“Suicidal anti-subsidiarity”

Tedeschi objects to raising taxes in the face of financial crisis

Thomas Peters links to an editorial by Vatican Bank head Ettore Gotti Tedeschi from the most recent edition of L’Osservatore Romano, in which Tedeschi protests, in very strong terms, proposing tax hikes in response to global economic woes.

Argues Tedeschi:

During a prolonged crisis, inheritance taxes, new forms of taxation or similar alternatives reduce or wipe out resources for investments, discouraging the trust of investors, penalizing the cost of the public debt and the possibilities of its renewal at its expiration. In this context, imposing taxes on property and on income is equivalent to a suicidal anti-subsidiarity of the state to the citizen. Those who legally possess assets, on which they have paid the proper taxes, have contributed to creating wealth and, thanks precisely to these assets, continue to produce them with investments and consumption.

Further forms of taxation would not be synonymous with solidarity but only with greater public spending and, perhaps, a higher debt and more widespread poverty. High taxes penalize saving, generate distrust in the ability to stimulate recovery, hit families and prevent the formation of new ones, as well as creating uncertainty and precariousness in employment. In short, they lay the foundations for another phase of unsustainable development.

Several of Tedeschi’s arguments in his editorial echo what he said to CWR reporter Alessandra Nucci in her August/September interview with him. For example, in response to a question about a possible way out of the current financial crisis, Tedeschi said:

…confronted with the inflexible costs that were on the rise with the aging population (health care, retirement pensions…), the only change that took hold was an increase in taxes. In the last 30 years, on average the burden of taxes with respect to GDP has doubled. This goes a long way toward explaining why a married couple of professional workers earns today, in terms of real purchasing power, less than a father earned by himself just 30 years ago. Nowadays two people need to work to produce the same income that used to be available to only one. Hence the role in society of the family, of children, of women, is dwindling and the principle of subsidiarity is being turned on its head. …

I just wonder where man’s best interests lie. Does one’s welfare consist simply in possessing more things, more money? What is the life that makes sense? What are the true values we should refer to? You find the answers to these questions only when you ask the one and only, true and tremendous question: “What is the meaning of life?” This is what can motivate and lend significance to one’s actions. The answer cannot come from economists, nor businessmen, nor social scientists, nor psychologists, nor politicians. … So let us rediscover prayer. And Catholic doctrine. Otherwise all discussions are sterile and are destined to come to nothing. Only religion can explain the nature of good and evil. And Christianity is the most rational religion there is.

Tedeschi’s L’Osservatore Romano editorial can be read here, and his interview with CWR can be read here.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.