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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Betting Window Is Open

Just three months after Bishop Ochoa, formerly of El Paso, publicly rebuked one of his own priests for daring to promulgate the Church's teaching on homosexuality, he finds himself moved to Fresno.

What a coincidence!

Those outside the Church and/or those not familiar with Church politics might say this move is a reward to Ochoa for his years of service. After all, Bishop Ochoa has old ties to California, having been consecrated by Cardinal Mahoney and serving as one of his auxiliaries for nearly a decade prior to his elevation to El Paso. Fresno is also a larger diocese than El Paso, so an argument can be made that Bishop Ochoa is finally being allowed to return to where his heart lies.

But is that really what is going on?

A bishop is generally moved to a new diocese because he is seen as having a set of skills which match the difficulties of the diocese to which he is being moved. That is, a bishop is generally placed in a diocese in such a way that he can make a difference.

Now, making a difference takes time. Bishop Ochoa, for instance, is replacing a man who reigned as Fresno's bishop for over twenty years. Ochoa himself reigned in El Paso from June 1996 to Dec 1, 2011,  a period of over 15 years.

But Bishop Ochoa is now 68 years old, just a few months shy of his 69th birthday (April 3, 1943). If a bishop doesn't make any changes in his first year in a new diocese (and most don't), that leaves Ochoa with roughly five years to work before he has to hand in his resignation. That's not a lot of time to accomplish anything.

And it's not like he accomplished that much in El Paso:
During the eleven year span between 1999 and 2009, there were only two ordinations to the priesthood for the Diocese of El Paso.
A bishop whose lived example and teaching is such that he manages to lead only two men to the priesthood in a decade isn't typically rewarded with a larger see. So, why would Rome move what would appear to be a barely competent bishop to a see like Fresno?

There's a question, eh?

Typically, an incompetent bishop is allowed to quietly die in his own diocese so that, at least, he doesn't harm anyone else. Bishop Ochoa was not granted that grace.

And the good Bishop himself seems rather deeply ticked off about the move. After all, when was the last time you heard a departing bishop speak dismissively of the diocese he himself has headed for the last decade? Yet that's exactly what Bishop Ochoa did on his way out of El Paso:
Bishop Ochoa likes to snow ski, and cycle. On his days off he'll ride 40 miles a week. In addition, he's happy to leave some of the west Texas ways behind. 
Bishop Ochoa: "After fifteen years, with all do (sic) respect, even though I have my Tony Lama boots and my Stetson hat, I'm never getting into country western or whatever they call it."

Hmmm... That's a little peevish from someone who is getting his heart's desire, isn't it?
Again we ask, is this a reward or a punishment and public disgrace?

Before you answer, notice how the chips fell - for there has been at least some (self-inflicted) collateral damage among other American bishops.

Fr. Michael Rodriguez, a diocesan priest of El Paso, had long fought against El Paso's City Council's attempt to impose homosexual "marriage" on the city against the express will of the voters. It is to be noted that many members of the City Council, including the mayor, claim to be "Catholic." An example of Father Michael's work can be seen here:

Of course, orthodox teaching could not be allowed to interfere with the City Council's work.
By August 2011, Bishop Ochoa publicly repudiated Magisterial Church teaching as a peculiar personal opinion of an outcast priest:
“I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church,” 
Worse (at least from Bishop Ochoa's point of view), the Magisterium was not in conformance with the bishop's expert interpretation of IRS regulations (while the bishop has no formal training in the tax code, he is a very quick study).

2011's summer discussion of homosexual marriage in El Paso became nationally known. As Catholic blogs quickly lined up to opine on the situation, RealCatholicTV stepped in to produce not one, but two videos highlighting the wonders of Catholic teaching under Bishop Ochoa's reign in El Paso.

Now, those two videos came out in late October.

Which was just in time for another amazing coincidence.

Just over a month after Voris' twin videos highlighted the barely credible competence of Bishop Ochoa in regards not just to Fr. Michael Rodriguez but also in regards to the gross heresy permitted at the Tepeyac Institute of El Paso, RealCatholicTV got its reward.

On December 23, 2011 the Archdiocese of Detroit decided to give a special Christmas present to RealCatholicTV - Archbishop Vigneron decreed that Voris' organization be stripped of the word "Catholic" for having failed to teach in a way Vigneron considered to be in conformance with Catholic Faith.

The problem, of course, is that RealCatholicTV is not Voris' organization. Although Voris lives in Detroit, the organization is actually based in South Bend diocese. Which means Archbishop Vigneron is not competent to make such a decree. And Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who is competent to make such a decree, has remained conspicuously silent.

So, it looks for all the world as if Bishop Ochoa were being moved out of El Paso for lack of competency in general and for failing to take a stand against homosexual marriage in particular. He would appear to be the laughingstock of the American episcopacy.

Archbishop Vigneron then attempted to punish some of the people responsible for highlighting Ochoa's incompetence, but instead apparently made himself look even more foolish than Ochoa, which at this point, took some real work.

In the combat between the bishops and the Holy Spirit, we make the score God 2, Bishops 0.

Hello America's bishops!
Would anyone else like to take sides on this one?
The betting window is open...

Now, as a final aside, what lesson can the lay faithful take away from this?
The lesson, ladies and gentlemen, is this.
Keep your smart phones at hand.
Record homilies, liturgies, teachings - visual or just audio, whatever suits you.
Record everything.
Make copies of the good and of the bad and send those copies, with appropriate remarks, up the chain of command.

First, send a copy to the priest, thanking him for good teaching, asking him to explain less than good teaching.
If the teaching is good, copy the bishop - he should know who his good men are.

But if the teaching is confusing, and the priest does not respond appropriately within an appropriate time frame (say a month or so), then take copies of his (non) response and send both the original communications and the priest's response to the bishop, asking for the bishop to explain the confusing teaching.

If the bishop doesn't respond within a couple of months, or responds inappropriately, take it to the papal nuncio.
After that, take it to the appropriate congregation in Rome.

Record everything.
Did I mention you should record everything?
We want good priests, good teaching and good liturgy highlighted and properly rewarded.
We want confusing priests, teaching and liturgy highlighted and properly rewarded.
Record everything.
Hold fast to those recordings.

And pray for El Paso's new bishop, that he may have 
the steely spine of the Spirit, 
the loving heart of Christ, and 
the mind of God the Father.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Obama's Obituary

A thought from Vaclav Havel:

The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What A Coincidence!

One of the tenets of Muslim belief is that non-Muslims living within Muslim society must feel themselves oppressed. The infidel must be made to understand that he is a second-class citizen, inferior to the infinitely superior Muslim who is his overloard.

When the infidel pays the jizya tax, the Muslim who collects that tax is supposed to strike him on the back of the neck, to remind him that he is paying ransom for his life - he could very well be killed for refusing to convert to Islam.

All of this comes to mind every time I hear another story about the TSA and the way that new, Obama-ready organization intimidates and humiliates American air travellers.

In Muslim countries, external signs of other religions are forbidden.
Recently, of course, Obama tried to impose a 15-cent "Christmas tree tax" on every Christmas tree sale. When that didn't fly, Obama flew instead.

That's right, he flew into New York City on the same day that the Rockefeller Center did its annual tree-lighting ceremony. Obama's visit shut down the NYC traffic grid, making it impossible to get into or out of Rockefeller Center. It was, in the words of many New Yorkers, a nightmare.

Now, I'm sure this is also just a coincidence.
Just like the time back in September when Obama tried to stage an address to Congress at the same time  a televised Republican debate was planned to take place.

I'm sure no one named Hussein has any intention of humiliating Christians.

It's just that the man is so incidental to so many important things, that he's become coincidental to everything.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Occupy Monasteries!

You know, that would have been the title of the occupy movement 500 years ago.

Monasteries were immensely wealthy, they created, disseminated and advanced technology throughout the Middle Ages and right through into the Renaissance. They were the entrepreneurs of the ancients.

The Romans may have known about the water wheel, but they simply never employed it on the scale that Benedictine monasteries did. The horse collar, the three-field system, the iron plow, the mechanical clock, corned gunpowder and the gun, and a host of other inventions were developed or spread by monastic communities across Europe.

By the late middle ages, those same monastic communities were also incredibly wealthy by dint of generations of renting out the land that the monks had cleared. Today's modern corporations, the ones we complain about for their unparalleled greed, are matched in medieval times by the monastic orders, as no less a wag than Chaucer readily attests.

What Marx never understood is today accepted as a simple fact. The top 1% of any culture owns between 40% and 50% of the wealth of the culture they occupy. This was true during pagan Roman times, it was true during medieval European times and it is true today.

It is a constant of human history, not because the secret cabal of conspirators would have it so, but because that's how any human culture based on a monetary system seems to arrange itself.

Furthermore, as the total wealth of a culture increases, the possibility of greater wealth inequality expands.

Let us assume I have two dollars and you have ten dollars. The total system has only twelve dollars in it, and you have a wealth five times greater than mine.

But let us assume that we both work hard during the year and manage to expand our wealth so that I now have twenty dollars while you have 200 dollars. Now you have ten times as much wealth as I have, but I am not the worse off for it. Indeed, I am better off.

That's exactly what happens to the poor in any industrial society. They may not have much cash in hand. Perhaps their percentage share of the cash in hand has actually dropped as dramatically as my share did in the previous example. But these poor now have access to goods they didn't have before. They have access to automobiles, air conditioning, penicillin, laparoscopy, and really cheap computers. And, even as a poor person in that society, they have more money now than they did a generation previously.

So, even if their cash in hand cannot purchase them all the goods that are available, they now have a much wider choice of goods than their fathers did, and they definitely benefit from the fact that these goods exist. Food can be transported to them even if they don't personally own cars. A hospital may accept and treat them with new techniques even if they have not sufficient money to pay.

What was extraordinary luxury yesterday is simply to the lifestyle to be expected for even the poorest among us tomorrow. The prisoners we punish in our jails arguably live more richly than Henry VIII did at the height of his syphilitic reign.

And Henry, remember, was the one who crushed the English monastic system, giving away the lands and killing or exiling all the monks. By so doing, he killed the technological powerhouses of England.

In other words, Henry was the first Occupy protester.

The major difference is, he actually managed to make the Occupy movement permanent, at least in regard to the wealthy monastic communities of his age.

And England was the worse for it.

So, Occupiers, be careful what you wish for.
Like any good father, God often finds it useful to punish us by giving us exactly what we ask.

The Economics of Scripture

Are the rich oppressing the poor in America?
The answer is not quite so clear as some people would have it.

Now, Scripture is quite clear-cut on the need to have a "preferential option for the poor". The problem, of course, is determining exactly what that phrase means. To people without a decent understanding of basic economics, things get pretty confused pretty quickly.

Interpreting Scripture is Tricky
To see why Scripture is being twisted today in the realm of economics, we should study another clear example of misinterpreted Scripture - the flat geocentric earth.  As Templeton Prize winner Father Stanley Jaki liked to point out, Scripture literally describes a flat earth beneath a whirling firmament of planets and stars, complete with supporting pillars, a hemispherical sky with waters above, and doors that opened and closed to produce rain and drought.

Around 1611 AD, a man named Galileo used his improved telescope, along with work by a Polish canon lawyer (and probable priest) Copernicus, to point out that the Bible could not be taken literally in its description. Jesuit priests who had long studied astronomy greeted Galileo's evidence with tremendous enthusiasm, throwing parties for Galileo and heaping accolades on him.

But, secular university professors who envied Galileo's new-found fame, and who feared that his work would overthrow their own importance, conspired against him. Professor Columbe formed the League of the Dove and in 1614 paid off a priest, Tommaso Caccini to begin preaching against Galileo's theories at Mass. The priest essentially accused Galileo of perverting Scripture. This began the long conflict between the university professors and Galileo which ended in two different trials and Galileo being found "vehemently suspect of heresy."

Scripture says a lot of things, but we must recognize that when it comes to reconciling science with faith, there can be no contradiction between the two. If there appears to be a contradiction, we must interpret Scripture in such a way that it does not contradict the facts described by the other sciences. We must also recognize that dividing men and women up into the evil rich and the good poor is an essentially false view of the world:
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” ― Aleksandr I. SolzhenitsynThe Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956
When it comes to economics, Catholics might need to double-check their interpretations of Scripture against economic realities, and think about how best to interpret the Scriptures in light of our new knowledge. Wealth is no longer measured in gold coins. Money is now an electronic cipher, a twist of electrons in the bowels of a computer. Work and the fruits of honest work can now be disseminated in ways that simply weren't possible before.

Just as our understanding of what usury is has changed because money has changed, we have to understand the Scriptural commands about the poor in light of what wealth has morphed into.

Capitalism: Problem and Solution
Now, I have written endlessly against the problems entailed in capitalism. There's no question that pure capitalism, the mindless accumulation of wealth, necessarily directs itself to destroying families and human life in general.

But, that having been said, we must also recognize that capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system on earth. And this isn't just a bromide on my part, but a cold, hard fact.

We can wail about the way corporations dispose of people, but we must recognize that corporations don't do any of that.

People do.

Corporations don't exist in any moral sense, corporations aren't morally responsible for anything. Only individual people exist in a moral sense, only individual people are morally responsible.

After World War II, the Catholic Church formally condemned the idea that any people, Germans, Jews, anyone, can carry a corporate guilt. The only corporate guilt that men carry is original sin. We carry that lack of grace only because our first father, Adam, incurred that debt of grace and passed that impoverishment onto us, his children.

There is no other corporate guilt.
There can be no other corporate guilt.

We can't hold "corporations" responsible for mis-treating the poor. If the poor aren't treated well, that's my fault. It's the fault of the Church of which I am a member. But I can't assign blame to a group of people, of whom, coincidentally, I never happen to be a part.

Christ commanded Christians to care for the poor - he didn't tell Caesar to do it, nor did he assign the task to the local fish-mongers' guild. Care for the poor is the Church's responsibility - the only morally existent corporation. Care for the poor is the Christian's concern - the individual's.  Attacking the government for something we are supposed to be doing is the height of hypocrisy.

Caring for the Poor
Now, what constitutes caring for the poor?

That's where things get sticky.

Take the example of Norman Borlaug.

Norman Borlaug fed more poor people than any Christian denomination ever did. It is literally possible that he fed more poor people than even the Catholic Church ever did. But I'm unaware of him entering into any protests against the government or giving a lot of money to charity. From what I understand, for most of his life, he didn't have very much money to give. He just worked. But that was enough.

"Greedy" corporations, like ConAgra, Monsanto, and Dupont, took his work and made it economically feasible to disseminate throughout the world. If those corporations hadn't been rich, and if the shareholders and directors hadn't been elated at the increased wealth Borlaug's work promised, Borlaug's work would have withered and died on the vine, unheralded, unadvertised, unused.

Millions, possibly billions, would have either never been born, or having been born, would have died a terrible death of disease and starvation.

Now, did all those corporations and Borlaug himself - did they become wealthier as a result?
Why, yes.
Yes they did.
And doesn't Scripture tell us that a workman is worth his wage?

I didn't agree with the bank bailouts then and I don't now.
I think it prudentially a bad decision that prolongs a necessary agony.
But that's a prudential decision.
And the prudentials of economics, what constitutes a good economic decision that will benefit millions (while also, perhaps, massively benefitting a few), is not outlined in Scripture.

Scripture tells us only what the final outcome should be, it doesn't describe the methods in any great detail.

We can quote Scripture and attack the nasty corporations, and some of things employees of corporations do are quite nasty. For instance, chopping up babies to grab their stem cells will not win anyone awards for moral action on this blog. But we have to recognize that helping the poor in the long-term might mean that certain sectors of the economy (corporations, for instance) must accumulate massive amounts of wealth in order to have the bankroll necessary to disseminate and popularize truly deserving work.

Now, will those same wells of wealth also bankroll the dissemination of schlock, or really evil work?Why, sure.

After all, the line between good and evil runs through the middle of every human heart.
Capitalism is designed to satisfy every heart's desire.
Whether that desire is good or bad, capitalism will try to slake the desire.

That's why we can look at capitalism, corporations, governments and find so much evil.
That's also why we can look at exactly the same troika and find so much good.

So, when we take righteous indignation at the corporations, even at corporations whose stock we don't happen to own, we should remember that we are really railing against our own inadequacies.
And it would help us realize this if we pointed this out in the essay somewhere.

You see, the problem lies not in the corporations, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mexican Standoff

This story is interesting.

It appears that the Obama administration is knowingly shipping a lot more guns to Mexico than previously reported in any Fast and Furious scandal.
From 2008 to 2009, when President Obama entered office, Defense Department expenditures to Mexicohave increased from $12 million to $34,000,000 and State Department expenditures increased from $7.2 million to $356 million.
As the article points out, a lot of this support is in the form of arms to the Mexican military and government. This despite the fact that soldiers and government officials are exiting into drug cartel ranks en masse, and taking their guns with them.

It's almost as if the Obama administration were trying to destabilize the Mexican government.

Of course, if that were to happen, as social conditions broke down, hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens would flee Mexico, headed for safer locations. 

Now, as the US economy has melted down, the number of illegals entering the country has dropped off.
Obama can't seem to get the economy going again - or, rather, seems interested in making sure the economy stays down for the count.

If you know the economy is in dire straits, why would you work to destabilize your neighbor's government?

So many questions, so few answers

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Catholic Barnum and Bailey

It appears that the Legionaries of Christ - a popular Catholic cult based on the work of a remarkably twisted, evil man - has a new contender for spiritual leader: Chris West.

The Legionaries of Christ is, of course, famous for being founded by Marcel Maciel, the man whose spirituality turned out to be based on having sex with anything that moved, and a few things that didn't.

Maciel is also notable for being one of only a handful of people who have been seriously reprimanded by the Pope himself, when Pope Benedict sent Maciel to perpetual occupation of a monastery cell. This allowed him to meditate on his sins and kept him away from other people's genitals. Blessed John Paul II would have done the same thing if only he hadn't been completely hoodwinked by Maciel and supporters. But even saints make mistakes sometimes.

And the idea that saints sometimes make mistakes is quite convenient for the members of the Legion, who still prefer to think of Maciel as a saint, rather than a monster.

Maciel was... well.... maybe not a saint, but at least saint-like, except for all those romps with all those girls and boys. Well, and the pregnancies. And the secret child support for the resulting progeny. And the larceny. Which we can overlook all of that, because he was just a wounded man, you see.

So Maciel is really a saint, just like Blessed John Paul II, because Blessed JP II liked Maciel right up until the end and you can always trust a saint, except when you can't. That should be proof enough for anyone!

Thus, it's no real surprise to see a Legionary priest compare Blessed Pope John Paul II to Maciel.

And it's no real surprise to see Chris West, who loves comparing John Paul II to Hugh Hefner, double down on the Legionary comparision. Chris generously points out that the LC cult could now hitch its wagon to his star, and help him promote the "theology of the body."

Now, sure, the LC wouldn't be promoting JP II's version, it would actually be promoting Chris West's version, and Chris's version is essentially heretical because it denies that Catholic virtue IS virtue.

But all of these persnickety details should slip right by the members of the Legion because they aren't really well-known for critical thinking when it comes to leadership.

Yep, that's EXACTLY who we want teaching Catholic theology, especially the theology of human love: untrained lay cult members who were spiritually formed by a sex maniac.

Of course, Chris was himself formed in a cult, a cult that had ALSO been suppressed (albeit, only by the local church), Chris has promoted other cult leaders in the past, Chris is surrounded by people who started or participated in other Catholic cults that the Church has expressed concern about, so it is hardly surprising that Chris now apparently wants to hitch his star to the Legion's cult.

Or vice versa.
Doesn't matter, really.
What matters is this.

Cults make TONS of money for the leaders.

Men like Chris West and his publisher, Matt Pinto.

So, if West can successfully promote himself into the leadership, or at least into a starring role in the Legion, everyone will make out like a bandit.

And John Paul II's minor work will be turned into a major spectacle.
Think Barnum and Bailey.

Monday, November 07, 2011

We Need New Rope

So, now a white woman is accusing a powerful black man of sexual assault.

That's SUCH a shocker.

You know, if you're going to perform a hi-tech lynching, couldn't you at least use new rope?

Not that it matters.
Cain has this nomination just about sewed up.

Romney can't get off 25%, and when Santorum, Bachman and Perry throw in the towel, all those voters are going to Cain, not Romney.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

That's Rich

So, Father Pavone has chosen to ignore his own bishop's invitation to dialogue.
On the advice of his canon lawyer, apparently.

It's an interesting defense, but I found this passage particularly telling:

Fr. Deibel also accused Bishop Zurek of asking to meet one-on-one with Fr. Pavone and telling the priest to not write or speak of the meeting publicly.
“Then, the next day, before Father Frank even had an opportunity to respond, the bishop announced the meeting on the front page of the website of the Amarillo diocese,” Fr. Deibel said.

Oh, the humanity!

Father Pavone is upset, UPSET, I say, because the bishop told Father Pavone to shut up for once and let the bishop act as.... well.... the bishop.
Father Pavone, do you remember the bishop's role?
Head of the diocese, the decision-maker, the man who runs the show?
Any of that ring a bell?

It's like having your boss tell you not to talk to the press because higher management wants to do the talking.

How DARE higher management shut Father Pavone up!
How DARE Dad tell you - the subordinate, the child, the younger brother - to shut up while the man given the responsibility to run the diocese tells the world what HE feels needs to be said in this situation!

After all, when the bishop called Father Pavone back due to concerns about financial irregularities, we didn't hear a single word from Father Pavone about finances again.

No, not a single word from Father Pavone about money.

Instead, Father Pavone has spewed thousands of words, most of which boil down to "Give me all your money right now or the babies die!"

And notice the bishop merely said a meeting was to take place - he didn't say Father Pavone hadn't shown up until.... well... until Father Pavone didn't show up.

Given that this is an internal matter, and the bishop is supposed to be the head of the diocese, it is not entirely a surprise to find that the bishop feels its HIS responsibility to what degree the public is to be informed about the proceedings between a bishop and his own priest.

But Father Pavone is upset because HE didn't get a chance to advertise it first.

Man, who is running this inquiry?
The bishop or Father Pavone?
Obviously, Father Pavone wants the bishop to get his head screwed on straight before he, Father Pavone, can be expected to deign to meet with him.

What CAN the bishop be thinking?
Why, I'll bet the bishop didn't even donate to Priests for Life this year!
And after all those good-natured and generous reminders from Father Pavone!

News from Amarillo about Fr. Pavone's finances.

Another Day, Another Appeal for MONEY
October 18, 2011

(Thank you for your support of Priests for Life. If you already responded to the following appeal online, I appreciate your support. This email is intended for those who did not respond when we sent it previously.) 

Of course, you can dispel my fear that you might be taken in by these false accusations by clicking here and making as large a contribution to Priests for Life as you can … whether it be for $15, $150 or $15,000.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Pavone's Road

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

One has to wonder what Fr. Pavone's road is paved with.

A reader has brought to my attention several curious aspects of Fr. Pavone's "pro-life" work.

Exhibit 1:
Father Pavone's curious support for John McCain.

Does anyone remember how Fr. Pavone worked hard for John McCain's election, despite the fact that American Right To Life lamented McCain's serious pro-abortion bent?

Pro-abortion Republicans enthusiastically supported John McCain's presidential run.
So did Father Pavone.

Now, one may argue that McCain was not as reliably evil as Barack Obama - and that's a fair argument.
Personally, I wasn't able to stomach the thought of voting for McCain until August 2008, about the time Obama started favorably comparing himself to God and John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

But Pavone was pushing for McCain way back in February 2008, when there were a lot more, a lot better choices than that particular man.


Exhibits 2, 3, 4

If you look at Schedule B on the following three Life Dynamics donation forms, you'll see that Priests For Life gave a total of $143, 410 to Life Dynamics over at least those three years. Possibly more was given in earlier years.

2007: $39,091
2008: $58,319
2009: $46,000
Total: $143,410

Life Dynamics has now produced a Youtube video in which Mark Crutcher, the non-Catholic founder of Life Dynamics, attacks a Catholic bishop. 

Why is Father Pavone not publicly pointing out to Mr. Crutcher that his  (Crutcher's) attacks on a Catholic bishop are not welcome? 

Life Dynamics
Certainly Life Dynamics, although not a Catholic organization, has done excellent work in exposing the abortion industry. For instance, Life Dynamics was the first to publish tapes of phone calls between abortion providers and women pretending to be "underage."  They did this 'way back in the 1990s. Indeed, Lila Rose's recent work in this area simply emulated, extended and perfected Life Dynamics idea with Youtube video stings. 

In the same way, Crutcher's Lime 5 book was original and unprecedented in its revelations concerning Planned Parenthood's attempts to silence its victims. 

But if donors wished to give money to Life Dynamics (which is also a 501(3)(c)), why wouldn't they do so directly?

To put it another way, how many Catholic donors realized that the money they gave to Priests for Life was actually being sent directly to some other organization? 

Perhaps all the donors whose money was siphoned off like this are fine with it.

Or, perhaps, these donors expected the money they gave to Priests for Life to be used to support the pro-life work of ... oh, I don't know.... Catholic priests maybe....????

Like the money that was supposed to go to creating Father Pavone's seminary (but didn't) or the money donated to help Father Pavone found a religious order (but didn't), here's more money that ended up going to something the donors probably never even knew about. 

How much money got thrown around like this?
Why does every story we hear about Father Pavone and his friends merely seem to confirm the perception that this man is not very responsible?


If you pay Fr. Pavone enough, he won't be frightened.
But you have to pay him.
Right now.

October 11, 2011
Dear Steve
...My only real fear right now is what might be going through your mind at this time regarding me and Priests for Life.  That’s because of all the misinformation and outright attacks on me and Priests for Life that are taking place right now.
All I can tell you is that just about everything you’re reading or hearing is false.  All of it. 
Of course, you can dispel my fear that you might be taken in by these false accusations by clicking here and making as large a contribution to Priests for Life as you can … whether it be for $15, $150 or $15,000.
Remember - you aren't really a committed pro-life person if you don't give Fr. Pavone money.
Right now.
Which is why I am counting on you to click here and show the depth of your commitment to our fight to end legalized abortion-on-demand in America.
Remember, he's being persecuted.
Don't send antibiotics or bandages.
Send him money.
That will soothe his grievous injuries.
Small bills, unmarked.

It is especially important that you do as Bishop Gries asks because there are people who call themselves “Catholic” who want to destroy Priests for Life.  They are part of what Pope Paul VI alluded to in 1972 when he said that “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” 
In reality these self-proclaimed “Catholics” are heralds of the culture of death.  And their strategy right now is to put out a constant drumbeat of lies and false accusations against Priests for Life in the hope that unsuspecting people will begin to believe them and stop supporting Priests for Life. 
But there’s a critical flaw in their plan:

That’s because, through your prayers and financial contributions, you are the one who dictates the amount of work Priests for Life can do to end abortion

Now, he CERTAINLY can't be calling his own bishop SATAN, right?
There's only one way to find out:
Click here and continue to support Priests for Life as faithfully and as generously as you always have … both spiritually with your prayers and financially with your dollars.  It is critically important that you do.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Taxman Cometh

Well, here's an oddity.

As I was doing research for a class I'm teaching this quarter, I ran across an article on the accumulation of wealth in America.
The sociologist was trying to show that most of the wealth (stocks, land, etc) in the country was held by a very small subpopulation (top 1%). 
So, he built the first three columns of the two tables below: Total Net Worth and Financial Wealth.

As I studied the tables, I wondered how the amount of taxes paid by the top 1%, 20% and bottom 80%  corresponded to Total Net Worth and Financial Wealth. So I added the last three columns to each table and did a quick Google to try to find the numbers.

I couldn't find the exact numbers, but I found some approximations.
I plugged the rough numbers into the appropriate slots in the left-most columns of each table.
That's why many of those cells are blank - I couldn't find all the data I wanted.
Now, there's a couple of interesting things here.

The politicians and the pundits on both the left and the right seem to be misrepresenting the situation.

The left insists the rich don't pay enough.
The right insists the rich pay 'way more than their fair share.

But if you look at just these rough numbers, on a per dollar wealth/tax ratio, it looks like the current federal tax code is actually not that far off from essentially fair.

The top 20% own 85% of the wealth and pay about 87% of the taxes.
The bottom 80% own 15% of the wealth and pay about 15% of the taxes.
Yes, I know the percentages don't exactly add up correctly, but I'm working off other people's rounding errors, so we can only do ball-park work here.
But even so, you can't ask for much better than that.

Of course, these numbers only account for federal tax, not state, local or - worst of all - sales tax.
All of that would definitely affect the tables, and probably not in a good way for the poor.

But as far as the federal tax goes, it actually works.
Of course, we're not done yet. 

At least as far as the federal tax goes, another interesting thing seems to be happening.
It looks like the MORE the rich pay in taxes:
(a) the WEALTHIER the rich get and 
(b) the LESS the lower 80% share in the wealth.

Look at the table below.

In 1983, the top 1% owned roughly 34% of the country's wealth, but paid only 19% of the taxes. 
In that same year, the bottom 80% owned nearly 19% of the country's wealth.

But, by 1989, when the federal taxes paid by the top 1% went up to 25%, the bottom 80% saw their share of the country's wealth drop to just 16.5%. 

Today, the top 1% own nearly 35% of the country's wealth and pay 40% of the taxes.
Meanwhile, although the bottom 80% pay less taxes than they ever have, they also own less of the wealth than they ever have.

Now, call me crazy, but I find that somewhat counter-intuitive.
If you're rich, paying more taxes makes you richer.
If you're poor, paying less taxes makes you poorer.

Now, you could argue that I have it exactly backwards - the rich pay more because they are rich, and the poor pay less because they own less to tax. 

Unfortunately, from the few numbers I've been able to find, that interpretation doesn't really fit.

For the 25 years covered in these tables, the rich have always owned between 33% and 38% of the country, but the actual percentage of taxes they pay has fluctuated anywhere between 19% and 40%.

There's no obvious correlation between the two. A low rate of taxation (the 19% in 1983) yields a wealth ownership for that top 1% that is not much different from a high rate of taxation (the current 40%). 

That is, the percentage of wealth held by the top 1% doesn't really change regardless of how much you tax them. 

Instead, what does change as a function of taxation on the rich is how much wealth the rest of the country has. The more taxes the wealthy pay, the less wealth everyone else has. I don't have all the numbers, but all the numbers I have show that effect.

It's almost like Reagan was right about this whole "trickle-down economics" thing. 

It's also got very obvious repercussions for the political arguments over taxes that currently shake the airwaves.

It makes me yearn for a low rate of taxation on federal income and corporate tax... say something around 9% for each...

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. Table 1 and Figure 1 present further details drawn from the careful work of economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2010).

Table 1: Distribution of net worth and financial wealth
in the United States, 1983-2007

Total Net Worth

Top 1 percent
Next 19 percent
Bottom 80 percent
% Fed Tax Paid by Top 1%
% Fed Tax Paid by Top 25%
% Fed Tax Paid by Bottom 80%







Financial Wealth

Top 1 percent
Next 19 percent
Bottom 80 percent
% Fed Tax Paid by Top 1%
% Fed Tax Paid by Top 25%
% Fed Tax Paid
Bottom 80%







Total assets are defined as the sum of: (1) the gross value of owner-occupied housing; (2) other real estate owned by the household; (3) cash and demand deposits; (4) time and savings deposits, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts; (5) government bonds, corporate bonds, foreign bonds, and other financial securities; (6) the cash surrender value of life insurance plans; (7) the cash surrender value of pension plans, including IRAs, Keogh, and 401(k) plans; (8) corporate stock and mutual funds; (9) net equity in unincorporated businesses; and (10) equity in trust funds.
Total liabilities are the sum of: (1) mortgage debt; (2) consumer debt, including auto loans; and (3) other debt. From Wolff (2004, 2007, & 2010).