Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Does welfare policy discourage marriage?

Means-tested benefits in well-meaning welfare policies are negatively impacting the institution of marriage these days.

Land Everywhere and Not a Place to Live
Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution

Land use regulations raise prices, reduce mobility and increase income inequality in the United States. In many parts of the developing world, however, the situation is worse, much worse.

A Miami judge rules that bitcoin isn’t money
Ian Kar, Quartz

Sorry bitcoiners, the US court system doesn’t think your digital currency is real money.

America’s Economy Is Cartelized, Corrupt, and Anti-Competitive
David P. Goldman, First Things

It surely is the case that the old Reagan message has less purchase now than it did a quarter-century ago. The word “entrepreneurship” hardly was spoken during the recent Republican primaries. That is disturbing, because the empirical evidence argues strongly that today’s capitalism is more “clotted” and more “complacent” than at any time for which we have data.

img-church-stained-glass.tmb-16x9largeWhy is political speech in churches back in the news?

During his speech at the recent Republican National Convention, Donald Trump said, “An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.”

The new GOP platform also says the “federal government, specifically the IRS, is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring speech based on religious convictions or beliefs” and urges the repeal of the so-called “Johnson Amendment.”

What is the Johnson Amendment?

In 1954, Senator Lyndon Johnson was running for reelection in his home state of Texas and faced a primary challenge from a millionaire rancher-oilman. A non-profit conservative political group published material recommending voting for Johnson’s challenger. To get back at this group, Johnson subsequently introduced an amendment to Section 501(c)(3) that would prohibit tax-exempt organizations from attempting to influence political campaigns. The present ban is codified in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

What does the law say?

One and Indivisible is a new collection of essays on the connection between religious and economic liberty. Those who regard freedom as essential should uphold the importance of both religious and economic liberty; these essays dig deeper in search of an essential connection or natural interplay between the two.

Now on sale in the Acton Book Shop

Now on sale in the Acton Book Shop

One and Indivisible connects both freedoms as complimentary and symbiotic. Richards discovers a “virtuous cycle” between religious and economic freedom. Michael Novak traces the foundations of each through the American natural rights tradition, finding that economic liberty is both a product of and a supporter of religious freedom.

The book successfully connects the foundations of economic and religious freedom with the challenges society faces today, in the United States and abroad. Especially timely are Jay Richards’ examination of the threat to religious freedom posed by the loss of economic liberty in the Affordable Care Act and Cardinal Joseph Zen’s exploration of the paradox of high economic freedom and low religious freedom in China.

Later in the collection, a case is made for the strength of the symbiosis of religious and economic freedom in combating poverty and restoring an anthropological understanding of private property. A key thought echoed by each essayist is the ability of Christian anthropology to undergird poverty alleviation, natural law, and conclusively economic development. At the end of her essay, “Faith and Freedom and the Escape from Poverty,” Anielka Münkel Olson wraps the ideas of economic flourishing and religion together by quoting St. John Paul II in his address to the United Nations: (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How Government Cronies Redefined the Catfish
Veronique de Rugy,

An industry clamored for more regulation—because it had a financial interest in doing so.

TANF and Two-Parent Families
Shawn Fremstad, Family Studies

There is little reason to think TANF is providing assistance to most struggling two-parent families.

Staking the Dracula of School Choice Myths
Jason Bedrick, FEE

The myth that there’s no evidence that school choice works has more lives than Dracula.

Judge rules birth control mandate violates religious rights
David Lieb, Associated Press

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Missouri lawmaker who cited religious objections while challenging the inclusion of birth control coverage in his government-provided health insurance.

Picture of Mississippi governor who signed HB 1523 into law. A federal judge recently struck down the law. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture

Picture of Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, who signed HB 1523 into law. A federal judge recently struck down the law. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture

Late last month, a federal judge declared Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” (HB 1523) unconstitutional. In response, legal scholar and libertarian Richard Epstein discussed issues of religious freedom and anti-discrimination initiatives on the latest episode of the Hoover Institution’s podcast, The Libertarian.

The Mississippi law was written to protect those with specific religious objections on issues of marriage, sexual acts outside of marriage, and gender. The law would give people with the specified views the state-protected right to act on these views in business dealings and in roles as administrators. Anti-discrimination LGBT groups argued that the law allows unconstitutional discrimination, and the judge agreed, striking down the law under the Equal Protection Clause. The judge also ruled that the law violated the Establishment Clause because it favored some religious beliefs over others. The case represents one of many recent clashes between freedom of conscience and anti-discrimination laws.

Epstein rejects the judge’s ruling as both legally misguided and finds error in the underlying understanding of tolerance.


See more at:

On sale now at the Acton Book Store

The role of economic liberty in contributing to human flourishing and the common good remains deeply underappreciated, even by those who are dedicated to religious liberty.

Samuel Gregg

Gregg is a contributor of One and Indivisible: The Relationship Between Religious and Economic Freedom, on sale now in the Acton Book Shop. Compiled by Kevin Schmiesing, the book contains 13 essays from highly acclaimed authors, speakers, and religious leaders, including Michael Matheson Miller, Anielka Münkel Olson, and Michael Novak. The essays describe the major events and trends that inspired an ambitious three-year program of conferences organized by the Acton Institute designed to bring a wide variety of scholars together to discuss one important theme: What is the relationship between economic and religious freedom? (more…)

Throughout his presidential campaign Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mexico is “killing us on trade” because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

This metaphor of trade as war or conflict is a common trope among leftists. But is it true? Are Americans harmed by trade deficits?

As Johan Norberg explains this notion is “dead wrong.” And to see why we just have to look at the iPhone.