1. a direct pecuniary aid furnished by a government to a private industrial undertaking, a charity organization, or the like.
2. a sum paid, often in accordance with a treaty, by one government to another to secure some service in return.
3. a grant or contribution of money.4. money formerly granted by the English Parliament to the crown for special needs.
Recently I got into a bit of an online tussle with someone over a quote by TV jester John Stewart of the Daily Show. The quote was as follows:
Hypocrisy: bitching that paying for birth control “goes against your religious beliefs” while expecting non-Christian taxpayers to pay for your churches.
The caption by the poster of the meme read: It’s time to tax the churches.
I don’t much care for being unfairly called a hypocrite, so I posed the following question on the comments section:
Please explain to me how non-Christian taxpayers are paying for churches.
To which I was given a link to blog post that referenced this blog post by the Washington Post. If you click on the link you can read the whole post, but here’s a table with the break-down that is the heart of the piece.
Now notice that in every case but one (the faith-based initiatives) every line item describes a tax exemption which they then title a “subsidy”. Here is my online response:
This entire piece relies on a deceptive misuse of a word: "subsidy". This is a rhetorical propaganda tactic that the left uses all the time, and it's based on the concept that all money belongs to the government, and to whatever degree they allow us to keep that money is from their benevolence. Proceeding from that premise, anyone or any group of people who are allowed to keep more of their money than anyone or any other group, is deemed as taking that money from the later. These funds are then viewed as a "subsidy" to the former. This whole premise is not an American idea, it comes from Marxism. The American idea is that our rights come from God, not from the government, and that government only gets its authority from the consent of the people. That authority wields terrible power, though, the power of a monopoly on violence. In other words the government has the power, by threat of violence to confiscate a portion of the money you make. We call these taxes. A subsidy is actually when the government takes money that they have confiscated from one group of people and gives that money to another group of people. These are sometimes called transfer payments. So, for instance, farmers who grow certain crops of which the government wish to see more, in an effort to manipulate commodities markets, are given subsidies from your tax dollars. They are actually given money to grow those crops. But a tax break, such as the mortgage interest deduction you are allowed to claim on your taxes, is not a subsidy, it is merely the government allowing you to keep more of the money you made. Even if I conceded that tax exemption were a "type" of subsidy (which I don't, but let's pretend that I do), it would still be a "type" in which no funds are transferred to the church, only in which funds are not transferred from the church to the government. So the question remains unanswered, and actually unanswerable. The only way to come to the conclusion that tax payers are "paying" for churches is to think that the money that churches would have paid to the government in taxes, if they were not tax exempt, actually belongs to the taxpayers—which is absurd. There are no subsidies—no transfer payments—to churches. There is a tax exempt status to them, just as to many other non-profit organizations in this country. That tax exempt status has existed from the very beginning of this nation. If you wish to tax churches, what other non-profit organizations do you wish to tax? Non-profit hospitals? Charities for the poor? Drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities?
As I mentioned before, the one line item in the table above that actually is a subsidy is for faith-based initiatives. Understand, these government funds do not go for buildings or any other assets for churches, but rather to fund programs that are faith-based, such as alcohol and drug treatment, support for young, unwed mothers, programs that work with prisoners to teach life skills and reduce criminal recidivism.
The misuse of the word “subsidy” by the left to create the misperception that any tax break is actually a theft of taxpayer money is another example of the leftist lexicon, the intentional manipulation and distortion of language, of redefining words to control the popular debate about the size and scope of government. To the leftist and the statist, government is the means by which utopia can be created; therefore all that is not government—the free market, private business, private charities, non-governmental agencies that compete with what they believe are the provinces of government welfare entitlements— must be marginalized, discredited, or better yet, vilified.