Century Marks

Century Marks

Tax free

A comprehensive study of the 280 most profitable Fortune 500 companies shows that 78 of them paid no income tax in one out of the past three years and 30 of them had a negative income tax rate during that three-year period. In the 1950s a quarter of federal outlays were paid by corporate taxes; in fiscal year 2010 corporate taxes paid only 6 percent of federal government expenses. The report, done by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, notes: "Most Americans can rightfully complain, 'I pay more federal income taxes than General Electric, Boeing, DuPont, Wells Fargo, Verizon, etc., etc., all put together'" (Salon, November 3).

Church too big to fail?

Megachurches in South Korea have become big business. The Yoido Full Gospel Church is the largest congregation in the world with over a million members. Cho Yong-gi, its founder and leader since 1958, has family enterprises that include newspapers and private universities. In late September an investigation was launched into Cho's finances on the basis of allegations from 29 church elders that he embezzled $20 million of church funds. A TV documentary claims that the money was used to buy real estate in the U.S. Cho also made a controversial statement following the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami, saying it was God's warning to a country known for "idol worship, atheism and materialism" (Economist, October 15).

Jews and OWS

An ad running on cable TV shows Occupy Wall Street protesters making anti-Semitic statements and holding up signs offensive to Jews. Kevin Healey points out that the ad is produced by the Emergency Committee for Israel, hardly an unbiased group. It was founded by neoconservative leader William Kristol and evangelical leader Gary Bauer. Other observers point out that the Occupy movement has involved many Jews. Columnists from the Jewish news source JTA said that the Occupy Wall Street protests have a Jewish flavor and are "becoming a fulcrum of Jewish ferment" (Scoop, November 3).

Beyond tribalism

The world was stunned by the Rwandan genocide in 1994 in which the majority Hutu population tried to wipe out the Tutsis. Three years after the genocide a militia group attacked a secondary school at Nyange and ordered  Tutsis and Hutus to form separate lines. The students refused, saying they were all Rwandans. The rebels responded by shooting indiscriminately, killing 13 students for their refusal to be divided along tribal lines (Emmanuel M. Katongole in Witness of the Body, edited by Michael L. Budde and Karen Scott, Eerdmans).

Back of the bus

When Melissa Franchy sat at the front of bus B110 in Brooklyn, she was told by a Hasidic Jewish man that she needed to move to the back. When she asked why, he said that this was a private Jewish bus and that it was decreed by God that men and women should be separate. The bus, which runs between Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, is operated for the city by a private company. The city has said that the practice of gender segregation is against New York civil rights laws and has asked the private bus company for an explanation (NPR.org).