Milton-Friedman-Pic-750x400Aristotle has often been described as the philosopher of common sense. Similarly, Milton Friedman, who would have been 103 years old today, could be described as the economist of common sense. Friedman’s writings are often so clear and straightforward (unusual for modern economists) that when reading him you often find yourself wondering how anyone could disagree. Even the uber-liberal Paul Krugman, admits that Friedman was “One of the most important economic thinkers of all time…”

In honor of his birthday, here are six quotes by Friedman on freedom and economics:
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Blog author: bwalker
Friday, July 31, 2015
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Sisters Of Loretto Divest From Fossil Fuels, Cite Pope’s Encyclical
Antonia Blumberg, Huffington Post

The Sisters of Loretto, a Kentucky-based Catholic community, are joining a growing movement of religious groups taking a stand for the environment. The sisters voted unanimously during their July assembly meeting to divest from fossil fuels, citing Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical on the environment.

Jeb Bush says human activity contributes to climate change, calls for GOP to ‘embrace science’
Scott Sutton, Sun Times Network

“The climate is changing, whether men are doing it or not,” Bush said during that speech, adding that he remained “a little skeptical” about taking advice about climate change from Pope Francis, who was just days away from releasing his climate change encyclical at the time.

The time for resisting change in the Church is over
Michael Sainsbury, UCA News

Asked for the reason, he said: “I cannot give one coherent reason for this, but I was talking to a Buddhist monk recently in Chiang Mai and he had the same message. He sees a decline in vocations to the monkhood, especially in the cities. “He gave similar reasons to what I have heard among our religious, such as an increase of consumerism, rise of secularism, the culture of the cities and what our superior general calls the ‘globalisation of superficiality’. Also, of course, families are smaller, opportunities are greater and there are more distractions.”

Here’s a trick to break through climate change apathy
Tom Jacobs, The Week

The economic frame was crafted to emphasize either fairness, much like the message of Pope Francis in his recent encyclical (“Unless we do something about climate change, there will be dire consequences for the poor”), or the direct harm that will be done to our own nation (“The United States will incur large costs”).

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We’ve seen lots of commentary on the lopsided outrage over the inhumane death of Cecil the Lion — how the incident has inspired far higher levels of fervor and indignation than the brutal systemic barbarism of the #PPSellsBabyParts controversy or the tragically unjust murder of Samuel Dubose.

At first, I was inclined to shrug off this claim, thinking, “You can feel pointed grief about one while still feeling empathy about the other.” Or, “the facts of the Cecil case are perhaps clearer to more people.” Or, “How can we be sure this imbalance actually exists?”

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But alas, the social media rants and media (non-)developments of the past few days have only continued to confirm that the reaction we are witnessing is, indeed, stemming from some kind of distorted social, moral, and spiritual imagination. This isn’t just about what is or isn’t bubbling up in the news cycle. It’s about what’s brewing, and in some cases, festering deep inside our hearts. (more…)

loan treeThere are three possible futures for American Evangelicalism. These diverse destinies depend upon the moral, social and theological convictions of the communities and leaders of the different streams. They also represent patterns found in three centuries of American Evangelical history. These futures will also determine whether or not particular communities flourish economically and socially.

American Evangelicalism has never been a uniform subculture. The term “Evangelical” denotes adherents of historic Christian faith within a Protestant ethos.

Remembering the Past

Synthesizing the insights of historians George Marsden and Mark Noll, the Awakenings that gave shape to the Evangelical ethos between 1730 and 1840 focused on five key attributes: (1) Biblical authority and inspiration, (2) affirmation of historic creedal theology, (3) the necessity of personal conversion, (4) commitment to local and global evangelization/missions, and (5) integration of personal piety and public charity and engagement in making the world a better place.

Integrating personal faith with deliberate generosity of material and spiritual resources for the common good was normal discipleship for Evangelicals. John Wesley, founder of the Methodists, eschewed any separation of piety and public charity, insisting that members develop relationships with the recipients of their largesse. He also commended entrepreneurship and hard work, enjoining friends to “earn, save, and give” in proper proportion.

The three reactions mentioned above have their origins in the 18th century. One group resisted change and rejected the affective experiences of renewed believers and their insistence that their ministers display sufficient enthusiasm and fidelity to Scripture. These were the “Old Lights.” They eventually split into two camps, with some retaining historic creedal faith and others embracing Deism and/or Unitarianism as the Enlightenment calls for eschewing old superstitions gave way to modern scientific understanding.

By 1800, reactions to change are established: (1) retrenchment and rejection of new experiences and ideas, (2) revision of the faith itself, including questioning cardinal doctrines, and (3) renewal leading to reform and revival of biblical faith. (more…)

U.S. Terracycle office, photo courtesy of BBC

U.S. Terracycle office, photo courtesy of BBC

Starting a business is a risky undertaking. You need money, a product or service people want and away to deliver that product or service that keeps some of that money in your pocket. For social entrepreneurs, the  stakes are even higher: their goal is to do something good while making money.

Tom Szaky of TerraCycle is quite clear: “I want to make a lot money doing good.” And he just may do it. TerraCycle has been based in the U.S. for 13 years, but Szaky and his family fled communist Hungary when he was very young. The ended up first in Holland, then Canada, then the U.S. One thing that struck young Szaky and his father was the amount of “good stuff” people threw out:

In Hungary back then, you needed a licence for a TV set,” he explains.

You couldn’t just go and buy one. Instead, after applying for a licence maybe a year later you’d get a black and white TV, and you’d get the one state channel.

Tom says: “Only a few years later we end up in Canada where every Friday my dad and I would drive round and see mountains of TVs thrown out of every apartment buildings. (more…)

Bill McKibben’s New York Review of Books essay on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, has prompted two previous posts by your author (here and here). Working through the review has helped identify McKibben’s affinity for liberation theology and his outlandish claim that Pope Francis shares this affinity.

In the The Wall Street Journal, Lord Lawson, former Great Britain Secretary of State for Energy, Chancellor of the Exchequer and current chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, reviews Ronald Bailey’s most recent work, The End of Doom. Lawson favorably compares Bailey’s book to Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (high praise indeed). Much of the material Lawson recounts in his review directly refutes McKibben and, to a lesser extent, Pope Francis. The world, according to Bailey, Ridley and Lawson, and contrary to McKibben, is a much better place for the poor than it was a half-decade ago – largely attributable to technological advancements and the midwife who made it possible: capitalism.

Ronald Bailey begs to differ. As his book demonstrates, a careful examination of the evidence shows that, at least in material terms (which is not unimportant, particularly for the world’s poor), life is getting better. The overriding reason for this, according to Mr. Bailey, is continuing technological progress, facilitated—and this is crucial—by the global triumph of market capitalism.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 31, 2015
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Pharmacy owners cannot cite religion to deny medicine -U.S. appeals court
Dan Levine, Reuters

Throughout human history, people of all cultures have sought freedom. Some have emphasized inner spiritual or emotional freedom, and others freedom from external restraints, such as slavery or political freedom.

Why Congress Won’t Defund Planned Parenthood
Dustin Siggins, The Federalist

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, takes money for baby body parts, but stopping this atrocity, let alone taxpayer funding for it, will take more than the proposals at hand.

Human trafficking: The lives bought and sold
BBC

Millions of men, women and children around the world are currently victims of human trafficking – bought and sold as commodities into prostitution and forced labour.

Chinese Communists Losing the War Against Christianity
The American Interest

Communists in China increasingly realize that the war against religion as such is a losing proposition, and are now looking to support “indigenous” Chinese religions and traditions—Confucianism, Buddhism, Chinese folk religions—against both Christianity and Islam, seen as dangerous imports with potentially destabilizing effects, and “new religions” like the cult of Falun Gong.

360_vatican_bankPope Francis hasn’t been shy about showing his disdain for capitalism and. During his recent trip to Latin America, for example, the pontiff said the the unfettered capitalism is “the dung of the devil.”

Like many others, I’ve complained that the pope is presenting a distorted, incomplete, and naive view of capitalism. But to his credit, Francis has vowed to consider these reactions before his trip the U.S. this September. “I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States. I must begin studying these criticisms, no?” he said. “Then we shall dialogue about them.”

That dialogue is welcome, though most people aren’t expecting a radical shift in Pope Francis’s views of economics. But what if they did change? What if not only the pope but also the entire Catholic Church embraced free enterprise and free markets?

It may seem unlikely, but it wasn’t that long ago the Catholic Church took the side of repressive and authoritarian regimes over religious liberty. That changed largely because of the United States showed how religious benefited Christians. As Judge John Noonan has observed, “the Declaration on Religious Freedom would not have come into existence without the American contribution and the experiment that began with Madison.”

At Mirror of Justice, Greg Sisk argues that just as the Catholic Church discovered the virtues of religious liberty, eventually the church will appreciate the charisma of democratic capitalism:
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On Tuesday, I dealt with approximately the first third of Bill McKibben’s New York Review of Books’ essay on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical. Today, I review the middle third, which includes McKibben’s alarming defense of liberation theology and his claim that this discredited ideology is embraced by Pope Francis.

McKibben continues to read into Laudato Si things that simply aren’t there. For example, he depicts oil companies as inherently rapacious when compared to native peoples.

Even more striking, in this regard, is his steadfast defense of “indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed,” because for them land “is a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values.” Compare that attitude with, say, the oil companies now destroying aboriginal land in order to mine Canada’s tar sands.

Never mind that the First Nation people who lived in the bituminous-rich area of what is now Alberta, Canada, found plentiful use for the oil sands McKibben disparages. And well before white settlers. Then this:

But the pope is just as radical, given current reality, when he insists on beauty over ugliness.

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Today, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called for supporting just wage public policies. While the religious leaders genuinely concern for the poor, they display a deep lack of understanding of basic economic principles, namely the law of supply and demand. Supply and demand directly determines the price (wages) of labor. A price higher than the market price leads not to higher wages, but higher unemployment. Read this article for a more detailed discussion of the ill-effects of minimum wage laws.