- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2000

'Inclusive' Bible avoids offending handicapped, left-handed

The Dec. 11 story "Study spreads gospel that Bible still is valid" notes that publishers recently have produced specialized Bibles targeted at different age, sex and ethnic groups.

He might have mentioned the New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version, published by Oxford University Press in 1995 and edited by six American Protestant scholars who sought to make the Scriptures embrace all people.

The editors' laudable compassion for the downtrodden particularly women, the poor, people of color and the handicapped reaches beyond efforts to improve their condition. The editors seek to liberate these groups, whom they see as victims, from the onslaught of words that exclude or demean them.

To make the Scriptures user-friendly and accessible to all, they replace or rephrase "all gender-specific language not referring to particular historical individuals, all pejorative references to race, color, religion" or "physical disability." To embrace women, the editors cut out God the Father and begin the Lord's Prayer with "Our Father-Mother in heaven." The Son of Man became "the Human One." In the Sermon on the Mount, all references to brother are rendered as "brother or sister" or "sister or brother." The simple benediction in John 2:3 becomes: "Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father-Mother and from Jesus Christ, Child of the Father-Mother." In the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd" reads, "God is my shepherd," and the pronoun He is dropped. In the 63rd Psalm, "Thy right hand upholds me" becomes, "Your strong hand upholds me" references to the "right hand" of God may offend left-handed persons. To remove suggestions of male authority indeed, human authority generally the new version does not say children should "obey" their parents but simply says to heed them. The editors prefer "dominion" to "kingdom" because a king is a male figure, and they limit uses of "lord" and "master" because those words connote masculine control or slavery.

Does such political correctness have no bounds?

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Senior fellow

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Chevy Chase

U.S. war on drugs only feeds problems in Colombia

Regarding the Dec. 17 article "Colombia crumbles," the Colombian government's peace plan could very well spread both civil war and coca production throughout the region.

Communist guerrilla movements do not originate in a vacuum. U.S. tax dollars would be better spent addressing the underlying causes of civil strife rather than applying overwhelming military force to attack the symptoms. Forcing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to the bargaining table at gunpoint will not remedy Colombia's societal inequities.

We're not doing the Colombian people any favors by funding civil war. Nor are we protecting Americans from drugs. Cut off the flow of cocaine and domestic methamphetamine production will boom to meet the demand for cocaine-type drugs.

Rather than waste resources attempting to overcome immutable laws of supply and demand, policy-makers should look to the lessons learned from America's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition. The drug war finances organized crime, while failing miserably at preventing use.

With organized crime comes corruption, to which the United States is not immune. The former commander of U.S. anti-drug operations in Colombia was found guilty of laundering the profits of his wife's heroin-smuggling operation.

Entire countries have been destabilized because of the corrupting influence of organized-crime groups that profit from the illegal drug trade. Drug laws fuel crime and corruption, which is then used to justify increased drug-war spending. It's time to end this madness and start treating all substance abuse legal or otherwise as the public health problem it is.

ROBERT SHARPE

Program officer

Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation Washington

Tax evasion may be illegal, but tax avoidance is a right

The letter to the editor by Gabs Makhlouf, chairman of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was revealing ("Tax evasion is a crime, not privilege of wealth," Dec. 17).

The letter proves that the OECD does not recognize the difference between tax evasion, which is as Mr. Makhlouf states twice a crime, and tax avoidance, which is not only legal but a right. I am entirely opposed to tax evasion, and it is right that tax evasion should be prosecuted with the same vigor as any other criminal offense. Everyone, however, has a right to pay no more tax than that which is due under the laws that apply to them.

In addition, the United Kingdom's Treasury which Mr. Makhlouf represents has proposed that all of Europe adopt a basis of personal taxation similar to that of the United States that is, taxation on worldwide income on a yearly basis. Mr. Makhlouf writes as if these proposed changes already had been made. Such changes will not be accepted in the United Kingdom without a battle.

The British government already has stated that it cannot hope to satisfy the growing need for state pension provision and that it will be necessary for workers to pay for their own private pensions. This is despite the fact that both employers and employees pay about 10 percent of the employee's gross pay into a fund for pensions and health care. In the United Kingdom, all types of people with pension funds use external accounts and investments to leverage their earnings, postponing (not evading) payment of tax until the money is needed. In this way, private pensions and savings can result in greater return than if taxed on the basis proposed by the U.K. Treasury.

The OECD starts from a premise that any country that charges a low or zero rate of tax on some classes of earnings or growth is in some way behaving in a discriminatory fashion. This is absolute rubbish.

The OECD fails to recognize that every country has an absolute right to manage its own fiscal affairs. This is a matter of sovereignty.

What the OECD actually wants although it vehemently denies it is "tax harmonization."

Such a policy would, in effect, put OECD members in control of many of the world's budgets. The OECD does not want small, poor countries to have control of their own finances. Under "tax harmonization," such countries will be increasingly dependent on aid, because they will not be able to establish tax incentives that encourage investment (not, as some would have it, exploitation) from international corporations.

When aid is dependent upon whether a country has an acceptable tax regime (both the French government and the World Bank have stated an intention to work toward this end), the development of small, poor countries will be further retarded.

Added to the World Trade Organization's efforts to restrict the subsidization of agriculture in these countries, attempts to control these countries' freedom to set tax rates through their access to aid would be lethal.

There are those who argue against globalization by commercial enterprise. They are missing the point. The real threat to the poor, and to the sovereignty of nations, is from the globalization of government, and tax is the current battlefield.

What we are seeing is the development of global government by a committee of a small number of rich nations. We are seeing the development of empire based on economic might rather than armed conflict.

It is time that we stop it.

NIGEL MORRIS-COTTERILL

Editor

World Money Laundering Report

www.vortexcentrum.com

Essex, United Kingdom

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