Monday, June 23, 2014

It’s still the wealth gap, stupid

Image source: Center for Financial Social Work, 2013.
According to former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, some businessmen are looking at the economic data, and they’re worried. The problem, from their perspective, isn’t taxes. The problem isn’t regulation. No; from what they can see, the problem is that the middle class — the people who buy their products — don’t have enough money.

Mirabile dictu, some people are finally beginning to connect the dots.

As I’ve noted in this blog before, since 1999 real income has been declining for everyone in the bottom 80%. For those who need the explanation, you get paid today in nominal dollars; real dollars are nominal dollars after inflation has been taken into account. Theoretically, real wages stay flat when income increases match price increases, and rise when wage increases outpace price increases.

And in fact, nominal wage increases did outpace price increases throughout the Clinton Administration, such that the real wage increase by 2000 was 15.79% across the bottom 80%.[1] But from 1999 to 2012, real wages declined an average of 10.59% across the bottom 80%, until they were only marginally better than they had been in 1980; in the case of the bottom 20%, almost all gains were wiped out.

Real wages only tell part of the story. Between January 1983 and November 2013, personal savings dipped alarmingly, from 10.4% of disposable income to 4.2%, while the real consumer debt per household more than doubled, from $11,386 to $23,238. Between 1980 and 2012, the middle classes’ share of aggregate income diminished from 51.7% to 45.7%; as of 2010, the bottom 80% had only 11% of total net worth and 5% of financial wealth. And while median net worth and financial wealth decreased across racial lines, for the average black and Hispanic household such things practically disappeared between 2006 and 2010.[2]

Image source: Fed. Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 2013.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This post is for MEN ONLY!

It started life as a hashtag hoax, but
picked up some real agreement.
That’s right, ladies: I’m going to talk directly to men about man stuff. So I suggest you go read one of my friends (see my blogroll down in the right-hand column near the bottom). Or read Catholic Stand, or New Evangelist Monthly. If you do read this post, and you’re offended by anything I say — well, like the Piano Man said in the song "Big Shot", “Go and cry in your coffee, but don’t come b****in’ to me.”

*          *          *

Okay, gents, listen up: We have a problem, and it’s mostly a problem of our making. What’s the problem? Let me work up to it slowly:

I know some of you call yourselves “dogs”. Why? Because dogs can’t say “no” to sex. Dogs don’t want to say “no” to sex. A dog doesn’t care how he gets laid, when he gets laid, by whom he gets laid, or what happens after he gets laid. He gets a whiff of pheromones, and he’s going for it. A dog thinks with his gonads … if he thinks at all.

A man can say “no” to sex. In fact, there are times when he says “Hell, no!” to sex. He cares about the how and the when and the by whom and the what happens after; he thinks about these things; he thinks about what’s right, about whether the rewards are worth the risks, and what the consequences may be.

A dog is not a man. If you’re a man, you can’t be a dog about sex. If you’re gonna be a dog, don’t pretend you’re a man. Sex doesn’t make you a man. You can f**k? Congratulations; you’ve got something in common with every mammal on the planet.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why don’t we try trusting the Holy Spirit?

I was going to hold my tongue, please believe me. I’d already written a “Circular Catholic Firing Squad” post last week. I’ve already written posts explaining what I find valuable and admirable about traditionalism, what I dislike about a certain kind of traditionalist, and what’s wrong with sedevacantism (which is not coterminous with traditionalism).

Nope; no matter how many spittle-flecked nutties the Usual Suspects would throw about Pope Francis praying with Patriarch Bartholomew I (Eastern Orthodox), Israeli president Shimon Peres (Jewish) and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (Moslem), I wasn’t going to say bubkes.

Then, a more popular blogger than I, with whom I’m “Facebook friends” and whom I’ll decline to identify, posted a quick status note: “Can we please stop showing love and concern toward false religions and start showing love to those who follow them?” This, taken by itself, wasn’t bad. But what followed was ugly:

But wait. That would imply that we care about their souls. The pope doesn’t seem concerned about that, so I guess I shouldn’t be either? … There needs to be a schism, so that people who want to be Catholic will have a chance to. We can get ourselves a Catholic pope, too.

That did it. I blew up: “Here’s a wild idea: Why don’t we try trusting the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit promised to the Apostles (John 14:36, 16:13) instead of nitpicking every act of the Pope for signs of apostasy? I’m not saying you have to love everything he does, or that he’s above criticism. I will say, though, that schism’s been tried before; you can see how well THAT worked out.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pope Francis and the libertarians

Cdl. Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga.
So far up to this point, I’ve been deafened by the lack of libertarian reaction to Cdl. Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga’s keynote speech at Catholic University of America’s conference on Catholicism and libertarianism. After all, it’s been more than forty-eight hours since Religion News Service’s David Gibson and Church whisperer Rocco Palmo broke the story.

Perhaps there’s some confusion among the ranks; as Kevin and Teresa Rice explain in Catholibertarian, “As it is uncommon to find two Libertarians who agree on very much, there is a wide room for difference of opinion and degree of commitment to at least the latter part of this composite.” Is what Cdl. Rodríguez condemned something that at least three out of four self-described libertarians assert?

Or perhaps libertarians and other conservatives have just stopped listening to the Church on economic matters. Cdl. Rodríguez cited an article in the National Catholic Fishwrap by Michael Sean Winters, who further references the ineffable Fr. John Zuhlsdorf: “I wonder how many people are still listening to [Pope Francis] seriously on this issue …. It comes across as naive, out of step with history.” This extract, partial and out-of-context as it is, is gentler than the nutty thrown by John Moody of FOX News:

By appearing to sanction what amounts to forced redistribution, Francis grievously exceeded his authority and became what amounts to a robe-wearing politician. He also exposed his Church, one of the wealthiest institutions in the world [one of the most pernicious myths in Western history], to inevitable charges of hypocrisy. And he put himself in a position of having to back up his frothy talk with ruinous action.
As I’ve noted in The Impractical Catholic, political progressives aren’t the only Americans who practice “cafeteria Catholicism”; not all conservatives and libertarians are above doctrinal cherry-picking.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

“Mere Catholicism” vs. Real Catholicism™

Which one is the Real Catholic™?
The Circular Catholic Firing Squad found more bullets this last week. *sigh*

It appears that a Popular Catholic Blogger (whom I will not identify) called BS in the combox of another Not-So-Popular Catholic Blogger (ditto). After some vicious squabbling in NSPCB’s combox and on PCB’s Facebook page, joined in by other Well-Known Catholic Bloggers, NSPCB left the field of bloggery in a huff — or, per Groucho, in a minute and a huff — calling down divine retribution on all those who had the gall to correct him for their lack of charity.

In reference to this shindy, Scott Eric Alt commented on Facebook, “Pride is the most dangerous of sins because it is the least correctible — the very nature of the sin makes its victim feel himself to be above correction. The adulteress wept, and the Pharisee sneered.” Whether because of pride or narcissism or a particularly nasty combination of both, it’s very tempting for a Catholic blogger (Your Humble Blogger included) to make him/herself and his tribe the point of reference for Real Catholicism™.

The problem isn’t that there’s no normative or “mere” Catholicism, with distinct borders that define it as well as distinguish it from not-Catholicism. The first problem is that, while the Greek root katholikos means “universal”, Real Catholicism™ tries to make that universe smaller; it becomes more concerned with kicking “fake Catholics” to the curb than with correcting error or instructing the unknowing. The second problem is that, because Catholics are split politically by our god-awful culture wars, political language confuses and pollutes the competing monologues (very little real dialogue takes place). For example, see Hilary White’s diatribe in The Remnant  of a couple years ago, in which she condescendingly equates “neo-Catholicism” (almost-but-not-quite Real Catholicism™) with political progressivism. (EEK! RUN AWAY!)