three feathers

Three Feathers

No doubt about it: hiring a convicted felon is a gamble. For someone out of prison, it can seem as if no one wants you. You’re too much of a risk.

Then someone takes that risk. And it changes everything.

For a man named Three Feathers, who had spent more than 28 years in either state or federal prisons, it meant a chance at life – literally. He told his employer that had he not been hired, he would have committed suicide. “I went everywhere,” Three Feathers said. “McDonald’s wouldn’t even hire me, dude.”

The man that took a chance on Three Feathers is Peter Asch, CEO of Twincraft Skincare in Vermont. (more…)

technology-lobbyingIn America we have a form of government in which power resides in a cadre of elected (and unelected) individuals who represent the interests of the citizens. Because of this structure, it is natural and necessary for people and groups to attempt to influence decisions made by government officials. After all, if we don’t tell our representatives what our interest are, how will they be able to represent our views?

This process, known as “lobbying”, is an organic function of our political way of life. But our representatives are human, and thus share the limitations common to all of us. Our representatives don’t have the time and attention to meet with and listen to each of us individually, so we form groups that lobby on our behalf. In this way we can pool our resources and leverage our individual power and influence at a relatively low cost to us.

The problem with this system is that it allows relatively small groups with adequate resources to lobby on behalf of their very narrow interest in a way that can be detrimental to the broader community. Large corporations, for example, once lobbied to reduce the regulatory burden on their industries. But many corporation realized they could gain a competitive advantage by lobbying for specific regulations that benefit their firm and hamstring their competitors.

That is why many corporations spend the GDP of a small nation on lobbying efforts. Since 2009, General Electric spent around $134 million on lobbying activities while AT&T spent $91.2 million and Boeing spent $90.3 million. Would for-profit corporations spend so much on influencing the goverment if it didn’t help their bottom line?

Surprisingly, this state of affairs is a relatively new phenomenon. Lee Drutman has a superb, in-depth examination of why business came to love lobbying and regulation and how it affects us all:
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google glassIn a thoughtful blog post from Andy Bannister, he discusses what happens when technology fails us. It’s not that the technology is “bad;” it is only the use of such technology that fails us.

Take Google Glass. At this point, they are really no more than an expensive toy. However, there are those who have a bigger vision for Google Glass.

Particular controversy has been caused because Google Glass comes equipped with a camera and that raises all manner of privacy issues. The US Congress actually sent a list of questions to Google, one of which was “Will it ship with facial recognition software?” Although Google replied “No”, other software developers have stepped into the gap. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, April 27, 2015
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550 Slaves Rescued in Indonesia: Time to Get Serious About Fighting Human Trafficking in Asia
Olivia Enos, The Daily Signal

An estimated 550 slaves were rescued from the remote Indonesian island Benjina late last week. The International Organization for Migration believes there are at least 4,000 men that have not yet been rescued and may be victims of human trafficking. Events in Benjina are a reminder that the fight against human trafficking in Asia is far from over

What You Should Know About The Armenian Genocide
Stella Morabito, The Federalist

Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide that killed 1.5 million Christians. Remembering is one way we can safeguard against such atrocities.

Why the ‘safe space’ movement is a liberal assault on freedom
Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week

Why worry about the exotic (and sometimes silly) life of a college campus? Well, it matters because future elites — who will set the norms and tone of our institutions of power — are coming of age in this intellectual stew.

Roepke and von Mises: The Difference
Ralph Ancil, The Imaginative Conservative

Since Roepke was an Austrian economist and former student of Mises, it appears to be assumed that, aside from small differences arising from individuality, they are in agreement on all important matters. Nothing could be more incorrect.

In this video, Richard Hovannisian, professor emeritus of Armenian and Near Eastern History at the University of California, Los Angeles, explains the Armenian Genocide.

Today is April 24, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, which is held annually to commemorate the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 by Ottoman Turks. It is also the official remembrance of the centennial of the campaign of human and cultural destruction. Here are more reflections and news items:

Message of HH Karekin II at the Canonization of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Church — Mother See of Etchmiadzin

The martyrs of the Genocide today, in the luminous chambers of the kingdom of heaven, bearing the crowns of martyrdom, are the patron saints of justice, philanthropy and peace; whose intercession from heaven opens the source of God’s mercy and graces wherever justice is weakened, the tranquility and security of peace is disturbed, where human rights and the rights of people are trampled, threats arise against the welfare of societies, and persecutions against faith and identity are fanaticized.


The courage to call genocide what it is: Recalling the Armenian slaughter, 100 years later

Robert Morganthau, New York Daily News

In 1939, when Hitler was explaining the rationale for wiping out the Polish people in order to take over their land, he asked, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” If there had been a greater outcry and condemnation from the international community, perhaps Hitler would not have been so encouraged to proceed with his plans.

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Acton’s Communication’s Specialist, Elise Hilton, recently penned an op-ed for the Detroit News on human trafficking. She argues that not only is it bigger than people realize, but it’s happening in Acton’s home, Michigan.

The facts are grim:

Michigan’s proximity to the Canadian border and waterways increases the likelihood of trafficking in our state.

Michigan truck stops and hotels are used for sex trafficking.

Major events such as ArtPrize and the North American International Auto Show are also major draws for sex trafficking in Michigan.

Michigan agriculture, manufacturing and construction businesses attract labor trafficking.

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California RaisinsA policy started during FDR’s New Deal is being used today by the federal government to steal raisins from farmers. And the implications could lead to government theft of a wide range of personal property.

During the New Deal era, Congress gave the USDA the authority to take raisins from farmers without compensation. Actually, the USDA was given the authority to steal a variety of agricultural products—including almonds, walnuts, and cherries—and keep them in a government-controlled “reserve” to prevent them from being sold in U.S. markets. But while many of the other reserves faded away, the government continues to steal raisins from farmers—and claims it’s allowed to do so for because the theft benefits the farmer.

The stolen raisins are given to the Raisin Administrative Committee, a California-based organization made up of industry representatives, which is allowed to sell off some of those reserve raisins to pay its own expenses and to promote raisins overseas. Many raisin farmers are fine with the price-fixing cartel. But not everyone is taking the theft lightly.

Marvin Horne is one farmer that has refused to surrender his raisins to the government. Because of his refusal to allow his crops to be taken without compensation Horne “owes” hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and over 1 million pounds of his crops to the federal government.

Horne’s challenge to the law, Horne v. US Department of Agriculture, was heard this week before the Supreme Court. He is arguing the taking of his property without compensation is a violation of the Fifth Amendment, while the government is claiming they can take personal property without compensating the owner. More broadly, the government is arguing they have the ability to take a broad range of personal property—from raisins to iPhones from Americans without compensation. A lower court has agreed, ruling that while the Fifth Amendment protects private property it does not apply to personal property.

In this video, legal scholar Ilya Somin explains the broad implications of this ridiculous form of government theft.
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, April 24, 2015
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How Christianity invented children
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn’t exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.

To Protect Religious Freedom, Republicans Attempt Historic Move Against D.C.
Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

A powerful congressional committee last night passed a measure to kill one of two controversial pieces of legislation from taking effect in the District of Columbia, moving closer to acting out a historic power play against a bill that critics believe infringes on religious liberty.

How to Be Productive According to the Bible
Kevin Halloran, Unlocking the Bible

The Bible contains truth that applies to all of life and has a tremendous amount to say about how we live our lives and work our jobs. The Bible’s view of work and productivity is vastly different from our culture’s view.

Obama urged to act as slaughter of Christians escalates
Susan Crabtree, Washington Examiner

Activists and elected officials are urging President Obama to stop slow-walking his response to the slaughter of Christians throughout the Middle East.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, April 23, 2015
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Subsidiarity is often described as a norm calling for the devolution of power or for performing social functions at the lowest possible level. At the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa, Rev. Robert Sirico told a story about stickball that illustrates how the concept of subsidiarity applies in our neighborhoods.

(Via: Cardus)

HUMAN_TRAFFICKING_8705943What is the story with the human trafficking bill?

The recent human trafficking bill, officially known as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, was originally introduced in in the Senate on January 2015 by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). The bill had 34 cosponsors in the Senate, 13 Democrats and 21 Republicans (Sen. Barbara Boxer initially signed on as a cosponsor but withdrew her support a day later.) However, after initially supporting the bill, Democrats launched a filibuster because of language in the bill related to abortion.

In response, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch until the trafficking bill made it out of the Senate. After weeks of negotiations, a bipartisan agreement was reached and the bill was put up for a vote, passing unopposed (99-0).

Why did the Democrats oppose the bill?

Senate Democrats—including ten of the cosponsors—filibustered the bill to prevent it coming up for a vote after learning of opposition by abortion rights groups, such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood. The abortion lobby opposed the bill because it included the Hyde amendment, an addition routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976 which bans federal funding of abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

According to NPR, Democrats said restrictions on abortions should apply to only taxpayer money, and that the fund created by the trafficking measure was not taxpayer money because it’s collected from fines on people convicted of sex-trafficking crimes. A deal was later reached which would allow the criminal fines to be used for victim services unrelated to health. The money related to the bill used for health services would still be subjected to the Hyde amendment.

As NPR’s Alisa Chang says, “both sides can say they won. Republicans can say no part of the fund pays for abortions. Democrats can say the Hyde Amendment was never expanded to apply to non-taxpayer money.”

What does the trafficking act do?
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