No. Really. Something is Seriously Wrong




It’s hard to say where this mood of protest will go, but one place it will not be going is “away” (though the trendy ninnies will as soon as it gets cold outside). The reason the protest and sense of deep disquiet will not go away is much the same as the reason the prolife movement has not gone away: because a serious injustice is being done and our consciences rankle at it. Our ruling classes, both political and economic, are continuing to loot, calling themselves “job creators” to hold us hostage, and yet not actually creating any jobs.  We are, quite simply, far worse off than we were ten years ago, particularly, the middle class.  The scam of apologists for the super-rich blaming the people they loot can only continue for so long before an increasingly miserable population, thwarted at every turn from reform, starts contemplating revolt. When a slob like the CEO of Gannett, Craig Dubow, is rewarded with $37 million retirement for his achievement of driving their stock from $72 to $10 and tons of their employees into the unemployment line, such stories can only be borne so many times before people stop flinching when somebody calls them a communist for saying, “That’s evil.”  Keep calling them communists long enough and not giving an inch on the  obvious need for reform and you will make them communists in fact.  That would be very, very bad. The American Revolution is the miraculous fluke in history. Most revolutions tend to look more like the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions or the Nazi revolt against Weimar. Trusting that we will land on our feet should a real revolution happen is like throwing a precious vase out the window and hoping that it will miraculously reshape itself into a wonderful new set of dishware when it hits the ground.

JFK, a rich guy who heralded from an era in which the rich still had a sense of noblesse oblige, said it well: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

And, of course, the Prophet Chesterton is always prescient:

“An enormous amount of modern ingenuity is expended on finding defences for the indefensible conduct of the powerful. ”

“Science in the modern world has many uses; its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich.”

“In practice the great difference between the mediaeval ethics and ours is that ours concentrate attention on the sins which are the sins of the ignorant, and practically deny that the sins which are the sins of the educated are sins at all.”

Caelum et Terra has some ideas on how things need not go the way that brainless revolutionaries recycling disastrous leftist nostrums think they should, but rather with reforms that are, mirabile dictu, modeled on actual Church teaching.

Or we can let numbskulls like this run the show:

  • Dan C

    Again, one can always read the Pope’s encyclicals God is Love and Love in Truth.

  • Andy

    Mark – In every crowd, even the vaunted CAtholic com-boxes, there are idiots. Lets not keep pointing them out. There are many people who find what this person to at best offensive, and they are part of OWS. Doesn’t it seem strange that the media keeps finding the outliers, which then become the spokespersons for OWS and it OK, but when they found the outliers for the Tea PArty there were screams of media manipulation.
    Your presentation of the basic problem – the red part of your pie chart and followup was wonderful and drives home the point that both of the “populist groups” are making. Something is rotten in the state of our government. Keep the focus there.

  • Dan C

    I stopped by the protests. I was not the only decently attired middle-aged man. Our local off-shoot is growing with folks lending voices.

  • Michael

    What is starting to scare me are the moral implications of these issues. Example, we here in America turn 10% or so of the food we grow into gasoline for our cars while people are going without food.

    • Deacon Rick
      • Deep-thinking Mike

        And why would we want to feed GMO crap corn to the hungry masses? The implications of “food for the masses” should go beyond GMO soy and GMO corn. There’s a moral conundrum to this aspect of the “food” supply, too. Not to mention “Round-up Ready” crops.

        • Pam H.

          It’s not the fact that the GMO corn could be fed to the masses, but that the land, water, fertilizer, etc. which is used to grow the GMO corn could just as effectively been used to grow food corn (and/or other foods – including animal?) – but maybe this is no longer profitable to the farmer.

  • Michaelus

    The income distribution graph is exactly the same as the one for France in the century leading up to the Revolution. Powerful central governments cause a consolidation of wealth and power. The USA has allowed the Federal Government to assume immense power. There is nothing opposing the continuation of this. France took over a century to revolt against the absolute power of the central government. We are going on a century ourselves.

    • MarylandBill

      Umm, France’s government prior to the Revolution was not that power, not in the modern sense. Yes, the Bourbons were absolutists, but we need to keep in mind that the Estate’s General (which precipitated the Revolution) had to be called in order to raise more taxes.

      That being said, the parallel does have some merit, after all a major factor in the financial crisis that lead directly to the French Revolution was the French involvement in a foreign war (The American Revolution).

  • Dan C

    The immense power of the central government started with its huge embrace of the military-industrial systems. It is not its welfare system.

  • Dave G.

    By the by, what’s the video? It seems every now and then I can’t click onto them. It just shows a blank, black screen. Any links? I’d like to see it before commenting.

    • Lindsey

      It’s a man ranting on a conspiracy in America of rich Jews running everything. That’s what he says he is protesting at OWS.

  • AV

    I know, let’s put all the crazy, white, spoiled brats as the face of OWS instead of these people. That’ll show ‘em. Besides, what I never understood was people who said, “you just got the wrong degree”. I mean, is everyone supposed to be a computer programmer or engineer? And even if everyone did go into those fields, think of the over-supply of tech eggheads we would have. Is that any real solution?

  • David F

    Your pie chart is misleading in that it does not include Social security and Medicare. This looks like a chart of discretionary spending and in classic Washington accounting, that would put you or me in jail if we tried it, it leaves off the books some of the largest expenses.

    • drogah

      You got it, David F — take out the expenditures in Iraq, and this would be a budgeting dream for most classic conservatives who believe that a nation’s defense actually should be the primary expenditure of the government, because it doesn’t have its hand in anything else.

      • David F

        I’m one of those conservatives. Charity is the province of the Church not the State which acts without love in a self interested manner and is heedless of the way it damages family and society. Further the pseudo-charity of the State is used as an excuse to avoid their personal responsibility to the poor as Catholics/Christians. Defense is a legitimate expense for a Government. Note that that does not mean Iraq was legitimate war.

        • http://www.likelierthings.com Jon W

          I’m no fan of big government, but you went from love to self-interest and completely missed justice.

          • Mike Petrik

            I’m not sure what your point is, but I am skeptical of those who confuse charity with justice. Unless I have stolen something from a person in need, my moral imperative to assist that person is grounded in charity, not justice. Those who say otherwise simply destroy charity as a concept.

            • http://www.communionantiphons.org Andy, Bad Person

              Unless I have stolen something from a person in need, my moral imperative to assist that person is grounded in charity, not justice. Those who say otherwise simply destroy charity as a concept.

              I guess Pope Leo XIII has destroyed charity when he says, “once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest that one owns belongs to the poor.”

              Note: he doesn’t say “should be given to the poor.” He says it belongs to the poor. That’s justice.

              • Mike Petrik

                And that is distinguished from charity how exactly?

              • trad_c

                pro·pri·e·ty/prəˈprīətē/Noun: 1.The state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.
                2.The details or rules of behavior considered correct

                I would imagine a Marxist would have a very different definition of propriety from you. I would imagine someone in Pope Leo XIII’s time would have a very different defintion than you as well.

                • http://www.communionantiphons.org Andy, Bad Person

                  Actually, you have no idea what I would consider “propriety” or not. What is proper has nothing to do with whether the remainder belonging to the poor is justice or charity. Indeed, MP gets it right. Charity and justice can be the same thing. It’s not Leo XIII’s language of “propriety” that I’m pointing out; that’s your red herring. It’s his language of the remainder, whatever that may be, as belonging to the poor.

                  • MaggieGoff

                    Here is the actual wording from the Vatican website of Rerum Novarum:
                    True, no one is commanded to distribute to others that which is required for his own needs and those of his household; nor even to give away what is reasonably required to keep up becomingly his condition in life, “for no one ought to live other than becomingly.”(13) But, when what necessity demands has been supplied, and one’s standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over. “Of that which remaineth, give alms.”(14) It is a duty, not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity – a duty not enforced by human law. But the laws and judgments of men must yield place to the laws and judgments of Christ the true God, who in many ways urges on His followers the practice of almsgiving – ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive”;(15) and who will count a kindness done or refused to the poor as done or refused to Himself – “As long as you did it to one of My least brethren you did it to Me.”(16) To sum up, then, what has been said: Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God’s providence, for the benefit of others. “He that hath a talent,” said St. Gregory the Great, “let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility hereof with his neighbor.”(17)

                    Link: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html

                    • MaggieGoff

                      It does NOT say “belongs to”

            • Blake

              Actually, when we give to the poor it is a matter of justice because while the means necessary for them to live is in our possession, it really belongs to the poor. Not to give it is to steal from them! CCC 2446

              • Mike Petrik

                The Apostle Paul really should have read CCC 2446.

                • Mark Shea

                  Since when did we get all sola scriptura? Or start pitting the New Testament against the Church? I thought that was a Protestant trick. I presume you are talking about the “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” proof text. That does not exhaust the NT witness on our duty to the poor. Indeed, it’s not about our duty to the poor at all.

        • mitchell

          But the state should be concerned with justice.

          • trad_c

            It is not just to forcefully take from your neighbor so you can be “charitable” to another neighbor. Charity (aka love) is an act of the will. Forced charity is theft. The entitlement programs are forced charity.

    • Karl Keating

      The chart is even more skewed than you say. It leaves off the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, but more importantly it leaves off those defense expenditures that are not listed, for budgetary purposes, under the Department of Defense–for example, nuclear weapons, which come under the Department of Energy. The recently-deceased Chalmers Johnson calculated that our true defense expenditures–not counting the three wars–are about $1.1 trillion per year, well more than double what the chart suggests.

  • Dan C

    When wealth is discussed in the Gospels, it is not denounced outright, but it is regarded with deep suspicion, even in the Gospel of Matthew, a Gospel written in the midst of a wealthy community of Christians, ostensibly for those Christians.

  • Peggy R

    I don’t have a problem with military expenditures being the primary expenditures of the federal government. It is one of the few constitutionally spelled out expenditures of the federal government. Most other activities including social services should be left to states if the constitution is properly understood. Those federal funds are mostly to redistribute funds among states–the rural states have fewer financial resources than urban or industrial states–and help all states provide some necessities at a basic level. But that’s all ballooned to a lot of silly unimportant and costly to administer “services” that only benefit a few. As another reader noted, however, the social security and medicare/medicaid safety net expenditures (not in the pie chart) rival defense spending in share of total expenditures.

    That said, it is still reasonable to examine defense spending for fiscal prudence and to examine whether our actions are moral, appropriate and effective in addressing US interests. I am sure there’s plenty of fat and too many generals in the mix. But we shouldn’t be alarmed by defense dominating the federal government’s expenditures relative to other expenditures.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Do you have actual figures to prove your assertions? Show me the “real” pie if you think the one Mark is showing is false. Or at least bring some statistics. Facts and opinions, particularly if they relate to amounts of money, are definitely not the same thing.

      • Peggy R

        Well, yes, every one can come up with competing pie charts based on their view of the world. Note Karl Keating’s comment.

        Here is one set of charts. S.S. is under “Pensions”.
        http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_budget_fy12bs12011n_10000102#usgs302

        Looking at FY 2011–$Billions–
        SS=$748.4
        Healthcare= $882.0
        Welfare=$495.6
        TOTAL=$2126

        Defense=$954.8
        –Let’s say KK’s source is right that Def is really $1.1T, not much more than the estimate I have. The “safety net” expenditures are twice the Defense, roughly, either way.

  • drogah

    My main problem also, with all of this:

    We can never base anything we do off of envy, or, as I said yesterday in a post, this vague sense of “unfairness.”

    Calling people to generosity, to giving, to duty & obligation: God bless you, this is our duty and obligation.

    But when the OWS folks work people up over the fact that 1% had this or that growth in income, or that they control %x of the wealth: down that road lies Greed’s ugly sister Envy.

    At the end of the day, the rich are always going to get richer: they have more money to get rich off of, money they don’t depend upon to pay the bills, to take that risky investment or start that not-so-sure-thing business venture. Short of a socialist/Marxist revolution, you will not and cannot change this.

    But what you can change is attitudes. Beliefs. Convictions. And the OWS folks will never, ever, ever……. ever convert any souls if they continue to espouse classist rhetoric which punishes any segment of the population for being successful at x, y, or z.

    So, my solution: Stop whining about the 1%. At the end of the day, even the bar graph shows me that everyone is STILL on the upswing, even after the boom of post-WWII consumerism. Whining about the 1% only makes the individual look foolish, selfish, and in direct opposition to success. Rather, keep calling that 1% to continued conversion not through anger, but through genuine love and concern.

    The day they march for that… I’ll fill a bus with parishioners and we’ll go march beside them.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com Jon W

      Yeah, but what if your vague sense of “unfairness” is due to things being, actually, unfair?

      Do you want people to just sit around with no decent jobs while their lives pass them by? Do you want family men to all have to work at McDonalds’? If we were a destitute society then I would say, “Work whatever job you have to to survive.” But we’re not. We’re a country with wealth and resources coming out of our ears, and yet, for some reason, we can’t find a way for a decent family man to work a job that takes care of his family according to their proper station in life, with a little extra to put by, so they can live decent, well-educated, virtuous lives.

      This isn’t envy. This is the observation that such things just aren’t right.

      • drogah

        I’m all about people being able to make a living wage.

        But a living wage has a definition: it is that amount by which a single wage earner can adequately and sufficiently feed, clothe, and house his/her family.

        Anything beyond that, I would submit to you, is beyond what we can talk about in terms of “fairness.” This is what the Church has defined as “fair,” through over a century of economic theory begining with Rerum Novarum.

        I suppose we can sit down and talk about anything beyond that, but this is a matter of generosity — what ought to happen in the spirit of Christian charity, not what people are owed for their labor. And when we start looking at other people and say, “They have this and I have this!” then we are absolutely, 100% thinking through a paradigm which the Church has condemned time and time again.

        It seems to me that at the root of the problem here is job production. Not what other people make, not the 1% we never whine about when the economy is booming and everyone is ripping fruit off the vine.

        So what do I expect? I expect people to demand economic improvement, for that guy who wants to take care of his family — then earn a little extra, beyond what is “fair.”

        But Amen, Amen I say to you, it will not and cannot come to us through the thrashing of the notion of “Big Businesses” (again, which nobody seems to demagogue when things are going well). In fact, economic improvement can only come through those businesses, as they seek to expand and grow.

        So here’s the real task: prove that the honest among those 1% (and not the crooks, thieves, and liars) are stunting the economic growth that generates actual wealth for the other 99%.

    • Marthe Lépine

      One of the biggest problem here is not that 1% have the most money, it is that governments, particularly in democratic countries such as the US, only cater to that 1%. There is something somewhere in a letter of St. Paul about giving honour to the people who show up well dressed and wearing gold rings and tell the poor to just go sit down at their feet… And I don’t think he was approving!

  • Sandra Miesel

    So how about posting a chart of the full Federal outlay, including all the entitlements (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, welfare, federal emplyee pensions etc.)? It would look very different, now wouldn’t it?

    And for the record, pre-Revolutionary France wasn’t a tightly centralized state and ran with surprisingly few government functionaries. Tight central control and uniform national law came in with Napoleon.

    • trad_c

      How many civil servants were there in pre revolutionary france?

  • Peggy R

    I’ll grant that there are some genuine structural concerns which I don’t think these protestors understand. Some protesters are simply motivated by selfish designs (pay my tuition!). The movement is underwritten, however, and some protestors are being paid to be there by plenty of lefty organizations. Reuters even says Soros is funding it in part. Reuters does a good job at smoking out some other lefty organizations involved.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/13/us-wallstreet-protests-origins-idUSTRE79C1YN20111013

    This link is kinda long, but also looks at the web of lefty, communist, anarchist groups involved.
    http://www.foundingbloggers.com/wordpress/2009/10/the-hexagon-of-progress-barack-obama-working-families-party-democratic-socialists-of-america-new-party-acorn-seiu/

    Not the company I want to keep.

    Mark if links are too wide and you need to delete this, that’s fine. I can repost in a different way.

  • http://thepulp.it/ Tito Edwards

    My goodness. I thought he was going to mention the Freemasons, the Rothschild’s, the British Royal family, Bilderbergs, Illuminati, and the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes Lodge No. 26!

    Sheeesh!

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Personally I don’t revere the US Constitution but, Peggy, didn’t the founders fear standing armies enough to write what they felt were very strong limits on them, never dreaming Congress would eventually find a work around.

    So, one more time, why should constitution loving Americans not be concerned?

    • Peggy R

      I don’t oppose such an idea of limiting the activity of standing armies. There may be lower cost, lower investment means of national security. But I’d hate to go too low with some of the threats out there. You’re asking the Q about what kind of resources should be put to national defense. A debatable Q.

      As I said, however, national defense is a legitimate and primary function of our national government, but the many domestic programs are not. The “interstate commerce” idea has currency, no doubt, but it’s been stretched too far in many regards. (A couple weeks ago Mark had a post about how there are thousands of federal crimes these days that individual citizens and businesses are not very familiar with.) My point is about the relative federal spending on defense v other activities. The amounts and purposes of defense spending are quite debatable on their own merits without comparing those amounts to other federal activities, as if the other activities are being neglected. Those are more correctly the purview of local and state govts.

      • Blake

        Are the threats real or perceived? I thinkwe are discovering right now that the underwear bomber was a scam.

        • Peggy R

          I’m not really debating that question of real or perceived. It’s a fair subject as I’ve said above. As for the underwear bomber, are you suggesting the govt planted him and knew he’d fail, so they weren’t too worried? I say, the undie bomber was indeed a buffoon, but clearly there were several layers of airline security and I’d guess immigration that failed. Our fellow citizens saved the day, not TSA, the military, ICE, etc.

    • Confederate Papist

      That’s correct. Provide for the common defence and establish trade relations with other countries. All of the rest was relegated to the sovereign states. The industrial military complex was not established until the 1860′s.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    And yet I haven’t found a tea partier here in Atlanta who doesn’t immediately dismiss me as a left wing America hater the moment I suggest that maybe we just can’t afford our empire as currently structured.

    The same Catholic TPs I’ve listened to as they call unions, even in the abstract, vile and despicable.

    I don’t want perfection, but is it too much to ask “orthodox “Catholics to form their minds with the Church instead of parroting ideas they got from secularists studying a Calvinist theologian?

    Apparently so.

    • Confederate Papist

      You’ll find a lot of the Tea Partiers have bought into the whole military industrial complex, and flag waving rhetoric. Having been there myself, I can appreciate what they are saying, but years of public education and re-writing of history has it’s effects on the right and the left.

      If one who really wants what the founders want, like the TP’ers say (I do believe they’re sincere, just ill-educated…and I believe many of the OWS’ers are too) reads the actual words of the founders, muddling through 19th century English, they would be shocked at how the country ended up today, and feel ashamed!

    • Lagniappe

      Hezekiah, how many TP folks did you survey in Atlanta? Also, if you are depicted as left leaning, so what? Did each of these “vermin” tell you that only they are correct or is your personal passions coming to the fore?

      Unions – they are disruptive and mischievous in workplace ethics. I speak from experience, not theory. Public unions are the largest and most self-centered of the bunch. Vile and despicable are harsh words from the Catholic brethren–yes? They [union folks] are not personally bad people, it’s what they represent in its totality. How many pay dues because they have to [pressured to conform]?

      And last, many Catholics are parrots of their sacrosanct institution. And who is the Calvinist theologian that has such sway over the secular masses? Speak or forever hold your peace.

      • MarylandBill

        Yep, Unions can be disruptive and mischievous in work place ethics… just like corporations large and small and people in general. The Catholic Church also maintains that workers have the right to unionize (at least with respect to private industry, if not in the public sector).

        • Confederate Papist

          As long as the unions are not corrupt. Many are good unions that take care of their folks, but the major ones seem to try to curry favour with left leaning administrations and line their own pockets along with their government counterparts.

      • Marthe Lépine

        As a former union executive, I can explain that when a union has been accepted by a majority of the workers in their unit, it works to protect the interests (including things as safety, for example, that many employers complain is too costly, among others) of ALL the workers in that unit (e.g. plant, govt department, or whatever is recognized). It costs money to work for everybody, for things such as negotiations (and the research required to prepare them), representation of injured workers, help for workers who run into problems such as harassment, unsafe work practices, etc. It is only reasonable to expect all the people who benefit to pay their fair share through their dues. Or do you think that freeloading is the right thing to do?

        • Lagniappe

          Public unions must defend non-union members; however, it doesn’t mean that the union stewards will give their all–just enough to within the legal boundaries, you know.

          I like the way you described the dues rationale: “It is only reasonable to expect all the people who benefit to pay their fair share through their dues. Or do you think that freeloading is the right thing to do?”

          Dues–ah yes. But how much of that goes to the “special funds” that promote union influence with the political elite, etc? So, the welfare of the employee, in general, is constituted by the “dues” he pays–blindly. Freeloaders–what a description of many union reps [you read it correctly] of which I dealt with some 15 years; Reps have got to stay here and research the grievances, etc., so the others (union members and the freeloaders) can pick up your slack.

          I am so glad that the unions are “fair” in helping their folks and that the RCC thinks these fine organizations somehow participate in social justice. Kind of reminds me of a wound that is healing for a SCAB grows over it to protect it from infection. Freeloaders, SCABS, are no match for zealots and thugs. Go pedal your Tetzel indulgences to the proletariat–they loved to be suckered!!!

          • Marthe Lépine

            Well, to my knowledge, the union I worked for, the two or three unions I have been a member of while I was holding full-time jobs (which included the one above), the union my father helped to start (one of the three I belonged to), and the union my father’s uncle (who went on to be the 1st ordinary worker to be elected to the Federal House of Commons – around 1886) was a founding member of as well as their first secretary were not like that. I do not know if you just want, like a lot of people on the “right” side of the political spectrum in your country to destroy the reputation of unions in order to leave workers vulnerable to the excesses of the market, or if you are describing an unfortunate experience you have personally suffered from. However, since I have actually been a union rep for a number of years, I can tell you that where I worked, union reps were not employees of the union, but workers chosen by their peers to represent them, and they did the same work as their colleagues, in addition to volunteering their personal time to work on union businesses. There were no “special funds” for political work and yes, union reps were expected to work for all the employees, since all of them did pay dues.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Oh.. And in my country, at least, unions do not just appear in the workplace and take over. They get accredited to represent the workers after a majority of those workers (having been recruited outside of working hours and not on the employer’s premises) have voted in their favour (democratically!). If enough workers get dissatisfied with the union in their workplace, they are perfectly free to do some recruitment of their own (not on the employer’s premises or during working hours) and demand a vote to introduce another union. And, as in most democratic situations and countries, if they get a majority of the votes, they get the union they have worked to organize, and the rest of the workers, whose votes are in the minority, have to follow along. I cannot see anything wrong with that.

            • Confederate Papist

              That’s the way it should be…but in the US it doesn’t work that way and there is intimidation and politcal favours by government officials. I know many union members that are members as a condition of employment that are not fans of the political affilitations of their unions….and I know many other union people (like my father in law and my uncle) who were perfectly happy with their unions respectively. Both unions were politically connected (to democrats) but they weren’t over the top about it either.

  • Jacob Morgan

    All the incentives are for the investor class to move work off-shore where countries like China actually cooperate with new businesses instead of vilifying them and dispatching brigades of bureaucrats to dictate their every move and fine them to death over tens of thousands of pages of rules even they cannot understand. Some of the investor class (e.g., GE) are, to their shame, all to gleeful to go along with it and even push for more regulations to edge out the smaller competitors. But in the final analysis, it is the federal government who has made the American worker grossly uncompetitive with the rest of the world. Trashing the investor class might all be jolly fun and such, but it is the federal government and the “reforms” over the years that have created the situation we are in.

    If I could borrow a line (only a little out of context) from CS Lewis it is that society castrates and then bids the geldings to be fruitful, here we lambast and penalize and trash industry then ask pretty please, could you hire some people for that plant the EPA fines every Tuesday and Thursday, for that company that faced idiotic EEOC lawsuits, for that office that spent $50,000 to install a handicap sink when no one handicapped worked there, for a company raided by the Dept of agriculture when it imported perfectly legal wood, for a plant that can not get electricity from coal people are not allowed to mine, etc. Industry has got the message: don’t do anything in America. Mission accomplished, but did no one thing that might put a little damper on hiring people? We need to undo many years of “reforms” instead of piling on new ones.

    • MarylandBill

      Just a minor point, but while an overly complex regulatory structure is part of the issue, I think we need to keep in mind that China is hardly a paradise for businesses. Bribes are often the only way to get paperwork pushed through in China, and there are often multiple layers of Bribes.

      The big issue is that many industries can pay a worker $10 a day there, and they have to pay a worker here $15 an hour. So American workers have to be much more productive to be competitive.

  • Mary

    O.M.G.
    Corporate “greed” sounds great in sound bites, but the PURPOSE of a corporation is to make money. Executive compensation is determined by the Board of Directors who serve the stockholders. Are you a stockholder? If not, then you (and I) do not have a say. It is, frankly, not our business. It is a private business. Private money. Do I think someone should get a golden parachute of millions of dollars? Of course not. But I don’t own stock in that company. Should the very weathly give to charity? Of course. And most do. You cannot legislate charity. You cannot legislate generosity. You cannot legislate common sense.

    Military spending is necessary. Of course there are abuses and excesses, but when Iran plots to murder the Saudi ambassador in our country, we NEED to be able to protect ourselves. “I will leave you alone and you will leave me alone” just does not work in the real world. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. I like the Judeo-Christian way of living, I want the peace of Jesus Christ, but others don’t. Talking doesn’t work. There are people and governments out there that hate us, that believe in violence, that believe that murder is acceptable. We must do whatever it takes to keep our citizens safe.

    Oh, and food stamps….did you know that college students can be eligible for food stamps? Food stamps are proper and just for the poor, housing for the poor is proper and just. But college students? Really?

    • Confederate Papist

      You’re right. Companies are formed to make product and profit from their sales.

      Problem is, we are not in a capitalist society. The media/government/corporate groups that control the country and the flow of information want you to believe that. There are elements of capitalism in the US, i.e., the company I work for, the Ma & Pa hardware store down the road, Tony’s Pizza Parlor, etc., but don’t be fooled by that crap as many of the major corps are willing wards of the federal goverment and they are colluding to make each other benefit while they look like they are at odds with each other. This is what the founders called, mercantilism, from which they revolted against as old King George III ratcheted up this mercantilism against the colonists. Today, we call it corporate welfare and it’s no more right today than it was in colonial times. I could go on, but it’s not my blog and I’ve already ticked enough people off today. ;-)

    • http://tonylayne.blogspot.com/ Anthony S. Layne

      Yes, the purpose of a business is to make money. Which is one reason why executive compensation needs review, since wages and salaries for employees are an expense that detracts from the business’ bottom line. But in many if not most cases, the compensation isn’t determined by the Board of Directors; according to former DuPont CEO Edgar Woolard: “The compensation committee [of the board of directors] talks to an outside consultant who has surveys you could drive a truck through and pay anything you want to pay, to be perfectly honest. The outside consultant talks to the human resources vice president, who talks to the CEO. The CEO says what he’d like to receive. It gets to the human resources person who tells the outside consultant. And it pretty well works out that the CEO gets what he’s implied he thinks he deserves, so he will be respected by his peers.” Ergo, the executive compensation process is largely a shell game.

      Is it our business? Actually, it is. No culture until recently has understood “privacy” as a warrant and shelter for wrong-doing or dishonesty; the Constitutional provision requiring a warrant for search and seizure shows that whatever right to privacy we have isn’t inviolable or absolute, and that laws can obtain even when actions are done in private. More to the point, all our commercial laws are oriented towards the principle of transparency precisely because illegal and unsavory business practices thrive on the darkness of privacy. The larger the company is, the more impact it has on the community; corporations don’t exist in vacuums.

      I’ll agree causa argumenti that laws don’t make people generous, charitable or wise. It doesn’t follow that, because laws don’t make people just, we should not attempt to legislate some standard of justice and hold people accountable to it. Your argument is too much like the old chestnut “You cannot legislate morality” — an implication that if a law isn’t obeyed by everyone it shouldn’t be a law.

      Oh, and college students? I was a college student myself. College students aren’t all young people having their tabs picked up by Mommy and Daddy; some are older adults holding down full-time jobs at barely-above-minimum wages while trying to get a diploma so they can move up beyond poverty level. In other words — Really.

      • Insane Sanity

        Are you implying that you are owed a college education?

        • Marthe Lépine

          Well, this is an interesting point. Educated people are said to make a larger contribution to the economy than illiterate ones. Is it absolutely correct that in order to get that education in order to better serve the economy, they have to “mortgage” a number of years of their lives in order to pay for their extremely and ever more costly education? In a developed country, education does not just benefits the educated people themselves, it benefits the general economy. Why always refuse to recognize it? And… wit the current system, it seems that it is increasingly the wealthiest, not necessarily the brightest and most promising, students who can afford a good education (I could name a former President who was reported to have told a group of graduating students that it is not necessary to have the highest marks to become president).

          • Confederate Papist

            Who would that be?

            • Marthe Lépine

              That was a long time ago, of course… It was as a guest to the convocation ceremony of one of the US prestigious universities, just a few months after having been elected that your Mr. Bush jr. (some of my friends used to say that he should have been called Shrub) made that comment. Or maybe it was not covered in your country?

              • Carbon Monoxide

                Actually, our most revered presidents never went to college and a couple of them were college drop outs. I know a guy who got very good grades, has an advanced degree and has sat around for two years smoking dope and playing with his slot cars while waiting for his hero, Obama, to get him a job. What’s your point about Bush, Jr.?

    • http://www.likelierthings.com Jon W

      The purpose of a corporation is not to make money. The purpose of a corporation is to do or make something good. Money is merely the most convenient and useful metric we have in this economy to check whether the corporation is, in fact, doing or making something good.

      This is a fine distinction but a necessary one. The moment we assume that the purpose of a corporation is to make money we start to pay less attention to our own judgments about what is truly good and begin to mindlessly follow the market, which is no standard to follow, since it cannot distinguish between virtue and vice. (And, in fact, following the market frequently means encouraging vice, since it’s easier to sell something to a vicious man.)

      The purpose of a corporation is not to make money.

      • Tim

        Actually, the purpose of a corporation is to make money. People may organize in order to achieve some good, but they incorporate in order to pool assets or raise capital (by, for example, issuing stock).

        I don’t see any other reason for a person or persons to incorporate than the monetary advantages it provides. One doesn’t have to incorporate to do or make something good.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Well, according to a few popes, there is definitely other reasons than money for people who have money to run businesses, incorporated or not. It is to provide workers with opportunities to earn what is necessary to support themselves and their families. In my way of thinking, profit should be the fair wage of the people who invest in, or run, businesses. A corporation is just a large business. Of course, a central theme of Milton Friedman’s economics is that the only social purpose of corporations is to make money for their investors. As I said before in another post, if you claim to be a Catholic instead of a Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand groupie, you should begin to inform yourself about what the Church has been teaching for over 100 years, beginning with Leo XIII.

      • Insane Sanity

        You’re wrong. Generally, and it most cases, there is no reason for a corporation to exist unless it makes money for its owners (shareholders). They may indeed end up making good, useful products, but they are created for the purpose of making money.

      • Mike Petrik

        Of course, the purpose of a corporation is to make money. People do not risk their hard-earned capital just to do good works. Making contributions to charity is a good thing, but forming and investing in corporations is not charity.

    • Blake

      Um, ok, why is the purpose of a corporation to make money? Some corporation have as their purpose charitable works, others the employment of many people and others actually want to create things or add to the public good. When the bottom line becomes the purpose then there is a problem.

      • Mike Petrik

        Non-profit corporations are a different animal. They rely on voluntary contributions to do good works. For profit corporations would never be able to attract investors if they did not assure investors that, within the bounds of ethics and law, their mission is to maximize their financial return.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Well… Maybe instead of repeating the mantra that a living income for the poor is a matter of private charity, one could start explaining that Catholic investors should consider investing in companies that are not uniquely motivated by higher and higher profit at the expense of everybody else. Or start such companies. The teaching of the Catholic church should be a strong motivator for real Catholics, don’t you think?

        • Blake Helgoth

          I was talking about for profit corporations. Not all share holds are only interested in profit. Investing is a moral act you know.

          • Marthe Lépine

            I was saying that for real Catholics, the motivation to follow the Church teaching should be strong enough to start for-profit businesses that are acting responsibly and according to Church teaching and for Catholic investors to invest in such businesses. Or do you think that God should not be relevant when running a business?

  • thomas tucker

    Mary- that schema of how corporations work sounds good in theory. But, in practice, the Boards do what they want and are not beholden much to stockholders becasue the stockholding is too diffuse. Instead, the CEO’s and the Board members all come from the same self-serving group. Furthermore, this same group rotates in and out of top Government financial positions. Is ia ny wonder the top 1% keeps adding income? It’s really a fixed game.

  • Brandy

    I don’t agree with you, Mark. I think this has very little to do with money. In my own personal opinion, this has much more to do with people who have no sense of personal responsibility; of people who believe that if something goes wrong in their lives it must be someone else’s fault and never even think to look at their own behavior to see what can be done to change their circumstances by changing their behavior; of people who have been raised in a time when they believe they are, or should be, entitled to anything and everything they desire without having to put any effort in to receive it. I’m not rich, Mark, and I never have been. I didn’t have a mother or father to put me through college, so I took out loans and am still working to pay those off. I work a minimum wage job and I rent an apartment. I have no health insurance. My credit sucks. Do I blame the economy for these things? No. I look at my life and I can see at every turn that where I am now is a direct result of the choices that I made in life. I chose to have sex outside of marriage, ended up married at 19 and had a baby at 2 weeks before twenty. Nobody else made that decision for me. I did. I chose to abandon a career to pursue one that would allow me to spend more time with my family, then chose to move far from home and friends so that I could allow my husband to pursue his dream in radio. He lost his job, so I had to take what I could find and support us until he found a new one. Now we both work minimum wage. Our choice. Nobody made those choices for us. That’s the price of having freedom – you also have the freedom to fail and failure sometimes means going through a bit of homelessness or hunger. Those things aren’t bad. They motivate you to get up and try harder the next time. I’ve been through them. I know.

    The rich should help others, but they shouldn’t be forced to do it. Forced charity isn’t charity at all. I hope someday to have an income large enough that I can do more to help other families get through hard times, but I don’t want a government who dictates to me who I help and how I help them. That’s not freedom.

    • http://tonylayne.blogspot.com/ Anthony S. Layne

      As much as I appreciate your story, I think you misconstrue Mark’s basic argument. The point is not to soak the rich or force them to be more charitable. Rather, it’s that the system as it stands now is structurally, transparently and inherently unjust, and needs to be fixed … but not, however, with the draconian “solutions” offered by Socialism or Anarchism.

      • Tim

        What solutions are being offered? What is it in the “system” that is structurally unjust?

        I don’t mean to be confrontational, and I don’t deny anything you say, but I get uneasy when people are demanding a “fix” to vague grievances. How will the vast disparity in incomes be remedied and who is going to do it? My guess is it will be the Government via thousands of pages of new legislation that I’m sure us lawyers can exploit.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Oh come on. Do you really live in an Ivory Tower? You can read? You have access to the Internet? And look up the Church teaching since Leo XIII. Open your mind a little, do a little research, it will not kill you.

          • Mike Petrik

            Boy, that was a helpful reply. If anyone lives in an ivory tower, Marthe it is you.

            • Marthe Lépine

              What do you mean, my reply was not helpful? Even in this combox, there is more than enough information for someone to go to the Internet to do some research. And I was suggesting some very important publications written by a number of Popes. I remember reading in this once popular book on economics, “Small is Beautiful”, that the most solid and consistent teaching about social issues and the condition of workers came from the Popes. And there is also all the material on distributism already available. Do we need to spoon-feed people by repeating all of this in the combox?

            • Marthe Lépine

              What do you mean, my reply was unhelpful? Do I need to spoon-feed the reader by copying all the material available in this combox? I have suggested a set of very important publications by various Popes. And if this reader is at all familiar with Mark’s blog he must have seen many references to distributism, as well as links to material written on that subject; he would not have to spend a lot of time looking for it in the Internet, Mark has often included direct links. I think that it is a good start to a reply to the question!

            • Marthe Lépine

              Sorry that there are 2 quite similar replies – it did not seem that the 1st one had recorded, so I tried again… But I have something else I could contribute: If you go to the following link – http://www.jesuitforum.ca/sites/default/files/TheRich&theRest_0.pdf
              you should be able to read a newsletter by the Jesuit Forum, a Canadian organization that studies social issues. Its leader, Father Bill Ryan, has a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard and the newsletter quotes several US sources.
              Here’s a tantalizing extract:
              “First, get rid of Wall Street” (Korten)
              A final author is David Korten, a former professor at Harvard’s
              Graduate School of Business, who has some very thoughtful books
              to his credit. In his “Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom
              Wealth to Real Wealth”, Korten proposes a more radical solution.
              First, get rid of Wall Street. It was the real villain in the recent recession.
              And it produces nothing real but only ‘phantom wealth,’ or
              money that has no intrinsic value but nevertheless creates powerful
              claims on the real production and wealth created by others.
              His new economy sounds startlingly like the original free market
              economy proposed by Adam Smith, where businesses and banks
              are mostly small and local, with no monopolies or duopolies, and
              none big enough to be indispensable. The role of banks would be
              limited to facilitating business production and commerce. And like
              Galbraith, Korten would not accept GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
              as a reliable measure of human achievement. GDP numbers measure
              only financial and economic growth – whether good or bad,
              sustainable or illusory. He challenges us to re-establish criteria
              that reflect genuine human well-being.

  • violet

    @ Mary What if you are a poor college student with a baby, and both you and your husband lost your job, and you are trying to go to school on loans as a desperate move to be more employable? If you are poor with no or bad credit the loans aren’t enough to live on. There are all sorts of college students.

    • drogah

      I have helped (and been proxy help) to some women in this position.

      You’re right: being a full-time student never works.

      But what does work: part-time student, and often full (or, if required) part-time work.

      And grants. Most women in those position are eligible for a boatload of grants, in addition to actual tuition assistance from their respective colleges/institutions. But I’ve never seen poor credit enter into the equation, in the end.

    • drogah

      I have helped (and been proxy help) to some women in this position.

      You’re right: being a full-time student never works.

      But what does work: part-time student, and often full (or, if required) part-time work.

      And grants. Most women in those position are eligible for a boatload of grants, in addition to actual tuition assistance from their respective colleges/institutions. But I’ve never seen poor credit enter into the equation, in the end.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Yeah but things work out for Mary. They would for you two if you weren’t a lazy whiner.

    If it’s all personal responsibility, where’s Jesus gonna sit?

    Think about it.

    • Confederate Papist

      I’m not a mind reader, but I am willing to be that Mary is referring to college-aged (18~23) students who are still claimed as dependents by mum and dad.

      I could be wrong, Mary will have to clarify….but that’s how I read it.

      As far as the other scenarios, I’m good with it as long as they are short term and not a lifestyle.

  • http://gadel.info GADEL

    This statistics is shocking. I think USA is no longer a supper power, it’s a myth.

  • Will

    It is true we have regulations here in the US, that they do not have in other places, such as China. Of course, when our cities have hosted the Olympics, they have not had to temporarily close businesses because the pollution would be too great. (Then again maybe that is because all of the factories in the US moved to China).

  • Lagniappe

    “Liars, damn liars, and statistics.” A famous quote that so envelopes the concept of being “fair” [a four letter word with no objective meaning] and the perception of social justice [Catholic style]. Make a pie chart, do the Pareto thing, mix and match without commentary and “viola” stats prove everything!! Ha, Ha, Ha.

    The present protestors are just operatives and activists seeking, not the welfare of the unfortunate, but serve as the “misdirection” [the magician's secret] of the real problems in Washington DC. Who controls the SEC? Who is responsible for enforcing laws? Who wrote the legislation that allows the backroom deals? Who are the real culprits in our economic fall from grace?

    Oh, the big bad guys on Wall Street. Think again. The protestors are a pimple on an elephant’s butt (or donkey’s — you choose). The curtain at Oz has been opened and exposes the real malcontents (Congress, bureaucrats, and political machines of all parties). Dodd and Frank escape any public condemnation for their legislation to allow, no, FORCE, lenders to make home loans to people totally unqualified. Here is social justice run a muck!! Now we all pay the price. Houses loses value, many are foreclosed, 401K’s plummet, jobs go overseas, unions still demand a bigger pacifier, and conservatives get the blame when the left seeks a societal remake that discards the Constitution in favor of their view of “fair.”

    But Rome could save the day–moral ethics? Absolutely and Amen but so many of the political leaders espouse the RCC with a wink and a nod. But the RCC idea of fairness and social justice is like Mr. Shea’s chart — make it what you want it to be. What is the poverty line cutoff? Hmm, plasma TV, cable, cell phones, car(s), undernourished (?), live on the street or in a discarded large Wal-Mart cardboard box? America’s problems run deep and a painful period will be required to reverse the magnitude that last 5 years of political and economic selfishness. Maybe the eminence grise will be exposed. Wonder “Who Dat?”

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Lagniap,

    6.
    It demonstrates myopia.

    Who used this word vermin you appear to be quoting?

    Adam Smith.

    Kinda stream of consciousness, but it does answer you.

  • Sam Schmitt

    Shocking – people who know how to make money and have dedicated their lives to it are making more, and at a greater clip, than those who don’t. Kinda like those “Rich Dad – Poor Dad” books: if you dedicate yourself 100% to making money, no holds barred, no looking back, no time for family, faith, or anything else, then you’ll make more than the rest of us who let these other things get in the way.

    • Marthe Lépine

      And is that your recipe for a virtuous life?

      • Sam Schmitt

        No – I don’t think that virtue does not lie in making a lot of money. I was just expressing an opinion about how and why some people get rich, not condoning their actions.

        • Sam Schmitt

          Correction – “I don’t think that virtue lies in making a lot of money. “

  • Linus

    Yep, he was a Tea Party activist. What else could you expect!!! I love all the lefties chiming in on this. Is there greed on Wall Street? You bet. But who bailed them out – a capitalist Pig ( Bush and his cronies) and far left Commie ( Obama and his goons from Chicago) and the lefties who controlled Congress and the Senate. So who is the big sinner? And how about all us greedy folks in the middle class who are living off of their children and grandchildren so we can have unsurpassed health care and a comfortable old age? And no one has mentioned yet that all those super rich don’t keep their millions in cash, they invest it and create jobs. I have no idea where all the wealth goes in hard times – down a deep dark hole somewhere I guess.

    But one thing has not been mentioned, until men are converted nothing in this world will ever go right, even the good will suffer. I rains on the good and the bad. So if you want peace and justice strive for holiness, perhaps, maybe things will get better..

    • Marthe Lépine

      If those super really invest their money and create jobs, where are the jobs?

  • Jesse

    We all respect, we the poor in America aren’t even close to true povertey. You haven’t seen what it means to be truly poor. As Catholics, we shouldn’t be envious if other people have money. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, showed us that money not only doesn’t bring happiness, but is often very harmful to our spiritual well being.

    Let the system work it out on its own. We just need to be patient.

  • Blake

    The one thing I think we can all agree upon is that the state has overstepped her bounds. She has been co-opted by the captains of industry and made to wield her power in order to protect them from ordinary market forces. This has given those industries, not only an unfair advantage, but a perverted form of commerce designed only for lining their pockets, no matter the consequences! How else is one to explain the Federal Reserve or the current shenanigans of the Dow and the S&P?

  • Dan C

    If a corporation is merely involved in wealth creation, it’s moral foundation may in peril. “The firm” may have to participate beyond it’s profit maximization to be considered moral and a contribution to human flourishing, or so says Benedict the 16th.

    The real defense expenditures are far greater than depicted.

  • elcid

    Base on the comments I read so far I have yet to see anyone make a claim that the root of our problems is the loss of our moral/ethic foundation, my personal opinion is the root source of our social/economic issues is a loss of faith, since people are bringing up revolutions, the roots of the french, russian, mexican revolutions and the spanish civil war was a loss of faith and the growth of socialism, atheism and communism, if these revolutionaries cared so much for the poor why did they kill priests and nuns, confiscate church property, prevent worship, close down charities, etc., it was nothing but a hate for the Catholic church and a power grab.
    I don’t believe that capitalism in it’s essence is evil just like money is not, it’s the love of self wealth and profit that’s the issue, look at China, India and Russia after they implemented open markets policies, this benefited more people and lifted them out of poverty, human nature being what it is there is always going to be corrupt and unethical people among us.
    We took God out of the public schools and now we wonder why our kids grow up to be immoral and unethical, we now have young kids in our jr high schools doing things we would never think would happen, every media source encourages sex and violence, the schools past out the condoms to go along with it, we created a new form of slavery called the welfare state, I’m sure a majority of people on welfare or out of work are probably not very educated, therein lies another problem, how much money do we pour into a public education system that is a failure, why will the democrats not allow some of this money to go towards the voucher system so kids can go to a better school and have a better chance of being successful.
    There’s plenty of blame to go around for our current societal ills, I think we all need to look in the mirror and ask our selves if we are contributing to the goodness of our country or towards it’s demise.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Please show me how the populations of China and India have been lifted up from poverty, please? I am not sure I understand. I have seen stories of people committing suicide in their workplaces in China out of despair at their low wages, though…

      • elcid

        If you study the history of these countries you will answer your own questions, I’m aware of issues in China and India base on the corruption problems, but for the most part people have benefited from an open market system, India’s povery rate went from 45% in 1990 to 32% in 2010 (see link below), if you study the revolutions I mentioned in my initial post you will see the disastrous effects of socialism and marxism, that’s a fact.

        http://www.economist.com/node/18986387

  • Ella

    Maybe part of our problem is politicians too long in office who send our troops all over the world and seem to have a very hard time bringing them back home. Maybe part is that our lawmakers push for all kinds of pet projects (to be manufactured in their district of course) the military doesn’t want or need so the constituents back home will vote them back into office. Maybe part is that lawmakers stay in Washington so long that they pony up to the trough to allow corporations to do all sort of nonsense to include massive mergers. And just wondering, how is it that GE can post a $14 billion profit last year and pay NO taxes on it?

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Mr. Petrik,
    I will grant you in our society profit is a corporation’s raison d’etra.

    But that is probably the best evidence one can provide for just how depraved we are.

  • http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/ Richard C.

    Like David above, I notice that the pie chart leaves out SocSec, Medicare, Medicaid, and other items. It’s pretty obvious that one shouldn’t trust a pie chart labeled “Pentagon”. The anti-defense Left loves to refer to the Pentagon. I guess for them it’s a sinister geometrical symbol of Evil.

    For what it’s worth, the information at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy11/db.html is more complete, though it needs some exploring, as Karl pointed out.

    Here are the top nine line items in 2011:
    SocSec ($598B)
    Medicaid grants to states ($296B)
    Interest on debt ($290B)
    Medicare hospital payments ($266B)
    Medicare Health Care Trust Fund ($247B)
    Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance ($244B)
    Interest paid to Trust Fund Receipt Accounts (another debt category) ($192B)
    SocSec Disability ($130B)
    Unemployment compensation ($102B)

    The top 9 items add up to $2370 billion.

    The 10th item is Army Operation and Maintenance ($99B), one of various DOD line items.

    Comparing the top 9 items to the Sinister Pentagon’s $560-odd billion (from your pie chart) makes me think that defense should not be demonized and treated as the only logical target for cost-cutting.

    • http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/ Richard C.

      Correction: those pie wedges above add to about $656B. Maybe the leftists should just round it up to $666B to make the military look even more evil.

  • deepoctave

    Why is the bar showing the growth in family income of the top 1% for 1947-1979 missing?

    • Jeff T.

      Nice catch. It’s interesting how both the pie graph and the bar graph don’t show the complete picture, but they accurately fit Mark’s world view so he used them for shock value. It’s kind of like our Protestant friends selectively choosing Bible verses that back up their preconceived notions.

      • Mark Shea

        I’m curious. What do you think my worldview is? And do you think it’s possible I posted the charts honestly and with 53 year old eyes that didn’t read the fine print? Because, you know, if you are calling me dishonest, then that was your last post, bub.

        • Jeff T.

          Mark, your worldview is obviously Catholic. I apologize for an emotional, uncharitable comment that appears to question your integrity. While I would prefer to read an article and have a discussion based upon numbers and graphs that are less misleading, the reality is that we do have an economic problem in this country and I do believe your opinions are firmly rooted in Church teaching. Please forgive my attack.

          • Mark Shea

            Thank you. I forgive you.

  • deepoctave

    For the record, no imputation of dishonesty on Mark’s part was intended by me. I just tend to be suspicious of graphs and statistics ever since my high school math teacher made us read Darrell Huff in How to Lie with Statistics. I also believe something is seriously wrong.

  • Greg

    Hey I work for Gannett. Why do you call Craig Dubow a “slob”? What good does this useless personal attack do?

  • Domini cane

    I don’t know where these charts came from, but let’s at least begin the discussion with better information, here (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/welfare_budget_2010_4.html) for instance, just to correct the impression of the first chart, which is badly skewed.

  • James

    The pie chart is badly skewed as pointed out multiple times. It only includes discretionary spending. I don’t know if Caelum et Terra is rehashing this graph but I pointed out to the author there in the past that it was a distortion of the truth. If he is still spouting this he is either incapable of learning or a liar.
    To use this as a basis for further discussion is bizarre.

  • Alan Gerlach

    Eliminate Congressional incumbency;
    There should be no such thing as a “retired” Senator or Congressman, only “former” Senators or Congressman.
    And, this applies to all states’ governments as well.

  • elcid

    Before the current financial crisis, there was an study on poverty in America in 2005 figures.

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/07/What-is-Poverty

    • Will

      The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank. Where is a companion study from a moderate or liberal think tank?

  • Marthe Lépine

    I was at a meeting yesterday where someone had posted a chart of military expenditures by major country that looked a lot like the pie that Mark has posted here, except that the very large segment at the top of the pie was for US military expenditures compared to other countries. It did make it look like the US is indeed the biggest spender, with a figure that seems to match relatively closely the TOTAL of all those other countries put together. Makes one wonder…
    Then as I was reading the news on my favourite news site this evening, I saw something about the planned withdrawal from Iraq, but what struck me was that there would be more than 150 military personnel remaining at the US embassy in order to work on weapons sales to the Irakian government. What the h… is US military personnel doing, at taxpayers expenses, promoting sales for some US corporations? Of course, those of us who know about business also know that a corporation, to remain meaningful to investors, MUST increase sales and profits, not only each and every year, but each and every quarter of each and every year. As Catholics, we should be concerned about such growth of weapons sales to other countries. And I think that the Popes had something to say about the morality of developing more and more lethal weapons, and maybe even about the morality of spreading more weapons all over the world. Is the military industry a morally valid way of developing a country’s economy? (And I would certainly NOT put all the blame on Obama for this one!)

  • Marthe Lépine

    Sorry, I should have started by saying that my comment should be relevant to this present blog, since the pie shown by Mark attributes a rather big slice of the pie (just over half) to the Pentagon and current wars. Readers may have reasons to argue about the validity of the chart, but it remains that Pentagon and wars each are devouring more of the pie than any other type of expenditure and that I do not think that there is any way to correct the calculations that would reduce either one of those 2 slices to about the size of, say, those of health and education, even put together…

  • Bill Foley

    from Bill Foley

    I would recommend that all of you commentators read National Suicide: How Washington Is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z by Martin Gross, who has analyzed the out-of-control spending by the federal government better than anyone. The expanding federal government is a direct violation of one of the pillars of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, namely, subsidiarity. He has real, concrete, non-harmful solutions to rein in the ever-growing behemoth in Washington. Of course, a certain segment of the political class want to increase governmental employment and governmental dependence so that they can maintain power.


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