Docility vs. Minimum Daily Adult Requirement Thinking Re: Mammon

Docility vs. Minimum Daily Adult Requirement Thinking Re: Mammon July 2, 2014

Whenever the pope teaches about the other sacred thing we keep in our pants–our wallets–one often hears “The Pope was not speaking ex cathedra…. We can thus choose to accept it or not.”  We also often hear that his teaching is some kind of radical departure from the traditional teaching of the Church.  You know:  one of those liberal Vatican II things.

From Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chapter 3:

“Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

Hat tip: reader Cat Clark


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  • carlzilla

    Thanks for reminding us, the working poor who struggle to pay for those who do not wish to work, by putting tax and financial burdens on families and leading to their disintegration. They look at me like a sucker, going to work rather than job the system. Now I guess I’ll be going to hell for my efforts.

    • jroberts548

      At the median US household income, a family of four will have an income tax liability of $723, or 1.6% of their income.

      I’m sorry the welfare queens are such an imposition on you, but if you’re part of the “working poor,” your tax liability is not very large.

      • King Richard

        As I pointed out above – you have no idea what carlzilla’s income or tax burden is.
        Since I am not an American I looked up the definition of ‘working poor’ and found that it means “those people who are employed but whose total income is below the poverty line”. I also learned from the government info that ‘a significant number of people in poverty work, often full time and with multiple jobs’.
        I also learned that the working poor are still liable for such things as payroll taxes, excise fees, and state and local taxes and that the working poor pay an average of 12% of their total income on national and local taxes even if they do not pay income tax.
        I fear that I disagree – 12% of a poor man’s income seems to be high in my opinion.

        • jroberts548

          And at the poverty line ($23,500 for a household of four), carlzilla would get an EITC of $5,230 for a household of four, or about 25%, which is more than double 12%.

          There is no amount of money carlzilla can earn where he’ll be “working poor” and have a significant federal tax burden. The whole thing is bullshit class warfare between the poor and the slightly less poor. The only winners of that war are the rich.

          But if you want to try some numbers yourself, give it a go:

        • Peggy

          Others have provided some calculations, but yes, it is true that, at the lowest income levels, one can actually profit (make a net gain) by filing income taxes and benefiting from the EITC. How nice, eh?

    • Dan C

      You were not paying attention during the 2012 Presidential elections. The working poor do not even pay for the infrastructure they use to get around, so the Republicans tell us. The world is paid for by those making greater than average pay, so we were told.

      • Peggy

        We do have at the federal level and in most states, a progressive tax system in which higher incomes will pay higher tax rates. Even under a flat tax w/no deductions, a higher income person will pay a higher AMOUNT of taxes. That should be intuitive.

        Yes, poor people who experience a net gain via the EITC do pay local and state sales taxes, excise taxes and the like. Their rent presumably covers property taxes for their landlord. So, yeah. But those at higher income pay those too and at higher amounts as their property is usually worth more and they usually spend more b/c they can.

        So, yes, to the extant that a person at any income level pays a tax, that person supports the public services the tax funds. Yet, higher income people do pay more of most of these such taxes.

        Here is some good info. A table also shows how middle income groups are stagnant, while the poor made a gain (increased public aid or EITC?) and so did the highest folks who are not mid-level schmucks like the rest of us.

  • King Richard

    A timely post, if a touch incomplete. Of course, the teachings of the Church on such issues do fill many volumes.

    Carlzilla, the system you are in is *also* outside of the Church’s teachings; Communism, Socialism, Laissez-faire Capitalism – all are Liberal concepts (in the actual meaning of Liberal, which is why Libertarians call themselves ‘classical Liberals’). We must reject Modernism and Liberalism and embrace the authentic teachings of the Church.

    jroberts548, to a poor man $700 is a great deal. And you are forgetting the many other taxes beyond income tax faced; payroll tax, VAT, sales tax, etc.

    These are older but solid intros to Catholic Social Thought

    • jroberts548

      A person earning the median income isn’t poor. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure a household earning the median household income has more income than about half of the households in America.

      Somehow, we’ve redefined “working poor” to include people well above the median income, and even Obama has defined “middle class” to include households earning up to $290,000 a year.

      • King Richard

        Who is “we”? I am not an American so I am not sure of the specifics in that country but I do know that there are plenty of nations where ‘median income’ and ‘poverty’ are, yes, the same thing.
        Or are you claiming that the statement “to a poor man $700 is a great deal” cannot be true?

        • jroberts548

          To a poor man, $700 is a great deal. Someone in America who pays $700 in federal income tax is not a poor man. He is, in fact, richer than half of his compatriots.

          ETA: The real thing that keeps the working poor down in this country is the pitting of the lower middle class against the poor. We end up absurdly characterizing people at the median income (i.e., people who just barely have a federal tax liability) as working poor, and we promote tax cuts for the “middle class” of households earning $290,000 a year. Then, the way we means test what anti-poverty programs we have makes each marginal dollar from roughly $17,001 dollar through about $19,000 dollar worthless, while imposing a huge marriage penalty on the poor.

          But fixing these problems doesn’t matter. “Poor” people, who are richer than half their compatriots, just whine about all the money going to the undeserving poor, and vote for “middle class” tax cuts to go to those making $289,999 or less.

          • King Richard

            Sir, I am trying to discuss how to make the world a more moral, more just, and more charitable place. Trying to share how the Church shows us how to not only eliminate some of the tyranny of Mammon but has real, practical advice to help each and every family live a more ethical, more secure, and more fruitful life.
            Your response to carlzilla was not to *ask* him how much he earns (since he only referred to himself as ‘the working poor’) but to mention the tax burden of the American median wage. Since then you are very upset that “we” are ‘redefining median income as poor’. No, you are the one making assumptions (you have no idea of either carlzilla’s income or tax burden). You are the one discussing only a particular type of tax or fee (income tax) while ignoring others.
            Since *I* do not claim to know anyone’s unstated income or tax burden I merely pointed out a truth – to a poor man any burden is painful. You seem to take offence to this.
            I suggest, kindly, that you are upset at a hobgoblin of your own making. Until you ask for carlzilla’s actual income and total tax burden you are only complaining about your own words and assumptions.
            Please do not include me in your assumptions.

            • jroberts548

              But if he’s paying $700, he’s not poor. If he’s making $40,000 a year, his tax liability for a household of 4 is $48. There is no amount at which his tax liability could be high, and carlzilla could be poor. If carlzilla has a significant federal tax liability, he’s not “poor” unless you stretch the definition of “poor” to include people that are richer than half of America.

              I don’t care what carlzilla’s actual income is, because unless he’s overpaying and stupidly refusing to cash his refund checks, he isn’t both poor and paying a lot of taxes.

              • King Richard

                ‘I don’t care’

                Sir, it took me a total of 3 minutes to learn from the American labor Department that a large number of people below the poverty line work and that their average national and local taxes are about 12% of their total pay.
                The math isn’t hard at that point. A man with a wife and two children who earns $10 per hour makes about $20,000 a year. This is well below the American poverty line for a family of four. While he may pay no national income tax he is still liable for payroll taxes, excise fees, etc. so that his total tax burden is $2,400 a year.
                Does more than $1.20 out of every $10 sound like a great deal of money to a poor man to you, sir? Because it does to me.
                And according to the American government up to 7% of that is from just the FICA tax; which means that this, yes, poor man would be paying $1,400 a year (or twice $700) in just one national tax.
                Perhaps you should re-examine your premises

                • jroberts548

                  What about the EITC? Did you include that in your calculations? His total tax liability ends up being negligble, or even negative.

                  And please, your majesty, I don’t know what you’re doing with this faux civility. You don’t have to call me sir. You do have to know about the EITC if you’re going to lecture about the tax liability of the American “working poor.”

                  • King Richard

                    I assure you, my civility is no front.
                    So – let me make sure that what you and the internet are telling me is correct:
                    1) The American state and local governments impose rather surprisingly high taxes on people who are poor but have jobs so that their weekly paychecks are reduced by 12%
                    2) The next year the American government issues these people a check for more than 12% of their income because they are below the poverty line.
                    I must admit, I am gobsmacked. Inflicting short term financial pain on the poor for no reason? Can they not determine a ‘trigger level’ of wages to avoid taxes before that point? Why is the amount so much greater than the taxes collected if it is a ‘tax credit’? Do the states and local governments also do this? How do you prevent fraud? How many people are employed collecting taxes that will be repaid and repaying taxes that need never be collected? Can people be imprisoned for not paying taxes that will be later returned to them anyway?
                    I must admit, I had *no idea* that the American tax system was so very convoluted. I couldn’t have guessed that a government would take money from the poor just so it could return it to them.

                    • jroberts548

                      1. We have a system of dual sovereignty. The federal government can’t tell states what to tax, and vice-versa. It’d be like if England and the United Kingdom were both sovereigns with separate governments, and a separate power to tax.

                      2. Different taxes are administered differently, even by the same sovereign and the same agency. FICA is collected per paycheck. EITC is calculated annually. Income tax is calculated annually, but most people voluntarily pay per paycheck (“withholding”), are threatened with penalties for withholding too little, and end up withholding too much. The refund for excessive withholding is paid annually, with the EITC. This mirrors American federal inefficiency generally.

                      3. More insidiously, I think it helps foster the sort of class warfare across the lower classes that benefits the rich. Those near the poverty level, who get quite large EITCs and often pay more in withholding taxes than they should anyway look forward to tax day; those making just a few thousand more don’t.

                    • King Richard

                      I reaffirms my visceral aversion to ‘income tax’ in all of its forms. Edan has only fees and a household tax. The household tax has simple, clear exceptions. The American system almost sounds like a confidence game.

                    • jroberts548

                      There’re ways it could be done equitably. There’s no reason we couldn’t e.g., calculate EITC per paycheck instead of all of at once.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Part of the problem, at least in my country, Canada, comes from sales taxes, e.g. taxes that consumers are paying on all of their purchases (with some limited exceptions like most food items). For that reason, a low-income person who does not have enough money to make any savings and who is forced to spend all of his/her money on things that are necessary for a dignified life for his or her family pays a larger part of those sales taxes (when compared to his her income) than people who are able to use some of their income for savings or other non-consumer things.
                      As well, I agree that many people are employed collecting taxes that will be repaid; the problem in Canada is that it is businesses. big or small, or very small, that are bearing the burden of collecting such taxes, but they also have to cover the time and money spent doing this. To a self-employed person like myself, this often has meant having to choose between spending time doing unpaid work collecting a tax for the government, or doing paid work for my customer that contribute to paying rent, utilities, food, etc., while at the same time knowing that the said tax, collected and remitted, will be refunded to my clients. And there is a limit to adding hours of work to one’s day, since days will always have only 24 hours…

              • Dave G.

                It depends doesn’t it.

                • jroberts548

                  Depends on what?

                  • Dave G.

                    A hundred different factors. Size of family life leaps to mind. Cost of living to name another.

                    • jroberts548

                      Yes, household size does matter. As your household size increases, the number of standard deductions and/or child tax credits increases. A 5 person household with the median household income wouldn’t pay any income tax. Which means he shouldn’t be whining about his taxes going to support people who don’t work. Size of family is built into the tax calculation. So again, “I don’t care what carlzilla’s actual income is, because unless he’s overpaying and stupidly refusing to cash his refund checks, he isn’t both poor and paying a lot of taxes.”

                      I guess if he worked in San Francisco or New York, and was allergic to light rail, then maybe that would qualify as poor. I’m not aware of anyone with a light rail allergy.

                      No one in America is both part of the working poor, and paying a significant amount of taxes to support people who refuse to work. It’s a bullshit myth made up by the super wealthy to pit the working classes against the indigent.

                    • Dave G.

                      You should get out more. What about health costs? What about moving a relative in with you? What about food prices? Maintenance? The list goes on. To say nobody in America is in the working poor is so over the top it’s hard to believe.

                    • jroberts548

                      “To say nobody in America is in the working poor is so over the top it’s hard to believe.”

                      Learn to read an entire sentence. No one is in the working poor AND paying a significant amount of taxes. There are poor people in America. Their tax liability is low. For the working poor, it’s often negative.

                    • Dave G.

                      Since the context hinged on the working poor and its tax liability I thought I could paraphrase your meaning. Poor working do pay taxes. There are more than just federal taxes. And often they don’t make enough for tax shelters because they need every penny just to survive. Thus they are hit with the full brunt of taxable income. And there are those added factors like care of loved ones or moving a parent into the home. It’s far more complex than you’re trying to make it.

                    • jroberts548

                      You should try paraphrasing my meaning honestly.

                      Did you include EITC in your calculations?

                      I have no desire to have the same conversation with you as I had already on this same page if you’re not going to add anything to it.

                      So run some number here: and here: and see if you can find someone that’s part of the working poor and has a signficant tax liability.

                      ETA: If your response doesn’t contain numbers, you’re wasting my time and your time.

                      Edited further: When you fail to find any set of numbers that would qualify as “working poor” AND “significant tax liability,” you can reply by just conceding that you were mistaken.

                    • Dave G.

                      The biggest problem is you’re wrong. You’ve said that there is effectively no working poor because those who make enough to scratch by have the earned income tax credit. That is true. And had we not the year I was laid off we would have lost everything. As it was with other taxes and rising costs of living plus unforseen circumstances we were able to survive. We made too much to qualify for assistance but not enough to break less than even given our area’s cost of living, local taxes, and overall living needs. And we were not alone. In the end people always seem to resist living in prefab categories which is why such generalizations are seldom helpful.

                    • jroberts548

                      I said there are no working poor who have a significant tax liability. I did not say there are no working poor. That’s stupid. No one is stupid enough to believe that there are no working poor. As a rule of thumb, if someone seems to be taking a position that only a moron could take, you should try reading the entire sentence to see if you read it right.

                      Can you identify an income level at which someone is working, poor, and paying a significant amount of taxes?

                      ETA: Also, you’d have to really stretch the definition of “working poor” to include the laid off – that is, the unemployed. Unless “working poor” is a euphemism.

                      You realize the irony here, yes? Carlzilla started by expressing his resentment towards the non-working poor, which carlzilla, despite being “poor,” pays to support with “taxes.” I pointed out that in order to have a significant tax liability in the US, you have to be at or above the median income – i.e., not one of the working poor. And now you, who benefited from social programs designed to help the unemployed, are coming in to tell me that the “working poor” pay loads of taxes, even though you can’t provide any evidence that they do, and that carlzilla is right to be resentful of moochers, among whom he would likely include you.

                    • Dave G.

                      The working poor as defined in the tax debates usually means those working poor who have to pay taxes for services they make too much to benefit from. As in our case. I would say 45,000 a year with a family plus a parent needing care would qualify. I have it on good authority that you will pay taxes because there are no options for tax differed investments or other shelters to mitigate the taxable income level. How do I know this? Well, because that was us. And several others we knew in similar situations.

                      Oh yes, we had that golden EITC which saved our butts. But the problem? It didn’t kick in until the following year. And guess what, while those taxes are being taken out pay by pay, that’s money you don’t have at the moment. Funny that bill collectors aren’t willing to wait a year. And when you balance the local and state taxes, the net gain didn’t make up for the tax burden enough to avoid falling behind.

                      But here’s the funny part, we made too much to qualify for any assistance. The taxes we paid went to services we couldn’t use. And when your kids have torn up clothes, holes in their shoes, rusting cars that can’t be repaired, and barely enough to get by because of the cost of living in your area – and area you can’t afford to leave, that’s poor. So, the working poor paying taxes for services they can’t use? Oh yeah. Hell yeah. And it’s a killer. Even if it suggests that handy 4 person paying taxers stats suggests otherwise.

                    • jroberts548

                      What was your total income and tax burden after EITC?

                      And are you still talking about when you were laid off? Being laid off doesn’t make you part of the working poor.

                      You still can’t identify an income level at which someone is BOTH part of the working poor AND paying a significant amount of taxes. The reason is because such an income does not exist.

                    • Dave G.

                      I said what it was. And I was laid off but my wife was still working. And that EITC that you hang so much on was nice – the taxes would have done us in had it not been there. But after state and local taxes, the net gain was minimal. And as I said, that helped not at all during the year when the taxes took away what we barely had in the first place. That we would have a minimal net gain the following tax season did NOT help us each month just barely squeak by. And sometimes go into debt if something like a car repair or broken oven needed fixed. Then it was the credit card. And guess what that minimal tax gain because of EITC went for? Yep. It paid off the debt we incurred the previous year because we didn’t have enough to handle emergencies (our savings having been depleted during our first financial hit when we became Catholic some years earlier).

                      And yet we still made too much for the programs and services we were paying taxes for. That’s the working poor dilemma when it comes to the tax situation. You’ve picked a singular stat, equation, or conclusion, and refuse to let a little thing like the reality of the real human experience get in the way of your carefully framed argument. Here’s a person saying my family was making what you said wasn’t the poor paying taxes, we were paying taxes and didn’t have enough to get by on. Kids with holes in shoes. Rice and bean soup for dinner. Torn up clothes. Dilapidated house. Net loss of expenses even after the godlike EITC which should solve all problems – and you still keep coming back with ‘oh yeah, let’s have an example!’ Uh huh. I can see where this is going.

                    • jroberts548

                      “[T]he net gain was minimal.”

                      Which means you didn’t have a significant liability. Thank you for agreeing with me.

                      You’re making our disagreement infinitely larger than it is, for who knows what reason. I’m not saying the working poor have it made. All I’m saying is that the working poor don’t have a significant tax burden. If you have a net gain at the end of the year, you don’t have a significant tax burden.

                    • Dave G.

                      What do you consider a significant liability? Had I not had the taxes I had taken out of my wife’s paychecks, we would have had more money at the time to spend. Quite a bit more actually. The taxes equated to close to 20% of her pay (there was more taken out if we count benefits, but this is just about taxes). Even if you halved that, you’d have about 100.00 bucks more a week, or 300-400 a month! For a family like ours in our community, that’s quite a bit. That’s new shoes and clothes and some extra food for variety. That’s getting a car fixed or tires on the van when needed. And yes, by the following tax return, we ended up with a net gain, that gain was eaten up by the debt we incurred the previous year because we didn’t have enough to set aside for the emergencies that always happen. So poor? Yes. Burden by taxes? Yes (including State and Local). Net gain in the end? No – our debt usually outpaced the gain from the golden EITC (which is why we’re still paying it off). Able to use the services our taxes went to? No. We made too much. So that’s that. I can’t make it any simpler than that. You have a single stat that in some cases might apply. But I’ve shown you it doesn’t always, and I know for a fact we weren’t the only ones even in our area who were in the same boat. And when you’re looking at kids with holes in their shoes in the winter that even a slight reduction of taxes would allow to be helped, that’s a tax burden plain and simple.

                    • jroberts548

                      “And yes, by the following tax return, we ended up with a net gain, that gain was eaten up by the debt we incurred the previous year because we didn’t have enough to set aside for the emergencies that always happen.” (emphasis added).

                      So, you had no net tax liability. You admit that. Why are you pretending to disagree with me?

                      So you took on debt when you were laid off. Why do you think creditors lent to you? Don’t you think the EITC factored into that, at least indirectly?

                      And what do you think pays for the EITC? Taxes. So if you didn’t have a net tax liability after the EITC, that means you certainly didn’t pay more in taxes than you consumed in tax-financed services, including the EITC. That’s not even considering the other services you mysteriously didn’t use, like unemployment benefits, roads, and the legal system (Do you think your creditors would have lent to you without the ability to go to court to collect? Unless you were borrowing from the mob, tax revenue lowered your borrowing costs).

                      This whole idea that the working poor pay more in taxes than they consume services or that the working poor are burdened paying taxes to help out the indigent is a myth. You’ve admitted that it’s a myth, by repeatedly telling me that you had a negative tax liability even when you were part of the working poor. It’s a myth created to pit the working poor and the indigent against each other. It’s a myth created to benefit the rich. The only people who benefit from your unjustified belief in the myth that a net negative tax liability burdens you in order to benefit the indigent are the rich.

                    • Dave G.

                      What creditors? You mean credit cards, since nobody in their right minds would lend us money because of our plight? You really need to stop seeing the world through the prism of convenient stats.

                      And yes, the only tax based service we received was unemployment – which we had paid into for years. And I know that roads and soil and air mean socialism is OK. Socialists often use that argument (if you’re not the pro-socialist crowd, then kudos for given credence to a silly argument – You use roads don’t you? Huh? In an age sans common sense, that seems to work for the pundit over principle crowd).

                      But the fact is, there is no clear and easy category, despite the whole ‘who cares about people when they interfere with our arguments’ generation. We and many others fell into a situation you don’t believe exists based on a Stat. One where, guess what, my kids in their torn cloths and hole ridden shoes didn’t give a damn about your stat. We didn’t have enough to help them, and except for the prepaid unemployment benefits, we couldn’t qualify for any other assistance (sorry they did let us drive on roads – maybe next time). And in the end, a net gain that was swallowed up by credit card debt incurred because we didn’t have enough money on hand when needed because of, among other things, our taxes.

                      That’s the fact. Your kids in torn clothes barely able to get by? That’s poor. And paying taxes that take away money at the time it’s needed? That’s a tax burden. And unable to use all the services to help the poor that you’re paying for? That’s a fact.

                      Again, if there is no god but The Stat, then we’re at an impasse. If you can concede that the real human condition sometimes doesn’t fit neatly int our prefab arguments and punditry, who knows? Maybe there’s still hope. Otherwise? Not holding my breath. Because the only real bullshit today is the bullshit of the internet pundit, where nothing is real, and everyone in the real world can get hung about it.

                    • jroberts548

                      Who is advocating for socialism?

                      You got unemployment, paid for by FICA tax. You got the EITC, paid for by the income tax. You had a net negative tax liability. Yet you’re telling me you were burdened by taxes for benefits you didn’t use? Did I misread you?

                      We’re not at an impasse. You’ve admitted repeatedly that I’m right – the working poor dont have a significant tax liability. You’ve repeatedly asserted that you were burdened by taxes, even while admitting a net negative tax liability.

                      Your know the card itself doesn’t lend you money, yes? That means you had a creditor. If I were a credit card company, I’d include the EITC in figuring out how much credit to extend.

                      But fine. Keep ranting about the evils of socialism, and vote accordingly. Keep pretending that your interests are the same as the wealthy’s. Maybe next time you won’t have the EITC or unemployment.

                      And who is claiming there is no god but the state? Why are you adding all these irrelevant claims?

                    • Dave G.

                      Thanks for the heads up about the cards. There I was, thinking they were talismans that made money magically appear. Of course it’s well known that even God cannot create a poor person whose taxes go to services they can’t use. It must be true! You have a stat! Heh. At some point, you realize a debate has spiraled off into the bizarre alternate reality of the internet. Yep, there we were, living high. Life was beautiful. We got everything from the state that we paid for, and didn’t need a thing. It’s the EITC! We only thought we didn’t have the money. Of course we were poor, but not tax paying. Or paying taxes but getting the services. Or not. It doesn’t matter. You have a stat! Uh, yeah. You stay in your world, I’ll keep in the one God created where real people have real experiences, even though your stat says otherwise. Ciao.

                    • jroberts548

                      I didn’t say you didn’t need a thing. I didn’t say you had it made. I’m not making light of the sufferings of the poor. All I said was that you didn’t have a tax liability. You also said you didn’t have a tax liability. You’re making up a disagreement out of nothing.

                      I’m try into figure out how you moved from “the working poor in the US in 2014 don’t have a tax liability” to whatever it is you’re accusing me of.

                    • Dave G.

                      Yes, I had a tax liability. From May through April, We had a tax liability. We paid taxes and except for unemployment (which I had paid into for years by way of taxation), and apparently roads, received no other services that our taxes (including state and local) went toward funding. Then once a year we received a kickback through the EITC (paid for by the taxes we paid and without which we would have been screwed by way of our taxes). The result was a net gain. But this net gain only went to pay varying levels of the debt incurred the previous year from emergency expenses that we lacked the funds on hand to cover. At best we broke even, often we ended up with a loss. And even if we broke even, it was a net loss since not all that our taxes went to could we utilize because we made too much to qualify for the bulk of the assistance programs our taxes were funding. Not all (we did get to use the roads). But most specifically designed to help people in need. So in the end, we came out behind. Thus tax liability. Thus poor. Thus working poor with a tax liability. The Stat turns out to be of limited use that might be true in some cases but not all cases. Just like the fact that some people might not have a tax liability at all who are otherwise poor, while others might. In the world where we seek to find solutions and uncover truths, that matters. In the post-modern world, where we already know we’re right and work backwards from there, I doubt it matters. How much the above matters depends largely on who is hearing the information.

                    • jroberts548

                      You had a net gain. You agree with me.

                      You keep on telling me that I’m right, and then making up some disagreement.

                      Temporarily being put out by a tax system that doesn’t know if its monthly or annual doesn’t mean you had a tax liability. Tax is annual. You had a net gain. It does mean our withholding system could be improved.

                    • Dave G.

                      BTW, I just realized you’re the fellow from the famous Twelve Angry Men argument. Back in the ‘all cops are psycho murderers (or supporters thereof)’ thread, I mentioned a quote from the movie. After a while (consulting google perhaps?), you fired back that it was a lame movie. Generally considered a classic, I asked why you thought so. Because some unnamed segment of the population thinks it is a scholarly treatise on our court system. Huh? Even if it’s true (and I’ve never heard anyone say so), that doesn’t mean it’s a lousy movie. Any more than the White Album isn’t a classic just because Manson went crazy and killed people. I mean, wacked out reasoning. But nonetheless, not much different than your dogged insistence that my reality can’t trump your conclusions. And no matter how I try to explain it, you’ll keep coming back with something else (like the argument popular with pro-Socialists that roads are paid for by taxes and taken care of by governments – so we all support Socialism!). Those are indications not of individuals wanting to get to the truth, but individuals holding onto what they insist is true, and willing to argue any way possible, no matter how convoluted, to avoid conceding a possible error in their thinking. And nobody can get around that. So I’ll cease trying now that I’ve put together why this line of reasoning seemed so familiar.

        • If you are interested in helping the poor, try Hernando deSoto and consider the plight of the people too poor to get their property registered, too poor to get their interests fairly adjudicated in honest courts. These are the chief sins that cause the “despoliation of the poor” condemned by the Aparecida document Pope Francis helped write as a cardinal and which he still uses as a guide for his economic thinking.

          In a more revolutionary vein, you might take a look at block chain technology, the technology that powers bitcoin. Over the next 5-10 years I expect that low-friction capitalism will be a great boon for the poor and serve to reduce their exclusion from mainstream economic opportunities.

      • Elmwood

        the median salary says nothing about whether food, water health care and education are affordable. it may or may not be affordable for the median salary depending on the country and situation.

        • jroberts548

          This is a slightly different measure – equivalised median disposable income – but the U.S. is second only to Luxembourg. An American household with the median household income in the U.S. doesn’t just have more income than half of its compatriots, it has more income than more than half of households in all other OECD nations, except Luxembourg. That is not a poor household. An American household that pays taxes is not part of the working poor, it shouldn’t define itself that way, and it shouldn’t be resentful of the indigent that benefit from federal programs.

  • Jonk

    My problem with the words from His Holiness is that they seem so filled with straw men and stereotypes. Just from the quote posted, the income of the minority is not crumbling – billions are being brought out of poverty by global commerce alone – and neither markets nor financial speculation are absolutely, or even remotely, autonomous. In fact, the costs of the failures of financial speculation have been supported by the state and, in turn, taxpayers. That’s the opposite of autonomy.

    Despite what Pope Francis says, the state indeed has control over the financial markets, to the point where financial markets have bought the state. The problem is one of capture: for every regulation, there’s someone injured by it who will seek to mitigate its effects. More regulation and more control will not solve that problem.

    • Elmwood

      what you are essentially saying is “invisible hands” should control the market. that’s proven not to work. because of original sin, we need regulations to protect the weak. this is common sense and is rooted in the truth that all are created in the image of God, and not just the rich.

      • jroberts548

        “we need regulations to protect the weak. this is common sense and is rooted in the truth that all are created in the image of God, and not just the rich”

        That’s true. That doesn’t mean regulatory capture doesn’t happen and isn’t a real problem.

        • Elmwood

          I agree that over regulation of small family run businesses is a problem.

      • Jonk

        I’m not saying that a metaphor Smith used only once, in Theory of Moral Sentiments, should control the market. If I had to say something about the market, I’d say that two people engaging in a mutually beneficial trade of goods or services can be perhaps the most perfect example of the principles of CST in action on this Earth, and that markets are simply the amalgamation of each of those individual interactions. There’s nothing at all inherently evil about those actions.

        There are inequalities – of skill, of wealth, of information, of need – which can allow people to take advantage of such exchanges. We must all take care to mitigate those inequalities when and where we can. Sometimes, the state needs to get involved. But, it’s always important to remember that the state is the very definition of inequality: they create all of the money, they write all of the rules, and they have a whole lot of guns. So, when the government does get involved, you’ll find that more often than not they create even more inequalities than they mitigate. The reason the 1% is the 1%, after all, is because the government backs up and bails out their wealth, and you and I get to foot the bill. Moneyed interests have already captured the government toward that end, and no amount of more government will solve that problem.

  • Willard

    This is awesome. And, at least on the issue of economics, there is absolutely no distinction between pre and post Vatican II popes. Capitalism sucks according to all of them.

    • This is a misstatement of what the Popes have said and continue to say. While they are critical of capitalism and do not believe that it is a perfect solution, they do recognize its virtues and to say that all the Popes claim that “Capitalism sucks” is just as offensive as any other falsification of papal messages.

  • Alma Peregrina

    What? None from Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate? I’m disapointed… 🙁

    • chezami

      The point is mainly to show the conservative Francis-haters that nothing he is saying is post-Vatican II communism.

      • Alma Peregrina

        Yes, I understood. It was a joke. Sorry if it was not clear.

  • Marthe Lépine

    It seems to me that a mistake many people do is to forget that paying their fair share of taxes has a lot to do with solidarity. Those who complain that 47% of the people do not pay taxes at all should instead be thankful for the fact that they have jobs that bring them better incomes. As a kind of comparison: Some claim that everyone should pay the same % and they would not be any problem. However, 10%,for example, of an income of $20,000 would be much more difficult to pay than 10% of an income of $200,000; the first family would have to make do without some basic necessities, while the 2nd would still have enough money for necessities and still have some left over for whatever they want to enjoy. So, if the family who has paid $20,000 in tax complains that they are paying more tax than the family with only $20,000 in income, who would have only $2,000 to pay, the injustice becomes obvious. Note: This is just an example among others of one form of taxation among others, used to illustrate my point, not a discussion of an “equal % of tax for all”, which does not belong in the present post. Then, many people will claim that giving the money to the government in the form of tax does not work: Then you should work to have a better government, start by getting involved at the local level, in municipalities, school boards, coop boards, etc. then pay attention to what is going on at the State level, and pray for a better situation instead of complaining that some people are better off than you are. And try to free yourself of what Mark calls “tribal allegiance” to one party or the other – it certainly would take a long time to get one or more other parties into the game, but it is not a reason not to start, or not to look around for people who are trying, such as the people who write about Catholic Democracy on line. And do not forget, Once you get started, sometimes the Lord can multiply the effect of your efforts and allow for surprising things to happen. But you have to start somewhere.

    • Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) calculates that the US federal government loses 44% of its expenditures to waste of various kinds. Paying taxes for waste is not part of your fair share and striving to reduce that is a core part of civic duty for any modern citizen.

      The actual proposals for replacement taxes in the US are not what you say, though you have made a fair rendering of inaccurate sound bites commonly found in the press. The actual proposals for alternate taxation either in flat tax form or in sales tax form have generous allowances to avoid exactly those effects you worry about. In other words, your objections on the grounds of cruelty to the poor have already been considered and taken into account in the actual proposals to avoid exactly the ill effects that you are against.

      It does not move forward the conversation or reduce tribal allegiances to attack straw man caricatures of actual, serious policy proposals.

      You are unlikely to ever meet someone more interested in taking on the task of citizen management of government in all its forms than me. I have yet to see much serious signs that Catholic Democracy advocates have a firm grip on reality. Perhaps a few pointer links would be helpful.

      • Elmwood

        according to wiki: CAGW has accepted donations from Phillip Morris, the Olin Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, and Exxon-Mobil.

        they are hardly unbiased and represent “fiscal conservative” values.

        • That’s fair enough as an objection in favor of a better figure. I note that you neglected to supply a better figure which significantly diminishes the credibility of it as well. You see, it doesn’t pass the laugh test to say that the government does not waste anything. In fact, with several current scandals extant at the moment, it would be a rather offensive thing to say.

          For a biased pro-government hack, the best thing would be to try to discredit the figure without leaving anything in its place. This would psychologically leave the impression that the number is much lower without having to go to the trouble of actually defending a lowball number. You seem to have accidentally copied that strategy.

          I don’t think that anybody, left or right, could defend a waste figure below 20%. The fiscal 2014 budget is ~3.77T and so a waste figure based on this lowball number is $754B, a figure higher than our entire budget deficit.

          Where the actual figure is between $754B and $1659B (which is the number implied by CAGW) I can see a real debate forming. But even at the lowest end of the range, we could balance the budget, pay down some of the debt, and provide some tax relief to improve economic performance. Strangely enough, both Keynesian and Austrian economic theory would presently agree that this is the appropriate course of action at this time.

          Now a left winger would likely find the list of wasteful programs in different departments than a right winger. For the purposes of this conversation, that distinction is irrelevant. There is plenty of room to legitimately complain about the high level of taxation and being morally in the clear while doing so.

          • Elmwood

            Of course the government wastes money, mostly on the military industrial complex and overpriced health care. Government salaries of middle class workers is probably not the problem. Capital gain taxation probably isn’t the problem either, it’s far too low.

            • So you actually agree on waste numbers but you just wanted to taint CAGW as ritually impure?


              • Elmwood

                Just saying if we are going to talk about government waste let’s be fair about it and not have sacred cows like 100s of military bases in Europe or contraception and abortion funding in poorest Africa.

                • That’s fine as far as it goes. My original reason for bringing this up was to fight against the idea that there was something morally wrong with being unhappy with the present tax burden.

                  • Elmwood

                    The problem is that our government is the best money can buy, and neither side is willing to compromise on their sacred cows. I find little hope with either party and both are to blame especially the ideologues like the Tea Party.

                    • falstaff77

                      That last about the Tea Party is utterly incoherent with respect to your earlier, and valid, complaint about sacred cows. Unlike the mainstream of both parties, the Tea Party’s one unifying theme is fiscal restraint. If TP’s luminaries (Paul, Cruz, Lee, etc) have a sacred cow please demonstrate.

                    • Elmwood

                      I question their unwavering faith in the deregulation of all things. They pretty much ignore the fact that the government has the responsibility for the common good and the fact that we all are tempted by the devil and have a nature that is inclined to sin. This whole notion by that Acton Institute that we can deregulate and depend on people’s virtues is laughably naive as history shows.

                    • falstaff77

                      More strawmen. Which TP associated official has “unwavering faith in deregulation of all things.”? A more accurate description of Rand, Lee, etc would a be a lack of faith in the regulation of all things as an answer to all problems.

                      I’ve yet to find a good answer as to why so many are quick to point out that the truth that men are not angels and thus require institutions like the Church, and yes to include public government, but somehow remain oblivious to the fact that government is composed of the same flawed people, only now given a great deal of power over others. The only consistent answer I find is an indulgence in the age old desire for power over others.

                    • You pretty obviously have not closely examined the efficiency of US government operations. It is by no means “the best money can buy”.

                      For one example, in 2014, the US government hand processes all its pension paperwork. For extra special irony, it literally does that paperwork in a cave. The USG has been trying to automate the process for decades, and failing. Both parties have tried over that time period. The only major political actor who can’t be blamed for it is the one you “blame especially”, the Tea Party.

  • Ferris

    Previous Popes also spoke forcefully against civil liberties and called for Christians to go to war.

    Ah….the challenges of proof-texting…..

    • Andreas

      Civil Liberties: Liar! Documentation, please.
      War: Yes, extremely rarely, as a last resort. Do you have evidence to the contrary? Or are you so extreme a pacifist that you would permit any evil whatever rather than resist with force?

      • Dave G.

        The question is, are we coming to the same point. Better that evil reign for a season than take a chance on doing something wrong to stop it.

    • Elmwood

      not sure what your point is, there can be a time for war and “freedom” and “liberty” has its limits. times change, modern war with its associated collateral damage is seldom if ever justified–much like capital punishment.

      Catholics advocating for the death penalty and preemptive wars are much like those advocating for abortion and contraception.