from the editor
What's religious about taxes?
The old saw about nothing being certain but death and taxes is, if you think about it, a serious religious notion. The death part is easy to relate to religion, but taxes?
Chuck Collins, a deeply committed Unitarian Universalist profiled in this issue, has lots to say about this. He is coauthor with William H. Gates Sr. (that's right, Bill Gates's father) of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes, a new book from Beacon Press whose publication fortuitously coincided with the Bush administration's push to eliminate taxes on dividends and to accelerate other tax cuts.
Collins got to know Gates while he was rounding up billionaires and millionaires to oppose elimination of the estate tax. The new book grew out of this effort, but more fundamentally it grows out of Collins's lifelong commitment to economic justice-and specifically out of his understanding that our democracy is threatened by the unfettered accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few. The Unitarian Universalist Fifth Principle affirms "the right to conscience and use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large." For us, tax policy is indeed religious.
One of the joys of working on this magazine is discovering how many fascinating people there are among the ranks of Unitarian Universalists, and how many of them, like Collins, have a serious impact on the way our futures unfold.
Often we find out about the people you see profiled in UU World from readers, and we're always eager for suggestions. If there's someone in your congregation you'd like to nominate as worthy of our attention, please e-mail me at the address below. We won't be able to profile everyone suggested we have only six small issues a year, and not all of them have room for a profile but we can't profile the most interesting UUs if we don't know about them.
Collins came to our attention first through word of mouth, and had been on our list of people we'd like to write about for a couple of years when the new Beacon book presented a newsy context for the profile. He is cofounder of the not-for-profit United for a Fair Economy, which not only organized the Billionaire Backlash but also brings an array of thoughtful and imaginative techniques to the fight for economic justice. To see the range of the organization's work, go to www.ufenet.org.
In his volunteer life, Collins has been active in his church, in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, and leads workshops for Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community. And he is the spouse of a UU minister. So relating religion and taxes is no strain for Collins. Kimberly French's stylish profile begins on Page 34.