Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
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“When Nicaragua is in the news, it is usually bad news,” says Paul J. Bonicelli in this week’s Acton Commentary, “and so it is once again as it descends into another dynastic dictatorship.”

The man currently building the latest family-run state is the incumbent president Daniel Ortega, although apparently the irony is lost on him since he led a socialist revolution 40 years ago to overthrow the previous dynasty. The history of Nicaragua is a cycle that runs from dictatorship to democracy and back to dictatorship again; a hope and change story that is now ending very badly. There are heroes of liberal democracy, Nicaraguans from all socio-economic classes who understand the value of democratic capitalism and want to be free, and they deserve our praise and pity, for they have suffered the cruelest fate of having put their country on the right track only to see it return to the road to serfdom.

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

 This month marks the 20th anniversary of welfare reform, a bipartisan measure that made important changes to our country’s welfare system. Here is what you should know about this milestone legislation.

What was “welfare reform”?

Welfare reform is the nickname given to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). This 251-page federal law was introduced by Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL) in June 1996 as part of the Republican Contract with America and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 22, 1996.

Among other things, notes AEI’s Angela Rachidi, the law eliminated the cash welfare program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and replaced it with a block grant program that gave states flexibility to use federal funds to move people from welfare to work.

What does PRWORA require?

PRWORA contains requirements for both the states and welfare recipients.

Work requirements and time limits for individuals and families:
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Brooks-2x1500We continue to see the expansion of freedom and the economic prosperity around the world. And yet, despite having enjoyed such freedom and its fruits for centuries, the West is stuck in a crisis of moral imagination.

For all of its blessings, modernity has led many of us to pair our comfort and prosperity with a secular, naturalistic ethos, relishing in our own strength and designs and trusting in the power of reason to drive our ethics.

The result is a uniquely moralistic moral vacuum, a “liberal paradox,” as Gaylen Byker calls it — “a hunger for meaning and values in an age of freedom and plenty.”

In the past, American prosperity has been buoyed by the strength of its institutions: religious, civil, political, economic, and otherwise. But as writers such as Yuval Levin and Charles Murray have aptly outlined, the religious and institutional vibrancy that Alexis de Tocqueville once hailed appears to be dwindling, making the space between individual and state increasingly thin.

The revival and restoration of religious and civic life is essential if we hope to cultivate a free and virtuous society, occurring across spheres and sectors, from the family to business, from the church to political institutions.

Given the increasing attacks on religious liberty, Christian colleges and universities are standing particularly tall, even as they endure some of the highest heat. In a recent talk for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, David Brooks demonstrates the cultural importance of retaining that liberty, explaining how his recent experiences with Christian educational institutions have affirmed their role in weaving (or re-weaving) the fabric of American life. (Read his full remarks here.) (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
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First Worldwide Meta-Analysis Proves the Benefits of School Choice
Evan Smith, Opportunity Lives

Now a new study, the first-ever worldwide meta-analysis on the benefits or faults of providing school choice in relation to student success, has shown Friedman’s ideas to be systematically accurate.

In Louisiana, Private Disaster Relief Outperforms the Government
FEE

One of the greatest stories of the Louisiana flooding is how the people and free markets are playing a role in helping to both rescue people and deliver relief much quicker than the government.

Not Two Kingdoms, But Two Ages
Jonathan Leeman, TGC

Luther’s two kingdoms also divides the person between inner and outer, and places a spiritual government over one and a secular government over the other. But does the Bible divide things so cleanly?

Crimes and no punishment
The Economist

Violence is only one of the problems faced by Christians in Egypt.

Blog author: sstanley
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
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a-womans-place-9781476794099_hrThe PowerBlog welcomes Lisa Slayton with her review of A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World by Katelyn Beaty. Slayton joined Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation in 2005 to develop a leadership offering, the Leaders Collaborative, that integrated a biblical worldview with vocational discipleship and organizational effectiveness for the flourishing of our city. She became the President/CEO in 2012 and is passionate about moving faith/work/vocation from theory to praxis.

Imago Dei—male and female

By Lisa Slayton

Book Review: A Woman’s Place

In her book A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World, Katelyn Beaty does a masterful job of thoughtfully defining (or maybe re-defining) our understanding of who God created women to be and why their work in the world is essential to a flourishing economy.  She illustrates how cultural shifts over time created a view that women’s ability to create economic value for the human community was second-class work, and a diminishment of their feminity.  Even the church’s assimilation to these shifts have left women whom God gifted and called to the workforce feeling as though making money while female was not God honoring.

I’ll admit when my good friend and bookseller Byron Borger recently approached me with an “immediate must read” book called A Woman’s Place, I was skeptical. My experience over time has been that many Christian books about women in leadership, women and work, or what the bible has to say about women’s roles have left me frustrated and annoyed. (more…)

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

It’s a common misconception in public discourse that the global poor are trapped in poverty because of globalization.  We frequently hear things from our public leaders about how markets are crushing the poor.  “The reality is that the poor aren’t dominated by markets. They are excluded from them.” says Michael Matheson Miller in an article for The Stream.

Miller hits on four different problems and misconceptions of how international economic development is currently addressed.  He starts out by explaining how the current system benefits the wealthy and well-connected.

Many of the powerful and wealthy don’t have an economic incentive to build institutions of justice like clear title to land or broad access to the formal economy. They are doing well under the status quo and many of them are actually benefiting from the current situation through connections, access to special privileges, bribes and sweetheart deals on things like mineral rights.

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animal-humanEarlier this month the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it is planning to lift its ban on federal funding of some research that creates chimeras by injecting human stem cells into animal embryos. The policy change raises significant ethical concerns, both about the prudence of creating animal-human hybrids and legitimacy of using taxpayer funding for such controversial research.

Unfortunately, while many people are unfamiliar with the research, it is not a new development. Chinese scientists began in 2003 by fusing human cells with rabbit eggs to produce the first human-animal chimeras. And a few years later researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood in their veins and scientists at the University of Nevada created sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human.

Thankfully, some Christians have already helped lay the groundwork for how we should think about this research. Almost exactly a decade ago, Acton senior research fellow Jordan Ballor wrote a five part series presenting a biblical-theological case against the creation of certain kinds of human-animal chimeras: Part I, II, III, IV, V.

Christians can’t afford to ignore this issue for another decade, so take the time today to begin developing an informed opinion about this controversy.