Sunday, November 24, 2013

More Up is Down, Plus A Truly Perfect Failing Score

I can't help but wonder if it's not our politicians and bishops who employ tin foil to get in touch with whatever reality it is they are in touch.....because it doesn't seem to be the same reality the rest of us live in.

The following excerpts are taken from an article by Paul Rosenberg for  What makes this article well worth reading is it's information about how American voters would actually handle the current 'raise revenues vs budget cuts' crisis. It turns out the the vast majority of Americans, including the Tea Party faction, are much more practical about this issue than their elected demagogues. In fact, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Tea Party folks all wind up considerably to the left of the Democratic party.  Yes, you read that right, even the self described Tea Party faction produced cuts and revenue solutions to the left of the current Democratic party. How much more up is down can one get?

The data described below is based on a series of polls designed by the Program for Public Consultation, an adjunct of the University of Maryland.  They did two studies in 2010 and 2011,  designed to find out what Americans would do in a practical as opposed to ideological sense with the Federal budget deficit.  The following are extracts from the much longer article:

..........The results of the process were extremely detailed, particularly compared to what pollsters normally produce.  But the big picture was strikingly clear. Massive cuts to defense on the spending side, massive tax hikes on the revenue side — both positions well to the left of the Obama administration, as well as Democratic leaders in Congress.  More specifically, on the spending side, the public favored an average net reduction of $135.3 billion for general defense spending ($109.4 billion), intelligence ($13.1 billion) and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq ($12.8 billion), compared to increases proposed by both President Obama and the GOP-dominated House.  This represented just over 92 percent of net spending cuts.  When you add in cuts to military aid and strategic economic aid to U.S. allies, the total cuts involving what the pollsters described as “spending on American international power” came to 96 percent of the total — $139.4 billion. Yet, the public also supported modest increases in several liberal priority areas: job training, education, energy conservation and renewable energy, and pollution control.  Their average net reduction of all spending — $146 billion — was far more than either the president or the GOP House proposed. (This is mind boggling.  Americans across all the political divides almost exclusively recommend steep cuts in defense programs, not entitlements.  This is the utter opposite of the what one hears in the mainstream media.  More up is down.)

On the revenue side, the public increased taxes by an average of $292 billion—roughly triple the amount proposed by President Obama. Majorities increased taxes on incomes over $100,000 by 5 percent or more, and by 10 percent or more for incomes over $500,000. Majorities also increased corporate taxes and other excise taxes. Overwhelming majorities also favored raising estate taxes: 77 percent favored reverting at least to the 2009 levels, with estates over $3.5 million taxed at a 45 percent rate. These positions are generally so far left, they don’t even appear on the spectrum of discussion in Washington. (I love the last sentence. Yes when was the last time any of us heard a peep about raising estate taxes or corporate taxes? Maybe the Occupy folks aren't so far out in left field as we are meant to believe.)

The researchers also found broad agreement across party lines. Their first report noted, “Among a total of 31 areas, on average Republicans, Democrats and independents agreed on 22 areas — that is, all three groups agreed on whether to cut, increase or maintain funding. In 9 other areas there was dissensus.”  That’s not to say there weren’t differences. Republicans cut much less from defense — $55.6 billion for core defense (versus $109.4 billion) — and much less overall — $100.7 billion (versus $146 billion) — than Americans as a whole. But even so, the position of Republican respondents overall was still dramatically to the left of the political conservation in Washington. (Those who advocated for the least amount of cuts, were Republicans, not free spending big guv'mint democrats.)
It is striking that no group — Republican, Democrat, or independents — on average acted in ways that fit their respective media stereotypes. It might be assumed that Republicans would cut the most; Democrats would cut the least or even increase spending; and that independents would be in between. But on the contrary:
  • Republicans cut spending the least, though still considerably ($100.7 billion, or 7.4%)
  • Democrats cut spending more than Republicans ($157.3 billion, or 11.6%)
  • Independents cut spending substantially more than either Republicans or Democrats ($195.5 billion or 14.4%).
Thus, everything the media and Washington’s conventional wisdom tells you about the will of the voters is wrong. But don’t forget the Tea Party! They, too, did not respond as expected.  Sure, they were more conservative than Republicans overall, but they still come across as wild-eyed socialists compared to their D.C. representatives:

 Those who described themselves as “very sympathetic” to the Tea Party (14% of the full sample), as would be expected, raised taxes and revenues less than Republicans in general, and less than Democrats and independents. Even so, on average, Tea Party sympathizers found a quite substantial $188.2 billion in additional revenues to reduce the deficit ($105.2 billion in individual income taxes)....


I take a great deal of hope from this article.  It says alot about how manufactured the differences are in this country.  When Americans are given practical choices about solving problems they advocate for practical solutions, and not ideological positions.  Those ideological differences might make for good bumper stickers, but when push comes to shove Americans will look at the whole car, not just the bumper stickers.

Of course politics isn't the only place where leadership is so far out of touch with their people.  Catholics need only look at the positions of the USCCB on things like birth control and gay marriage to see a very similar phenomenon.  Perhaps this why Pope Francis want his leaders out amongst the sheep.  In the main our shepherds, on some issues, can't even find the sheep much less lead them---and this brings me to a series of articles over at the British Catholic magazine The Tablet.  They are running a breakdown of  British Catholics and their attitudes towards various cultural and Catholic issues.  The data is taken from a recent survey which asked very similar questions to the one the Vatican is promulgating.  The Tablet's entire series is as mind blowing as the above article on US political attitudes, but one paragraph on authority is especially mind blowing:

"Catholics have also strayed from magisterial teaching when it comes to the issue of authority itself. When asked where they look for guidance in living their life and making decisions, over half of Catholics say their own reason, judgement, intuition or feelings, and another fifth say family or friends. More narrowly religious sources of authority are much less popular, even with churchgoers. The most cited is “tradition and teachings of the Church” (8 per cent), followed by God (7 per cent), the Bible (2 per cent) , the religious group to which a person belongs (2 per cent), and religious leaders, local or national (0 per cent). 

Zero percent of British Catholics polled in this study look for guidance from their religious leadership.  Zero percent.  Is there any more damning a statement about the irrelevancy of leadership to the people they are supposed lead?  When leadership across the spectrum is as out of touch with their people as these two stories illustrate it's time to put the ideological bull horns away and start listening to what the average Joe is really saying, because it isn't at all what the holders of the bull horns are preaching.


  1. Now British Catholics need to take the next step: stop having anything to do with religion and save their money for themselves.
    Soon the rest of the worlds religions will follow suit.

  2. Bingo. the leadership has indeed imploded. All we can hope for in a a current Pope is that he would try to guide the people of God away from all authoritarianism, religious and political.

  3. What you have done is left Jesus in the Eucharist - the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus which you take in in Holy Communion. The smallest increase in Sanctifying grace is worth more than the entire physical universe. What oceans of grace are lost without the Eucharist. We do not value such grace. St. Teresa of Avila revealed to someone after her death that every saint in heaven, without exception, would be willing to come back to earth to suffer all the torments of this earth, to the end of time, for one more degree of grace and the increase of heavenly glory that goes with it.

  4. Suppose "the people" were against illegal immigration, or wanted to severely limit legal immigration? Say you got over 70% who wanted to limit immigration to under 50,000 annually-would you then claim that this was "the voice of the people"? Or would you claim that "this is the time for real leadership" "justice isn't a matter of counting heads"?

  5. I have heard this argument against democracy many times and don't buy it. The real problem in the RCC is governance by authoritarian rule. This is simply not following Jesus Christ.

  6. My point was, and clearly I wasn't blunt enough, is that people get selective about democracy. They love the idea of "People Power", unless the people pulling the voting levers or marking the ballots want to do things they don't, like saying "I don't want millions of illegal aliens to become citizens" or "I think abortion should be legal, safe and widely available" or "I'm not on board with gay marriage".
    Then these same people are either "unprogressive" or "victims of false consciousness" or we hear "Truth isn't about counting ballots".
    Self-serving and in an obvious and pathetic way.

  7. If there's no god, why should I want to be counted as one of "his people"?
    You presume a lot.

  8. You truly were and are "blunt enough." The truth is about the mind of God. We as finite beings weather we be crippled by fundamentalist dogma or by lack of knowledge or blessed with many post graduate degrees surely can not use our finite minds to understand The Truth. If we listen each generation to the Holy spirit She will reveal more truth each generation. This has nothing to do with authoritarian political or church leadership but requires all to listen and share understanding. We finite beings can never understand The Truth as it relates to what God knows but we can learn a little more each generation.

    This has nothing at all to do with what we women and men believe about anything especially abortion or homosexuality because for us humans all knowledge and action is RELATIVE to our actions and out thoughts and to the actions and thoughts of others. So yes, tubal abortions in tubal pregnancies were always allowed by the Catholic Church until some more fundamental and authoritarian bishops have tried to convince us else wise. Wo to Catholic Hospitals that refuse this treatment to bleeding patients. They will be sued along with their Bishops. Money is the only language that Bishops understand and this has nothing to do with they way people vote or are not allowed to vote.
    Catholic Medical School Grad.

  9. Did you read my response or were you waiting for a chance to emote?
    Why bother with religion if it's so troublesome? Why bother the rest of us who don't believe it with demands for tax breaks?
    Why should I take any of you seriously? I think the whole 'away in a manger' thing is ridiculous. I couldn't care less if you used 'consecrated' hosts for dipping in salsa. All vestments, not just the over-the-top flaming closet case ones are an expensive joke.

    And celibacy is as unnatural as a diet of bread and water.

  10. Ok Stan, perhaps you are a little more angry than I. I am not against myth as an organized way of life as there are wonderful myths out there. I am against the authoritarian use of power and do believe that more democratic systems benefit society.

  11. Missed all these comments Dennis. Work is a beeotch lately. I'm pretty sure Mr Theman would be hard pressed to admit his childhood experiences had anything to do with where he is today....or maybe they have everything to do with where his is today.

  12. Great-so (again) the question is:Who gets to decide on these things-"Voice of the People" or "This is Populism and Truth Isn't Decided By Headcount"?

  13. Well, share with me your visions of what my childhood was like and we can compare note; you can even write it up as part of a case study if you like. No problems.

  14. My vision of your childhood is not the issue. The issue is whether you can admit your parents might have done some harm to you. No child comes with a training manual and all parents have their issues and create issues in their children just as the same was done to them. The Old Testament stated this as the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons to the seventh generation. Of course women were left out as they were expected to suffer for their fact of their gender for eternity.

    Interesting factiod: Native American spiritual elders insist on tribal decisions being made with regards to children seven generations in the future. This caused some issues with regards to casinos in some trilbal areas. Especially given the devastation wreaked on tribal culture by the introduction of alcohol. Natives have had their gambling games for forever, but not in context of Las Vegas gambling. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. Spiritual elders are not rolling any dice.