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Jesus, Romney, and Treasure

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Mitt Romney and his wife Ann say that all we the people need to know about their finances is that they tithe to their church and that they give to charities. People considering who to vote for in the presidential election can understand the character and heart of the Romneys, they say, by looking no further than their 2010 tax report.

Without question the Romneys' heart is in their church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They put 10 percent of the income from their treasure into that church, presumably year by year, in keeping with the teachings of their church. Their heart is in some charities they give to, a noble thing to do, and along with the tithe is tax deductible.

However, the Romneys surrendered less than 14 percent of the income from their vast wealth to America according to their 2010 tax report, and that money was given very grudgingly according to Governor Romney. "Not one dollar more than was required!" he has said repeatedly. He has not said if this same attitude applies to his church tithe.

It is widely supposed that the Romneys surrendered little, or perhaps even nothing, to America in other years of their long and vast wealth. We have been told by the candidate and his spokespersons that the Romneys have used and continue to use each and every method conceived by tax accountants to keep their considerable wealth out of the reach of American needs and priorities.

It seems to me that this fact also gives us insight into their character and heart. Jesus said it best and most memorably: "For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also." (NIV, Matt: 6:21, Luke 12:34).

By placing much of their wealth out of the reach of America and hoarding it in Swiss, Cayman, and Bermuda vaults, they have told us that their heart is not in National Science Foundation research into finding cures and treatments for cancer and other diseases, the provision of health care to America's poorest persons through the Medicaid Program, the education of our children, the assistance to drought or flood or storm ravaged communities, the American military presence and sacrifices around the world, and a great host of other collective needs and priorities of America.

No, they prefer to let the rest of us pay for all of the needs and priorities of our American society. Their heart is in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some chosen charities. When it comes to the rest of America, their treasure and their heart is elsewhere, largely intended to further enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us who relinquish much more proportionately to our shared needs and priorities.

The American infrastructure, care for creation, crime prevention and control, air traffic safety, protections from unfair business practices or dangerous products, head start, worker training at community colleges, small business loans, school lunches for impoverished children, or even the GI Bill for returning war veterans... none of those things are in the hearts of Mitt and Ann Romney.

When Governor Romney says he pays "not one dollar more" than is absolutely required by law, and it seems to be fine by him if he can get away with paying nothing at all, he is saying his heart is not in the problems and issues the rest of us face.

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