Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI.

A letter to the Archbishop of York on his Living Wage campaign.

31 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. Its worth noting that is you has a whole cohort of earners not paying tax then it would have political repercusions. Also the gov allready releives tax depending on family status.

  2. I read your letter and I liked this extract most of all:

    *Indeed, we have it on the word of an expert of great eminence, Richard Murphy of Tax Research*

  3. I blow hot and cold on the “free the poor from tax” thing. Why shouldn’t they contribute to the upkeep of the country? But why should they be forced to if they earn so little?

    How about a progressive tax system where the bands are fixed proportionally to each other. Say we start with bands of 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%. If the government wants to up taxes, it can change these to, say, 12%, 24%, 36%, 48%. No more stealth-taxing “the rich” to buy the votes of “the poor”, instead: you want more government y’all pay for it.

  4. Tim, as a church-goer I have to question your sanity in even trying to communicate with these morons. The Christian churches of the UK long ago surrendered to the true faith: the State. Any solution that does not involve the State becoming more involved in our lives simply does not compute. It is the only body that could possibly increase the general wellbeing. This applies to the spiritual as well as the material. The churches exist solely to act as cheerleaders for the Courageous State. You are an evil neoliberal.

    As an aside; thanks for discussing the Living Wage/ Minimum Wage. Do you have any thoughts on the level at which a living benefit should be set? Would it be the same or would there be reasons why a different set of criteria might be used. I would personally choose an absolute, rather than relative measure. I really do not see why the unemployed should receive as much s those in work. This of course does not take disability into account; that does change the equation a little.

  5. @Ironman, Jesus commanded to render unto Caesar, didn’t he? He also paid his own taxes, though notably on one occasion by taking the money from the mouth of a fish.

    Saint Paul preached subserviance to the state, for example in Romans 13. 1 Peter 2:13-17 also makes interesting reading in this regard.

    So the Church should honour and obey the temporal authorities. If those authorities want to levy taxes Christians have to recognise that it is by Divine Right that they so do. It is God’s will, so pay up without complaining. Otherwise the wrath promised by St. Paul is yours: “He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves”

  6. Can you take the employers NI from the £7.45 ph figure? If the employee bears the burden doesn’t this mean the ‘starting’ rate would be higher, and then you take off the NI?

  7. As a race, we came out of caves, trekked and paddled all the way round the globe, through predators, disease, starvation and all the rest of it, to arrive at the position where a guy whose only preoccupation ought to be saving the souls of his flock thinks he should concern himself with how much free stuff people get from other people.

    We’ve seen where this bullshit ends, and it’s back to the caves.

  8. @JamesV(3): Not paying income taxes != not paying taxes. The only way to avoid paying any taxes is never to but anything non-VATable ever.

  9. JamesV

    Without getting into a silly debate with you – and it is already silly tbh – I would just note certain things:-

    Jesus didn’t pull a coin out of a fish’s mouth to pay his taxes.
    Render unto Ceaser is followed by “what is Ceaser’s and unto God…” It is an instruction to place things in their proper place.
    St Peter’s words were about respecting temporal authority. Again, subservience just doesn’t appear and it is balenced by no end of instruction on your own personal responsibility. It is this last that modern-day lefty churches have ignored and replaced with cheerleading for the Couraeous State.

  10. It always amazes me how the religious reinterpret the instructions of their religion’s founders to their own ends.
    Rendering to Ceasar was directly and unambiguously about paying taxes (indeed in response to a question put to Jesus about tax paying) but apparently, in a very real sense, it’s actually about putting things in their proper place.

    Religion’s great when you get to pick and choose which bits of your holy book of choice are literally true and which are allegorical (shorthand for: can be ignored). It’s great fun as a spectator because even the allegoricalists can be totally fundamentalist – about their interpretations – and about the things they take literally that others don’t. Vide teh gayer Christians against teh anti-gayer Christians. The same goes for lefty-Christians vs. non-lefty-Christians.

  11. OK, I’ve given you the full quote. Everyone is now free to read it – indeed I highly recommend it – and make up your own minds. And everyone is free to believe that Jesus paid his taxes (!!!) And to believe that he pulled the money from the mouth of a fish – OMG (quite literally in my case)

  12. You have a funny interpretation of “the full quote”. Since the real full quote demonstrates that the thing is about paying tax, here goes, from Matthew 22:

    “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

    18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

    21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

    Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

    22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.”

    As for Jesus paying his taxes, we turn to Matthew 17:

    “24When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?”25He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”26When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.27“However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

    In fact the fish legend is so well known today that the John Dory is known in Italy as San Pietro, because the distinctive marks on the side of the fish are supposed to be the thumb and forefinger prints of Saint Peter.

    I could go on, do tell me if you want to carry on digging.

  13. Yeah I wil and thank you for the opportunityl. P.S. Nobody is required to agree with this; just move along if you wish.

    First, the Ceaser quote is quite clearly about putting things in their correct place including tax – and tax is a necessary way of ordering the world we have made. The world is as it is, is certainly not perfect and yes, some serenity in the face of its wrongs is necessary. This is the underlying basis of Christ’s passion, the journey to Jerusalem with an increasingly large group of followers convinced he was about to overthrow Roman rule. He wasn’t and it was this that set him apart. His message, however, quite clearly not an instruction to accept injustice. He confronted it everywhere, just not in the obvious way that is easy to understand.

    Second, the fish story: It wasn’t tax, simple. It wasn’t due “Then the children are free” It was given as a gesture of goodwill, quite explicitly. It was I’ll grant you, found in the mouth of a fish – and I have been bit stupid not putting it together. So I’ve been a bit dum and well done you for pointing it out.
    However, back to the original accusation: where is the subservience? It is clear that earthly revolution isn’t on the Christian agenda, quite categorically not. But nowhere is subservience to the State, accepting injustice and acting as a cheerleader for the state on the agenda either.
    I do accept that countless Christian groups have used bible quotes in isolation to justify all kinds of inhumanity – I note the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of Putin. However, the fundamental message, requirement for Christians to go and make the world as good as you can make it holds. (He Archbishop of York can read what Tim Worstall has written and use it to develop his own understanding and try to make the world better. Or he can take the easy route and just scream “living wage, moral issue, State and only State can address poverty, and this makes me good because I appear good in the eyes of the chattering classes.”

    I think rhat was where we started.

    But again, genuinely, well done for out thinking me on the fish.

  14. That’s an interesting tactic – force your opponent into writing a long-winded response because it has to include lots of context, then retreat into vague platitudinous spiritual irrelevance. I found Christ’s “serenity in the face of wrong” when facing crucifixion amusing – that’s putting it a bit bloody mildly, isn’t it?

    Firstly, the Caesar quote is quite clearly about paying taxes! That’s absolutely what it is about! You might be surprised to realise just how pro-Roman, let’s all get along with the civil authorities the NT is, those of us who recall that almost none of it (if any) was written before the temple was destroyed are not surprised in the least by this. Much of it, from Joseph and Mary’s turning up to the census through the payment of taxes, not breaking up interreligious marriages, right through to the concept of reward after death for the privations endured in this life, is propaganda of the most transparent form designed to keep the idiots (1) in line, and (2) useful.

    Secondly, the fish thing is all about Jesus paying tax! It even tells you exactly how much tax was owed! Two drachmas! I am astonished that you haven’t come across this before. Maybe it is just another entirely unsurprising case of an atheist knowing his Bible far better than those who actually believe its contents.

  15. On the fish story, yep, I’ve already congratulated you. It wasn’t as well known as you think; there is small group discussing it behind me right now.

    Anyway, the feeling here is the Ceaser quote is indeed to be read as all things in their place. What belongd to this world should be respected, most definitely including tax.

    As far as pro-Roman propaganda; that doesn’t wash. Subservient appeasers just don’t end up, within about 40 years, being blamed for the fire of Rome and being crucified by Nero as a terrorist cult. The life-after-death thing was so alien, a direct challenge, to Rome’s religious view as to be borderline – or not even borderline – treason.

    Matthew’s audience was ethnically Jewish; Luke’s was the gentiles. So Matthew emphasised aspects that Jews would understand but also introduced challenges to the contemporary view. The whole point was: he was not the Messiah they were expecting. He had a message that was hard to grasp- still is it seems – and which required an entirely new world view. It was a direct challenge to everyone. It Jews saw it as pro-Roman, Romans certainly didn’t.

    Finally, not a tactic; just what I believe. Don’t agree with me; nobody else does.

  16. Back to the fish story; is this tax or a tribute to the local religious authorities. Certainly the reference to “the children are exempt” would suggest the latter.

    And I should apologise to Tim Worstall for hijacking his post on the living wage…actually I’m not sorry.

  17. I’ll take Caesar’s Denarius at face value if you don’t mind. That, in contrast, people who actually purport to follow Jesus make whatever they believe of it does not surprise me.

    The writing down of the gospels and particularly the letters happened _after_ the fire of Rome, doubtless attitudes were rather different before then. And manipulating a decimated, oppressed but established religion is easier than doing it to one no one has ever heard of. Timing is essential to understanding why early (but post-AD70) Christianity was so pro-Roman, indeed ended up becoming the state religion of Rome (and remains so to this day).

  18. The sons are exempt? A King wouldn’t tax his own sons. Nothing to do with minors per se, but if you are running an ancient feudal patronage-and-filial based empire it doesn’t make sense to tax your own family.

    Probably an oblique reference to Christ’s divinity or the whole “Son of Man” thing. His being either the son of the King or the Son of Man (everyone’s son) he’s exempting himself from the tax, but paying it anyway. You tell me.

  19. Am I the only one able to read? The meaning of ‘render unto Caesar’ is obvious, but you’re both ignoring it. It’s neither about tax, nor about ‘putting things in their places’, whatever that means, but about not being a complete hypocrite and choosing only to cry ‘religion’ when it suits you. The point is that the questioners used Caesar’s coinage (and by extension, the other things the Romans had done for them), so could not claim to be separate from his state.They could either withdraw entirely from any use of Roman institutions, or pay their taxes.

  20. Sometimes I get the impression that God must have put Anglicans on earth to interpret His word for us. Maybe He was somehow unable to speak clearly enough through his prophets, not one but four evangelists, and later correspondents such as Saints Paul and Peter.

    Dave, I’d not deny the intent to reveal some deeper meaning here, but that doesn’t invalidate the face-value black-ink-on-white-parchment understanding of a question put to Jesus by the Pharisees about the payment of tax and his response to the question. I also think that however malevolent the intent behind the question the Son of God could have given a more polite response. I have more polite exchanges with the thieving asshat of a lawyer who thinks I am an asshat and who knows I think she is a thieving asshat. I suppose however I can’t honestly call her a hypocrite.

  21. Mr Worstall, this is an inspired piece of trolling. The Richard Murphy stuff; pretending that the JRF is a serious institution; being “convinced” the archbishop will see sense on this issue. Truly inspired. I take my hat off to you sir.

  22. @ James V
    It should be beyond dispute that God put Anglicans on earth to interpret his word for atheists. Who else is there to do it? No, he spoke very clearly through the prophets – for those who were willing to listen. However after an Anglican or several pointed out that Richard Dawkins’ claim that he *knew* God “does not exist” meant that Dawkins was claiming to be omniscient and therefore to *be* God he changed it to claim that God was undisprovable. G K Chesterton’s Father Brown once unmasks a villain pretending to be a fellow-priest because he “attacked logic – that’s bad theology”.
    You are wrong to claim that almost none (if any) of the NT was written down before the fall of Jerusalem. It is generally accepted (OK that sounds weasel words but I know no genuine scholar who thinks otherwise) that the original form of Mark’s Gospel was the memories of Saint Peter who was killed several years before the destruction of the Temple. Peter’s letters must also predate the destruction of the Temple. Both also predate the fire of Rome so your claim otherwise is slightly flawed. [Revelation and John’s Gospel are almost certainly later and Paul’s letters are spread over a couple of decades, some earlier, some later but thanking people for aid sent to believers in Jerusalem can be assumed to have been written when Jerusalem was still standing]. Your arguments are better than Dawkins’, but your chronology is weak.

  23. The post has gone off-topic. What is should be about is how income tax should only be about taxing income surplus to basic needs. Tim’s rant about “Living Wage” vs “Minimum Wage” is just one small example; another is making “winter fuel allowance” tax-free – those poor enough to need it should not be within shouting distance of paying tax; another is free prescriptions for over-60s because *all of us* are assumed to be too poor to pay for them despite some having pensions in excess of £100k – no, it was a cynical political ploy: Labour wanted everyone to feel they were benefiting from the taxes paid by other people.

  24. James>

    I must be confused. My point was about the black-and-white, or obvious, meaning. Reading the passage in its entirety, the meaning is very clearly as I said.

  25. Dave, thank you.

    Reading your first comment back, I think I’m trying to say the same thing, but you have put it much, much better than me. Yes, he is asking them, challenging them “Do you want an earthly revolution? If so, go ahead; if not, don’t. But don’t play the Roman game all week and then turn up here and try to argue that, unless I intend to lead an armed revolution, I am a fraud.” BTW, had he rejected the use of Ceasar’s coin, they would have shopped him.
    He was not about overturning earthly authority, Man is left here to organise his own affairs. He does, however, challenge us to confront the world’s wrongs. It might be too subtle or wishy-washy for most people; it certainly was for 1st century Palastine.

  26. It is generally accepted (OK that sounds weasel words but I know no genuine scholar who thinks otherwise) that the original form of Mark’s Gospel was the memories of Saint Peter who was killed several years before the destruction of the Temple.

    How about Kümmel?

    The author obviously has no personal knowledge of Palestinian geography, as the numerous geographical errors show. He writes for Gentile Christians, with sharp polemic against the unbelieving Jews. He does not know the account of the death of the Baptist (6:17 ff) contradicts Palestinian customs. Could a Jewish Christian from Jerusalem miss the fact that 6:35 ff and 8:1 ff are two variants of the same feeding story? The tradition that Mk was written by John Mark is therefore scarcely reliable.

  27. @ Paul B
    Anyone who pontificates on the two feedings without reading Matthew XVI 9 and 10 is *not* a serious scholar.
    If he wants to argue that the two are separate reports of the same event then he needs to explain *why* he thinks Matt XVI 9 and 10 say that they are different.

  28. Oh, and since when did an Idumaean appointed as a Tetrach by the pagan Romans put “Palestinian” (does he perhaps mean Israelite?) customs as his top priority? Just who cared about Philistine customs after Scipio sacked Carthage?

  29. No true Scotsman would deem a report that starts “On another occasion” (REB Mk VIII 1) is a second variant of the same story unless he thought the writer was a liar.
    Fortunately I didn’t say “genuine” but “serious” so I can default to the McEnroe reaction “you cannot be serious”.
    When I meet Kummel (unless I am distanced as Dives was/is from Lazarus) there will be no need to take this up because both of us will know the correct answer.

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