Michael Bray

Author of A Time To Kill

Budgets and Babies in Anno Domini 2013

4 January, 2013

Dear Editor,

It is often difficult for people to see the folly of their own times.  German philosophers speak of the Zeit Geist (the “time ghost” or “spirit of the time”) in which certain prejudices take root and fads prevail to the point of radically, even if temporarily, altering the mindset of the population.

As recorded in his letter, “Responsibility Starts Here” (WNJ, July 17, 2012) President Kirchner’s goals are four:  stop deficit spending, balance the budget, cut unnecessary high-paid administration, and protect fire and police services. Simple and apparently reasonable.  His efforts have been opposed by half the council bringing sharp division among the city rulers.    It is not really a wonder when we consider the unfathomable debt that Americans have tolerated its leaders to perpetuate.

In response to Mayor Riley’s announcement in early December that $1 million had been cut from his proposed 2013 budget, Councilman Stuckert noted that, in fact, such was not the case.   He charged the mayor in a letter printed in the Journal (December 13) as follows:

You say that $1 million was “cut” from the 2012 budget. That implies that there are $1 million in 2012 expenses that no longer exist.

As you noted, our first reaction was to congratulate you. However, upon examination of the budget presented, we discovered that, in fact, hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses are simply moved from the General Fund to the Water, Sewer and Waste Funds which are paid by our utility bills.

Taxation and the management of a budget is not just a matter of running numbers, it is an accounting for money which has been duly extracted from the citizenry by a lawful process.  Wars have been fought over what has been regarded as excessive or illegitimate taxation.  The American Revolution is the one most dear to our national memory.   Our biblical memory informs our tendency toward smaller government.  Under the laws of God a ten percent levy upon each household’s income was to be paid to the great Legislator Himself through the temple priests.  A king who demanded as much as the divinity Himself, must surely be a tyrant, but such is what an impious king would do (2 Sam. 8:15ff.).

Nationally, we have come a long way in our preference for Godless tyranny and its evolving laws and morality.  Governments take from the workers and give not just to the needy but to the indolent.  And inexcusable are the deeds of a government which takes the people’s money and then pays for the butchery of “unwanted” human beings with that money.  Indeed, and we re-elect such people to keep the horror coming.

Back to our local government, the hopeful citizen might find some comfort in the actions of the tenacious citizenship of Paul Hunter.  This man for the past 20 years has been attending city council meetings, researching issues, and contributing ideas to those in office. He has said that from all the years of doggedly faithful attendance, he views the current city council as the best he has seen.  They are grappling with the issues of responsible government and looking for innovative ways to honorably keep the people’s trust and to uphold justice. Councilmen Kirchner, Stuckert, and Wells have stayed this course without wavering.

Ponder, for a change in Zeit, the mindset of Plato as he considered the danger of depopulation to a nation. The fourth century Clement of Alexandria writes about Plato’s attitude toward population and those who thwart the good that growing numbers brings to a society:

The renowned Plato orders the man who has not married to pay a wife’s maintenance into the public treasure, and to give to the magistrates a suitable sum of money as expenses.  For if they shall not beget children, not having married, they produce, as far in them lies, a scarcity of men, and dissolve states and the world that is composed of them, impiously doing away with divine generation.

The modern man looks down his nose at such bizarre notions as though they were the curious stock of quaint fairy tales.  “Population is a curse to the environment!” he screeches. No matter the generation of national strength and prosperity which population growth brings.

We grant that it is not just the procreation that makes for healthy civilization.  The Christian ethical system was brought to bear upon the Greco-Roman culture and elevated it in many ways as it established the sanctity of both marriage and human life.  Sodomy, pederasty, and polygamy were out; monogamy, the work ethic, political optimism, and the humanitarian transformation of society were in. The kingdom of God had come; Christ was seated in power “at the right hand of the Father”; the world was advancing, not regressing.  And it was moving toward a conclusive moment of evaluation by an inerrant and omnipotent Judge.  Yes, Judgment Day was at the end of time and then a fork in the road by which two groups would part company forever.

As we enter the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade edict and complete four decades of our American atrocity, our Zeit Geist, is one which lethargically permits the continued butchery of future generations.  Would that we had the spirit to change and that God would be willing to forgive us without pouring out well deserved real-time national judgment.

Perhaps it is anti-climactic to return to the Wilmington City budget.   The decision to choose right over wrong is always important for the people and their governors to weigh –  whether the issue  of creating debt for the backs of the next generation or that of the life of a child is in the balance.



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