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Archive for August, 2011

Fun Fact About Taxes

The top income tax bracket in the United States is currently 35%.

Make a guess over how many years, within the past 80 years, the tax rate was below 35% and how many years it was more than twice the current rate.

Answers:
Since 1932, there were only 5 years when the top income tax bracket has been below 35%. (Those years were 1988-1992, when the numbers ranged between 28% and 31%.)
Since 1932, there were 45 years when the top income tax bracket was double or more the current rate. (Between 1936 and 1980, the top income tax bracket ranged between 70% and 94%.)
(Source for tax information)

Another fun fact: The US debt, as a percentage of GDP, was lowest in 1980 (when Reagan first took office) than any other time in the last 80 years. Under Reagan and Bush Sr., the US debt to GDP ratio doubled, reversing a 35 year trend of declining national debt.

(Source)

When the tax rate of the highest tax bracket is compared to the GDP-to-debt ratio, the trend is clear: in periods where the tax percentages were highest, the national debt decreased, and in periods where taxes were lowest (i.e. mostly under Republican presidents, but also under Obama) the national debt increased.

Oh, but Obama is a socialist for wanting tax rates higher than 35%, even though 35% is historically very, very low. And the “Taxed Enough Already” party appeared now, in this period of US history??

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Remember the Japanese earthquake and U.S. poll that was conducted shortly afterward asking if natural disasters are a punishment from God? (Some even claiming that the earthquake/tsunami were a punishment for Japan’s atheism.)

The poll released today by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, was conducted a week after a March 11 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

Nearly six in 10 evangelicals believe God can use natural disasters to send messages — nearly twice the number of Catholics (31%) or mainline Protestants (34%). Evangelicals (53%) are also more than twice as likely as the one in five Catholics or mainline Protestants to believe God punishes nations for the sins of some citizens.
Source: USA Today

Well, Japan does have high levels of atheism:

And a new article says:

In the five months since the tsunami struck Japan, people have returned $78 million in missing cash and valuables that they found amid the rubble, police said… The National Police Agency says nearly all the valuables found in the three hardest hit prefectures, have been returned to their owners… “Polite” and “disciplined” were words often used to describe the Japanese population in the absence of widespread looting. (Source)

Maybe God hates Japan because atheists because they are just so darn honest, even when nobody’s looking. (And religious people still claim that atheists are supposed to be some kind of wild amoral animals.)

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According to a new poll, the Tea Party has lower approval ratings than Atheists. It’s well known that an atheist can’t win the US presidency, so I guess this means that the tea-party candidates might as well throw in the towel right now.

One of their more surprising findings, Campbell concedes, (and one drawing national attention) is that the tea party drew a lower approval rating than Muslims and atheists. That put the tea party below 23 other entries–including Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Republicans and Democrats–that the professors included on their survey of “a representative sample of 3,000 Americans.”

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I rather like this article. My only thought was that he could give more examples about ways that Libertarianism fails, because it fails in a lot of different domains. http://www.raikoth.net/libertarian.html

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I think the quote is even more biting considering that this is the same Pope who helped shuffle priests around when they were caught abusing children:

Hans Küng, a former friend of Ratzinger’s, says: ‘No one in the whole of the Catholic Church knew as much about abuse cases as this Pope.’

In Germany in the early Eighties, Father Peter Hullermann was moved to a diocese run by Ratzinger. Hullermann had already been accused of raping three boys. Ratzinger didn’t go to the police. Instead, Hullermann was referred for ‘counselling’.

In the U.S. in 1985, a group of American bishops wrote to Ratzinger begging him to defrock a priest called Father Stephen Kiesle, who had tied up and molested two young boys in a rectory.

Ratzinger refused for years, explaining that he was thinking of the ‘good of the universal Church’ and of the ‘detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke among the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly considering the young age’ of the priest involved. He was 38.

Kiesle went on to rape many more children.

In 1996, the Archbishop of Milwaukee appealed to Ratzinger to defrock Father Lawrence C. Murphy, who had raped and tortured up to 200 deaf and mute children at a Catholic boarding school. His rapes often began in the confessional. Ratzinger never replied.

Eight months later, there was a secret canonical ‘trial’. But Murphy wrote to Ratzinger saying he was ill, so it was cancelled. Ratzinger advised him to take a ‘spiritual retreat’. Murphy died years later, unpunished.

These are only the cases that have leaked out. Who knows what remains in the closed files?

In 2001, Ratzinger wrote to every bishop in the world, telling them allegations of abuse must be dealt with ‘in absolute secrecy … completely suppressed by perpetual silence’.

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Christine O’Donnell: Don’t ask me about my views about homosexuality, I’m not running for office. (Even though she wrote about it in her book, and promotion of her book is the reason she’s doing this interview.)

Michelle Bachmann: Don’t ask me about my views about homosexuality, I’m running for president.

So, which is it Tea Party? Only ask you about your views on homosexuality if you are running for office or only if you’re not running for office? I suppose the silver lining here is that both of them understand that their views on homosexuality are a liability and they’re better off avoiding the issue on camera.

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In politics, they say, “Don’t answer the question that was asked. Answer the question you wish they asked.”

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