- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 2010


America is engaged in a culture war, and the battle being waged is a subtle one. Understanding of this war by laymen has peaked in recent years as the Obama administration attempts to increase the role and scope of government to a degree that citizens not yet

born will bear the weight of decisions - specifically financial decisions - made today. In short, a war pitting individual liberty against nanny-state intrusion is being waged, and the outcome will determine the future prosperity of every successive generation born in this great nation.

With the stakes this high, Americans should demand that their elected leadership consider not just the rational, monetary outcomes of financial reform legislation, but also the moral implications of any economic policy.

The moral case for a balanced-budget amendment - something we’re personally invested in through our organization, Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment - should be obvious to anyone who discovers that the national deficit is roughly equal to $14,000 for each family of four in deficit spending this year alone. The scary specter of a $1.4 trillion national deficit will make even the most ardent man of reason do drastic things. It’s easy to forget how difficult it is to make policy decisions in the face of enormous realities such as these.

However, there are ways to circumvent panic and make successful fiscal policy decisions, and it requires considering the “right versus wrong” of fiscal policy. Fortunately, the groundwork for these kinds of decisions - despite the debate over morality in virtually every generation - is a well-worn path. It may not be a popular tactic, but there’s plenty of writing dealing with the morality of good fiscal policy. For a country as steeped in Christianity as the United States, it’s reasonable to look to the Judeo-Christian tradition to discern what to do about our debt.

The concept of usury is a good place to start when debating the morality of asking future generations to pay the debts of today. A biblical dictionary defines usury as a fee exacted unjustly for a loan. Isn’t asking succeeding generations to pay for today’s debt the most extreme form of usury? In a modern economy, usury is the extortionate practice of charging more in interest than the debt owed. The Judeo-Christian God tells the people of Israel that this kind of unjust interest is a violation of natural law. Asking those who have no responsibility for the debt to pay any interest on it - i.e. having one’s grandchildren pay the cost of Obamacare - is usury at its most egregious.

Fortunately, conservatives have elected a cadre of new Tea Party warriors who understand the moral implications of poor fiscal decisions. Passing a balanced-budget amendment would be the ultimate weapon these new leaders need to win the culture war.

Balanced Budget Amendment Now has a plan to begin turning the tide. It starts with an aggressive campaign to pass a balanced-budget amendment that includes building an infrastructure needed to enlist a minimum of 5,000 supporters in each congressional district to urge members of Congress to vote for an amendment that requires they behave more responsibly with taxpayer funds. The goal is to have a vote on a balanced-budget amendment by Oct. 1, 2011.

It has been said that moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics. For this reason, it is imperative that the citizenry and the congressional members who represent them begin to see fiscal policy as morally important. If they refuse, the truth of C.S. Lewis’ words regarding the dangers of nanny-state tyranny will no longer be academic: “A tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive … those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Unless we fight now to balance the budget for reasons grander in design than simple economics, this kind of tyranny will become our reality.

Chuck Warren is a board member of Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment (PasstheBBA.com).

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