At the denominational meeting I attended recently, about the last order of business was financial. We had to set "assessments," the per member amount each congregation pays in to the denomination for denominational ministries. The debate was classic: larger-scale programs done by the national denomination versus keeping the money at the level of the local congregations. On the one hand, some programs best can be done denominationally--most congregations cannot develop their own Sunday School materials. But on the other, most effective ministry is done at street level, by local people through local congregations. Set assessments too high and local ministry suffers. Set assessments too low, and denominational efforts dry up.

The debate set me to thinking about taxes and the nature of American society. Liberals seem to think that America is made up of the People and Government. So to meet needs Government needs money, therefore raise taxes. But, this is a false picture of America. We are a nation of the People and Government and a myriad of voluntary societies--churches, Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce, volunteer fire companies, historical societies, cemetary associations, garden clubs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Scouting, 4-H, countless auxiliaries for this and that, hospital volunteers, Shriners, neighborhood watch, etc., etc., etc. If Government takes too much money from the People in taxes, the voluntary societies dry up.

And voluntary societies are an essential part of the health of America. Voluntary societies are the People responding to need, taking the initiative to make things better, actively bettering community life. If society becomes only the People and Government, the People will be passively dependent, waiting for Government to protect them and take care of them. Tax cuts don't just stimulate the economy; tax cuts stimulate active citizenship.