Father Brown: California’s governor becomes an evangelist for high taxes.
“I’m going to do a little preaching,” said California governor Jerry Brown on October 21. He was speaking to a congregation at an Oakland church, where he quoted the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 12, verse 48: “To those whom much is given, much will be required.” This is Brown’s favorite line in his crusade to raise taxes through Proposition 30, which Californians will vote on Tuesday. The verse has become a standard trope of his stump speeches for the measure, which would increase income taxes on Californians earning more than $250,000 a year and hike sales taxes for everyone. But biblical themes aren’t new for the governor, who was, after all, a Jesuit seminarian before he entered politics.
Speaking to clergymen at Sacramento’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament last spring, Brown said that high-income Californians “have been blessed, and they must join with us in blessing those that have not been as fortunate.” What is Brown really saying here? Wealthy Californians, he implies—and Brown regularly conflates those making $250,000 a year with “millionaires”—didn’t achieve their earnings through hard work or creative effort, such as making useful products people want to buy. Rather, they were simply “blessed,” another way of saying that wealth was simply handed to them. Now they “must join with us.” Note the commanding tone. This is not a call for dialogue. The “us” in this case would be the state government, and those who believe, as Brown does, that government’s role is to redistribute wealth. Government giveth, but government also taketh away.