Soul cleansing during Lent

By | March 16, 2011

Fasting and abstaining came to mind after reading a few news reports. One focused on the tax cuts for low-income Americans and the other about millionaires who worry about not having enough income to live comfortably.

The first report was a column by Tony Magliano for Catholic News Service. Magliano, lamented the proposed federal budget and its impact on the poor. He noted that a budget deal between President Barack Obama and Congress continues “outrageously high tax cuts for the wealthy and throws crumbs to the poor.”

He cited a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report showing tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that gave the poorest fifth of Americans an average of $45 per person. Conversely, the richest fifth of the population got $7,820 and the richest 1 percent of Americans got $178,832.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a 2011 budget resolution that cuts $2.3 billion from affordable housing, $1.75 billion from job training and $390 million from low-income heating assistance, noted Magliano. At the same time, Department of Defense funding continues to grow.

Another new report offered some interesting results from a study conducted by Fidelity Investments. The investment firm interviewed 1,000 millionaires. According to the study, 42 percent of those interviewed said they would need to have $7.5 million in order to feel truly rich.

The 1,000 millionaires were worried that they would outlive their assets, Sanjiv Mirchandani, president of National Financial, which is a unit of Fidelity, told Reuters.

According to Fidelity, which has been surveying millionaires since 2006, the study unearths the investment patterns of millionaires, so “the average investor can learn from what millionaires are thinking or doing.”

“Wealth is relative, and to some extent the more you have the more you realize how much more you need,” said Mirchandani.

As we reflect on Bishop Ricken’s mantra of “dying to the things that are not of Christ,” we have to wonder if investing in wealth has overshadowed investing in our nation’s greatest resource: its people. Addictions do come in all shapes and sizes, including green ones with dollar signs.

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