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Showing posts from 2017

End Times

End Times              Gerry O'Shea        December 2017 While visiting Rome in the 12th century to give an account of his diocese of Armagh, St Malachy had a vision of all the popes who would serve until the end of time. He prophesied that there would be 112 in all before the world ends. Francis is the last of the 112. Most of the experts who have studied Malachy's writing are skeptical about the credibility of his visions. Although the story is told that when the cardinals met in 1958 to elect a successor to Pius X11 that New York Cardinal Spellman showed his knowledge of the prophecies by sailing on the Tiber with sheep on display in his boat.   Malachy had predicted that the new pope would meet the description of   pastor et nauta, pastor and sailor, and the New York cardinal wanted to stake a claim   that the Irish saint had him in his sights 800 years earlier! Pope John XX111 was elected and, in fairness, pastor et nauta described him very well. Some serio

Reverse Robin Hood Tax Proposals

Reverse Robin Hood Tax Proposals            Gerry O'Shea   11-2017 Jonathan Swift, the renowned 18th century dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin,   penned a great satirical essay titled A Modest Proposal . Looking at the abject poverty and destitution of so many families throughout Ireland, Swift in this mocking "proposal" devised an imaginative method of dealing   with the high infant mortality rate and attendant poverty in Ireland. He wrote that if the poor babies were fed well for a year and then slaughtered for their tender young meat, the rich people, the landlords and their affluent cronies, could enjoy the best of fare while the children's parents would also benefit from the payments that would accrue to them from the sale of the succulent human carcasses. I thought of Swift's indignantly ironic essay when I heard the details of the Republican tax proposals which are being sold as middle-class tax cuts. Both the House and Senate bill

The Kansas Experiment

The Trickle Down Theory - The Kansas Experiment Gerry O'Shea - 10-25-2017 The President has a new tax plan which, predictably, he is promoting as providing "the largest tax cuts in U.S. history." The truth is that, if his proposals are enacted, the only people who will be cheering will be the top 1%. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that by 2027 Trump's proposals would result in a tax increase for a quarter of middle class families. The same tax experts say that 80% of the gains will go to the top 1% of Americans. There would be a cut in the highest individual rates, a reduction in corporate taxes and an end to the estate tax, which Republicans call the death tax, but which only applies to the relatively few affluent estates worth more than five and a half million. How do Republicans led by President Trump plan to balance the books? How do they avoid ballooning the deficit which they claim repeatedly is anathema to them? Their main argum

Is the Pope Catholic

Is the Pope Catholic           Gerry O'Shea Asking Is the pope Catholic   is widely understood as a rhetorical question indicating that the only answer has to be "yes." How could anyone doubt the pope's religious affiliation? Amazingly, a small but powerful minority of Catholic theologians and church leaders are doing just that, and they raise real doubts about Francis' commitment to what they consider core Catholic   beliefs.   A minority of these dissidents believe that the church has already veered into schism while others assert that the pope's statements on some important moral issues have caused serious confusion and bewilderment among the faithful. How does one explain this extraordinary situation?   In 2014 and 2015 the Synod of Bishops met at Francis' invitation to consider how best the church could minister to the modern family in all its permutations, including divorced people in new relationships and members in same sex partn

The Importance of Trade Unions

Let's consider an imaginary company in America, a publicly-traded corporation with 1000 employees who have just announced annual profits of 100 million dollars. Their accountants say that they owe 10% in government taxes, so the question arises about where the remaining 90 millions go. There are three groups with legitimate claims on the company profits: management, shareholders and regular workers. Forty years ago the average CEO's salary in America was twenty times more than one of the company's line workers; today the ratio has climbed to an astonishing two hundred and seventy. If we take the average worker's salary as $50,000, that gives the CEO annual compensation in multiple millions. That is how the cake is divided. The corporate executives and the shareholders are represented at the table when the profits are divvied up and they take good care of their interests, but the workers have no voice in the decision-making. The result is that, despite big i

Election Reflections

Election Reflections                                      There was a high level of interest among Irish people at home and   here in the recent Presidential election.   Among my friends and acquaintances voting preferences broke down almost entirely along party lines. Those who supported Romney four years ago and identify themselves as conservatives   lined up behind Trump while liberals and progressives stood four square with Hillary. The following   reflections come from an unabashed liberal, a convinced   supporter of   the progressive policies of the Democratic Party, someone who believed the pollsters that we would have the first woman president and who is still flabbergasted by the result on November 8th. Election analysts say that a majority of Catholics in the Midwestern States - many of whom have Irish lineage - who supported President Obama four years ago voted this time for Mr. Trump. Some commentators suggest that the loss of these Catholic   voters cost Mrs. Cl

Remembering Bishop Casey

REMEMBERING BISHOP CASEY              Gerry O'Shea Bishops were very important men in Ireland twenty-five years ago. They were commonly addressed as "my lord" and their residences were often called palaces. They dressed in purple, carried a crozier and wore a mitre which, like any high hat, is meant to proclaim a person's authority. This was the Irish episcopal world that Eamonn Casey joined in 1969 when he was appointed bishop of Kerry on the recommendation of Cardinal Heenan of Westminster. The prime minister, Jack Lynch, and the president, Eamon De Valera, attended his inauguration to high office in Killarney. The previous year Pope Paul V1 issued his controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae which asserted, against the advice of his chosen advisors, that the use of the contraceptive pill or condoms - even by married couples - was immoral. We do not know if any in the Irish episcopate disagreed with the faulty and skewed logic in this document. They all fol

Trump Populism

Trump Populism   Donald Trump has created consternation, especially among Republicans, as he veers away from some of the traditional orthodox positions of the Party in favor of populist rhetoric that has won him the nomination. Populism can be understood as a set of beliefs that highlight the neglect of and disregard for the hopes and fears of broad swaths of the population by elites who take care only of their own interests. Mr. Trump's core constituency seems to be drawn from white males with low achievement in formal education. One study showed that a stunning 80% of these blue collar workers voted for Trump in the primaries. They believe that he listens to their stories and understands their disgust at being left behind, many of them earning less than they did twenty years ago. They resent that the elites of both Parties seem to dismiss their concerns. Let's look at two of the populist themes that Trump has been dealing with and making vague promises to reme

Trump Conservatism

Trump Conservatism                 Gerry O'Shea During the recent presidential campaign, Mr. Trump sought to distance himself from the hard-line conservatives in his own party by reminding voters that he was the candidate of the Republican Party and not the Conservative Party. In addition, on two vital progressive issues, he promised not to cut Medicaid and that his tax proposals would primarily benefit "ordinary" working people. Some Trump apologists explained that his scatterbrain statements about building walls and punishing women who had an abortion and other far-out proposals would fade away when he actually achieved power. They confidently predicted that modern sophisticated people like his daughter and son-in-law would exert a strong moderating influence. All wishful thinking, unfortunately, because in issue after issue Mr. Trump has emerged as the most right wing president in recent memory. Here is his record to date. Can you ever remember a Republ

Climate Change

Global Warming               Gerry O'Shea The title of this article will put many people off - climate change is viewed as involving very complex issues and few people want to hear about disappearing coral reefs or the impact of   thawing permafrost on the heating of the planet. It is much easier to espouse an opinion on how to deal with the dictators in Syria or North Korea or to take a stand on that famous wall   on the Mexican border. Most people are engaged with day-to-day issues that impact their lives - taxes, prices in the supermarket and the effectiveness of our educational system. However, in this context we need to consider the longer-term effects of our behavior and the policies that our government pursues. American Indian wisdom urges us to take responsibility for how our actions or inaction affect people's lives "seven generations" from now. Americans are divided on the reality and seriousness of global warming. More than 95% of climate scien

Martin Luther - 500 Years Later

Martin Luther - 500 Years Later        Gerry O'Shea This year we commemorate a momentous event in the history of Christendom: The posting of ninety five theological propositions in October 1517 by   Martin Luther on the door of the church in Wittenberg, a town located on the river Elbe in Germany. Luther, an Augustinian monk and college professor, was challenging the   practice of selling indulgences   that the Church claimed reduced or eliminated the residual punishment in purgatory due for sins already confessed to a priest. While the dubious practice of promoting indulgences has fallen into abeyance in our time, many readers who grew up in the 60's and 70's can tell stories about how they were encouraged to say certain prayers with indulgences attached that varied from a mere 100 days relief in purgatory to a plenary indulgence which could blot out a multitude of transgressions committed by oneself or others. Luther was objecting as a loyal Catholic priest a