While in D.C., I learned that every month, in that same town, two children die of preventable malnutrition. The prophets of the Hebrew Bible would be standing on street corners, crying out in rage, calling out in the name of God for the most vulnerable in our society to be lifted up. It isn’t only a religious obligation to care for our sisters and brothers by legislating societal responsibility into the tax code – it is common decency.
As a person of faith and a concerned citizen, our current situation deeply saddens me, and moves me to action. We need to pass laws that make it harder for companies to use tax havens and harder for both tax avoiders and criminals to hide their activities through the use of anonymous shell companies. Not only will this save U.S. taxpayers money, it will help eradicate poverty in desperately poor communities and give law enforcement the tools it needs to catch criminals -- including terrorists and drug dealers.
I pray my representatives take my words to heart. If they do, they’ll soon have a chance to prove it. Congress is considering whether to renew two offshore tax breaks. If Congress simply does nothing, these harmful loopholes will be gone from the tax code and we’ll all be better off. Perhaps even the pattern of inaction in the halls of Congress can be redemptive in this way.
Unfortunately, I know our representatives hear from an army of lobbyists working to defend the interests of powerful clients. But it’s not too late for our elected officials to do the right thing. We must be an army of angels calling out for the most vulnerable in our country. There is no other just way forward.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor is the spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif., an executive council member of the international Rabbinical Assembly, and editor of “Peace in Our Cities.”