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Popes Even Raised Taxes To Pay For Their Crusades

August 15, 2011

One of the more stupefying moments during last weeks Republican presidential debate in Iowa was the display of unity against raising taxes. 

All of the assembled candidates were asked if they would accept a budget deal that included $10 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes.

All eight of them said their answer was “no.”

In light of wars, economic upheaval, and shortage of funds to run necessary programs there was not a single candidate for president that saw any way to support an increase it taxes.  Not even a most lop-sided 10-1 cuts to taxes ratio plan was acceptable.  That may have sold well among the conservatives who the candidates were pandering to, but I suspect  the average voter who was made aware of that extreme position was not impressed with the lack of reality that the candidates live in.  

The image of the candidates on stage with their arms up to signifying their horror over taxes came back to me this weekend while reading the amazing new book Absolute Monarchs, A History Of The Papacy by Julius Norwich.

The Fourth Lateran Council takes places in 1215, and one of the topics to be discussed is the latest crusade the church wishes to wage.   To pay for the crusade to kill the infidels it is decided that 1/40th of the salary of all clergy will be taxed, and the pope and cardinals would be taxed at a rate of 1/10th of their salary.

I am just going to assume that the 400 bishops and archbishops all did not raise their hands to protest the taxation.

If only President Bush and the Republicans would have been as smart when plotting and undertaking the Iraq war as the abbots and priors from that medieval time were when plotting a crusade.  Not a single thought was provided by Bush as to how the Iraq war was to be paid for.  Not a single new tax was created, or an existing one increased to pay for the Republican military moves.  Yet the popes from centuries before understood that carnage cost money.

Now we are told by the conservatives that all other programs need to be slashed, the very meat of essential programs will be cut so to make up for the red ink that was created from the Bush war and tax policies.

In spite of the need for more revenue the overly generous tax cuts for the wealthy in the nation are allowed to continue, and any mention of curtailing them is shouted down by the likes of those holding their arms up in the debate as a ‘tax increase.’

It is a sad statement to make, in light of the pride, avarice, and hypocrisy that makes for so much of the papal story, but in some ways the popes of the medieval times were smarter and more forward thinking that the Republican candidates running for the White House.

  1. August 15, 2011 5:13 PM

    No, the lesson was that the popes from centuries before understood that carnage cost money. And a way to pay for war must be found.

  2. August 15, 2011 4:32 PM

    So, if I get the gist of this right George W. Bush and the Republicans should have taken their cue from economic policies of “Absolute Monarchs” meaning Kings who ruled their Subjects meaning Emperors, Dictators or Leaders that Ruled with an Iron Fist over their subjects.

    Refresh my memory didn’t America kind of get started because we were trying to get away from Kings, Dictators and Absolute Monarchs and these economic policies?

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