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Will the Pope Declare Google Evil? 622

Posted by kdawson
from the and-all-you-others-too dept.
theodp writes "In the next few days, Pope Benedict XVI plans to issue his second encyclical, in which he is expected to denounce the use of tax havens as socially unjust and immoral in that they cheat the greater well-being of society. He is also expected to argue that the globalized economic world needs to be regulated. Prime technology companies playing the offshore 'profit laundering' game include Dell, Google, Microsoft, and Sun, who set up subsidiaries in Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is a low 12.5% and no taxes are charged on royalties (e.g. from patents)."
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Will the Pope Declare Google Evil?

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  • Says the man... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Winckle (870180)
    Sitting on a big pile of gold, and money in swiss banks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by couchslug (175151)
      Better billions invested to make more wealth than feeding the icky flock, which job is that of the nations the evil tax cheats are depriving of sweet, sweet loot.

      The Vatican perspective on money is interesting. Some background on what they were willing to do to get it while advancing their agenda. The background of the current Pope fits well with this:

      http://www.shoahrose.com/vatican.html [shoahrose.com]

      http://www.totse.com/en/politics/the_world_beyond_ the_usa/163217.html [totse.com]

      sizzerb.com/images/images/pavelic_degenerate.pdf

      htt [srpska-mreza.com]
    • Given that a large chunk of that money is currently being paid into funds for use in future sex-abuse cases I wouldn't worry about the Pope declaring them evil. When the head of an organisation that has overtly avoid routing out pedophiles in their ranks goes on to call you evil - the comparison actually works in your favour. Number of people directly abused or killed by Google - 0. Catholic church - can any of us count that high? And lets just say that the Godwin clock on this thread is starting unusually
    • Re:Says the man... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:46PM (#20443969) Homepage
      So your assertion is that it is hypocritical for anyone with access to money or power to ever make a statement supporting charity or paying one's taxes?

      Well I'll run over and tell the pope that he needs to edict all of the church's remaining savings to some non-profit (maybe a religious organization of some sort...) before he can issue any more moral edicts to his followers.

      brb.
      • John 8:7 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) *

        So your assertion is that it is hypocritical for anyone with access to money or power to ever make a statement supporting charity or paying one's taxes?

        No it's only hypocritical for someone who doesn't pay taxes -- or runs an organization that doesn't pay taxes -- to make statements about others who also don't. It only becomes more comical when you consider that the Vatican itself is basically a tax haven, but for a single organization.

        Humm, come to think of this, I think the Pope's own book has some advice for situations like this. I think it goes something like "He that is without sin...first cast a stone".

        • Re:John 8:7 (Score:5, Informative)

          by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @05:30PM (#20445447) Homepage
          Point to me any instance of the Catholic church not paying taxes that the law has designated for it to pay.

          Or are you just upset that Uncle Sam is willing to give the church 501(c)(3) status?

          In general, countries tend to not-tax non-profits for the same reason they don't tax government subsidiaries... it would be stupid. Why would you tax what is already a public service to collect revenues to provide public services? What's next, are you going to charge me income tax on the estimated value of my labor when I go volunteer with Habitat for Humanity?

          If you don't like it, whatever... I used to be quite against 501(c)(3) status (for anyone), and am only marginally in favor of it now. But hypocrisy? No, that's ridiculous.

    • Says the man... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Psychor (603391)
      Who lives in his own special country that his church set up as a tax dodge.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @01:55PM (#20443423) Homepage Journal
    Is the current pope rather stuck on ancient church history, at middle ages when church was actually a state ?

    does god levy 'taxes' ? taxes are an earthly thing and have no place in religion. or is the pope trying to appease some circles that have done 'charity' for the church ?
    • "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" -- Matthew 22:21
      • by unity100 (970058)
        yes, and things that are god's are the area of the church, not caesar's.
        • You missed the point completely.

          Christ himself said to pay taxes that the government demands. Tax shelters would go against this statement, making them "immoral" from a Christian standpoint.
          • by unity100 (970058)
            jesus of nazareth said it because otherwise romans would slaughter christians, not because it was ethical and divine.
            • There were no such beings in Jesus' day, sir.

              They were all Jews. He was asked by the Jews if it was legal (according to God's law) for Jews to pay taxes to the Romans.
          • by Smidge204 (605297) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:38PM (#20443885) Journal
            Then I am in full support of revoking the all churches' 501(c)(3) status within the USA. Christ said to pay taxes? Then people shouldn't be allowed to use the church as a tax break, and the church itself can pay taxes on its income too.

            The Scientologists will be screwed especially hard over that one. Couldn't happen to a more deserving lot, honestly.
            =Smidge=
            • Christ also said "Render unto God what is God's"

              You can consider the Church to be doing that, I suppose.

              (note: not defending the Church, just sayin... Christ said to pay the government what you owe them)
          • by w3woody (44457)
            It depends upon who is doing the interpretation. However, what you just wrote goes against the standard interpretation that I've heard from a number of circles--which is that the realm of money and taxation is not an area where the Church would be involved. That is, even though individuals have an obligation to live their lives in the light of Christ and find salvation through Him, they are also obligated as best they can to obey the laws (including tax laws) of the land in which they live.

            In other words, C
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Maelwryth (982896)
      "does god levy 'taxes' ?"

      Yes. He taxes your free will as a retirement fund.
    • by dircha (893383) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:17PM (#20443651)
      "does god levy 'taxes' ? taxes are an earthly thing and have no place in religion. or is the pope trying to appease some circles that have done 'charity' for the church ?"

      I suspect you're not interested in knowing, but in fact the God of the Bible has a long history of taxation.

      Citizens were required to pay a flat tax of 10% of all earnings.

      Citizens were also assessed additional fixed taxes as civic needs arose, and were required to turn over some numbers of livestock on a regular schedule.

      These taxes went to the religious state, whose responsibility it was to provide judicial, executive, and legislative services, as well as to provide for the common needs of society, including various primitive safety nets for those who had fallen on hard times.

      Further on, according to the Bible, in Christian communities this developed into an entirely socialist system, where resources were jointly held and distributed by a central authority. Failure to comply was punishable by death.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        and i suspect you do not read posts before replying. i have asked that whether this pope is clung up on the historic, now nonexistent role of church state in middle ages.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JonathanBoyd (644397)

        I suspect you're not interested in knowing, but in fact the God of the Bible has a long history of taxation. Citizens were required to pay a flat tax of 10% of all earnings.

        The crucial detail here being that it was citizens of the ancient theocratic state of Israel. It is pretty clear from the New Testament that God's people are citizens of heaven, rather than of an earthly state and that they should follow the laws of the states they reside in, so long as those laws do not force them to go against the l

    • 'God' used to levy taxes. They were called tithes [wikipedia.org]. Part of it was religious reasoning, but if I remember my schooling correctly then there was also a degree of taking away some of your worldly possessions so that the church could protect you from their evil influences (since the church members are, of course, stronger in this kind of thing than your normal person).

      Hang on, that last bit sounds like something Scientologists and strange cults do - "Here, join us and give up your worldly possessions. No, it's
    • Actually, 'god' does levy taxes - tithing is one of the things laid out in Exodus 20 - 23 (along with little things such as proper payment for slaves, and selling ones own daughter etc).
  • However, he will proclaim that surfing with anti-spyware technology prevents the natural and Godly transmission of malware-life, so that it can grow on your computer.
  • Double Dutch Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poptones (653660) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @01:59PM (#20443473) Journal
    So will the church lead by example? Religion is the biggest tax haven in this country.

    Just one more hypocrisy from the church, I am wagering.
    • by chuckymonkey (1059244) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `notrub.d.selrahc'> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:18PM (#20443669) Journal
      Exactly. Look at L. Ron Hubbard. He said that the easiest way to get rich is start a religion. So he created Scientology who's sole goal is to get money from the rich to stroke their overbloated ego. They let in non-rich people, but you have to pay to advance in the religion. The same goes for just about every church, it's just that the rest of them take your money to actually do society some good once in a while and make sure the cats at the top are fat and happy. They also give you a set of morals and ethics in return for your investment, not that it makes a whole lot of difference since if you're going to be moral you will and if not you won't. Religion really doesn't have a whole lot to do with it other than pushing the blame for you actions somewhere else.
      • They let in non-rich people, but you have to pay to advance in the religion. The same goes for just about every church

        I can think of a few frauds for whom that might have been the case anda few weak-willed people who gave in to the temptation of money, but can't think of any major Chrstian denominations which require a monetary contribution to 'advance' in it. In fact, given the equality in Christ of all members of the church (including between laity and clergy), the concept of advancement is meaningless

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kohath (38547)
      Exactly.

      The day the Catholic Church starts paying taxes is the first day anyone should listen to them on tax questions.
  • Google is always getting singled out in these sorts of things, just because they are the popular media darling of the moment. This is really about corporate America, period.
  • by Winckle (870180) <[ku.oc.elkcniw] [ta] [kram]> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:01PM (#20443499) Homepage
    As Jesus said, "Render unto Caeser what is Caeser's, and unto God what is God's"
    • by langelgjm (860756) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:20PM (#20444309) Journal

      As Jesus said, "Render unto Caeser what is Caeser's, and unto God what is God's"

      Um, that's kind of the point. Tax evasion means you are not rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. I'm from Maryland, and it was recently discovered that large corporations have avoided paying around 500 million USD in taxes this year. This isn't just cheating the government - it's cheating society, taking away revenue that could be used to fight the numerous problems we face.

      I somehow doubt though, that the pope's admonitions will have any effect on corporate financial policies.

  • So, let me get this straight - a company like Google sets up an office in Europe to handle its European affairs, gets taxed on this profit at that country's rate, and there's something wrong with that?
    • by abigor (540274) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:21PM (#20443707)
      Yes, apparently the diety of a bunch of goat-herding nomads from thousands of years ago doesn't like it, so it's got to be stopped.
      • by Tiger4 (840741)
        "...a bunch of goat-herding nomads..."

        Goatherds with sunstroke. You have to account for the visions and the voices.

    • So, let me get this straight - a company like Google sets up an office in Europe to handle its European affairs, gets taxed on this profit at that country's rate, and there's something wrong with that?
      The part that allows corporations to act like they have the power of $DEITY by originating in the US, but being able to sidestep US laws (taxes, immigration/H1/L1).
  • by m2943 (1140797) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:06PM (#20443549)
    A large part of Google operations are in Europe, so is a big part of their R&D. Why should they tax all their income in the US?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by enrevanche (953125)
      If these profits are made all over Europe, they should pay taxes to each country where the money was made, not just the country with the lowest tax rate.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Decado (207907)
        And how exactly do you determine in which country the money was made? The country the buyer resides in? The country the seller resides in? The country the product was produced? The country the raw materials were sourced in? The country the product was researched? The country the corporation was founded? The country the buyer was in at time of purchase? etc etc etc. Your statement is over-simplistic to the point of idiocy.
  • hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wwmedia (950346) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:13PM (#20443615)
    im from ireland, and practically every corporation has an office here

    the corporate tax is low (12.5%) and income tax is ok as well (20%) tho EU slaps 20% VAT on everything

    a lot of countries look enviously lately it seems at ireland and the low-ish taxes here (the country is doing fairly for last decade)

    still i wouldnt call this a tax heaven, compared to Dubai lets say
    • Ireland can afford to charge such low taxes because a lot of corporations will pay taxes there for income made from elsewhere. This makes it easy on Ireland, but saps other governments of revenue. This is why only places with a low population can be tax havens.
  • While Mr. Ratzinger may think that he has come exclusive Hi-Speed Connection to the Magic Man In The Sky, we know better.

    I happen to agree with him on this particular matter (ie, tax havening is often immoral), but I fail to see why his opinion should carry any more weight than mine.
    • by dircha (893383)
      "I happen to agree with him on this particular matter (ie, tax havening is often immoral), but I fail to see why his opinion should carry any more weight than mine."

      Because, you, Mr. Mad.Frog, have an audience of perhaps 10, whereas the Pope has a committed audience of several hundred million, a distribution channel that extends into neighborhoods in every corner of the Earth, and a - if not so committed - at least tentative audience of a billion+.

      I suspect we could agree upon a fairly precise causal accoun
  • MSM and Religion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThereIsNoDog (702469) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:16PM (#20443645)
    As Mark Shea once said, "Deduct 50 IQ points when the media discusses religion. Deduct 75 points when discussing Catholicism." It is surprising (or not) that people are making judgments on a document that even isn't released. Wait until the document is released and read what it actually says before commenting.
  • by Paul Johnson (33553) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:16PM (#20443647) Homepage
    The Alternet article mixes up two issues with different rates of taxation.

    On one hand we have the way in which company profits can be moved around by changing the rates charged between subsidiaries in different countries. If your research division is in a high tax country and your manufacturing in a low tax country then you can shift profits to the manufacturing division by treating the research as a cost centre. If its the other way around then you can treat the research as a profit centre and charge manufacturing for all the valuable IPR they are using. This is a known bug in international company tax, and needs dealing with.

    On the other hand there is generally low taxation on individual earnings and product sales within a country. The Alternet article gets into the politics of envy here by citing highly paid executives who also pay a relatively low rate of tax. But hey, they live and work in that country, so its an entirely local issue. Its up the the voters in a democracy to decide what taxes to charge and what they ought to get for that money. For instance the UK tax rates look much higher than in the US (35% GDP as opposed to around 26% of GDP) until you factor in the extra money paid by US companies for employee health plans. At that point the UK, with its tax-funded NHS, suddenly looks like a much cheaper place to do business.

    Paul.
  • I don't know how many of you have noticed, but the current pope looks and acts like palpatine!!palpatine!! [mediabistro.com].
  • ...he is expected to denounce the use of tax havens as socially unjust and immoral
    Ya, right, because politicans spend money more "morally" than the rest of us.
  • Under the U.S. system, corporate executives will get fired -- or at least the companies will get sued by shareholders and the executives fired -- if they take any action based on morality instead of for profit. The only exception is if the moral action would be a good PR move that would boost profit, which is only a small percentage of the time. The norm is to aggressively pursue profits in the hopes that any associated immorality does not get publicized.

    I'm not sure what a Catholic is supposed to do unde

  • Absolutely (Score:4, Funny)

    by no-body (127863) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:28PM (#20443787)
    so Bill Gates converts to become a Roman Catholic - they do everything nowadays to get followers since their sex rules are so unattractive - well, except in the US, that is...
  • I think the pope isn't really wrong here. While it is perfectly understandable and legal to use a tax haven like Ireland, it is still a real problem and not really a fair behaviour. It only works out for Ireland because big companies from all over the world choose to tax their EU earnings in Ireland. If all EU states would lower their tax to 12.5%, it wouldn't work for anyone.
    Any state should be free to set their tax rates to any level they like, but please only for money really earned in that state and not
  • Given the catholics track record at preventing sex before marriage, contraception, sex with others while married, gratuitous killing of the rest of god's children, drinking, drugs, and general looting and pillaging, I think the church should quit while they are ahead. In fact many of these are greater problems in largely catholic countries than not.

    It is not that I disagree with the sentiments. In fact I believe the biggest problem we have in this country is people earning great deal of monies in the co

  • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:38PM (#20443881)
    (a) should the Internet move to IPv6 or stick with IPv4? Which one is the lesser evil?

    (b) Blue-Ray vs HD-DVD: what would Jesus watch?
  • What the hell? Churches are tax exempt.

    Typical religious hypocritism.
  • Typical (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Caelicola (836792)
    So we have the Pope thinking in German, writing in Latin, and we're denouncing an English translation of a document that hasn't been published yet? Yes, sounds about right. Of course the document will be logical and well-reasoned, with a focus on protecting the poor who are paying more than they otherwise would have to without the rich evading taxes... but naturally - few will bother to read the always poorly translated English document, and no one will read the Latin. But everyone will be sure in their
    • Great comment, should be modded "insightful". But if you had wanted to be modded as "funny", you could have made some joke about how people don't even RTFE.

  • As if it is the responsibility of businesses to make sure governments get a cut of their profits so the church folk and live better off. The Pope should stick with dealing with religion and his particular followers instead of expecting handouts from others.

    It's governments responsibility to regulate how businesses operate withing their boundaries. IMO.

    LoB
  • Sounds like he wants one world government to regulate/tax everyone on the planet regardless it they are a sovereign nation or not.

    And i suppose if there is a clash of morality between countries, he gets to choose?
  • Not Forgetting it wasn't until the early 1990's that the Catholic Church (Pope) exonerated Galileo....

    There are bigger fish to fry than businesses mentioned..

    As in:

    http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/TLSF/theme_a/ mod02/www.worldgame.org/wwwproject/index.shtml [unesco.org]

    On second thought, somebody just send the pope this post and let him slap himself awake with it.
  • ...is he a Catholic?
  • Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's. But what belongs to God? Everything! There ain't much room left for rendering unto Caesar.
  • It is evil to give your tax money to a country whose government is able to manage the country with less tax revenue.
  • Seriously, I think someone needs to remind old Ratzinger what century he is living in. Being the head of the inquisition obviously confused him a bit. He can't bend kings to his will by threatening excommunication anymore.
  • Prime technology companies playing the offshore 'profit laundering' game include Dell, Google, Microsoft, and Sun, who set up subsidiaries in Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is a low 12.5% and no taxes are charged on royalties (e.g. from patents).

    Seems to me Ireland is competitive. What is wrong with low taxes? In 20 years Ireland went from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the richest following these outrageous policies. Seems to me we should congratulate them and seek to imita

  • by stoicfaux (466273) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:33PM (#20444445)

    The point being made is that rich individuals and corporations are setting up a minimal presence in a foreign tax country (tax haven) in order to avoid paying taxes in the countries where they actually live or work. This is "bad" because by not paying local taxes, they're not supporting their local government and social programs. If you live in the [insert your country here] and use the Netherlands as a tax haven, then you're not paying your fair share for your country's universal health care, or 911 services, or military that keeps your democracy free, or whatever.

    If you're going to benefit from your local country's laws and services, is it really too much to ask that you pay your fair share? If local taxes are too burdensome or wasteful, then work to improve them instead of hiding from the problem(s). We all complain that money influences politics. If people are allowed to hide money overseas, then they have no motivation to reform existing local laws. If they were forced to resolve the issues locally, they would be subject to local laws and publicity, thus making it difficult to corrupt the reformed laws. By hiding money overseas, there is little legal or public oversight to prevent abuse (such as laundering drug money.)

    Thus tax havens create at least two problems: local services, laws, and legal protections are not being paid for, and local laws, morals, mores, and publicity are being evaded. The latter is probably the greater of the two sins.

    A third problem that the Pope appears to be concerned about is that local taxes pay for social programs. You know, homeless shelters, health care for the poor, etc.. By turning to a tax haven, you are implicitly turning your back on your fellow man. Do you really think that anyone using a foreign tax shelter is actually using the money they saved back to build up their local community? Granted, the Catholic Church shouldn't be throwing stones, but a Christian who hides tax money isn't much of a Christian. Belittle the Pope all you want, but he is probably the only individual who has the ability to bring worldwide attention to global morality. You don't have to like the guy shining the light on the cockroaches, but do be glad that someone is doing it. (But we do keep a mirror handy to throw some of that light back.)

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