THE ROLE OF ETHICAL
STANDARDS IN SHAPING STATE AND NATIONAL BUDGETS
by Sr. Brenda Walsh,
listen to the debates that surround the Annual Budget decisions at
various levels, I wonder if there are any common ethical standards
in creating them. If so, how do we name them?
At a recent
Social Ministry gathering in D.C., representing some church leaders,
they discussed the blizzard of debates on how to solve the budget
deficit nationally and statewide. Over the years, faith communities
and social service leaders have named some and ethical standards.
One policy is clear – The budget deficit must not be solved on the
backs of the poor and most vulnerable members of our society. They
are the ones who suffer the most from legislative posturing and
bickering that has reached a pitch beyond all we have experienced in
proposed at state and national levels at this time only increase and
deepen the problems. Also the attempt to take away the power of the
workers to have a legitimate voice in ensuring safe working
conditions, just wages and benefits denies basic principles that
honor the dignity of work and the workers and promote economic
fairness. Fr. Bryan Massingale, SJ, reminds us that Ministers from
various denominations and great civic leaders such as Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez and Rabbi Joshua Heschel
supported Bargaining Rights to protect the human dignity of the
workers and maintain fairness in the workplace.
decisions made regarding the budgets in areas such as education,
health care, job creation and other human needs affect all people.
For example if we reduce the number of teachers and have less
schools, this will only add to the deficit in the future. The
growing number of families with children living in poverty will need
better schools, smaller class sizes and more resources to prepare
them for jobs in the future. President Obama suggests strong support
for education. Without adequate educational resources, we will be
building more prisons and have more living in poverty. Likewise,
cutting back on programs for the aging population will only leave
more people in dire poverty We realize that something has to be done
in face of such a large deficit. In all programs we need to practice
fiscal responsibility. What we do and how we do it will make all the
We need to
take a good look at the growing social needs and see where and how
they fit into the total picture. We need to work together to find
the best and most effective way to solve the problem and meet human
needs. One major decision could be to find alternative ways to solve
international conflicts and not consider war as the first solution.
It only adds to the conflict and takes a great toll on the human
race. The money used on wars and preparation for wars could make a
great difference in providing
basic human needs named above. Can we ask the millionaires and
billionaires and major corporations to contribute to the debt
reduction rather than finding ways to provide tax breaks for the
these are shared responsibilities that will call for more
cooperation and adjustment of some of our values. If we are fair and
fiscally responsible we can accomplish our goals to honor and
respect the human dignity of all people. This transcends wrangling
and political debate in order to build strong, healthy and
productive communities for all.
continue the journey with courage and hope.