Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 29, 2016

Religious Freedom: The Basis for Human Rights . . . and the Survival of Christians in the Middle East
Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Public Discourse

It is time for the international community to respond to the plight of Christians in the middle east. Adapted from an address delivered by the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch to the 134th Convention of the Knights of Columbus.

Aristotle Understood the Importance of Property
Richard M. Ebeling, FEE

Aristotle saw property rights as an incentive mechanism. When individuals believe and feel certain that they will be permitted to keep the fruits of their own labor, they will have an inclination to apply themselves in various, productive ways, which would not be the case with common or collective ownership.

Assyrian Christians Live In War-Torn Limbo, Praying Against Genocide
Alexandra Hudson, The Federalist

‘We are not safe in Iraq while Daesh (ISIS) is in control. We have no future, no work, no belongings,’ says an Iraqi genocide survivor.

The Sneaky Way Public Unions Are Getting Tax Dollars for Union Activities
Trey Kovacs, The Daily Signal

This subsidy, known as union release time, has flown under the radar for decades, but now state free-market groups are starting to do something about it.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

pollution“There are no solutions,” says economist Thomas Sowell. “There are only trade-offs.”

Sowell’s claim is especially true when it comes to the issue of pollution. We have no solution that will allow us to eliminate all pollution, so we are forced to make trade-offs, such as exchanging a certain level of pollution for economic growth.

What would happen, though, if we allowed our political presuppositions to determine which side of the tradeoff we must always choose? That’s the question at the heart of a recent debate about whether libertarians are too anti-pollution.

It all started when New York Times columnist and liberal economist Paul Krugman criticized the Libertarian Party platform’s position on environmental policy:

It opposes any kind of regulation; instead, it argues that we can rely on the courts. Is a giant corporation poisoning the air you breathe or the water you drink? Just sue: “Where damages can be proven and quantified in a court of law, restitution to the injured parties must be required.” Ordinary citizens against teams of high-priced corporate lawyers — what could go wrong?

Economist Tyler Cowen, though, says Krugman’s claim is the “opposite of the correct criticism.”

Arthur Koestler (1905-1983)

Arthur Koestler (1905-1983)

“In the world of literature,” says Bruce Edward Walker in this week’s Acton Commentary, “perhaps only Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did more to expose the lies and cruelty of 20th century totalitarianism.”

What makes Darkness at Noon such an enduring artistic work is Koestler’s firsthand knowledge of his source material. Indeed, Darkness at Noon is an imaginative effort, but unlike The Gladiators – set in the first century B.C. and detailing the failed slave revolution led by Spartacus – and Arrival and Departure – set for the most part in Neutralia, a slightly fictionalized Portugal, during World War II – Koestler’s second novel documents its author’s reasons for abandoning the Communist Party of which he had been a loyal adherent.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Given the overpopulation of American jails and prisons, it would stand to reason that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump be pressed to explain how they would dismantle the unfortunate relationship between low-performing schools and the criminal justice system. Last February, The American Bar Association (ABA) released a report in the school-to-prison pipeline. According to the ABA, the pipeline is a metaphor for how the issues in our education system facilitates students leaving school and becoming involved in the criminal justice system. The process is a cycle of compounding issues ranging from low engagement, lack of relationships (including family breakdown), harsh discipline, and various problem with authorities in law enforcement and juvenile justice being involved in school discipline. For the ABA report, researchers conducted eight town hall meetings across the country to try and understand how the issue affected local communities by gathering testimony and exploring how bias plays a role in the system.

According to the report, minority populations are especially affected by the pipeline–a fact known across the academic world. Recent data from reports like this one show the magnitude of the problem, one that the ABA report says is “unacceptably large and out of proportion to the population of our young people.” The problem manifests itself during pre-k through high school years, from the juvenile justice system to adult prisons, and both for students of color and those with disabilities. For example, students of color, regardless of gender, were found to be disproportionately punished by harsher and more frequent methods, failed to graduate as often, had lower education retention and learning, and were more often referred to authorities for arrest. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How a Dutch Prime Minister Changed My Life
Bruce Ashford, TGC

This one book shaped the way I think and live; I carry its ideas with me every day.

Millions in U.S. Climb Out of Poverty, at Long Last
Patricia Cohen, New York Times

Poverty declined among every group. But African-Americans and Hispanics — who account for more than 45 percent of those below the poverty line of $24,300 for a family of four in most states — experienced the largest improvement.

Unemployment Insurance Should Focus on Getting People Back to Work
Daniel Huizinga, Opportunity Lives

Unemployment insurance is a valuable program for people enduring the stress and uncertainty of temporary joblessness. But if the benefits become too generous, unemployment insurance can incentivize people to stay out of work longer, hurting them — and the overall economy — in the long term.

Over 90% of world breathing bad air: WHO

Nine out of 10 people globally are breathing poor quality air, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, calling for dramatic action against pollution that is blamed for more than six million deaths a year.

epipen22Pharmaceutical company Mylan recently spurred a flurry of outrage after raising the price of their lifesaving EpiPen by 400%, leading many to decry “corporate greed” and point the finger at capitalism.

Unfortunately, such anger routinely fails to consider the systemic reasons as to why Mylan can charge such prices, resorting instead to knee-jerk calls for fresh tricks by the FDA and new layers of price-fixing tomfoolery from Washington.

Yet the problem, as detailed by Rep. Mick Mulvaney in a new video from FEE, begins with the very same interventions, back-room deals, and price manipulations that the critics now propose.

Why, we might ask, is Mylan able to wield this monopolistic power and exploit its consumers with little challenge? As Mulvaney demonstrates, the answer has far more to do with the FDA, Congress, President Obama, and the Affordable Care Act than a free market with free-flowing prices. (more…)

naftaIn last night’s presidential debate, Donald Trump said that NAFTA was the worst trade deal the U.S. has ever signed, and that it continues to kill American jobs.

Here is what you should know about the perennially controversial trade agreement.

What is NAFTA?

NAFTA is the initialism for the North American Free Trade Agreement, an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States that reduced or eliminated trade barriers in North America. (Since the U.S. and Canada already had a free trade agreement (signed in 1988), NAFTA merely brought Mexico into the trade bloc.)

Negotiations for the trade agreement began in 1990 under the administration of George H.W. Bush and were finalized under Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1993. The House of Representatives approved the agreement by a vote of 234-200 (supporters included 132 Republicans and 102 Democrats) and the Senate version passed with a vote of 61-38 (supporters included 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats). The agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.

What was the purpose of NAFTA?