My late cousin Elisabeth was fond of a story in her family involving a grandfather, staunchly Republican and incapacitated by old age who whiled away bedridden hours in the 1930s cursing FDR and his programs. The grandchildren decided it would be amusing to hang a portrait of the president on the wall opposite Grandpa’s bed so that it would be the first thing he saw upon awakening, and they did. Grandpa opened his eyes the next morning, focused on the presidential portrait --- and died.
So it apparently is possible for politicians --- even photos of them --- to scare a guy to death, especially as age encroaches.
I thought of that Friday when surprised by a telemarketer who announced that he was taking a poll of likely GOP participants in the impending Iowa straw poll. The scale of the mistake stunned me and all I could do was say, “you seem to have mistaken me for a Republican” --- and hang up.
Maybe I should have played along, pretended and told the guy I intended to cast a write-in vote for Fred Karger. But that would only have resulted in more potentially fatal phone calls, so perhaps it’s just as well I didn’t.
I’ve been wondering lately how the national debt would be affected if all the money expended on political promotion and similar campaigns related to social issues were invested instead in chipping away at it. Just a thought --- although not a viable one.
I’m in favor of collecting property taxes on church buildings and many other tax-exempt structures, too, although amenable to design exemptions. In Chariton, First United Methodist, First Presbyterian and Sacred Heart would be largely spared because redemptive design value can be documented. The others would pay.
Tax credits would be given to religious groups that gather in homes or public meeting rooms. Any congregation that commissions a Morton Building, radically alters an historic structure or proceeds without the services of a qualified and creative architect would be surtaxed into submission. I would be the design czar.
I also think Christians, once they’ve tucked away enough cash to see them through modestly until glory, should be required under rules of faith and practice to give the rest of their money to the poor in order to open heaven’s gates. That would help with the national debt, too. And that guy Jesus seems to suggest this strategy would not be out of line.
And of course income tax rates for the affluent would be based entirely on the percentage of income given away. The more you give, the more you get to keep --- up to let’s say a 90 percent penalty for those who don’t give at all, depending upon just how rich your are.
Just a few ideas ….