After getting rid of Direct TV and then cable, my wife and I have now been using Hulu for all of our Television experiences. Most mornings, I get up and turn on The Colbert Report, hosted by Stephen Colbert. In my opinion, this is probably one of the most cleverly written shows as well as executed shows on the air. There is always satirical banter from Colbert that usually promises semi-equal jabs for the right and the left on the political spectrum.
On last nights show, Colbert had a Georgetown University’s Priest named, Thomas Reese on the show to talk about the Catholic view of Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. Not having seen the entire proposal and only going with what was said on the show, Rand’s proposal was described as the typical republican proposal: removal of funding for low-income programs and cuts for the corporate businesses/wealthy.
Regardless of whether that is an accurate description or not, or whether you think one way or the other about how America should go about economic growth and sustainability, what was interesting about this interview was what Thomas Reese said about the budget being a form of morality:
“We believe that a budget is a moral document. It represents the values of a country, of a nation…“
I thought that this above statement was very interesting because when I think about it, there is a lot of truth to this statement. Most of the time we probably don’t think of a budget as a moral statement or document, but for (I’m making generalizations here) democrats/liberals there is a sense of great moral responsibility to take care of the poor through government programs; even to the point of redistributing wealth. On the other side, republications (generalization once again) tend to have a great sense of moral responsibility when it comes to abortion and marriage. Both of these are not only important, but also moral causes. When we look at those perspectives of moral responsibility that both sides of the political spectrum take, budgeting very much becomes a moral issue.
Now we could argue on and on about what is right, wrong, moral, and immoral when it comes to any and all political parties. The real questions that we must ask ourselves is,
“Does my budget show my morality?”
One of the best ways that I have heard a budget described is from Dave Ramsey. He says that a budget is you telling your money where it is going. Since we tell our money where it is going in a budget, “How are you budgeting your morality?”
One thing is true about government and also true about you and me is the fact that we can tell a lot about what is important and what we value in where our money goes. The important part of the process is not looking to the right or to the left. but rather looking in the mirror (and looking at a spreadsheet) to access whether your money is representing what you value…what you view to be a moral imperative.
It is very easy to get caught up in the political jargon of what the left is doing wrong, or what the right is doing wrong, but what about what we, as individuals are doing wrong? Our disgust of the government and political system will not change anything or even have a positive impact on our own lives. In fact, we end up deceiving ourselves into feeling superior to “those” on the left or “those” on the right as we continue to forge headlong into our own stagnant moral compass that would rather argue than live out what we believe.
Living out what we believe, means budgeting morality in our lives. If God is important to your life, then your budget includes tithing. If charity is important, then giving to the poor or underprivileged is a part of your budget. If family is important, then savings, insurance (life, health, etc.) are in your budget. Don’t let your money dictate where your life will go.
We get to tell our money what is important. Why live any other way?