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Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget Paperback – February 1, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 171 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830837957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830837953
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,801,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Ronald J. Sider's work is a breath of fresh air. Unlike many on the left, he takes our annual deficits and ever-growing debt seriously. Unlike some on the right, he is profoundly concerned about growing poverty and inequality. Combining insights from both sides, he thinks our debt amounts to an 'intergenerational injustice' but that balancing the budget 'on the backs of the poor' is 'also blatant injustice.'. . . Sider's thinking is generous throughout, perhaps his finest virtue in these trying times." (Ryan T. Anderson, First Things, January 2013)

"In a political culture arguably gone awry, Sider's succinct merger of religion and economics is well worth reading. If nothing else, Sider argues credibly and with clarity that by adopting a moral vision, the country can find an economic path that is both stable and humane." (Publishers Weekly, February 13, 2012)

"I read everything Ron Sider writes because he makes me think through angles and issues that I might not consider. He'll do the same for you." (Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life)

"Ron Sider always brings together rigorous policy analysis and sound biblical principles to address political, social and economic issues. Fixing the Moral Deficit is a penetrating description of our nation's budget battle and shows how to bring a strong Christian perspective to it. It explains how our country got into a deficit crisis, why current proposals simply aren't good enough, and how we can get out of it in critical areas—including increased tax revenue and necessary spending cuts—while continuing to assist and empower poor people. He believes that Christians and other people of goodwill can work together to end the crisis in a way that is both economically sound and morally just. I agree, and commend this book to anyone who shares Ron's passion for a healthy future. Deficits are indeed moral issues, and how we resolve them is a moral issue too." (Jim Wallis, president and CEO, Sojourners)

"For decades, Ron Sider has been helping Christians engage the political system without compromising our primary allegiance to Jesus and his cross. For years, Ron has been exorcising the demons from Capitol Hill and the Pentagon—and he invites us all to join the charge against the principalities and powers that possess our nation and threaten our hearts. Here is Ron's most recent masterpiece on one of the most urgent issues facing this experiment we call the United States of America." (Shane Claiborne, author and activist,

"Thank God for this book! It gives the best survey of America's disastrous debt crisis, along with biblically based critiques of the options to resolve this crisis that are being proposed on Capitol Hill. What's more, Ron gives morally workable alternatives to these proposals." (Tony Campolo, professor emeritus, Eastern University)

About the Author

Theologian and social activist Ronald J. Sider is the founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, a think-tank that publishes Prism magazine and seeks to develop biblical solutions to social and economic problems. He is also professor of theology, holistic ministry and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania and is a founding board member of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. Sider has published over 22 books and has written over 100 articles in both religious and secular magazines. He is the author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and Just Generosity. He received a BA in European history from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and a Master of Divinity and PhD in history from Yale University.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
"America faces a historic choice," writes Ronald J. Sider in the Introduction to Fixing the Moral Deficit. "We have a deficit crisis, a poverty crisis and a justice crisis." The deficit crisis arises from spending more than we earn. The poverty crisis results from increasing numbers of Americans falling into the ranks of the poor even as wealth increasingly concentrates at the top. And the justice crisis occurs when we ignore either the deficit or the poor. "These three crises add up to a huge moral deficit," Sider argues. "But there is a balanced way to fix it."

That balanced way begins with understanding the facts on the ground: the deficit crisis is real, and both poverty and economic inequality are on the rise. It continues with mapping out biblical principles on the nature of persons as individuals in community, the social responsibility to care for one's neighbors--especially the poor, the nature of distributive justice, the limited acceptability of some economic inequality, and the role government plays in alleviating poverty. It then sifts through current proposals, in light of biblical principles, and finally offers a reasoned alternative. Sider's "balanced way to balance the budget" steers a centrist course between the Scylla of tax cuts and the Charybdis of increased spending. He argues that "we should adopt a roughly equal (50-50) mix between increased revenue and cuts in spending."

There is much to admire in Sider's book. Chapter 3, "The Big Questions in the Debate," outlines biblical principles that should garner agreement from Christians of all stripes. Their disagreements will center on Chapter 5, "A Better Way," where Sider applies those principles to policy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frederick G. Brown on April 25, 2012
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Although, as a conservative evangelical, I may not agree with all of Ron Sider's thinking, I highly valued the information which he has incorporated into this easy-to-read summary of the problems facing our economy. Most of his information is right on, and I applaud his concern for the poor. My differences with him center upon the issue of the rightful function of government. Did our Lord ordain government with the authority to take one man's wages and give it to another? I must confess that I still struggle with this issue, because of a legitimate desire to see the poor helped, and I would delight to see the wealthy give more generously, not only to the poor in this country, but to the even poorer in other nations. I applaud Ron Sider for his book and for his genuine concern for the poor, which is most definitely biblically based.
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By VMG on April 8, 2014
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The book subject is intriguing to me. I like to view social topics within a lens of compassion and justice. This book addresses the topic in that lens to some degree, but I feel it was nothing new to me and its points at times were trite.

If you are trying to get a general, basic view on this field, this book is for you. if you have read much on the topic, you may read it and be somewhat disappointed.
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By zaphod on December 24, 2013
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This book takes the current political parties (or representatives from each) and lines up the moral problems with each (though one has more than the other). That said, what I learned about Bible and the interpretation in this book was more valuable than the passing state of politics.
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In Fixing the Moral Deficit, Rod Sider, a leader in the evangelical Christian public policy movement, offers a significant contribution to the values discourse on the issues surrounding the federal deficit. He demonstrates that our taxing, spending and borrowing policies have profound implications for our treatment of the poor and young in our society. He makes a strong case that Christians need to pay attention to the debt crisis. He urges them to apply Biblical Principles to the challenges that the nation faces. He is at his best when he ties the debt solutions to concerns about the poor. Citizens who seek to contribute to the ongoing debate from the Christian world view will find much value in Sider's approach.

Sider address what he terms the "big questions in the debate such as "who are persons?", "am I responsible for my neighbors?", and "should we have special concern for the poor?". He focuses on key issues of economic inequality, justice and the proper role of the government. He builds upon his analysis to offer both interrelated principles and norms to guide our budget decisions. For example, he links the principle that "God and God's faithful people have a special concern for the poor" to the norm of keeping and strengthening effective programs for the poor. He examines the budget proposals offered by the President and Congressman Paul Ryan in light of these principles and norms. Using this material Sider concludes by offering some specific recommendations for changing our tax policies, retaining several key programs that benefit the poor, and managing health care costs.
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