Blog author: jcarter
Friday, September 30, 2016
By

House OKs Plan for $170 Million to Fix Flint Water System
Alan Fram, Associated Press

The House easily approved an election-year plan Wednesday to provide $170 million to help Flint, Michigan, rebuild its lead-poisoned water system, as Congress moved toward addressing a public health catastrophe that became an acrimonious partisan dispute.

What Makes a Company “Christian”?
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

What we need to be focusing on is not whether we have Christian businesses, but whether we have Christian businessmen who integrate their convictions and principles with their work.

What Americans Think of What Evangelicals Think of Religious Liberty
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today

On two of three contentious issues at the intersection of religious liberty and nondiscrimination concerns, Americans remain evenly divided.

UNICEF says 75,000 children could die in Nigeria hunger crisis
Reuters

Famine-like conditions in the former stronghold of Boko Haram militants in northeast Nigeria could kill 75,000 children over the next year if they do not receive aid, the United Nations children’s agency said on Thursday.

A new collection of essays titled Christianity and Freedom: Historical Perspectives edited by Samuel Shah and Allen D. Hertzke explores the ways that Christian beliefs and institutions have made contributions to the freedoms that are cherished by both Christians and non-Christians today.

Acton Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, recently gave his analysis of this new collection of essays in a book review published at Public Discourse.  Gregg begins his review by recognizing that while Christians have played a huge role in bringing about religious freedom there have also been many occasions when Christians have been persecutors.  He says:

Any discussion of freedom and Christianity quickly surfaces the numerous instances in which Christians have undermined human liberty. Reference is invariably made to the various Inquisitions, the witch trials conducted by Puritans, forced conversions, and other instances of intolerance.

A particular strength of this collection of essays is that none of the authors denies that Christians and Christian institutions have on many occasions violated the rightful freedoms of others. This frank acknowledgment, however, is accompanied by an argument that permeates many of the papers: that it was, for the most part, Christianity that provided the moral, theological, and cultural principles upon which Christians and others have drawn to condemn unjust coercion. In other words, people have relied, consciously or otherwise, on Christian resources to identify and correct violations of freedom, including those committed in the name of the Christian faith. This suggests that liberalism by itself did not—and perhaps never could—generate the conceptual tools needed for this type of critique.

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 29, 2016
By

While many Christians have undermined human liberty, says Samuel Gregg, the Director of Research for Acton, a new book of essays shows just how much of our contemporary freedom we owe to the Christian church, Christian thinkers, and Christian practice rather than liberals and liberalism.

Any discussion of freedom and Christianity quickly surfaces the numerous instances in which Christians have undermined human liberty. Reference is invariably made to the various Inquisitions, the witch trials conducted by Puritans, forced conversions, and other instances of intolerance.

A particular strength of this collection of essays is that none of the authors denies that Christians and Christian institutions have on many occasions violated the rightful freedoms of others. This frank acknowledgment, however, is accompanied by an argument that permeates many of the papers: that it was, for the most part, Christianity that provided the moral, theological, and cultural principles upon which Christians and others have drawn to condemn unjust coercion. In other words, people have relied, consciously or otherwise, on Christian resources to identify and correct violations of freedom, including those committed in the name of the Christian faith. This suggests that liberalism by itself did not—and perhaps never could—generate the conceptual tools needed for this type of critique.

Read more . . .

In the recent presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton disagreed on nearly everything. But there is one thing they both oppose: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Here is what you should know about the agreement and why it matters in the election.

tpp-mappWhat is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Five years in the making, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement between the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, and New Zealand. The twelve countries in this agreement comprise roughly 40 percent of global G.D.P. and one-third of world trade.

The purpose of the agreement, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, is to “enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs.” The agreement could create a new single market for goods and services between these countries, similar to what exists between European countries.

What exactly is a trade agreement?

A trade agreement is a treaty between two or more countries that reduces or eliminates barriers to free trade, such as taxes, tariffs, quotas, or trade restrictions. Three of the most common types of trade agreements the U.S. is involved with are Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFAs), and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).

The United States has FTAs in effect with 20 countries. These tend to be expansions or additions to other agreements, such as World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement. TIFAs provide frameworks for governments to discuss and resolve trade and investment issues at an early stage while BITs help protect private investment, develop market-oriented policies in partner countries, and promote U.S. exports.

Which goods and services are affected?
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 29, 2016
By

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
By

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.”
(more…)

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.