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Faith-Based Government Services 

Take B’nai Brith Bridge To The Ramadan Inn

Michael Ryan has written, directed and produced films, television, and theater, published several books of humor and satire, and worked as a Washington and foreign correspondent and editor for major magazines.

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Sharon Basco produced this piece.

I took economics once, which qualifies me to advise President Bush on his management of the national purse -- or at least, it puts me on a par with most of the people who have been advising him of late.

The administration, in a time when unemployment is spiraling past 6 percent on its way to heights NASA would envy, when the deficit is galloping out of control, when almost nobody can afford prescription drugs, has found a brilliant solution to our economic problems.

It wants to cut taxes on dividends paid to investors.

Don’t ask the atheists to handle the potholes; the idea of meaningless voids appeals to them.
t’s a good idea; it helps insure that the comfortable will stay comfortable a little bit longer as we all rush down the roller coaster to economic oblivion. The problem is, it’s just a half measure. Let’s be a little more creative, Bushies.

Here’s my idea: Faith-based government services.

Why not go whole hog? If we’re cutting back taxes, which cuts back revenues, which cuts back services to the poor, the needy, the elderly, and, ultimately, to all of us, why not use the Bush solution to social policy as an all-purpose solution to government operation? I mean, if Dubya believes that people of faith will take over the government's human services, why not let them take over all its services?

Think about it. When I travel to New York City from my house, I could take the Pentecostal Parkway to the B’nai Brith Bridge, then go down the Saint Francis Xavier Expressway to my office on Baha’i Boulevard.

LaGuardia Airport? We’ll call it Falwell Field. The Sanitation Department? It’ll be the Sanctification Department; it could recycle your waste paper into tracts.

Of course, some people of faith might object to seeing their tithes go to certain public works, but we can work that out. We shouldn’t make the Christian Scientists pay for medical care. The Unitarians might lean more to the social services side of things. The Episcopalians might want to pitch in to keep up the highways that lead from the leafy suburbs to the financial districts. Don’t ask the atheists to handle the potholes; the idea of meaningless voids appeals to them.

I don’t know whether the Salvation Army would want to subsidize the Pentagon; maybe the Reform Judaism movement would pay for the correctional system. The possibilities are infinite. You could even take the concept into private industry: Ramadan Inn has a ring to it.

Or maybe we could try an experiment: a democracy, not a plutocracy, in which people participate in the funding of social services by sending money to the government. It’s called taxation, but, in an ideal world, it would be taxation with representation. Rich people wouldn’t try to wriggle out of their obligations to society; government would distribute the burden equitably.

That may not happen in this administration, but, in 2004 we might have a chance to try the experiment.

Let us pray.

Published: Jan 02 2003

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