As I write, the current topic is whether to tax incomes above $250,000 at the Clinton levels — and remember, this presidential plan only taxes that portion of income above $250,000 at a higher rate. Mitt Romney wants to make permanent all the Bush tax cuts — which, of course, would be a boon to himself!
The truth is that we need to tax everybody more, especially the rich, if we want to be serious about our national debt. But our candidates are not serious about this proverbial financial cliff.
But what about climate change as a change of pace in the political campaign?
I used my snow thrower once last winter, the first six months of 2012 have broken all existing records for heat in the nation, the polar ice caps are melting, and on and on. Where is the alarm? Where are the plans to tackle this crisis on the part of the two major political parties? They are just as silent — perhaps even more so — than they are on what to do about our national debt.
The only president in recent memory who had an energy plan was President Carter, who asked all of us to sacrifice. We all know what happened to him in his re-election campaign — a new morning in America trumped the call for sacrifice.
So Congress and the presidential candidates fiddle as Rome burns — I mean Washington, D.C.
The fault is not with the stars or the political parties, really, but with us. We allow our leaders to dodge tough political decisions — decisions they make or fail to make because they want to maintain power or attain it.
Sadly, the Christian church is partly to blame. Environmental concern has not been much of a topic in sermons or parish courses or articles on the religious pages of our newspapers.
Part of the reason is a weird theology that the world is soon going to end in a fiery holocaust when some will be saved and some will be left behind. Countless books (e.g., the "Left Behind" series) have been written exploiting this fear; books which promise a way out for the lucky ones. But such books don't have a strategy about how to care for the planet before it fries in God's wrath, or if their calculations are wrong and we have many more centuries on this planet. Maybe our current heat wave is God's shot over the bow.
Some even use the Book of Genesis (1:26: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth") to argue that God gave humanity the right to exploit the environment. Most scholars would interpret Genesis, and in particular, the Hebrew word translated as "dominion," as God giving humankind management or stewardship of our environment — not the right to exploit but the responsibility to care for the world God has entrusted to us.
Climate change is a fact, not an ideology. We must wake up to what is happening around us: drought in much of our country, animals dying, farmers going bust, weird summer storms leaving millions without power, too much rain here (e.g., Florida), too little there (e.g., Arkansas).
The Church can be very relevant here if she can find the courage to proclaim the causes of climate change — at least those caused by human sin — as well as proclaiming the Christian virtue of shared sacrifice.
Let us all invite (or compel!) our candidates to begin speaking some truths about our national debt and our environment. If enough of us raise our voices, the political parties will respond because there is only one thing they hate more than facing issues — losing their power!
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune community columnist