Category : Taxes

(First Things) Dominic Bouck–An America Without Churches?

As the Supreme Court prepares to announce its decision on same-sex marriage, religious people are wondering: will we lose our tax-exempt status for our religious institutions? Justice Samuel Alito raised this question during the oral arguments, citing the 1983 Supreme Court case that ruled Bob Jones University could lose its tax-exempt status if it continued to oppose interracial dating and marriage.

The solicitor general, arguing the case for same-sex marriage, responded that it would “depend on how states work out the balance between their civil rights laws.” This sort of reply should do nothing to calm the nerves of those who object to same-sex marriage. When the conscientious objectors become a minority of the voting population, will our rights be protected?

The issue of the tax-exempt status of religious organizations is already a hot topic in some quarters. Those in favor of taxing religious organizations point out the huge financial impact that it would have, anywhere from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

The confiscation of church property is no new thing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WSJ) Criminals Stole Taxpayer Data Via IRS Web Service

The Internal Revenue Service said identity thieves used its online services to obtain prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households, a major setback for the agency that is charged with safeguarding taxpayers’ privacy.

The IRS said criminals used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data acquired from elsewhere to gain unauthorized access to the tax agency accounts. About 100,000 more attempts were unsuccessful, the agency said.

Thieves used the information from prior years’ returns to help them file for fraudulent refunds, the IRS said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Science & Technology, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

Anna Sutherland–Should we not ensure that the tax and welfare system doesn't punish marriage?

Few people will pity the dual-earner couples earning more than $100,000 and paying a penalty for being married. But at a time when lower-earning couples are struggling to get by and less likely than ever to be reaping the benefits of marriage for themselves and their children, more should be done to ensure that the tax and welfare system doesn’t punish them for tying the knot.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology

(Broookings) Do we need to pay parents to raise children?

The Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan, a brainchild of Senators Mike Lee (R-Ut) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl), is designed, in part, to help middle-income families raise their children. Over the past several months, policymakers have argued about the merits of the plan, and analysts have modeled its distributional effects, albeit with widely different results based on a lack of clarity about some of its provisions.

The crowning jewel of the Lee-Rubio plan is a new child tax credit of $2,500””separate from the existing $1,000 Child Tax Credit””with no phase out for higher income families. Based on our current understanding of the plan, very few if any lower-income families with children would benefit, while the annual cost of extending this tax relief to middle-class and wealthy families is $414 billion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(NYT Op-Ed) Thomas Edsall–Does Emphasizing Inequality cause voters to Trust the Government Less?

Even worse for Democrats, the Saez paper found that “information about inequality also makes respondents trust government less,” decreasing “by nearly twenty percent the share of respondents who ”˜trust government’ most of the time:”

Hence, emphasizing the severity of a social or economic problem appears to undercut respondents’ willingness to trust the government to fix it ”” the existence of the problem could act as evidence of the government’s limited capacity to improve outcomes.

The findings of the Saez group are consistent with Luttig’s. Taken together, they suggest that even if Democrats win the presidency and the Senate in 2016, largely on the basis of favorable demographic trends, the party will confront serious hurdles if it attempts to deliver material support to working men and women and the very poor. Redistribution is in trouble, and that is likely to tie American politics in knots for many years to come.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

Classic History Lesson–What the US federal Tax form looked like in 1913

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, History, Personal Finance, Taxes, The U.S. Government

(CNBC) Obamacare sticks some enrollees with unexpected bill

Last year, a study found that about four out of every 10 people who received financial help from the government while buying their Obamacare health plans had no idea they were getting any assistance.

This tax season, many of those people may be in for a rude surprise when they’re asked to pay some””or even all””of that money back….

“I wasn’t very happy,” said Mike Highsmith, 61, a retired US Airways flight attendant who learned after having his taxes done that he has to pay back every cent of the $6,624 in federal subsidies that helped pay the lion’s share of his HealthCare.gov-purchased plan.

“This shocked me … I didn’t know this was coming.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) US admin. Tax inversion Crackdown has the opposite effect of its intent

A crackdown by the Obama administration on “tax inversion” deals, which allowed US companies to slash their tax bills, has had the perverse effect of prompting a sharp increase in foreign takeovers of American groups.

In September the US Treasury all but stamped out tax inversions, which enabled a US company to pay less tax by acquiring a rival from a jurisdiction with a lower corporate tax rate, such as Ireland or the UK, and moving the combined group’s domicile to that country.

The move was designed to staunch an exodus of US companies and an erosion in tax revenues, but it has left many US groups vulnerable to foreign takeovers. Once a cross-border deal is complete, the combined company can generate big savings by adopting the overseas acquirer’s lower tax rate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Local paper Editorial) A Straightforward solution for South Carolina road funding is needed

Mr. Cleary’s bill would put the cap at $1,400 and would have all of the sales taxes collected for motor vehicles applied to road and bridge improvements. The bill also seeks additional funding by closing other tax exemptions. And it would make long-term cost cuts possible by turning over local roads under state control to local jurisdictions, with funding assistance for their maintenance. Of the 41,000 miles of state roads, almost 45 percent are a mile or less in length.

Mr. Cleary estimates that his plan would raise $800 million a year, all of which would be directed to the specific purpose of improving the state road system. Indeed, the gas tax should be viewed as a user fee, by which motorists pay for the wear and tear on the state’s highways and bridges. It is evident that the gas tax hasn’t kept pace with the need, and that additional sources of revenue will have to be tapped.

Funding for a safe transportation system is a primary responsibility of the Legislature, and the evidence clearly available to the motoring public shows just how badly the Legislature has fallen down on the job. Lawmakers should take a simple, direct approach that will begin to address the specific problem of road needs, without getting sidetracked on issues of tax neutrality and agency restructuring. Keeping highways and bridges functional and safe shouldn’t be such a difficult problem for the Legislature to address.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Theology, Travel

South Carolina compromise on how to fund spending to improve Roads begins to take shape

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has been meeting with some GOP House members ”” as recently as Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion ”” in an effort to merge two competing road repair proposals.

Haley’s plan to fix S.C. roads and a proposal by state representatives had appeared to be on course for a head-on crash. But the two bills soon may become one vehicle, aimed at repairing and maintaining the state’s roads.

In meetings with House GOP caucus members, Haley has indicated a willingness to compromise on gas tax hikes, the size of a cut in the state’s income tax and how to restructure the state Transportation Department.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Theology, Travel

Reaction to S. Carolina Gov. Haley’s roads plan is mixed: A good start or not workable?

”˜Fixing our … roads … tremendously important’

“Education reform and infrastructure repairs are two of the most challenging economic issues we face. … Fixing our crumbling roads system is also tremendously important as it directly impacts economic development, which leads to job creation and higher wages.”

”” House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington

”˜Drop in the bucket’ “It’s just a drop in the bucket to solving the problem. … There’s many ways to do it, but this is just not going to deal with the real magnitude of the problem that we have.”

”” Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Travel

George Will Offering some Hisotrical Perspective on the Current US Economy

The euphoria occasioned by the economy adding 321,000 jobs in November indicates that we have defined success down. In the 1960s, there were nine months in which more than 300,000 jobs were added, the last being June 1969, when there were about 117 million fewer Americans than there are now . In the 1980s, job growth exceeded 300,000 in 23 months, the last being November 1988, when there were about 75 million fewer Americans than today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Taxes

(CSM Editorial) With fewer young people gambling, time for a government rethink

An old bit of wisdom ”“ that gambling is only for people who never took math ”“ may have finally hit home with Americans. According to surveys by researchers at the University at Buffalo, the number of gamblers and the frequency of their play have dropped since 1999 despite a recent proliferation of casinos and lotteries. Even more heartening, the largest falloff was among people under age 30 (from 89 percent to 78 percent).

Unlike their elders, perhaps the younger generation knows the odds are never in their favor when they are up against the “Hunger Games”-like gambling industry. Or perhaps the thrill is gone with so many more gambling joints now an easy drive away for most Americans ”“ or just a click away in many places.

The survey, published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, did find hard-core gamblers are betting more money and that Internet gambling has gone up. But policymakers ”“ who generally promote gambling ”“ should take note of the decline in interest among young people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

(AIP) Joe Carter–Why Do Pastors Receive a Tax Exemption for Housing?

A federal court of appeals has rejected an atheist group’s lawsuit seeking to strike down a 60-year-old tax provision protecting ministers, notes the Becket Fund. The ruling allows ministers of all faiths to continue receiving housing allowances. “This is a great victory for separation of church and state,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel of the Becket Fund of Religious Liberty. “When a group of atheists tries to cajole the IRS into raising taxes on churches, it’s bound to raise some eyebrows. The court was right to send them packing.”

Aside from the question of constitutionality, the clergy exemption raises a question that many people ”” whether religious or not ”” are likely to be wondering: Why exactly do ministers receive a tax exemption for their housing allowance?

To answer the question we must first consider how taxation of church property, including clergy housing, has historically been considered.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

An RNS article on the Court decision to rejects atheists’ demand to end tax-exempt clergy housing

A federal court of appeals rejected a case brought by an atheist organization that would have made tax-exempt clergy housing allowances ”“ often a large chunk of a pastor’s compensation ”“ illegal.

“This is a great victory for fair treatment of churches,” said Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of pastors from several major denominations.

“When a group of atheists tries to cajole the IRS into raising taxes on churches, it’s bound to raise some eyebrows,” he said. “The court was right to send them packing.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Economist) Almost half of American states have taken steps to legalise Marijuana

Besides choosing lawmakers, on November 4th voters in three American states and the District of Columbia considered measures to liberalise the cannabis trade. Alaska and Oregon, where it is legal to provide “medical marijuana” to registered patients, voted to go further and let the drug be sold and taken for recreational purposes, as Colorado and Washington state already allow. In DC, a measure to legalise the possession of small amounts for personal use was passed. A majority of voters in Florida opted to join the lengthening list of places where people can seek a doctor’s note that lets them take the drug. However, the measure fell just short of the 60% needed to change the state constitution. Even so, that such a big state in the conservative South came so close to liberalising shows how America’s attitude to criminalising pot has changed.

After this week’s votes only 27 states outlaw all sale or possession of marijuana. In the rest, a thriving “canna-business” is emerging…: trade in the drug is escaping the grasp of organised crime and becoming normal, just as alcohol did after the end of Prohibition. But even as moves to legalise and regularise the business continue at state level, the federal government and Congress remain dead set against the drug. A panoply of federal laws to curb the marijuana trade remain in place; and in recent months the Drug Enforcement Administration has raided cannabis dispensaries in California that are operating under state licences.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Theology

South Carolina gets low marks for its business tax structure

South Carolina ranks 37th in the country in terms of its tax structure being friendly to business.

The state’s biggest problems, according to an annual analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tax Foundation, are its high individual income tax and its unemployment insurance rates.

The issue of tax reform has been touched on during this year’s gubernatorial campaign, but it hasn’t played a central role.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Theology

(Economist) Ditching the union would be a mistake for Scotland and a tragedy for England

At the heart of the nationalist campaign is the claim that Scotland would be a more prosperous and more equal country if it went solo. It is rich in oil and inherently decent, say the nationalists, but impoverished by a government in Westminster that has also imposed callous policies. They blame successive British governments for almost every ill that has befallen Scotland, from the decline of manufacturing industry to ill-health to the high price of sending parcels in the Highlands. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist leader, is broad in his recrimination: Labour and the Tories are of a piece, he suggests, in their disregard for Scotland.

But Scotland’s relative economic decline is the result not of southern neglect but of the shift of manufacturing and shipping to Asia. If Westminster has not reversed all the deleterious effects of globalisation and technology, that is because to do so is impossible. The nationalists know this, which is why, sotto voce, they would continue many of Westminster’s policies. Instead they make much of minor adjustments, such as abolishing the “bedroom tax”, a recent measure designed to nudge people out of too-large social housing. To break up a country over such small, recent annoyances would be nuts.

The nationalists’ economics are also flawed. Scotland would not, in fact, be richer alone. The taxes that would flow to it from the North Sea would roughly compensate for the extra cost of its lavish state, which would no longer be funded by Westminster (last year spending was some £1,300 per person higher in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain). But oil revenues are erratic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Scotland, Taxes

([London] Times) Orthodox Church tax breaks infuriate the Greeks

Greece’s government has caved in to demands by the Orthodox Church, affording tax breaks to monks, monasteries and members of the clergy despite crippling austerity measures hitting much of the rest of the country.

Under the surprise provision, retired monks earning annual pensions of up to €9,500 will be cleared of their obligation to file taxes while hundreds of monasteries, controlling priceless plots and ancient treasures, will be exempt from declaring their assets to the state.

For a nation still reeling from four years of brutal budget cuts, plus a new land levy that hikes taxation by as much as 75 per cent for Greece’s five million property holders, the freebie has enraged taxpayers and stoked social tension even further.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Greece, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes, Theology

(WSJ) In Germany, Many Believers Balk at Tweak to Church Tax

In Germany, being an official church member usually means paying an extra tax. But a change in the country’s tax code is now causing many believers to leave the fold.

Germany is just one of a number of European countries where members of the main organized religions pay a special levy on income to provide the bulk of churches’ finances. But when a loophole concerning income from capital gains closes next year, church leaders have good reason to expect an exodus.

So far this year, the number of Germans leaving the country’s Protestant and Catholic churches has reached its highest level in 20 years, twice last year’s level””a surge many clergy and finance experts blame on the changes in how the tax is levied.

The outflow is now fueling a debate about whether a levy that goes back to the 19th century is an appropriate way to finance churches in an increasingly secularized Germany.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes, Theology

Today in 1935

Social Security Act is signed into law, assuring retirement income for all working Americans. Payroll taxes…are set at 1% (Courtesy of Barry Ritholtz)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Social Security, Taxes, The U.S. Government

(RNS) IRS agrees to monitor churches for electioneering

The Internal Revenue Service said it will monitor churches and other houses of worship for electioneering in a settlement reached with an atheist group.

The settlement was reached Friday (July 18) in federal court in Madison, Wis., where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group that claims 20,000 members nationwide.

The suit alleged the IRS routinely ignored complaints by the FFRF and others about churches promoting political candidates, issues or proposed legislation. As part of their tax-exempt status, churches and other religious groups are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes, The U.S. Government

Politicians' Prescriptions for Marijuana Defy Doctors and Data

“I just don’t think the evidence is there for these long lists,” said Dr. Molly Cooke, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who helped research a position paper on cannabis for the American College of Physicians. “It’s been so hard to study marijuana. Policy makers are responding to thin data.”

Even some advocates of medical marijuana acknowledge that the state laws legalizing it did not result from careful reviews of the medical literature.

“I wish it were that rational,” said Mitch Earleywine, chairman of the executive board of directors for Norml, a national marijuana advocacy group. Dr. Earleywine said state lawmakers more often ask themselves, “What disease does the person in a wheelchair in my office have?”

Read it all from the front page of today’s NY Times paper copy.

Also, make sure you did not miss this post earlier this week on the same topic featuring Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Senate, State Government, Taxes, Theology

(Reuters) District of Columbia approves 'yoga tax' as part of budget

The District of Columbia Council on Tuesday approved a “yoga tax” on gymnasiums and yoga classes that has angered fitness buffs in the U.S. capital.

The Democratic-controlled council voted 12-1 to give final approval to a $10.6 billion budget for 2015 that included a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios and other athletic businesses, a spokeswoman for Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.

The budget also includes a substantial income tax cut that would be offset by expanding the existing 5.75 percent sales tax to such services as tanning salons, health clubs, car washes and bowling alleys. The move is expected to raise $5 million a year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology

Nora Volkow, National Institute on Drug Abuse, on why legalizing Marijuana is a mistake

For those who argue that marijuana is no more dangerous than tobacco and alcohol, [Nora] Volkow has two main answers: We don’t entirely know , and, simultaneously, that is precisely the point .

“Look at the evidence,” Volkow said in an interview on the National Institutes of Health campus, pointing to the harms already inflicted by tobacco and alcohol. “It’s not subtle ”” it’s huge. Legal drugs are the main problem that we have in our country as it relates to morbidity and mortality. By far. Many more people die of tobacco than all of the drugs together. Many more people die of alcohol than all of the illicit drugs together.

“And it’s not because they are more dangerous or addictive. Not at all ”” they are less dangerous. It’s because they are legal. .”‰.”‰. The legalization process generates a much greater exposure of people and hence of negative consequences that will emerge. And that’s why I always say, ”˜Can we as a country afford to have a third legal drug? Can we?’ We know the costs already on health care, we know the costs on accidents, on lost productivity. I let the numbers speak for themselves.”

Read it all from Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

I.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges

Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day ”” or $36,500 a year ”” for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace.

The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.

Under a central provision of the health care law, larger employers are required to offer health coverage to full-time workers, or else the employers may be subject to penalties.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Taxes

(Economist) Modi has a good chance of resuscitating the country’s underperforming economy

India, a giant economic mediocrity, is cursed by having too many economists. Its outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has a doctorate from Oxford, ran the central bank in the 1980s and led the liberalisation programme that India put in place in 1991 after a currency crisis. Yet as prime minister Mr Singh had little grip or public support, serving at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi, the populist leader of the Congress party. By the end of his ten-year term he admitted he had failed. In August, as the rupee tumbled, he addressed a gathering of India’s policymaking elite at his house in Delhi. The economy faced “very difficult circumstances”, he whispered.

Mr Singh’s successor could not be more different. Narendra Modi’s economic views have been formed while running the business-friendly state of Gujarat for the past 12 years. Asked some time ago about his economic influences, he described his homespun framework, jotting diagrams on a pad as he spoke. He has studied Singapore and China, but thinks that “India is a democracy and has different requirements”. Striking a balance between farming, small firms and global companies is required, with limited but muscular administration and populist appeal: “Men, machines and money must work together.”

Having run Gujarat well, Mr Modi now faces the far harder task of running India. He has big advantages””administrative competence, control over his party and a majority in Parliament””that should ease decision-making. Unlike Mr Singh, he has also campaigned and won on a platform of aspiration and economic reform. India needs “less government and more governance”, he declared on the campaign trail.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology

A Little Noticed Alan Jacobs Post on where Faith and the Public Square may be Headed in America

I care very much about the future of religious liberty, and I don’t think, over the long run and in this country, there will be much of it…American liberalism more generally, is committed to the idea that freedom to worship is sufficient, and is trying, gradually but consistently, to discourage Christians and other religious believers from acting out their religious convictions anywhere outside the walls of the church ”” at least, in any ways that might interfere with the power of the State to arbitrate and dispense justice and charity.

It’s possible that in the coming years there will be at least a temporary slowing in the erosion of religious liberty, but I can’t see the long-term trends altering. All Americans, including those who call themselves conservatives, are gradually growing accustomed to the elimination of the “third sector” of civil society and will find it increasingly difficult to understand why either the free markets or the State should be restrained from exerting their powers to their fullest. I expect that quite soon most Christians will cease even to ask for anything more from the State than freedom to worship.

For those of us who believe that civil society should be stronger, not weaker, and especially if our primary concern is for the health of religious institutions as the most important mediating forces in society, this change will pose a wide range of problems. For instance, the removal of tax breaks for religious institutions will surely be complete within a generation, and a range of policies will discourage charitable giving, which will make generosity harder ”” but not impossible for most of us. That’ll be a way for us to discover what we are made of.

–from his Snakes and Ladders blog; I encourage you to read it all. This was quoted in the late sermon this morning by yours truly in worship–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Church/State Matters, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes, Theology

(MI) Jared Meyer–Getting Married? It’ll Cost You in College Financial Aid

Consider Monica (not her real name), the African American mother of two daughters. An immigrant from Cote d’Ivoire, she is an American success story, gaining her citizenship and raising two daughters on her own. One is a college junior, the other a high school senior trying to decide between colleges.

Before getting married in July, Monica’s income made her eligible for financial aid which brought her yearly tuition liability to $15,000. If she had not got married, her per-student tuition liability would have likely remained the same, so she would have been responsible for $30,000 a year for both of her daughters combined.

Instead, her daughter’s university wants her to contribute $25,000 for each child because of her new husband’s income. This increase happened even though Monica’s new husband is not the biological or legal father of her daughters, and he has children of his own to support.

Cohabitation without marriage pays.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology

(W Post) Catherine Rampell–”˜Marriage penalty’ takes a bite out of working families

The people who really suffer from the marriage penalty are lower-income families with young children ”” you know, those people constantly scolded by the Family Values Police for eschewing the bonds of holy matrimony or for being too lazy to work.

Consider a family in which the husband earns $25,000 and the wife stays home to care for their children. (Women are more often the more marginal earners, both because they earn lower wages and because they are more likely to be primary caregivers.) This family would face a series of painful “marriage penalties” if the mother decides to join the paid labor force.

If she takes on a $25,000 job, the family would lose the entirety of their earned-income tax credit ”” about $5,000 ”” and pay an additional $6,000 in payroll and federal income taxes, according to calculations from a recent report by the Hamilton Project, a nonpartisan think tank. This family would also lose access to about $2,600 worth of food stamp benefits, as well as other means-tested benefits, such as Medicaid. (The exact amount of lost benefits depends on which state they live in.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology