Older Americans live by principles

In By the Numbers (This Week, Nov. 27), you gave attention to the wealth gap between older Americans and those 35 years and younger. 

Naturally, older Americans will have many times more wealth. We saved our money, invested and spent less than what we made and accumulated so we could pay our way in old age and not depend on others. 

Youths today do not want to save, want to spend all they make, having all the goodies the American consumer system foists on them. 

It’s like we are being put down for living by principles.  

Thanks for a great newsweekly.  

Maurie Laufer, via email 

Faulty math

The article “Should Catholics support a ‘flat tax’ proposal?” (News Analysis, Dec. 11) contains a miscalculation that needs correction. Theologian and economics professor Daniel Finn, in talking about examples with 15 percent flat tax, implied that $1,000 is 15 percent of $15,000 and that $1 million is 15 percent of $15 million. No, 15 percent of $15,000 is $2,250 and 15 percent of $15 million is $2.25 million.   

Use the rule of thumb for calculating a 15 percent tip quickly: Take 10 percent (easy — divide by 10) — take half of that result (divide by 2) — add the two results — voilà — 15 percent without multiplying decimals. 

Alan Westcott, via email 

Life lessons

Wow! Kudos to OSV for clear moral teaching — “Papal Lessons on Leadership” (News Analysis, Dec. 11). Leave it to former Swiss Guard Andreas Widmer to put it clear and straightforward on our current U.S. (and world’s) economic problems. “Moral vision integrates into the world what is true. … [With] a vision directed toward building a culture of life, you will go farther than if you have a vision for what is false, a vision directed toward building a culture of death. Our moral vision shapes everything we do all day long. All decisions are decisions deciding between a culture of life and a culture of death. If you know what the culture of life is and you make decisions according to it, then you know you’re on the path to prosperity and true success.” 

Translation? If you do not make the correct moral decision regarding life, you will not prosper or succeed. Any politician (Republican or Democrat) who does not choose life needs to be automatically disqualified! It does not matter what the rest of his/her positions are. Without the correct moral vision to choose life he/she/the rest of the nation cannot prosper! 

Clear moral leadership from our Church is so very, very important as we individual citizens head toward the polls in 2012. 

Larry J. Reichert, Hays, Kan.

Out-of-date Creed

In the new translation, the Creed still uses the antiquated interpretation, “for us men and our salvation” (“Curtain time for the revised Mass,” Nov. 20). Some priests use the term “for us all,” which is more inclusive and fitting for our modern American society. The generic use of the male pronoun is just not acceptable any more. The U.S. bishops would be correct and wise to authorize a more welcoming translation. Women make up more than 50 percent of our Catholic population and, even though the bishops might disagree, I believe that most of them, especially younger women, would prefer a more inclusive reference. 

Ed Dwyer, via email

Occupy commentary

I was very disappointed in Phil Lenahan’s column about the Occupy Wall Street movement, which serves only to create a straw man of the Occupy movements around the country (“Occupy Wall Street through the lens of Catholic principles,” Dec. 4). Lenahan claims that the Occupy movements are demanding that “since our economic system doesn’t provide for a more equal distribution of resources, that we either need a different system, or that government enact policies that ‘force’ more equal outcomes,” then proceeds to explain that Catholic social teaching does not demand equal outcomes. 

However, it is not so much the “equal outcomes” that the Occupy movements are complaining about when they talk about the differences between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. Rather, it is the inequality of opportunity that they find so unfair. This inequality comes when the top 1 percent of our country and corporations pay little or no money in taxes. Because of the benefits they have, some of which have been provided by the government, they are effectively taxed at a lower percentage than those who work for them. 

This inequality also comes through the drastic inequality of our public education systems, which starts many people out at a disadvantage. 

This inequality also comes in the form of our health care system, in which those who are lucky enough to have a job that provides health insurance can afford to get medical treatment, while those who are not so fortunate end up having to declare bankruptcy if they ever need such treatment. 

The issue in our country is not that everyone is equal, it is that our government has created a system where people are unequal from the beginning and the Occupy movement just wants this government-created inequality removed. 

These demands seem to fit right in line with everything I know about Catholic social teaching. 

Elissa Cutter, via email