The Judeo-Christian standard of justice forbidding oppression absolutely condemns as immoral all tax structures that burden those below the poverty line or that have regressive effects within the income range of the lower middle class. Although regressive tax structures differ from the ancient examples of economic oppression condemned by the Old and New Testaments, the tendency to oppress poor people has not changed, and therefore the broad ethical principle of these biblical texts applies contemporarily: See Exo. 22:21–22, 23:9, Lev. 19:13, 33 (generally forbidding oppression); Deut. 24:12–13, Exo. 22:26–27 (forbidding the keeping of a cloak, something indispensable for a poor person, as a pledge for a loan); Deut. 24:6 (forbidding taking a pair of millstones as security for debt); Deut. 24:19, Exo. 22:25, Lev. 25:37 (forbidding the charging of interest for lending money and selling food at a profit); Deut. 24:14–15, Lev. 19:13 (forbidding holding back wages overnight); Lev. 19:35–36 (forbidding dishonest scales and measurements); Exo. 20:15, Deut. 5:19 (“You shall not steal,” which broadly forbids economic exploitation and injustice as well as all forms of unjust gain at the expense of others). This theme also surfaces in the fiery orations of the Hebrew Prophets. See, e.g., Amos 2:7–8 (“They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to oppressed . . . . They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge.”); Amos 8:4–6 (“Hear this, you who . . . do away with the poor of the land . . . buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals . . . .”): condemning driving the poor into bankruptcy and slavery through unjust economic dealings and heavy taxes, and describing the wealthy and powerful as hindering access or progress of the poorer members of the community; Mic. 2:1 (“Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil in their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.”) refers to abuse of power in illegal and unethical machinations, resulting in social injustice and how the wealthy oppressors had the power because they controlled the power structures of their society, believing that ‘might makes right;’ Isa. 10:1–2 (“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and rob my oppressed people of justice, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”): society reaching the lowest limits of cynicism and self-serving as a result of the poor being denied their rights.
- Susan Pace Hamill , An Evaluation Of Federal Tax Policy Based On Judeo-Christian Ethics, 25 Va. L. Rev. 671, 684 n. 31, 685 n. 32, 696-697 (Winter 2006), at http://www.law.ua.edu/susanhamill/An%20Evaluation%20of%20Federal%20Tax%20Policy%20Based%20on%20Judeo-Christian%20Ethics.pdf.