“The issue of the time is how much [economic] inequality is tolerable.” So declared the Rev. Christian Iosso, Coordinator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP), at the conclusion of a workshop on “Raising Taxes and Raising Crops.” The workshop, part of the April 5 “Food Justice” conference, was also billed as a report from an ACSWP team commissioned by the 2012 PCUSA General Assembly to study the U.S. tax system.
Iosso’s take on the issue was that, at minimum, current levels of inequality were intolerable. “We’re all experiencing, like the frog in the hot pot, this crazy imbalance of where the money is going in society,” he asserted. “The culture of greed has gone too far.”
The ACSWP coordinator was grim about the state of the U.S. economy and society. “We see the young who have no clear career paths open anymore,” he said. “In a society where there’s no hope of economic mobility for many people, then there becomes a lot of corruption, a lot of cheating.”
In the face of such economic and moral crises, the solution favored throughout the workshop was to raise taxes on the rich. To make this argument, Iosso introduced Dr. Edith Rasell, an economist who holds the position of Minister for Economic Justice in the United Church of Christ (UCC). Rasell, who is also a member of the PCUSA team studying tax policy, asked and answered the question, “Why is progressivity [higher tax rates on higher incomes] better?”