The Tax Reform: The Benedict Option vs. Homeschooling

By John Zmirak Published on December 21, 2017

The Republican Congress’ passage of the Trump-sponsored tax reform is a crucial win for the administration. Now Trump can point to concrete achievements. The list, so far, is decent:

  • Defeat of the Islamic state without massive U.S. involvement, cost, or casualties. We had no dogfights with Russian planes, and cut off aid to “rebels” that was ending up with jihadists.
  • Protection for Syria’s Christians — in contrast to the fate of Iraq’s Christians under previous GOP administrations.
  • An economic boom, with a growth rate approaching 4 percent. That’s double the anemic figures for most of the Obama administration.
  • A long list of reliably Constitutional judges appointed to courts at various levels, including the Supreme Court’s Neil Gorsuch.
  • Relief for the Christian groups targeted by Obama’s abortion pill mandate.
  • And now, significant tax cuts that should further boost the economy.
  • Plus, the repeal of the most unconstitutional aspect of Obamacare, the individual mandate to buy health insurance.

Not bad at all. Trump has amassed some real accomplishments, though the media have successfully kept him or the GOP Congress from taking much of the credit. That will be the uphill task of Republican candidates in 2018.

With all of that said, there are some aspects of the tax bill that should disappoint us. The president isn’t to blame for them. In fact, we shouldn’t blame the GOP leadership in Congress. Some of the best provisions in the tax bill were stripped out at the last minute by Democrats. The Republicans lacked the margin of votes to override their maneuvers — a point I’ll get to later.

Here is saddest loss from the tax bill.

The Best Thing for the Birth Rate

Ted Cruz deserves the lasting gratitude of parents across America for the provision he added to the tax bill, which mostly survived. It expanded the tax-exempt 529 savings accounts that once applied only to college funds to those who need it most: Parents trying to keep their children out of public schools. I wrote here three weeks ago that such tax credits were the best move lawmakers could take to boost our failing birth rate.

Is anyone out there is still paying attention to the Benedict Option, and its author’s message on the futility of “voting Republican”? Then think about this: A million and a half parents, many of them Christians, just lost a chance to make their lives a lot easier.

After all, responsible parents think ahead. How many of them limit the size of their families to those they think they can afford to educate responsibly? In large swathes of America, it’s irresponsible to place your kids in a public school. Not just in big cities where you’d fear they might become practice stabbing dummies. No, in suburbs and small towns where leftist teachers unions and social engineers in principals’ offices will saturate them in graphic sex education. Where the bathrooms will be “transgender,” and teachers will encourage them to explore their “gender options.” Where impressionable 14-year-olds will be sent to Planned Parenthood to learn about “safe” sado-masochism.

Sadly, parochial schools such as I attended are shrinking or closing, as parents find tuition unaffordable. If millions of parents learn about and take advantage of 529 accounts, that trend could slow or reverse.

A Sharp Stick in the Eye for Homeschoolers

So what’s the down side?

One alert citizen on Twitter captured what Cruz himself emerged to bemoan: Democrats who couldn’t kill this popular measure took their revenge. They reached into the bill to poke a stick in the eye of the Americans they like the least: homeschoolers.

Why single out this group of Americans who kids cost the taxpayers nothing, since they never darken the door of a public school? Another observer suggested a motive:

The Sandinistas Hated Homeschooling

Should we really be surprised that Sen. Bernie Sanders led the charge for this vindictive measure against 1.5 million harmless, civic-minded Americans? He’s the same man who honeymooned in the Soviet Union and ran interference for the Sandinistas. The idea of citizens educating their own kids, entirely cut off from the Borg? That’s a bridge too far.

Is anyone out there is still paying attention to the Benedict Option, and its author’s message on the futility of “voting Republican”?  Then think about this: A million and a half parents, many of them Christians, just lost a chance to make their lives a lot easier. Thousands of dollars they could have saved tax free for books, laptops, lab equipment, curriculum plans, tutoring, sports activities just vanished from their pockets. Who knows how many will find it financially unsustainable to go on home-schooling without this tax relief? How many Christian kids will end up in anti-Christian public schools — baffled, indoctrinated, impregnated, or otherwise lured away from the church?

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That will happen because of the government. Which we as sovereign voters control. If more Christians voted primarily on social issues such as religious liberty and life, hostile socialists like Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be able to target them. They’d be outvoted by better senators.

Burying Our Talents

So we see here a direct connection between people “not voting Republican” and other people losing their chance to educate their children. It’s reckless, irresponsible, and self-indulgent to abandon the public square in the hope of finding a hole where you can hide. That has never been what Christian citizens did. Even real, live monks and nuns (not laymen “playing friar”) usually register and vote.  

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  • Sarah Laurell

    The Benedict Option isn’t about “not voting Republican.” It’s about not expecting the State – Republican or Democrat – to be a savior or panacea for social ills. As Christians, homeschoolers, and/or civic minded citizens, we must vote but we must also work in our communities and families to rebuild a lost culture. Vote, yes, but don’t leave your efforts to reclaim our heritage in the voting booth.

  • tz1

    Trump’s promised concrete (literal) achivement should have been and should be the border wall. That is not up yet.

    The Benedict option? Is that short for the Benedict Arnold option? Which describes the GOP Betrayal since Reagan.

    But I will flame the nice go-along republicans here too. They support the heavy, intrusive, big government, high-tax state, and hope they can convince leviathan to do some dieting.

    How about subsidizing ZERO schooling at the federal level, raze the Dept. of Edu. how about making property taxes unconstitutional so you wouldn’t lose your home if you didn’t pay for the socialist indoctrination centers?

    No, the error is that the average Christian and American have accepted the evil argument as true or at least operational. And don’t oppose it. We don’t want every parent to be responsible for their child. We wish evil, secular leviathan to be, even if as a backstop.

    • James

      Society also has to deal with the children of irresponsible and incompetent parents.

      What will become of them for the next 80 years?

      • Bryan

        You’ve asked your question in a rather foolish way for a couple reasons: 1) If parents are responsible for their children then the number of irresponsible and incompetent should decrease because they would either become responsible and competent or they wouldn’t have kids; and 2) This is a fairly low percentage of the population anyway. Should we completely screw up everybody for the sake of the few (most of whom probably slip through the cracks of our current education system anyway)?
        I am not saying that any child is expendable. Rather I’m saying your argument isn’t an argument. Of course there are children whose parents are irresponsible and/or incompetent. But we’ve had that problem as long as there have been parents and children. Nothing in this article or in your comment suggests a way to fully eliminate that problem.

      • tz1

        Hopefully they will be adopted early by responsible and competent parents, or if we fix the schools to teach responsibility and competence, they will not be like their parents, but be like real Americans who believe in good morals, responsibility, thrift, and hard work as the keys to success, not just getting to be a crony to a corrupt politician.

        • James

          If adoption is the solution, the I assume that you believe that the State should have more power to take children away from irresponsible and incompetent parents?

          • tz1

            No, the bad parents should do the right thing instead of destroying the child. The state shouldn’t interfere except in criminal extremis.

  • Delina randomA

    A bit dissapointing, but if government was paying for our books, they (liberals) would then try to govern what we teach at home (not that they haven’t been trying anyway). Since many of us wish to instill moral values in our children(which is completely inept at public schools). Providing more than just the 3R’s, and being a good Moral compass is what parents should have been all along, it was a mistake to ever allow our government so much influence over our children. Perhaps there were good intentions on this proposal, but I’m sighing in a bit of relief on this one.

    • Zmirak

      Tax credits just leave people cash. There is no means by which the govt. can direct how you spend it. That’s why tax credits are safe, while vouchers are dangerous.

      • Delina randomA

        Oh, I see. Thank you for the information.

  • Charles Burge

    I wonder how much of this problem could be solved at the local level… by Christian parents taking a more active role in getting good people elected to the school boards in their own communities. I wonder how many otherwise decent-minded parents contribute to the problem by failing to take an active role in their children’s educations (building relationships with the teachers, becoming aware of what is written in the text books, etc.). I wonder how many Christian parents fail to combat Marxist indoctrination of their children by taking a passive role in teaching them a solid biblical foundation.

    • Nick Stuart

      Influencing school board elections is almost insuperably difficult because of the teacher union’s hegemony. Rather than attempting to influence an irremediably rotten system, Christian parents will get a better return on their time, effort, and money by homeschooling or building up a local Christian school.

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