of it was stolen and embezzled too and spent on whore and mistresses.

Then ultimately the money was used to pay for the army that seiged Jerusalem in 70AD and wiped them off the face of the map for 2000 years.
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#23
(12-07-2011, 04:29 PM)ggreg Wrote:
(12-05-2011, 10:51 AM)Walty Wrote:
(12-05-2011, 06:25 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: That being said, you don't have to obey any law that is openly repugnant to the divine or natural law (cf. Leo XIII, Diuturnum 15; CCC 2242).

Yes, I think that some forget that the Jews lived relatively comfortably under Roman rule.  They were allowed to do their thing without Rome forcing them to sacrifice to gods or somesuch.  The Jews (and here I mean mostly the Sanhedrin, for I've read that most Jews didn't mind the Romans all that much at the time of Christ) merely wanted a kingdom for themselves, not for the glory and proper praise of their God.

There was no reason for them not to render unto Caesar what was his.  Now, in a world where your tax dollars go to abortion, things are a bit different.

Some of their tax dollars went to buying idols for Roman temples, paying Roman soldiers wages to occupy their country and no doubt eat pig and other filthy animals which would have meant the Jews suffering their import or probably raising them on the soil of Israel and I don't doubt a large amount of it was stolen and embezzled too and spent on whore and mistresses.

Then ultimately the money was used to pay for the army that seiged Jerusalem in 70AD and wiped them off the face of the map for 2000 years.

Damn.

Good point.
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#24
(12-07-2011, 04:29 PM)ggreg Wrote:
(12-05-2011, 10:51 AM)Walty Wrote:
(12-05-2011, 06:25 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: That being said, you don't have to obey any law that is openly repugnant to the divine or natural law (cf. Leo XIII, Diuturnum 15; CCC 2242).

Yes, I think that some forget that the Jews lived relatively comfortably under Roman rule.  They were allowed to do their thing without Rome forcing them to sacrifice to gods or somesuch.  The Jews (and here I mean mostly the Sanhedrin, for I've read that most Jews didn't mind the Romans all that much at the time of Christ) merely wanted a kingdom for themselves, not for the glory and proper praise of their God.

There was no reason for them not to render unto Caesar what was his.  Now, in a world where your tax dollars go to abortion, things are a bit different.

Some of their tax dollars went to buying idols for Roman temples, paying Roman soldiers wages to occupy their country and no doubt eat pig and other filthy animals which would have meant the Jews suffering their import or probably raising them on the soil of Israel and I don't doubt a large amount of it was stolen and embezzled too and spent on whore and mistresses.

Then ultimately the money was used to pay for the army that seiged Jerusalem in 70AD and wiped them off the face of the map for 2000 years.

Then why would Christ have told them to pay taxes.  Serious question.
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#25
He didn't just tell them to pay taxes.  He worked a miracle to pay it Himself, directing Peter to pull a coin out of a fish.  This area confuses me too.

I personally think it depends on your options.  If all you are going to do is stir a little trouble, get a few people killed, and accomplish nothing, you bear it.  Only if you have a chance of success, do you rebel.

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#26
(12-07-2011, 06:27 PM)James02 Wrote: He didn't just tell them to pay taxes.  He worked a miracle to pay it Himself, directing Peter to pull a coin out of a fish.  This area confuses me too.

I personally think it depends on your options.  If all you are going to do is stir a little trouble, get a few people killed, and accomplish nothing, you bear it.  Only if you have a chance of success, do you rebel.

The answer is that in abortion, idol worship, or what-not, the taxpayer is not complicit. Their act, paying taxes, is just and renders justice to the State (Caesar). The State operates for the common good, and funds are needed for that. We can debate whether a given tax rate is just, and whether the use of the taxes is moral, but the act of paying taxes is moral on the part of the taxpayer, and there is nothing wrong with the State exacting a just tax from its citizens. At the point in which a direct injustice is placed on you, and there is no lawful course of redress, then there can be a case for prudent resistance. Even though America is quite a dirt hole, we are actually not at that point. But we're pushing in with the almost complete lack of responsiveness of our elected officials, and the debasing of our currency. Overall we still have it pretty good. The protests are having some effect, and we are still in a stage in which the grievances can be redressed.

ADD: Lest anyone misunderstand me. Abortion is absolutely diabolic. But if everyone ended paying taxes to stop abortion, our economy and state would fail, and we'd have war, if not more destruction. We can't do evil that good may come of it. We are involved in abortion, but we aren't complicit. There are ways to affect change, and certainly a cause for rebellion is that our efforts are consistently ignored or worked against. Rebellion should be the last option.
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#27
(12-07-2011, 06:53 PM)Scriptorium Wrote: The answer is that in abortion, idol worship, or what-not, the taxpayer is not complicit. Their act, paying taxes, is just and renders justice to the State (Caesar). The State operates for the common good, and funds are needed for that. We can debate whether a given tax rate is just, and whether the use of the taxes is moral, but the act of paying taxes is moral on the part of the taxpayer, and there is nothing wrong with the State exacting a just tax from its citizens.

In the example of Our Lord asking for a Roman coin, acknowledging the image of Caesar, and saying that we should render it back to Caesar, this is not necessarily an endorsement of all taxes. Our Lord was pointing to both temporal and spiritual truths. The temporal truth being that as head of the empire and as minter of Roman currency, all Roman coins were technically Caesar's. In a monarchy, the monarch may be considered the owner of the state. He treats it as his own private property. So truly, all Roman currency belonged to Caesar and it could be called back to him.

Likewise, one of the spiritual truths (I'm sure there are many) that can be gleaned from this same story is that God is the rightful owner of each of us, body and soul. Our Lord illustrates this by using the coin and its ownership by Caesar as an analogy.

The only way taxes can be legitimized is if paying them is truly an act of justice, i.e. rendering to the state what is its due, and it is only due taxes when it truly acts according to its purpose, i.e. action for the sake of the common good.  But in a situation where you have an income tax, this is clearly not the case. An income tax is a tax on labor, and the fact that the percentage of what you can be taxed is variable, by extension, the state could claim 100% of your income, i.e. 100% of your labor, ergo, you are a slave. Can you argue that the state is due an arbitrary percentage of my labor for the sake of the common good? I would argue not, since the implication is a form of slavery, which is NOT in accord with the common good. Income taxes, by the way, are a relatively modern invention, and the tax Our Lord spoke of was not a tax on income.

On the other hand, payment of a toll to cross a bridge, for example, is a tax that is due to the state, for the state builds the bridge and maintains it (in most cases). If it were a private bridge, the owner would be due a toll, as well, if he so chose to collect one. With the income tax, on the other hand, the purpose of the revenues collected is not clear when you pay your taxes. You are simply giving bureaucrats a budget with which they may arbitrarily decide how to spend it, whether for the common good or not.

It should be noted that the real purpose of the income tax is not the generation of revenue. There are various other ways of collecting taxes and raising revenue besides taxing income. The real purpose of the income tax is social engineering, to place a cap on the middle class, to prevent upward mobility, and to reduce the purchasing power of the middle class.

(12-07-2011, 06:53 PM)Scriptorium Wrote: ADD: Lest anyone misunderstand me. Abortion is absolutely diabolic. But if everyone ended paying taxes to stop abortion, our economy and state would fail, and we'd have war, if not more destruction. We can't do evil that good may come of it. We are involved in abortion, but we aren't complicit. There are ways to affect change, and certainly a cause for rebellion is that our efforts are consistently ignored or worked against. Rebellion should be the last option.

None of these would be the outcome, at least not with regard to the income tax. Our country existed for over a 100 years without an income tax. It could do so again without self-destructing.
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#28

(12-07-2011, 07:58 PM)rbjmartin Wrote: Can you argue that the state is due an arbitrary percentage of my labor for the sake of the common good? I would argue not, since the implication is a form of slavery, which is NOT in accord with the common good. Income taxes, by the way, are a relatively modern invention, and the tax Our Lord spoke of was not a tax on income.

On the other hand, payment of a toll to cross a bridge, for example, is a tax that is due to the state, for the state builds the bridge and maintains it (in most cases). If it were a private bridge, the owner would be due a toll, as well, if he so chose to collect one. With the income tax, on the other hand, the purpose of the revenues collected is not clear when you pay your taxes. You are simply giving bureaucrats a budget with which they may arbitrarily decide how to spend it, whether for the common good or not.

It should be noted that the real purpose of the income tax is not the generation of revenue. There are various other ways of collecting taxes and raising revenue besides taxing income. The real purpose of the income tax is social engineering, to place a cap on the middle class, to prevent upward mobility, and to reduce the purchasing power of the middle class.

I agree with you in many ways. But factoring out inflation, I paid (after refunds) less than five percent of my gross on income tax. Sure we have taxes everywhere, and we have inflation, but I don't see it so drastic that it is not beyond redress. The system is terrible on many levels, but I don't think that excuses most Americans from filling out their forms in April, and evening the account.

(12-07-2011, 07:58 PM)rbjmartin Wrote: None of these would be the outcome, at least not with regard to the income tax. Our country existed for over a 100 years without an income tax. It could do so again without self-destructing.

I agree. But it would need to be gradual. As it stands, we depend on our current system, so what is needed is a gradual change. I was talking about a drastic change of all people in a evry short time. Same in regards to paying debt. If everyone stopped paying their debt tomorrow, the system would collapse. But if we gradually paid off our debts, we could return to a healthy nation economically.
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#29
On the former point, we'll have to disagree. I think taxing income and labor is inherently unjust, but my wife and I will continue to pay income taxes because we fear the penalties the government imposes for failing to do so.

On the latter point, I'm in full agreement.
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#30
(12-07-2011, 09:17 PM)rbjmartin Wrote: On the former point, we'll have to disagree. I think taxing income and labor is inherently unjust, but my wife and I will continue to pay income taxes because we fear the penalties the government imposes for failing to do so.

On the latter point, I'm in full agreement.

Not all income tax is on labor. Gifts are income, and so is interest, etc. And when I am taxed on my purchases, it is still a tax against my income. So the argument there lies somewhere else besides labor.
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