A Different Sort of Conscientious Objection
I spent yesterday doing employer’s paperwork chores: confirming our workmen’s comp policy is in force, contracting with a payroll service, scheduling delivery of materials, bitching about freight charges. This too is boat building.
I’ve also been reading up on Peace Churches, and I came across something interesting in relation to payroll taxes. From the official Social Security website:
Members of certain religious groups may qualify for an exemption from the Social Security tax. To do so, they must:
Waive their rights to all benefits under the Social Security Act, including hospital insurance benefits; and
Meet the following requirements:
- Be a member of a recognized religious sect conscientiously opposed to accepting benefits under a private plan or system that makes payments in the event of death, disability or retirement or which makes payments towards the costs of or provides for medical care (including the benefits of any insurance system established by Social Security);
- Be a member of a religious sect that makes a reasonable provision for its dependent members and has done so continuously since December 31, 1950; and
- Have never received or been entitled to any benefits payable under Social Security programs.
Effective January 1, 1989, wage are not subject to Social Security tax when paid to an employee who is a member of a recognized religious group by an employer who is also a member of a recognized religious group, if both have approved exemptions.
I remember about 30 years ago, sitting at the dinner table, and my father, a physician, noting that most of the healthcare dollars he saw spent were spent in the waning months of elderly people’s lives, musing that perhaps there would be some money saved, and what money spent put to better use if, at a certain age, people were offered a cash buy-out of their actuarially expected medical entitlement.
They would be free to use this money however they liked; bucket list, pass along to their heirs, medical expenses. They would, however, forgo any claims on public monies for their healthcare or dying-care.
It’s an appealing thought to those of us who feel confident we can both manage our finances and face our demise with resolute courage (my father has signaled he will, if need be, depart PCB-style.)
But our nations’ collective experience of the past decade or so suggests we are not there yet; that too many people would take the payout money, and still end up dying at public expense.
Whenever I hear someone complain that financial concerns prevent them from living the life they truly want to live, B&H Photo comes to mind.
B&H Photo has been a fixture in the landscape of professional photography for as long as I can remember, and in my years of being a professional photographer and filmmaker I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with them on equipment and supplies. Their prices, if not always the absolute best, are good enough to not have to worry about shopping anywhere else. Their selection is enormous. Their service is good.
They are also never open on Saturday. Ever.
They close early on Friday. Always.
They are closed on all Jewish holidays. All of them.
I’ve always found this remarkable, that even as we’ve moved to ever more absurd expressions of 24/7 consumerism B&H has stuck to its convictions and thrived.
But I also can’t help but notice, that like the Plain People who seem to be able to successfully resist the tyranny of the Social Security system, B&H Photo is also built on a strong faith community. Most of the people who work at B&H wear funny clothes and groom their hair in distinctive ways.
Lastly, and on the subjects of groups who can stick to their convictions no matter the cost, I would like to invite any Republican legislator to come to our boat shop and explain to me the difference between the income tax-holiday we’ve given to and now (indefinitely?) extended for upper income earners and the currently being debated payroll tax holiday.
There’s hot coffee and cold pizza. Stop by any time.