Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - December 2, 2011

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Dec. 2

4:00 - The Devastation of Pornography in America
Pornography addiction is an epidemic in America. Thousands struggle with it. The sexualization of our culture has made all men and teenage boys vulnerable to pornography use. Pornography addiction affects marriages, families and careers, as well as personal lives. Dr. Peter Kleponis’s mission is to help people avoid or break free of the bonds of pornography use. Through his Fighting Porn in Our Culture…and Winning! He has presented his talks at men’s retreats, priest in-service days, seminaries, religious communities, universities, and marriage conferences. We talk about the devastation of pornography in America and take your calls.

5:00 - Kresta Comments – Religious Liberty in America
As we attended the USCCB General Assembly this week, there was one topic which the Bishops tackled head on and was quite obviously of great concern to them, and that was the topic of eroding religious liberty in America. Al reviews the situation, the history, the current examples, and what we should learn and do.

5:20 – A Debate: Occupy Wall Street: Representative of Catholic Social Teaching?
Occupy Wall Street is a movement that began on September 17 in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions globally. We ask if the movement has a coherent message, if it is effective, and most importantly, does the Occupy Wall Street movement have a basis in Catholic social teaching? We debate it with Dr. Max Torres and Tony Magliano.


  1. Tony Magliano is just hideously misinformed and should not qualify to be a debater on the economy. He is a dupe of economic propagandists.


  2. Good comment, RB2. Very helpful.

  3. Re: Max Torres vs. Tony Magliano

    This debate was pretty useless. I've heard the same points (I guess they're called talking points) made by Sean Hannity and Randi Rhodes, two very superficial people.

    Tony Magliano tells us that the current top heavy distribution of wealth is bad for the economy because average people don't have enough money to buy the things they need.

    Tony said: "According to Nobel economics laureate Joe Stiglitz -- he said the top 1 percent of Americans now controlled 40 percent of the nation's wealth. And at the same time the bottom 50 percent controlled a mere 2 percent of our nation's wealth."

    But recent CBO data shows that household income for the middle class grew by almost 40 percent from 1979 to 2007. (The income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled. Specifically, their household income grew by 275 percent during that same period of time.)

    Magliano seems to be saying that the top heavy income distribution caused the current Great Recession. But how can that be when the middle class was doing better than it did three decades ago? If Magliano thinks that maldistribution of income leads to economic collapse, then he needs to make the case. But he didn't. Can he prove that maldistribution of income and wealth leads to economic bubbles, which then collapse?

    Max Torres brought up the fact that the top 1 percent of income earners pay 40 percent of federal income taxes. It is certainly unfair of us to impose such a burden on the top 1 percent, but relative to their share of income, this burden is no worse than it was back in 1980. (In the boom year of 2007, their relative burden was less.)

    Here are the numbers from the Tax Foundation:

    In 2009 the top 1 percent paid 36.7 percent of all federal income taxes and they earned 16.9 percent of the nation's total income. So the ratio of taxes paid to income earned by the top 1 percent in 2009 was 36.7/16.9 = 2.2. (See Table 6 and Table 5.)

    (In 2007, when the economy was still humming, the top 1 percent paid 40.4 percent of all federal income taxes and they earned 22.8 percent of the nation's total income. Their ratio of taxes paid to income earned in 2007 was 40.4/22.8 = 1.8.)

    Compare these numbers to the numbers in 1980. In 1980 the top 1 percent paid 19.1 percent of all federal income taxes and they earned 8.5 percent of the nation's total income. Their ratio of taxes paid to income earned in 1980 was 19.1/8.5 = 2.2, same as 2009.

    The share of income earned by the top 1 percent has doubled since 1980. It shouldn't come as a surprise that their share of federal income taxes paid has also doubled.

    So, even though the top 1 percent is getting gouged (assuming they aren't hiding a substantial portion of their income from the IRS), they can take some solace from these numbers. That's good news for them.

  4. Re: Max Torres vs. Tony Magliano

    Toward the end of the debate Tony Magliano mentioned the Patriotic Millionaires, who think their taxes should be raised. Debate moderator Al Kresta intervened to say that the Patriotic Millionaires can always make a contribution on their own. They can, of course, but it would not be a rational decision. Why not? It's called the free rider problem.

    I'll explain. Let's say Warren Buffet contributes more of his money to the government, but few other millionaires do the same. Then there would be no significant change in the federal deficit. There would be a cost to Buffet without any real benefit. Therefore, it makes sense that Buffet should keep his money.

    On the other hand, if almost all millionaires contribute more of their money to the government, then Buffet's contribution would be relatively insignificant. Buffet can keep his money and still benefit from a lower federal deficit. Again, Buffet should keep his money.

    Of course, the free rider problem isn't absolute. People do give to charities (like Cross International) and to churches (maybe hoping it will keep them out of Hell). But these contributions are made for deeply personal reasons that have an emotional component. (I like Operation Smile and the Dumb Friends League.)

    I don't think people have the same commitment when it comes to the public policy arena. We don't entrust the budget deficit, national defense, law enforcement, justice, and pollution mitigation to voluntary giving. We expect everyone to pitch in because everyone benefits.