Century Marks

Century Marks

Taxing the 1 percent

Obama's health-care reform is financed in large part by increasing the Medicare tax on the wealthiest of Americans and increasing taxes on investments. Those who make more than $1 million a year would pay an additional $37,381 in annual taxes. The top 400 taxpayers would pay, on average, an additional $11 million annually (Rolling Stone, November 24).

Gutsy act

In 1934, a 17-year-old girl was about to go on stage to do a dance routine during amateur night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. But the act preceding her featured a dance duo whose performance was so good that the girl decided she couldn't follow it with a dance. She decided to sing instead, even though she had never sung in public and didn't even know whether she could sing. That girl was named Ella Fitzgerald (interview with Michael Meade, The Sun, November).

Vision needed

Americans continue to give the majority of their donations to the church and other religious organizations, according to a study by John and Sylvia Ronsvalle. In 2009, the most recent year studied, Americans gave 74 percent of their donations to religious institutions. Charities and other organizations received 21 percent and educational institutions received 3 percent. Per member giving, however, declined from 2008 to 2009 in constant dollars. The Ronsvalles believe that church members are not likely to increase giving toward institutional maintenance. To stimulate increased giving, church leaders need to convey a vision that engages people both inside and outside the congregation (The State of Church Giving through 2009, empty tomb, inc.).

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).

No exit

The popular uprisings that deposed autocratic governments in Tunisia and Egypt were initiated by people whose lives were so desperate that they felt they had nothing to lose. Before the revolts, many in North Africa thought their only hope was to immigrate to Europe. In 2007 a cobbler in Tunisia said to David Cook, a scholar from Rice University: "Do you think that any of us would be here if we could move to France? Everyone would be gone in a week if they would let us in!" (Hedgehog Review, Fall).