Archives for February 2016

Elsewhere: paying their fair share

Government costs a lot of money, in its administration and its programs for the common good. As Catholic citizens, we have a moral responsibility to pay taxes — to pay our “fair share.” This ever-popular topic is once again in the spotlight as we hear from presidential hopefuls during this tax season.

One of the most frequent uses of the phrase “pay their fair share” is in reference to the upper few percenters not doing their part. It often seems that these cries are loudest from those who are chronic beneficiaries of politically motivated government largess. Regardless, is it true?

YES! — but in exactly the opposite sense from what they mean…   the upper 20% pay 87% of federal individual income taxes — far more than their fair share — while almost half of all Americans pay NOTHING. This is exactly opposite of the general perception. Catey Hill has written about this recently for Market Watch:

An estimated 45.3% of American households – roughly 77.5 million – will pay no federal individual income tax, according to data for the 2015 tax year from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington-based research group. (Note that this does not necessarily mean they won’t owe their states income tax.)

Roughly half pay no federal income tax because they have no taxable income, and the other roughly half get enough tax breaks to erase their tax liability, explains Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

Despite the fact that rich people paying little in the way of income taxes makes plenty of headlines, this is the exception to the rule: The top 1% of taxpayers pay a higher effective income-tax rate than any other group (around 23%, according to a report released by the Tax Policy Center in 2014) – nearly seven times higher than those in the bottom 50%.

On average, those in the bottom 40% of the income spectrum end up getting money from the government. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of Americans, by far, pay the most in income taxes, forking over nearly 87% of all the income tax collected by Uncle Sam.

The article has more information along with interesting tables and graphs: 45% of Americans pay no federal income tax.

Elsewhere: St. Louis Girl Scouts

We have always loved the Girl Scouts. Many of us (including myself) have daughters who were (or are) scouts. Many of their moms were too. Who can forget the logistics of the cookie drive (we all have our favorite types of Girl Scout cookies too)? Most of all, we treasure the memories and Christian values learned and reinforced.

Unfortunately, many of us, while treasuring those memories, are living in the past. Girl Scouts USA of today is NOT the same organization it was a decade or two back. It is pro-abortion, radical feminist, homosexual affirming, transgendered, and more. Local troops can be sponsored by solid churches and led by faithful adults, but they can not fully isolate their girls from the influence of the organization. Note too, their very participation (and implied support) gives scandal. I have written about the “new” Girl Scouts in some detail before (see: Loss of Innocense).

The good news is that excellent alternatives such as the American Heritage Girls have arisen in response to the loss of traditional Girl Scouts. They are today what the Girl Scouts once were. They are what you remember the Girl Scouts being. Girl Scouts are increasingly replaced by these excellent alternatives in many of our parish families.

The bad news is how many people are still either unaware of the GSUSA problems or falsely believe “their girls” are protected. Even when the pastor is aware of the problems, it is often difficult for him to fight the battle for various reasons. This is a problem requiring the bishop’s intervention.

That is exactly what St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson recently did for his flock. Last Thursday he sent this thoughtful letter:

Dear Priests, Scout Leaders and Faithful of the Archdiocese,

For several years, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, along with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been investigating concerns regarding Girls Scouts USA (GSUSA). These concerns also extend to the parent organization of GSUSA, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). They include, but are not limited to:

  1. WAGGGS’ continued promotion of contraception and “abortion rights” on behalf of its girl members, the majority of whom are minors.
  2. Financial contributions from GSUSA to WAGGGS, based on number of registered GSUSA members.
  3. GSUSA resources and social media highlight and promote role models in conflict with Catholic values, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
  4. Organizations that GSUSA promotes and partners with are conflict with Catholic values, such as Amnesty International, Coalition for Adolescent Girls, OxFam and more. This is especially troubling in regards to sex education and advocacy for “reproductive rights” (i.e. abortion and contraceptive access, even for minors).

In November of 2014, the Catholic Youth Apostolate issued a letter of concern to pastors and the faithful of the archdiocese regarding these issues. Since then, GSUSA and Girls Scouts of Eastern Missouri (GSEM) have tried to downplay and distance themselves from these issues; however, we continue to have more questions than answers. We have been in dialogue with these groups and have voiced our concerns on numerous occasions.

In addition, recent concerns about GSUSA and their position on and inclusion of transgender and homosexual issues are proving problematic. Our culture is becoming increasingly intolerant of a Catholic worldview regarding these issues. While Catholics are called to treat all people with compassion and mercy, we must at the same time be mindful of whom we allow to teach and form our youth and the messages they present. Because local Girl Scout troops are chartered with GSEM, not the parish, any authority on policy and teaching resides with GSEM rather than with parish leadership. In addition, given the fact that the Girl Scout program is a secular organization, they are not obliged to uphold the teachings of our faith.

For many years, Girls Scouts has been a valuable resource in teaching our young Catholic girls leadership skills and helping form them as Christian leaders. I know that we have many faithful Catholic Girl Scout leaders who make sure that these troubling elements of the Girl Scout program are not brought into the troops at our parishes. I wish to thank each of you for your time and commitment to building up the girls of our archdiocese into strong Catholic women of virtue and faith.

It is, however, becoming harder to assure these same results from the Girl Scout program. Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values. We must stop and ask ourselves – is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?

Concerns are also continuing to surface with Boy Scouts of America (BSA). While the new BSA leadership policy currently offers some protections to religious organizations, I continue to wonder in which direction this once trusted organization is now headed.

In “Renewing the Vision,” the US Bishops’ framework for Youth Ministry, we read: “All ministry with adolescents must be directed toward presenting young people with the Good news of Jesus Christ and inviting and challenging them to become disciples” (page 10). While I am certain that many dedicated leaders are fulfilling this mandate within their troops, I continue to be concerned of messages at odds with our faith that our youth are receiving from GSUSA and the organizations that they partner with.

I take all of these concerns very seriously. Therefore, I am asking each pastor that allows Girl Scout troops to meet on parish property to conduct a meeting with troop leadership to review these concerns and discuss implementing alternative options for the formation of our girls. Our primary obligation is to help our girls grow as women of God. Several alternative organizations exist, many of which have a Catholic or Christian background. For more information on each of these organizations and a more detailed listing of ongoing concerns, please visit archstl.org/scouting. I ask that you carefully study each organization and strongly consider offering one of these programs in your parish instead of Girl Scouts.

Effective immediately, I am disbanding the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and instead forming a Catholic Committee for Girls Formation that will be charged with ministry to all girls in various organizations. While continuing to serve our Catholic girls involved in various scouting programs, this committee will also reflect our ongoing commitment to educating and forming all young women.

I am aware that many of our young women are active in Girl Scouts and any action taken against the organization affects them first. To aid in this process, the Catholic Youth Apostolate is available to offer assistance in helping your parish. They are continuing to strategize new Catholic formation programs to address the spiritual, emotional and personal well-being of all Catholic girls.

Know that you and the youth of our Archdiocese remain in my prayers.

More information is available on the Archdiocese of St. Louis website.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #194)

This week: The Diocese of Phoenix released a “short film” on the masculinity crisis in today’s society. Chris Stefaneck tells us why we are “a bigger deal” than we think. It is Lent now, but “Sunday’s Comin’.” Another amazing cloud formation. Peter Kreeft argues for the existence of God from the reality of morality, good and evil. A robot shows us how to golf. Postmodern Jukebox re-imagines “My Heart Will Go On” as a ’50’s hit.

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From Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted’s Diocese of Phoenix, “A Call to Battle” – A Short Film on ‘Society’s Crisis in Masculinity’:

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Chris Stefanick explains in his new video, You’re a bigger deal than you think!

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It’s Lent, but Sunday’s Comin’:

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Another amazing cloud formation, this time from the Portuguese island of Madeira. Maybe God is telling us something. The locals called it “The Hand of God”:

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The always excellent Prof. Peter Kreeft argues for the existence of God from the premise that moral good and moral evil really exist.

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Attention golfers: give up.

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The incomparable Postmodern Jukebox brings you the 1997 Titanic hit “My Heart Will Go On,” re-arranged and performed as it would have been in the 1950’s.:

Spotted by Fr. V

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was begun by Jennifer Fulwiler and is now continued by Kelly Mantoan. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Kelly for hosting this project!

Immigration

The United States immigration system could use improvement, but is not as unjust or restrictive as many believe. A very strong case can be made for the exact opposite.

Did you know that our foreign-born population has tripled following the 1965 Hart-Cellar immigration act? Per US census data, in only 4 decades from 1970 it increased as follows: 9,619,302 to 14,079,906 to 19,767,316 and 31,107,889 (in 2000). By 2015 it reached 45 million and is on-track for a staggering 78 million by 2065.

Since the 1965 law, almost 59 million people have immigrated to America (so far). This is much more than at any other time in our history by a wide margin. It is 4 times more than any other country. We alone account for almost 20% of worldwide immigration per year.

Where are all the new immigrants from? Latin America mostly (51% – 30% from Mexico alone). When President Kennedy signed the 1965 immigration act, he said “it will not upset the ethnic mix of our society.” That was true of immigration before the 1965 law, but is far from true today. The ethnicity of the population has shifted significantly and will continue that trend. The ethnic makeup of 2100 will be nothing like 1900.

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

We are unique in the world by welcoming a flood of immigrants year after year. Many countries accept few permanent immigrants as citizens. Mexico, for instance, has had a terrible record on immigration. Even with our generous welcome, illegal immigration is huge, holding at a level of 10 million since 2004 (annual deportation is less than 5% of that). The US is one of only two developed countries that automatically grant citizenship to children of illegal immigrants (“anchor babies”).

Before the 1965 law, the poverty rate among immigrants was about the same as non-immigrants. Today it is almost double, thus requiring a significantly larger portion of taxpayer support.

Immigration to the United States is supported at a steep cost. A whopping 52% of legal immigrants receive welfare and, perhaps surprising to many, 71% of illegal immigrants receive this expensive taxpayer support. It costs California alone $12.3 BILLION dollars per year to educate just the illegal immigrants. The net cost (welfare, less any taxes paid) averages over $14,000 per household of illegal immigrants. This currently costs taxpayers about $113 BILLION per year. Of course, all the money spent in support of legal and illegal immigrants is money not spent on our veterans, on our failing infrastructure, on improving education, on healthcare or on our senior citizens. It contributes to our already monumental national debt. Let that sink in. We must BORROW over $14,000 per year for each of these households. That is money we do not have, debt that saps opportunity from the economy and a burden for us and future generations.

Additionally, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) reports that while illegal aliens are 3.5% of our population, they account for 36.7% of federal convictions. These convictions are primarily for drug trafficking, kidnapping/hostage taking, drug possession, money laundering and murder.

All this is not to say we should seal our borders, prohibit immigration or fail the persecuted. What this does say is that we are very generous and anyone who says otherwise is at best, irresponsibly misinformed.

Moreover, it is right and just that we consider who to welcome into our home and support by the sacrifices of our people. Should it be those closest to our borders and willing to violate our laws to enter uninvited? –OR– should it be those in most desperate need around the world who are literally perishing under the most extreme poverty or by the sword of radical Islam? Which is most just?

Consider also our capacity to welcome immigrants. It is not unlimited. Yes, we can always accept one more, but not without incremental risk little different than continuously adding just one more to a life boat — until it sinks. This boat is already packed and taking on water. If it sinks, no one is helped but many are unjustly harmed.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #193)

This week: The latest issue of New Evangelists Monthly awaits your perusal. Another outrageous Planned Parenthood video. Pro-aborts are furious that a Super Bowl commercial “humanized” a (human) fetus. Christian genocide is reaching record numbers. Meanwhile, we are focusing our military on the environment. Prager University takes a look at “climate change” claims and abatement efforts. If you have every felt overwhelmed by lingo – you have to see this video.

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New Evangelists Monthly

Issue #38, February 2016, of New Evangelists Monthly is ready for your enjoyment! Scores of faithful Catholic bloggers have contributed their very best pieces from January. Contributing authors this month include: Virginia Lieto, Dave Wanat, Abigail Benjamin, Chris Capolino, Rick Becker, Birgit Jones, Carolyn Astfalk, Phoebe Wise, Mary Wagner, Tracy Smith, Joseph Shaw, Ellen Gable Hrkach, Anita Moore, Allen Hebert, Dianna Kennedy, Kathleen Laplante, John Donaghy, Michael Seagriff, Bonnie Way, Matthew Coffin, Christian LeBlanc, Melody Marie, Joyce, Jennifer Short, Margaret Felice, Melanie Jean Juneau, Nancy Shuman, Larry Peterson, Matthew Plese, Tony Agnesi, Ebeth Weidner, Tucker Cordani, John Russell, Fr. Stephen Morris, Michael Brandon, Devin Rose, Robert Collins, Matthew Bellisario, Dn. Scott Dodge, Leslie Klinger, Roxane Salonen, Ruth Ann Pilney, Allison Howell, David Torkington, Ellen Kolb, John Schroeder, Denise Hunnell, Rich Maffeo, Blythe Kaufman, Laura McAlister, Rebecca Recznik, Tom Perna, Sr. Maresa Lilley, Barbara Hosbach, Rose O’Donnell, Bartimaeus Timeo, Brian Gill, Fr. Richard DeLillio, George Sipe, Katie O’Keefe, Sandy McCready, Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Lyn Mettler, Rick Rice, Kathy B, James Milliken, Elizabeth Reardon, Julian Barkin, Dn. Greg Horton, Erin Cupp, Laura Pearl, David Wong, Jess Fayette, Msgr. Charles Pope, Fr. Errol Fernandes, Jeff Walker, Larry T, W.L. Grayson, Justin Soutar, Debbie Gaudino, Rita Buettner, Eric Johnston, Melissa Overmyer, Frank Rega, Lianna Mueller, Alexandrina Brant, Brandy Miller, Reese Cumming and Kirby Hoberg.

This monthly “meta-magazine” showcases faithful Catholicism from theology to family life and “everything in between.” Enjoy it now at NewEvangelists.org.

Read Now

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Another week, another Planned Parenthood video, doing what they do (killing the innocent, profiting handsomely from it, then shamelessly lying about it). In this week’s undercover video, they discuss the accounting tricks used to hide their lucrative baby parts business.

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Doritos had an odd, but harmless Super Bowl commercial featuring a pregnant woman (and of course, their product). The baby in utero was already a fan of Doritos. Abortion promoters went “ballistic” because Doritos had the audacity of humanizing the (human) fetus. Fetus, BTW, is just a stage of human development. Matthew Archbold has a summary at the Register.

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In case you have missed it (and the mainstream media works hard to make that is the case), “climate change” is not our biggest problem. Radical Islam, a big portion of the religion of peace, is. This is real. It is true. It is happening right now.

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Meanwhile, our focus remains firm on “climate change”. We can not be distracted by murdered Christians.

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So, ignoring for the moment the horrific Christian genocide that is underway, how big of a problem is “climate change” anyway and how effective are our abatement efforts?

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On a lighter note, Msgr. Charles Pope included this video in a recent post. It illustrates insider lingo run amok. The video starts out a little slow, but quickly picks-up steam. By the end, you will be assuming he is just making all this up.


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was begun by Jennifer Fulwiler and is now continued by Kelly Mantoan. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Kelly for hosting this project!

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