Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

barred windowThis isn’t easy to read. It’s stomach-churning. But we must know our enemy, and ISIS is determined to destroy liberty, freedom, culture and families.

According to The Daily Beast, ISIS is holding girls and women for one of two purposes: to sell them or to destroy morale by raping and torturing them. These are mostly Yazidi women, being held in Iraq. Reports of what is happening in the prison in Mosul come from the women themselves. Some smuggled in cell phones; others have been forced to call their families by their ISIS captors so that the families can listen as the girl or woman is raped repeatedly.

Pakhshan Zangana, head of the High Council of Women’s Affairs for The Kurdish Regional Government Zangana, is literally pleading with the world for help, but every day the situation gets more and more desperate, and help seems further and further away. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

save-to-winPeople who play the lottery with an income of less than $20,000 annually spent an average of $46 per month on lottery tickets. That comes out to more than $550 per year and it is nearly double the amount spent in any other income bracket.

Those who have the least spend an inordinate percentage of their income every year on lottery tickets (estimates vary from 4-9 percent). Yet while it is irrational for those in poverty to waste their limited resources on a one in 176 million chance, there is something almost rational in the reasoning for doing so. In 2012, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson noted that,

For the desperately poor, lotteries perform a role not unlike the obverse of insurance. Rather than pay a small sum of money in exchange for the guarantee of protection that you’ll need in the future, you pay a small sum of money in exchange for the small probability that you’ll win money to help your lot right away. It is, for lack of a better term, a kind of aspirational insurance.

But what if the poor could pay a small sum to themselves (in the form of savings) and still reap the “aspirational insurance” benefits of the lottery? As the New York Times reports, some credit unions and non-profits are doing just that:
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev: No Winners in a World War
Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Breitbart

A century ago, the First World War began. On 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, then on 1 August, Germany declared war on Russia, and over the course of a few short days, several more world powers joined the conflict either on their own initiative or by needs.

Climate Change Costs By 2100: Doing Nothing Has the Same Price Tag as Doing Something
Ronald Bailey, Reason

Adapting to climate change would cost roughly the same as trying to slow it.

Spontaneous Charity Is Good; Thoughtful Charity Is Even Better
Jayme Metzgar, The Federalist

What’s better than the Ice Bucket Challenge? These six steps for thoughtful charity giving.

This map shows where slavery and forced labor are happening around the world
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

An estimated ~21-30m people are in slavery around the world, including forced labour, bonded labour, human trafficking and child slavery.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, September 1, 2014

India Christians Still Await Justice Six Years After Radical Hindu Attack
Anto Akkara, Aleteia

But Hindus and Muslim join Christians in solidarity march to mark anniversary.

Are Churches Being Crowded out of Poverty Alleviation Efforts?
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Prior to the Great Depression, most aid was provided through families, church communities, and other decentralized institutions. Today there are 126 separate and often overlapping government anti-poverty programs.

Thuggery wins, free speech rights lose
Eugene Volokh, Washington Post

Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. People who are willing to use violence to suppress speech will learn that such behavior is effective, at least when the police don’t come down particularly hard on the thuggery.

Many religions heavily concentrated in one or two countries
Conrad Hackett and Joseph Naylor, Pew Research Center

While Christians and Muslims are more widely distributed around the world, the other groups have a majority of their populations in just one or two nations, according to 2010 estimates from our Global Religious Landscape report.

ISSchk0825_280More than 100 million Americans are getting some form of “means-tested” welfare assistance, reports Investor’s Business Daily:

The Census Bureau found 51 million on food stamps at the end of 2012 and 83 million on Medicaid, with tens of millions of households getting both. Another 4 million were on unemployment insurance.

The percentage of American households on welfare has reached 35%. If we include other forms of government assistance such as Medicare and Social Security, almost half of all households are getting a check or other form of government assistance. The tipping point is getting closer and closer.

So much is shocking and dismaying about these numbers. How is it that the number of recipients and the price tag for many of these programs kept skyrocketing though the recession officially ended in 2009? Normally, you’d expect welfare caseloads to fall in a recovery as the unemployment rate dips, but this time welfare participation keeps expanding.

Read more . . .

Blog author: mvandermaas
posted by on Friday, August 29, 2014

On Tuesday, the Acton Institute welcomed Ron Blue to the Mark Murray Auditorium to deliver an address on the topic of “Perpetual Generosity.” In his lecture, Blue draws from his nearly 50 years in the financial services world, with 35 of those working almost exclusively with Christian couples, in order to lay out some basic principles and strategies for developing and wisely distributing wealth. Over this time, he has observed that those who are consistently generous over the long term exhibit three characteristics that have nothing to do with money: contentment, confidence, and the ability to communicate with each other, their children, and advisors if they use them.

Watch Blue’s full lecture below:

Blog author: johnteevan
posted by on Friday, August 29, 2014

In his August 24, 2014 syndicated column Scott Burns tells of a study by Dunn and Norton who give five principles for having “Happy Money.”

  1. Buy experiences not things: go to Chicago rather than buy a new stuff.
  2. Make it a treat: don’t keep ice cream in the house, make it special by anticipating going out every Tuesday night for ice cream.
  3. Buy time: we are “time poor” people so slow down and avoid expenditures that devour time.
  4. Pre-pay your vacation so you don’t worry about spending “all that money.”
  5. Invest in others: give gifts or cash or support someone on a ministry trip or hand out $20 when you feel like it.

These ideas will help remove the tendency to endless question of “Is this worth it?” Burns does not mention it, but giving money to church, mission, health, poverty, orphan care or directly to people in need is “Happy Money” as well.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Friday, August 29, 2014

get-your-hands-dirtyIn a review by Micah Watson of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) earlier this year at The Gospel Coalition, Watson described the book as “akin to a social event with heavy hors d’oevres served throughout the evening.”

There were, however, some offerings in this tapestry of tapas, so to speak, that Watson thought deserved an entree presentation. For instance, Watson wonders about distinguishing principle from prudence, a framework that runs throughout the book and broader Christian social thought. What distinguishes, for instance, the biblical view of marriage, abortion, and poverty and the various ways to respect these teachings in practice?

Thus, argues Watson,

Christians must often determine what the genuinely Christian position is in a given context, taking stands on particular issues and even legislation—as they did during the struggle to end racial segregation in the American civil rights movement or in affirming the Barmen Declaration in 1930s Germany. Exercising such discernment may or may not require identifying who is in and out of the tent, but it surely requires determining what moral stands constitute authentic Christian witness.

He goes on to observe that “a season of uncomfortable but necessary clarification will be necessary” in today’s world.

I’m happy to add a bit here to that season of clarification, or what might better be called a season of suffering for righteousness’ sake (1 Peter 3:14), a season of searing away the dross from our life and witness, which is just another name for sanctification.

How might this distinction between principle and prudence work out in particular cases?
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, August 29, 2014

Hobby Lobby without God
James Bruce, Library of Law and Liberty

The book is founded in a great hope: that religious believers can be persuaded that they have more in common with atheists than they may think, and vice versa.

Classical Education, Freedom, and the Ordered Soul
James V. Schall, S.J., Catholic World Report

Understanding is a spiritual thing, though rooted in really existing things, even ultimately in divine things.

Modern Bondage: Slavery is Very Much Alive Today
Mark Gordon, Aleteia

From Nigerian schoolgirls to sex trafficking in the US, the total number would fill California.

Poor Americans Need Hope, Not Stigma
Brandon Smith, The Federalist

Conservatives should fight for Americans struggling to get by, not stigmatize them.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, August 28, 2014

lego-people“Can you explain that important economic concept using Legos?”

Apparently, someone must have said that to Richard Reeves, an economist at the Brookings Institution economist, because he’s made a brief video using Legos to visualize social mobility.

There are two reasons I really appreciate this video. First, I love to see important economic issues explained in an accessible and entertaining manner. Second, as I’ve repeatedly said to anyone who will listen, social mobility — specifically getting people out of poverty — is infinitely more important than focusing income inequality, a topic that gets far too much attention nowadays.

The one drawback to the video is that it’s far too pessimistic. Yes, social mobility is still a huge problem. But the video makes clear, that social mobility is possible for almost all people. That has not been true for most of human history and it is not true in most parts of the world today.

Also, I am far less concerned with whether a person can go from the bottom quintile to the top as I am with going from the bottom quintile to the middle. Like many Americans, I was born in the bottom quintile and worked my way to the middle quintiles. The fact that I’m unlikely to ever join the top quintile is of absolutely no importance to may life. None at all. What we should care about is whether people can get out of poverty and flourish economically, not whether they can join Beyonce and Jay-Z in the billionaire’s club.

But those quibbles aside, I’m grateful this video is helping to spread the message about the importance of social mobility.