Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tax Burden Fairness?...Response to Chris Johnson

This following was written originally as an emailed response to my brother in law, Chris, and our family, in the Borgmann Family List-serve. See his originally letter by clicking here.

"But do you give any value to what a persons level of contribution to
the government or society is?" - cj

This is an essential question.

How do we measure "contribution" of a person to society, or to the government?
How is the value of a person's contribution determined or weighed?
Is money the only way we might assess contribution?
What if we held something larger?

I think about the role of priests, nuns, social entrepreneurs, (whoby definition measure their work in the number of LIVES they impact.)I mean Mother Theresa didn't generate a lot of cash flow, but she certainly did have an impact on the society of India, and all the other countries where her order went. Hmmmm.....

What would happen if we held out for larger, more complex assessments of that human contribution?

As long as we continue to operate in a bottom line only mentality, (and assess ourselves and government through this lens) we will be miserable and perpetuating our own suffering in this country, as well as others here and around the world.

Fairness? What is fair?

Clearly, currency is necessary for one kind of approximation of value. But dollars are not the only way we give or contribute. And surely, from a spiritual point of view, God doesn't measure us by the amount of money we make. Hahah. No. I think it's something more like this:

Do we use our gifts?
Are they for the greater good?
Do we use them fairly? What does Love say? Justice say?

You know me, family, I have to challenge the philosophical underpinning of any discussion and challenge frameworks and perceptions!

I really think if we get stuck in fairness around taxation, we'll be stuck as a miserable country always feeling someone got something over on us. It's not a generative and creative place to be. Nor a happy one.

Here's something to chew on...Instead of Gross National Product, what if we followed Bhutan's model, and went to assess the USA on how happy people were? Gross National Happiness?

Here's a TIME magazine article on this:,8599,1016266,00.html

Info from Wikipedia follows. LOVE!
Peace, Happiness,


Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product.

The term was coined by Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972
in response to criticism that his economy was growing poorly. It
signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve
Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many
moral goals, it is somewhat easier to state than to define.
Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five Year
planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide
the economic and development plans of the country.
While conventional development models stress economic growth as the
ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the
premise that true development of human society takes place when
material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement
and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion
of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, preservation
and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural
environment, and establishment of good governance.

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