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Saturday, October 15, 2011

That's Rich

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

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

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

Oh, the humanity!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News from Amarillo about Fr. Pavone's finances.

Another Day, Another Appeal for MONEY
October 18, 2011

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

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

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Pavone's Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Exhibits 2, 3, 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Taxman Cometh

Well, here's an oddity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look at the table below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Net Worth

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







Financial Wealth

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







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