Sunday, July 3, 2011

Television evangelism taxes, lifestyle excess, taxation & term limits!

For the sake of giving you a contextual point of reference to see what I'm reacting to, here's the original post...

As I flip through the channels and momentarily watch each teleevangelist, it disturbs me that these groups are hiding behind their tax exempt status, while preaching fearful and misleading political rhetoric. The founding fathers left this religious droning out of our nations framework for a good reason!

As an aside, while I did not post all of the following as a response to his initial complaint, he chose to delete my response.  Here's my thinking about that.  If you're not willing to deal with reactions to what you may say in a public forum, find another outlet for your rant.  Otherwise, people may start to think that you're chicken-shit, that you can dish it out but can't take any criticism.

I get what you're saying, but it would be a drop in the bucket.  I understand the frustration, but we TRULY don't want the government making judgment calls concerning which church/doctrine/denomination, etc is WORTHY of being seen as a "legitimate" not-for-profit organization.

As individuals, the heads of these TV evangelistic monstrosities should be held liable for their personal income.  But they're smart enough to hire talented lawyers and accountants to insure that they don't personally OWN anything.  The corporate entity owns the houses, the cars, the jets and the ski lodges that make up the bulk of the luxury that drives us all nuts.  In truth, I would expect a peek at any major televangelists personal tax return to show that the corporation paid him or her $1 or some seemingly small amount.

You may think this is awful, how could someone live like this and not pay taxes, or pay a minimum of taxes?  But honestly, back when the press and entrenched power mongers in Washington DC were mocking Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes, and others for even mentioning a national sales tax or VAT, those proposals would make all these objectionable purchases of luxury items taxable events.

But those in power know that they can exert control or at least appear to through tax regulations and legislation.  A tweak in tax code wording can lead to positive cash flow to politicians who sponsor or support the measures.

Money Plus lack of term limits equals corruption from top to bottom of our political system.  I believe that the one, single thing we could do to fix the mess that our political system has become is to enact strict term limits.

A very close second is campaign finance reform including full, instant, publicly accessible reporting of all contributions.  No Political Action Committees, only U.S. individuals would be permitted to contribute, no war chest hand-me-downs, upon death or retirement.  Actually, I would limit who could contribute even more severely, only registered voters could contribute.

Back from tangent land...By all means, when there are specific complaints with a church or really any not-for-profit, investigate.  But when it comes down to it, all the money these churches receive is from after-tax contributions from individuals.

If you have a favorite charitable, not-for-profit you give money to, would you want the government taking a portion of your donation away in the form of taxes just because somebody doesn't agree with what your chosen charity says or does?

I'm not defending the excesses, fleets of private jets, rolls-royces with chandeliers for turning lamps or the lavish mansions.  But there are some things that we have to choose to see as a necessary evil, because the alternative (government oversight of ALL charitable organizations) will quickly become absolutely evil.

The real cure is to change our whole taxation paradigm, to simplify, to get rid of the power and profit motivations that come from being in a place of power over tax regulations.  Stamp every politician with an expiration date the day he takes office.

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