A “seismic shift” in Catholic America

Some perspective on what is happening in Philadelphia and elsewhere:

From Philadelphia to Newark, N.J., New York to Boston, Cleveland to Chicago to Detroit and beyond, the church of the immigrants is going the same route as the old industrial America of our forebears. The huge plants — churches, schools and parish halls — markers of another era, like the hulking steel mills and manufacturing plants of old, can no longer be sustained. There aren’t enough Catholics left in those places, not enough priests and nuns and certainly not enough money to maintain the church as it once was.

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, the church in the United States has lost 1,359 parishes during the past 10 years, or 7.1 percent of the national total, and most of those have been in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest.

“I’m developing a theory that one of our major challenges today is that American Catholic leadership is being strangled by trying to maintain the behemoth of the institutional Catholicism that we inherited from the 1940s and ’50s,” New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan told NCR’s John Allen in the recently released book-length interview A People of Hope.

The upheaval and displacement is profound and goes beyond the dismantling of what the “builder generation” of Catholics produced. The changes go deeper than the bricks and mortar of Catholic identity to the psychology and practice of what it means to be Catholic today. “We have before us a generation of young adults and young Catholics who are negotiating life and faith in a wholly different way,” Franciscan Fr. David B. Couturier said in a speech last October to the Council of Priests of New York State.

Read more.

Photo: Martyrs of Uganda Catholic Church, Detroit, December 2011.  From Reuters.

Read more about it and other churches closing here.


  1. Not in the south.

  2. Deacon Norb says:

    To those of us who grew up in the Post-World War II era,and live in the Midwest none of this is really new. The inner-city parish where my parents were married and the same place I was baptized was formed by Hungarian immigrants who came through Ellis Island prior to World War I. It was closed by the Archdiocese in 1965 for one simple reason — there were no Roman Catholics living in that area any more. The immigrants had all died off. It was the first of what would become five closed parishes in that section of the city.

    The parish I grew up in (after Dad came home from World War II and he and Mom built their own home) was out in the near suburbs where there was room rather than in the same neighborhood with the in-laws — where there was no room. The parish school I attended started in 1949 and I preached the homily at its Golden Anniversary Mass. Three years later, in 2002, the school was closed. The second generation still lived in the area but their children, now married with families of their own, moved on to the FAR suburbs. That’s where you find the “mega-churches” — parish with over 10,000 head count are not in the inner city or even in the near suburban residential areas (formed after veterans returned from Korea); they are OUT – OUT in far suburbia.

    This phenomena has nothing to do with orthodoxy, or “casual-catholics” not attending Mass, or even nasty bishops who just want to be mean.

    It has everything to do with how the Roman Catholic family chases the American Dream.

  3. “Seismic shift” may be less descriptive than “the hare wakes up.”

    These changes are not sudden. It’s more like the tortoise’s opponent has been snoozing for a long time, and suddenly the alarm clock goes off, and the day’s opportunities have come and gone.

    In part, the Church has been conditioned to think if itself as “entitled” to tradition, good times, priests, treasures, good music, lots of sisters, and whatnot. The hermeneutic of entitlement was challenged somewhat by Vatican II, an opportunity to address the coming shifts with a degree of anticipation.

    New Evangelization wasn’t invented by Pope Benedict. It was mentioned in the General Catechetical Directory in 1971. With all the jokes about the largest denomination in America being inactive Catholics, the sad truth is that we have missed an unbelievable opportunity, allowing our members to get poached by evangelicals, and doing little or nothing to call other Christians to a renewed focus on Christ, and hemorrhaging our own membership not only to the suburbs, the tv, the net, and to a gray life devoted to the gods of self-indulgence.

  4. friscoeddie says:

    Deacon Norb outlines the flight to the suburbs correctly but leaves out saying ‘white flight’. Also the Dems registered as GOPs on the way out of town too.
    The young are moving back to inner cities from the boring burbs. Innercity rents are soaring,, fringe burbs housing was fast built and done poorly and are now turning into 50-60 year old shabbies. Burb parish church buildings are as boring as the burbs they are in. Inner city churches are now being bought up by the ‘new’ Americans.
    These demographics are happening and the Church bureaucrats cannot get out the their own way.

  5. “…hemorrhaging our own membership not only to the suburbs, the tv, the net, and to a gray life devoted to the gods of self-indulgence.”

    Todd, those are my exact sentiments.

  6. My father is a Lutheran minister of a gorgeous old (old!) German speaking Lutheran church in the center of a very old city. 3/4 of the congregation are from the burbs and do the reverse commute on a Sunday morning for Mass. Friscoeddie makes a good point: the churches in the burbs, Catholic and otherwise, are aesthetically soul crushing (and let’s face it: you can’t really tell the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant church out in the burbs), with train-wreck liturgies matching the facade. Many people have been escaping to cities to get away from the nonsense of the burbs, and it seems that traditional worship is part of the appeal for a some. So while there’s much closing, there’s also the reverse commute phenomenon, keeping a few old ethnic churches trudging on. Certainly, the reverse commute phenomenon isn’t keeping pace with the closings, but it’s still going on.

  7. Deacon Bill says:

    One of the insights that certainly rings true is the vast difference in approaches found in the various regions of the country. I’m originally from the Midwest (Illinois), but after a 22 year Navy career which took me around the world, and by decades of service in various church ministries around the country, I’ve found some of the differences to be profound. For decades, we used to have a saying that said, “Nothing will become real in the Church in American until it happens in the Northeast!” Good example: We were suffering through sex abuse issues in the Midwest and parts of the South LONG before “Boston”; but the matter seemed to get everyone’s attention only then.

    I remember a conversation with a Vicar General in the Midwest where I was serving as Director of Pastoral Services. We were working on a strategic plan involving our parishes (this was 15 years ago, and we were working on revisions to the plan that had been developed some years before that, so this was nothing new), and I was making a case for developing more lay/deacon pastoral leaders since many of our parishes would no longer have priests. He responded by reminding me that, while this was important, it was nothing new. “We’ve had priestless parishes from the very beginning! We call them missions. We’ve been dealing with this reality for decades already.”

    I agree that a “seismic shift” is in process, but it is a shift that began LONG ago, and will continue into the future; this is not some quick, flip-a-switch reality.

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  8. I remember that when Benedict XVI became pope, he warned of a smaller church. I take that to mean that he knows whats happening and plans to let it run its course (whatever that is). But I wish the old, beautiful church buildings could survive – as Catholic churches. My nephew was married in a grand catholic church of the old style, but the building had been sold to a developer when the parish closed. The difficult-to-determine denomination of the wedding was anything but Catholic, and the reception was held right there in the church building. They just re-configured the chairs around tables, and, Viola! It felt like the “future” scenes in the movie, Back To The Future, when all the old traditional things had become rundown and tawdry.

    Well, I still have my cinder block and blonde wood church in the suburbs. There’s no place like home!

  9. I respect Archbishop Dolan, but that quote is just bananas.

    We Catholics are being “strangled” by the fact that in the past, Catholics built parishes and schools, both the physically and spiritually?

    Instead of emptying them?


  10. I’ve always found Benedict’s warning of a smaller church a tad ironic given that he was a periti at Vatican II and helped usher in the “window opening” which so many cardinals, like Ottaviani, strongly opposed. I’m sure he did see it coming sooner than everyone else having been so close to the epicenter of the seismic shift.

  11. As I mentioned this ignored story on the previous thread, there is a big problem in the numbers.

    United States data over time:

    Total Priests:
    1965: 58,632
    2011: 39,466

    Graduate-level seminarians:
    1965: 8,325
    2011: 3,608

    Religious sisters
    1965: 179,954
    2011: 55,944

    While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today
    fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic. These losses would have been even more pronounced were it not for the offsetting impact of immigration”

    Deacons are taking over the duties of disappearing priests, we just had a one give his first Homily this Sunday after his ordination. Secular replacing religious.

  12. In 2000 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia abandoned the church where I and all but one of my six siblings were baptized. After the church was closed, it was bought from the archdiocese by Raffaello Follieri (former boyfriend of Anne Hathaway) who ostensibly was going to redevelop it, but who was actually misappropriating the money from his investors. Around 2008 the Church property was sold to a group who were establishing a charter school for boys, the only encouraging part of this story, and the Church was demolished for expansion of the school. It was heartbreaking to see online the series of pictures as the destruction progressed.

    For anyone who is interested in the complex issues involved in church closings, I recommend this recent book (2011), “The Grace of Everyday Saints: the Story of a Band of Believers Lost their Church and Found their Faith” by Julian Guthrie. It’s the story of a group of parishioners who fought for over ten years to keep St. Brigid’s Church, a landmark church in San Francisco, from closing. One of the customer reviewers on Amazon recommended that it “be required reading for non-Catholics on what it means to be Catholic.”

  13. Deacon Jim Casa says:

    “Deacons are taking over the duties of disappearing priests, we just had a one give his first Homily this Sunday after his ordination. Secular replacing religious.”

    George, a correction needs to be made. Deacons are not ‘secular.’ They are ordained and, therefore, clergy. We have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

  14. We are contraceiving and aborting ourselves into oblivion. Today’s Catholic couples (the ones actually marrying) are having 1/3 the number of children that the builder generation had. Add to that all of the other issues mentioned, and here we are.

  15. naturgesetz says:

    I hope people have read the whole article at the link. It’s very encouraging to read of Fr. David’s confidence in the face of the changes.

    The focus needs to be on the faith and on evangelization, not on buildings — as much as I’d hate to see my beautiful neo-gothic parish church be lost.

  16. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    “Deacons are taking over the duties of disappearing priests, we just had a one give his first Homily this Sunday after his ordination. Secular replacing religious.”

    Are you being intentionally provocative, George? The ignorance of that statement is breathtaking, and serves to nullify whatever valid points you might be trying to make.

    1. Deacons are clergy, ordained to Holy Orders, the same as bishops and priests. We aren’t “secular.”
    2. One of faculties deacons receive, often at ordination, is the faculty to preach. It’s been this way since the early days of the Church. Indeed, Stephen, the first martyr, was a deacon, and he was killed for his preaching. (Boy, some of us can really relate…)
    3. Most deacons, like most priests, preach on the the first Sunday after ordination. Nothing unusual about that.
    4. Deacons will never replace “disappearing priests.” But we can help shoulder the (increasingly heavy) load that priests have to carry.
    5. The Holy Spirit knows what He is doing. Pray that we can all — lay and ordained — help Him carry out His work among the people of God, and build up the kingdom on earth. There are many places on the planet where the Catholic Church is continuing to grow, thrive and spread. Have faith, and hope, and know that Jesus is with us until the end of the age.

    Dcn. G.

  17. Yes you are technically correct.

    I was referring to the fact that the Deacons tend to have more traditional lay backgrounds such as marriage, careers, and children. They go home at night.

    Due to the huge drop in American’s entering traditional religious life, laity is having to pick up the slack. Many churches now are being served by traveling priests from overseas.

    I can’t remember the last time at Mass I heard a priest ask for prayer for men/women to enter the vocation of the priest/sister hood. Probably, the 1970′s was the last time I heard it mentioned.

    They should be advertising the ‘concept’ of a calling at Mass.

  18. As far as ignorance in using the term ‘secular’, I will defer to the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in
    the United States terminology.

    1) “Mission includes witness to Christ in a secular profession or occupation.”

    2) “To provide an official and sacramental presence of the Church in areas of secular life,”

    3) “the deacon’s tasks include that of “promoting and sustaining
    the apostolic activities of the laity.” To the extent he is more
    present and more involved than the priest in secular environments
    and structures”

    4) “The vast majority of deacons in the United States, married or celibate, have secular employment and do not engage exclusively in specific church-related ministries.”

    5) “The diaconate is lived in a particularly powerful way in the manner in which a deacon fulfills his obligations to his secular occupation, to his civic and public responsibilities, and among his family and neighbors.”

    6) “The secular employment of a deacon is also linked with his ministry”

    7) “Further, because they are prominent and active in secular professions and society, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops specifies that permanent deacons should resemble the lay faithful in dress and matters of lifestyle.”

    8) “Although all those in sacred orders have a responsibility to
    preach justice, the deacon may have a particular advantage in bringing
    this message to the laity because he lives and works in the secular

    9) “Mission includes witness to Christ in a secular profession or occupation.”

    Secular is not a bad word and it is an important part of the diaconate, it’s what makes them distinct from sacerdos.

  19. “the deacon’s tasks include that of “promoting and sustaining the apostolic activities of the laity.”

    Wow! I know about three dozen deacons personally and I, a member of the laity, have never seen or experienced such an aspect of the diaconate ministry.

  20. Deacon Norb says:


    My comments were about my own experiences living in the Midwest.

    You will carefully note I said nothing about political shifts (as you did) because that was not my experience. Party politics runs deep in generations and finding families that were six-generations deep in the same political party is more the norm than the exception.

    The same with the whole “white-flight” issue also because that was not my experience either. The move to the suburbs in Ohio went across color lines. African American inner city folks who lived in places like East Cleveland and Hough raised children who moved to University Heights and Shaker Heights. The second generation African American families who raised their children in University Heights and Shaker Heights saw their children moving to Solon. You can see that phenomena in all of the major cities in Ohio.

    The other main difference is that inner-city loft apartments or warehouse condominiums have not caught on at all in this section of the country.

  21. Deacon Norb says:

    It has to be the area where you live. The congregation I minister at verbally prays for vocations during the General Intercession at every Mass and I know that prayer surfaces during the “Congregational Invited Prayers” at every Independent Communion Service I preside at.

  22. Self indulgence is the problem. We seek our own satisfaction above helping those in need. There is an out of control pornographic industry and a fundamental breakdown in the family. We look towards Marxism or an excessive personal wealth to help support our destructive habits. What we need is to find ourselves again in the innocence of the poor, needy, and dependent. One area that we might find ourselves and the Church is in helping the growing elderly population.

  23. The “retention rate” of Catholics is actually pretty average or even a bit high depending on terms. I think something like 80% of Protestants stay Protestant, which is considerably higher than the rate for Catholics staying Catholics, but “Protestantism” is a pretty wide term and some of those switch from one denomination to a completely different denomination family. I don’t know that any Protestant “denomination family” has a much better retention-rate than Catholicism. Most “Mainline Protestants”, exempting Lutherans I think, did considerably worse at retention.

    There are a huge number of lapsed-Catholics, at least in part, because Catholicism is much bigger than any single Protestant denomination or denomination-family. (Baptists come close and it seems like “Baptists” as a whole have an okay retention rate with those that leave becoming Pentecostal or non-Baptist Evangelical) And if Catholics were like any other religion in the Northeast or Midwest we’d expect declines. In part because those areas are stable or declining in population anyway and in part because “the Unaffiliated” have risen a great deal in the Northeast.

  24. Just to toss in a bit more clarity (or confusion) to the use of the terms “secular” and “religious” (whether or not this has anything to do with the above intended usage), when these terms are used to refer to clergy – in particular to priests, a “secular” priest is one who is ordained as a diocesan priest and not a member of a religious order. A “religious” priest is one who is ordained for and belongs to a religious order, such as the Jesuits, Carmelites, Dominican, Marist, etc. One finds parishes that are staffed by secular priests and parishes that are staffed by religious priests. And no, secular is not a bad word.

  25. The figures shown by George above for comparison between 1965 and today are certainly telling. What happened in 1965 that started this trend downward?

    1. Overall attack on any type of authority from the military and civilian, to priests and bishops in open dissent of the Pope starting with Humane Vitae. When you attack all authority and place doubt about a doctrine such as infalibility of the Pope and Magesterium, you certainly will see any country or faith take a hit.

    2. LBJ big government programs that started to make people turn from charity and faith solutions to government as the new god that promised to fix every problem such as the war on poverty.

    3. activist court decisions continued that had started with controversial decisions such as the myth of separation of church and state. With the church put in a box and aethism the new state religion, these courts were free to find a way to make gay lifestyle choice a new protected right and invent privacy as a way to kill 54 million babies continuing to this day.

    4. Vatican II would lead to increased open dissent. Rather than promote the wonders of the Catholic Church to the world by opening wide the doors, some saw it as an open invitation to open wide the doors to let the filth of the world into the heart of the Church. Open dissent was fostered and Catholic Churchs and the core belief of the centrality of the Eucharist was open to attack with Church reconstruction that did away with much of what was central to belief in the real presence. As this belief declined, it would be no surprise that the Catholic Church would have ongoing problems including the sexual abuse scandal. We heard Catholics saying the teaching of the Church was too hard and walking away as they also did from Christ when He said whoever does not eat my body and drink my blood will not have eternal life.

    There is much more, but these factors were the major ones along with those raised in regard to the changes of people wanting to exit the cities and crime and drugs that were becoming prevelent starting in the 60′s. We have seen many cities trying to survive by cleaning up the crime scene or at least bottling it up into specific areas and gentrifying the cities to get people to move back with some success. This of course usually involves the displacement of the poor and the battles over what to do with them. Now we see the massive issue with cities and states going broke because of the massive number of union employees and huge benefits, payroll, and unfunded pension plans coming home to roost. This will also play a roll going forward.

  26. Mark, if you’re interested in revising or expanding your list of ills that have led to depopulated Catholic churches, how about working in these contributing factors:

    1. a neglect of the inner city (nay, total disinterest in the inner city) on the parts of Republican administrations, especially Reagan and Bush 43
    2. a refusal of many white people (my own ethnic group) to stay in the city and their choice, instead, to flee the city out of fear when the first black or Latino or Asian family showed up on the block — in other words, a sinful disregard for their new, non-white neighbors, also known as white flight

    You see, you may be in love with bashing LBJ, but conservatives and their ilk bear at least as much blame for urban decline as progressives. (And I’m glad that LBJ called upon this nation to fight poverty — poverty is something that is overly romanticized by many of those on the right, including presidential candidates who pull in big bucks for lobbying and corporate raiding, while paying something in the neighborhood of a 15 percent tax rate. Nothing very responsible, or God-fearing, in those habits, and those habits do indeed have something to do with the neglect of the poor and urban communities in general.)

  27. Fiergenholt says:

    Deacon Bill:
    “He responded by reminding me that, while this was important, it was nothing new. “We’ve had priestless parishes from the very beginning! We call them missions. We’ve been dealing with this reality for decades already.”

    Wow ! Did that ever bring up some memories.

    One of the priests I have known for some time is also a solid historian of the church in my area of the world. We were together at a local retreat house once and this very subject came up. He quickly drew, in my mind, a thirty miles circle from where were standing and told me about a dozen mission stations that had existed in that circle prior to World War II. All were organized and managed by lay-folks who lived in the immediate vicinity and “Circuit Rider” priests would visit maybe once every other week/once a month. He also mentioned where the church buildings still existed (one had been converted to a private residence over a century ago and still stands — an closer examination of that modest home can see evidence of church architecture) and where parish cemeteries still exist (now isolated because of the passage of time and the movement of people).

  28. Fiergenholt says:

    To Mark and Steve above — and maybe even HMS:

    I do not know what it is like today — since the 2005 Norms for the Diaconate were finally published here in the United States — but many years ago a deacon friend who was deeply involved in formation of diaconal candidates explained it to me this way:
    “From its very beginnings in Acts Chapter Six, the deacon was deeply involved with social justice. Initially, they were working with the disenfranchised widows and orphans who were being neglected because they were invisible to the wider community.

    During the early Medieval Church, following that original New Testament charism, deacons were the “almsgivers” of the local churches and monasteries. They distributed money, food, arranged for shelter, made sure those under protection of “Sanctuary” were not violated and provided other social justice ministry.

    NOW, if someone applies to become a deacon in my diocese, staff in the formation programs can teach them all that they need to know about Theology or Church History or Sacred Scripture or Liturgy. We can make them deliver practice homilies or go through practicums for the ceremonies they will be doing with all the intensity of any sergeant in a military boot-camp.

    BUT we cannot teach them Social Justice with only “head-learning” or “hand-learning.” We have to penetrate their hearts. Some have that charism already — it just needs to be allowed to grow. Some need to have it planted. Those that reject any formation in Social Justice will not make it through to ordination.”

  29. 1) Completely false. Failing cities like Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, etc, have been historically run by corrupt Democrat administrations for decades. Democrats have been in control of the US Congress, Senate, and White House longer than Republicans for most of the 20th century.

    Detroit is a text book example of how a successful city was destroyed by the Democrat/Union collaboration.

    2) Families moved out due to rising crime, higher taxes, and lower property values.

  30. Fiergenholt says:

    “Democrats have been in control of the US Congress, Senate, and White House longer than Republicans for most of the 20th century.”

    Hmm: My math says that from 1900 – 2000 Republicans held the presidency 52 years in comparison to the Democrats 48:
    D – Clinton (1992-2000: 8 years)
    R – Bush/Fr (1988 – 1992: 4 years)
    R – Reagan (1980-1988: 8 years)
    D – Carter (1976-1980: 4 years)
    R – Ford (1973 – 1976: 3 years)
    R – Nixon (1968 – 1973: 5 years)
    D – Johnson (1963-1968: 5 years)
    D – Kennedy (1960 – 1963: 3 years)
    R – Eisenhower (1952 – 1960: 8 years)
    D – Truman (1945 – 1952: 7 years)
    D – F. D. Roosevelt (1932 – 1945: 13 years)
    R – Hoover (1928 – 1932: 4 years)
    R – Coolidge (1923 – 1928: 5 years)
    R- Harding (1920 – 1923: 3 years)
    D – Wilson (1912 – 1920: 8 years
    R- William Howard Taft (1908 – 1912: 4 years)
    R – T. R. Roosevelt (1901 – 1908: 6+ years)
    R – McKinley (1900 – 1901: 21 months)

  31. The deacon office is as old as the priest ministry. The first deacon was Stephen, back in the early, early days of the Jerusalem Church. Deacons are clergy, one of the three classes in the Holy Orders (Bishop, Priest, Deacon). I understand about the “secularty” of Permanent Deacon’s life, but once ordained they are no longer lay people.

  32. http://www.marchandmeffre.com/detroit/

    Is not only the Catholic Church experiencing some decline, whole cities in the U.S. are suffering from the shift in economic power. Detroit looks like the ruins of Ancient Rome after the barbarian onslaught. The pictures in the link are dramatic.

  33. There were plenty of problems in the 1950s and earlier. It is not correct to blame every problem on decisions that were made in the 1960s or 1970s.

  34. Fiergenholt says:

    “while paying something in the neighborhood of a 15 percent tax rate.”

    It took me a while to figure this one out. If any candidate is bragging about only paying about 15% tax rate, he/she is counting all/most of their income as “Capital Gains” instead of “Earned Income.” That makes perfect sense — and it is perfectly legal. Unfortunately, those of us in the 99% cannot take advantage of that tax break because our own retirement investments are not that large a proportion of our economic life.

  35. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    In the “it’s all relative” department, from a report in the NY Post:

    “My income comes overwhelmingly from some investments made in the past, whether ordinary income or earned annually,” Romney continued. He said he also got speaker fees “from time to time, but not very much.”

    Disclosure reports reveal he made more than $374,000 in speaker fees last year.

    “Not very much”? Indeed. Not when you’re a zillionaire, Thurston.

  36. Fiergenholt: Yes, unfortunately, it IS legal for Romney — an extremely wealthy person — to pay an incredibly low tax rate. And he thinks that very tax system that benefits the wealthy is the secret to having a great economy — all the while demonstrating a condescending (if not dismissive) attitude toward the poor. Romney has argued within the past week that none of us should be concerned about income inequality — or even talk about it in any context other than privately, “in quiet rooms.” Again, the indifference of MANY (not all) in the top one percent does have something to do with urban decay and neglect. And while Romney’s desire to forever more pay low taxes is not in violation of the law, some of us would count it as a reason not to elect him president…or even head of Housing and Urban Development.

  37. Oregon Catholic says:

    It takes money to make money and it takes money to take advantage of tax loopholes. Obviously, since the wealthy write the tax laws. And the wealthy continue to spout the big lie that keeping their taxes low creates jobs. Well maybe outsourced jobs where they can still make sinfully high profit margins but not in the US. A progressive tax structure prevents the kind of excessive greed we have now and it’s time we returned to it.

  38. At least one candidate for president suggested eliminating the capital gains tax entirely.

  39. Steve, As George notes below, the urban cities with the biggest problems have been under solid democratic control since 1960. Many have been under democratic governors much of that time as well. If there are problems in these cities, it is a problem which they have total control of and should have fixed long ago. Their solutions have always been higher taxes and more regulations. This will have the impact of playing a huge part in driving away taxpayers and leaving behind those on public dole.

    Until Newt and the Republicans took control of the house after Clinton’s went far left with HillaryCare attempt and trying to put gays in the military, the house was controlled by the democratic party in large numbers for over 4 deacdes without interruption. If you do not remember, I will give you a little trip down memory lane that whenever Reagan proposed a budget, often with different programs to help the schools and cities in new ways, Tip ONeill would pronounce with the aid of the liberal media that the budget was dead on arrival. Every budget, every time. Then the fight would begin and we would see the blue dog democrats leave and join with Reagan to try to move things along, but they loved their Democratic control and freebees. Reagan was focused on the Soviet Union because it was an ongoing and ever increasing threat. When he said it was the evil empire, Tip and all the other democrats and media cried out if fear. Reagan with the blue dog democrats got the increases in defense to scare the crap out of the soviets who spent themselves into bankruptcy. Reagan knew if we ended the soviet union, the defense department could be reorgainzed and funds saved to balance the budget which Newt and Clinton were able to do after the fall of the enemy.

    And I am sick of hearing about white flight being a racist decision. It was about a better lifestyle in the burbs with bigger houses and bigger yards and better schools and growing property values and lower taxes. Yes, many of those in the cities could not move out and remain stuck in the ever worse neighborhoods and schools. But remember, as I pointed out, during the 60′s when flight out of the cities started, we had cities with riots and being burned and crime going through the roof. It is what finally began turning the south away from the failed programs of the democrats and is why in many cases, cities in the south led by reforming republican mayors and governors started to turn around those cities. Everything is not about race. In fact, on a daily basis, very few white people wake up and make racist decisions all day. They do what they see best for their families and careers.

  40. First off, the eonomy was pretty healthy when the Democrats won the house during the 1950′s under Eisenhower. It was not too bad under JFK in those few years especially when JFK radically cut taxes as Reagan would do years later. LBJ started us down the road of big government FDR, his hero, had tried to start in the 30′s. The Supreme Court, at the time still paying attention to the constitution, stopped many of FDR’s programs as they should have done to LBJ. Now we will see if the Supreme Court pays attention to the Constitution and throws out ObamaCare as they should. Simply putting up Presidential terms does nothing as anyone who knows how the government works well knows. There is the matter of
    4 decades of democratic control of the House during Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush I. The house has a major say in how the money is spent if all the parts of the government follow the Constitution. But if you have a President that ignores the Constitution as Obama, you have major issues with spending even with the House trying to slow him down, especially when Obama is increasing the problems in growing the economy with his programs, regulations, and crony capitalism.

  41. Fiergenholt, what portion of all income tax revenue is paid by the top 1% today even with the Obama tax cuts in place? (Can’t call them Bush tax cuts as they would have expired but Obama worked with republicans to extend them last December making them the Obama tax cuts “for the rich” if you want to call them that). Do they pay more of the income tax burden that all of the lower 50% of earners? Do you know that over the last 4 years, the percentages of income tax paid by the various catagories has not really changed if broken down into five 20% brackets? And guess which group has the most paid benefits, the bottom 20% or the top 20% if we look at all the various programs. Guess which 20% creates the most jobs? And Capital gains is a major factor in the creation of those jobs. Most of the fastest growing companies in the USA are in the areas of high tech and most are where they are because of timely investments by capital investment funds.
    The one area that I think needs to be looked at very hard is short term investment gains where someone bets on a product or commodity and after a month or so bails out. Oil certainly falls into that catagory. I think investments under a certain time frame should face very high taxes as I see no way that helps anyone but the single investor.

  42. I think it is instructive to look at the total amount of taxes paid by the dollar amount. Yes, we have a progressive system rather than a flat tax, but why should that be? If I make 10K and pay a falt percent and another makes 100K and pays the same rate, they are picking up much more of the burden. In fact, the 10K guy is probably paying nothing AND getting money back. Now, when we see someone paying hundreds of thousands of dollars and see 47% of the people paying virtually nothing in income taxes, how can these people be complaining with a straight face? Taking the money from the rich guy has never worked as we have seen in socialist countries all around the world. As we get to 50% of the people paying nothing while having the vote to give themselves more benefits seems to be out of whack with any knowledge of the history of this country and what the founders established in our form of government.

    If one looks at history, many of the major community improvements such as hospitals, libraries, and much more have come with the massive donations of the rich and when they do, they make sure those donations are managed well and produce a valuable asset. The government tries any of this and you can be assured it will be filled with abuse, graft, and inefficencies. Whenever you hear the political hacks talking about cuts, you immediately hear about the billions that can be saved with cuts if fraud and abuse.

  43. Oregon, when did we leave it? Bottom 47% pay no income tax. top 1% pay the vast majority if tax from income. It has been that way for a very long time.

    As to those companies who get tax breaks and take jobs overseas, the head of Obama task force for jobs, Immelt of GE, got his nose into the stimulus handouts and helped write a lot of ObamaCare favoring his GE Healthcare division for products and services with waivers where they would hurt him, and promptly took much of GE healthcare jobs to China. GE paid zero taxes last year and got money back from Obama. Who do you think is major donors to Obama? Wall Street. Who now owns the once called Bush tax cuts? Obama extended them when they were going to expire saying you can’t raise these kind of taxes when people are out of work and the country is hurting. That was only a few months ago. Obama extended them until 2013 after the election. He worked on them with the Republicans by the way.

    We have had major tax revisions over the last 40 years or so and yet as studies show, the same groups of 20% of the payers from top to bottom always fall into the same percentages of who pays the taxes. Guess who writes the tax code changes? and every time the percentages are high, each party lobbyist gets new ways to find loopholes. you want to have a good tax system. No deduction and a flat tax with no loopholes of any kind where government picks winners and loser with some exemption for those in poverty. If everyone else pays something, they will pay more attention to how the government spends the money.

  44. Fiergenholt, I have asked for this before. Show me in the gospel where Jesus advocated taxing the rich so that Rome or even the Jewish government under rome could take care of the poor as religious teaching from God. What we are to do is to help the poor either by giving money to charities like the church or others, or helping others directly with money, time, and or talent.

    Where most liberals go wrong is that they seem to connect Catholic thought on poverty with big government programs. This is certainly seen even at the top. What government should do is not impose limits on the creation of jobs with regulations that do not take any view of the economic impact they are having on how people are going to be able to work or pay for things. The government should make sure that large companies are not taking unfair advantages and in so doing having a very harmful impact. The Church was never designed to be a guide on economic matters when the Church no longer ran the governments because they no longer required expertise on how to run a government. They weren’t very good at it when they were involved.

    In your example above, most of the Churchs were getting forced tax money from the people and became very wealthy and so set up almsgivers which in many ways were buying off discontent with the high taxes they were paying to the Church. it is not much different today. The political hacks take money from the people and then decide who wins and who loses based on who their voting block is and thus we end up 15 trillion dollors in debt and expanding rapidly. Note we were just talking about 14 trillion a very short time ago. The congress has to vote multiple times a year to increse the debt limit.

    We are broke and if we are not very careful with how we make important cuts and get the economy moving, we are in very serious danger. This entire 1% and 99% talk is going to get all of us in a whole lot of serious trouble. If the money is taken from the rich, it will disappear and nothing will be better, companies will have no way to get capital, and we will be in 25% unemployment for a generation.

  45. What were those problems with the economy in the 1950′s will? We had some earlier in the 30′s and tried socialism until FDR was stopped by the Supreme Court. The war got us out of the Depression, not any of the socialist programs. Will wait for those massive problems with the 1950′s with our economy or our crime rates or our cities. Yes, we still had race issues. But frankly, after all these years and all these regulations, are the African Americans better off today if one looks at crime in their neighborhoods, numbers in jail, number of their babies slaughtered in abortion mills, number out of wedlock, number of families in trouble and running with single parent, quality of schools, etc etc.

    A very good African American friend of mine, a University Professor, is writing a book that looks at the African American in general today and how much government money has been spent to help create what results we have seen from that investment. He was showing me some data on areas of the country where African American groups are doing the best and have better results in almost every catagory and I think it will surprise a lot of people. Big government has not been a friend of the African American, but in fact in many ways has turned government and its agencies into the new head of the plantation with many more now in slavery to this government than anywhere near what we saw in the slave states before the civil war. They have less hope and less to live for and this government continues to peddle this huge mess that is slowly dragging all of us to doom. We need change, but it will come with less government and new solutions brought to the country in new ways and by new thoughts. And it is not just the poor African American, but all in deep poverty. We have tried big government for decades. Time for change. We have tried huge government involvement in healthcare where Medicare and Medicaid programs are serious failures. ObamaCare listed saving to pay for the plan with 500 billion in fraud and abuse. If this was identified, why didn’t they start to stop it right now. The insurance companies in many ways take their clue each year from the new medicare schedules. The elderly are now completely out of whack with many of the regulations surrounding these programs and the private sector is always ready on how to manipulate the system with new changes because if they do not, they could end up going broke.

  46. You obviously have all of the answers.

  47. Speakers of the House from 1900-2000

    R – Hastert (1999: one year of the period)
    R – Gingrich (1995 – 1999: 4 years)
    D – Foley (1989 – 1995: 6 years)
    D – Wright (1987 – 1989: 2 years)
    D – Tip O’Neill (1977 – 1987: 10 years)
    D – Albert (1971 – 1977: 6 years)
    D – McCormack (1962 – 1971: 9 years)
    D – Rayburn (1955 – 1961: 6 years)
    R – Martin (1953 – 1955: 2 years)
    D – Rayburn (1949 – 1953: 4 years)
    R – Martin (1947 – 1949: 2 years)
    D – Sam Rayburn (1940 – 1947: 7 years)
    D – Bankhead (1936 – 1940: 4 years)
    D – Byrns (1935 – 1936: 1 year)
    D – Rainey (1933-1934: 1 year)
    D – Garner (1931 – 1933: 2 years)
    R – Longworth (1925 – 1931: 6 years)
    R – Frederick Gillett (1919 – 1925: 6 years)
    D- Clark (1911 – 1919: 8 years)
    R – Cannon (1903 – 1911: 8 years)
    R – Henderson (1900 – 1903: 3 years of the period)

    Democratic years approximately 68, Republican 32. Majority Leaders of the Senate apparently only go back to 1920. In the majority of the last 92 years the Majority leader is Democratic. Going back to the era of 1900-2000 Republicans look to have had undivided government from 1900-1911; 1920-1931; and 1953-1955. This is about 24 years, but maybe 25 due to rounding. Democrats appear to have had undivided government from 1913-1919; 1933-1947; 1949-1953; 1960-1968; 1976-1980; and 1992-1994. That would add up to 38 years.

    Not sure that this is that relevant to the issue at hand, but the 1900-2000 period was more a period of Democratic governance than Republican. The period of 1932-2012 has been in particular. In that 80-year-period there has been approximately 34 years of undivided Democratic government compared to 10 years of undivided Republican government.

  48. I think I should switch that to 1912-2012 to be a century and for fairness.

    In that 100 year period you would have 52 years of Democratic Presidents compared to 48 years for Republican. You would have 40 years of undivided Democratic governance compared to 19 for Republicans.

    The Republicans strongest period was 1860-1931. Except for the 2000-2006, where they did awful I think, they haven’t had that kind of strength since.

  49. This picture is so haunting and sad. Makes me think of Isaiah 64: 9-10, “Sion is made a desert, Jerusalem a waste. Our holy and glorious temple in which our fathers praised you has been burned with fire; all that was dear to us is laid waste.” William Byrd poignantly set it to music:
    It is a little long, go to 6 min. 19 seconds for the relevant part.

  50. Let’s let’s NOT forget that he’s stashing money in off shore accounts in the Cayman Islands as a tax shelter, according to ABC news. Don’t kid yourselves, when it comes to money, these guys are all Calvinists. “I did well because God favors what I do”. It’s the true “regilious basis” for American Capitalism. It’s our “Civil Religion”.

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