de Soto

de Soto

The work of Hernando de Soto has been followed closely for years at Acton and more recently at PovertyCure. See the 2001 interview “The Poor are the Solution, Not the Problem” in Religion & Liberty and a short film clip of de Soto talking about property rights and rule of law at PovertyCure. Search both sites and you’ll find much more. De Soto’s book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else is essential reading for those interested in his work and is available in the Acton book shop.

David Freddoso profiled de Soto earlier this week at Investor’s Business Daily.

Informality is a central concept in de Soto’s work on poverty. It describes the realm to which the Third World’s poorest are relegated — banished from their nations’ official economies to what he has called “the grubby basement of the precapitalist world.”

He argues that their exclusion — the product of a lack of enforceable property rights — holds back them and the entire world economy. It’s why capitalism, despite its triumph over communism and its wealth generation in America and Western Europe, has failed elsewhere. (more…)

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Fr. Matthew Baker

Alexis de Tocqueville, observing the young United States in the 1830s, wrote, “Wherever, at the head of a new undertaking, you see in France the government, and in England, a great lord, count on seeing in the United States, an association.” In the midst of recent tragedy — the untimely death of Fr. Matthew Baker, a Greek Orthodox priest killed in a car accident this past Sunday evening, leaving behind his wife and six children — it is a source of hope to see that this American associational persistence is still alive in the present.

Without hesitation, friends of Fr. Matthew set up a page at the crowd funding site gofundme, and they have already raised over $450,000 to support Presvytera Katherine and the children.

The loss of Fr. Matthew has been felt far beyond Orthodox Christian circles and close friends. Americans across the country, utilizing modern technology for this good work, have come together across confessional lines to help a family they have never personally known.

As for myself, I had only just begun to know Fr. Matthew. I regret that is all I can say. We both were contributors to Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and belong to a Facebook group related to our writing there. I had just spoken with him (via Facebook) the previous night, not even 24 hours before his death. (more…)

fairest of them allAny parent or teacher has heard the cry: “It’s not fair!” It can be a battle over who gets to ride in the front seat, who gets to stay up late, or who gets anything perceived as a special privilege. “Fairness” to children means, “I should get what I want.” Apparently, it’s the same with politicians.

Daniel Hannan, Conservative Member of the European Parliament (and last year’s speaker at Acton’s Annual Dinner) tackles “fairness” in terms of politics at CapX. Hannan knows that the word is “elastic” – it has come to mean anything from equality to entitlement to need. In today’s political realm, Hannan says, “fairness” is whatever one needs it to be:

It is used, rather, as a way to signal the speaker’s virtue. “I believe in fairness” has come, in politics, to mean “I am a kind and compassionate human being”. (more…)

ferguson-shootingSince last August, federal prosecutors and civil rights investigators have been investigating whether the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson was a civil rights violation. In an 86-page report released Wednesday, the Justice Department cleared the officer of any criminal wrongdoing or violation of civil rights in the shooting. Here are some highlights from that report.

• FBI agents independently canvassed more than 300 residences to locate and interview additional witnesses. Federal investigators also collected cell phone data, searched social media sites, and followed up on tips from citizens in order to investigate all sources of information. (p. 4)

• “The evidence, when viewed as a whole, does not support the conclusion that Wilson’s use of deadly were “objectively unreasonable” under the Supreme Court’s definition.” (p. 5)

• The investigation uncovered forensic evidence that confirms Brown reached into the police officer’s vehicle and punched and grabbed Wilson. Brown also grabbed Wilson’s firearm and attempted to wrestle control of it from the police officer, suffering a bullet wound to the hand during the altercation and leaving DNA evidence inside the vehicle. (p. 6).

• Brown was not shot in the back and there is no evidence he was shot while running away. Brown ran 180 feet away before turning back and advancing on Wilson. Wilson fired a total of 12 shots, 2 in the vehicle and 10 on the roadway, but only hit Brown 6-8 times, including the shot to the hand. Brown fell to the ground with his uninjured hand balled up in his waistband. (Wilson testified he thought Brown was reaching into his waistband for a weapon.) Evidence proves that Wilson did not touch Brown’s body after the shooting. (p. 7)

• All credible witnesses established that Brown was moving toward Wilson—“charging”, “moving slowly,” “running,” etc.—when he was shot. Although some witnesses state Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown as dropping his hands and “charging” Wilson. (p. 8)
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“Being Godly doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be wealthy. God makes no such guarantees in the Bible, so goodbye, prosperity gospel…[But] God clearly is not opposed to wealth in a kind of blanket way. He’s not even opposed, necessarily, to tremendous wealth, gobstopping amounts of money.” –Owen Strachan

In a lecture for The Commonweal Project at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Owen Strachan tackles the tough subject of whether it’s morally wrong for Christians to make lots of money. His answer: “No. But it could be.”

Although the unprecedented prosperity of the last century has been accompanied by unprecedented amounts of guilt and self-loathing, Strachan argues that “the focus of a true Biblical theology of wealth would be on how money is a gift from God.” Surely we need to be wary of the unique temptations that come with wealth, but when dedicated to, consecrated by, and stewarded in attentive obedience to God and the Holy Spirit, “it can be nothing less than an engine, a mighty engine, for spiritual good,” Strachan argues. (more…)

81W0J14jZsL“Christ followers are to see the world differently and have a different posture toward it. Rather than safety from or capitulation to the world, the grand narrative of Scripture describes instead a world we are called to live for. This world, Scripture proclaims, belongs to God, who then entrusted it to His image bearers. He created it good and loves it still, despite its brokenness and frustration.” –John Stonestreet & Warren Cole Smith

Through the new film series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, the Acton Institute has prompted a robust discussion on Christian cultural engagement, prodding Christians to stretch beyond our typical categories of fortification, domination, or accommodation, and instead toward an approach focused primarily on service and love.

How are we to be in the world but not of it? How do we seek the good of the city and serve our captors without compromising God’s truth? What is our salvation actually for?

In their forthcoming book, Restoring All Things, John Stonestreet and Warren Cole Smith explore these same questions and continue the conversation, calling Christians to reorient our attitudes, actions, and vocabulary around God’s “true story of the world.” For far too long, they argue, Christians have preferred the path of opposition (resisting, reacting, and rejecting) even though in Scripture, the most common “re” words have to do with what we are for (reconciling, redeeming, restoring). (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, March 5, 2015
By

On financial reform, Pope Francis doesn’t blink
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

By now, one thing ought to be abundantly clear about Pope Francis: Faced with attempts to hobble his reform efforts through character assassination of his reformers, this pope just doesn’t blink.

Surveillance and Care
Alan Jacobs, Snakes and Ladders

Another day, another story about the legal trouble you can expect if you’re a free-range parent. This matters, a lot, and what’s at stake needs to be made clear.

Where Have All The Unions Gone?
Rachel Lu, The Federalist

Unions are losing members and public sympathy, and instead of polishing off our ballads, we should ask why that’s happening.

Biblical Orthodoxy And The Disqualification Of Christians From Public Service
Nana Dolce, RAAN

Given recent events, does holding a orthodox biblical view automatically disqualify Christians from public service?

ArchieFrankensteinCover250The left’s war against genetically modified foods continues apace. Last week, the nonprofit Green America outfit boasted a victory over The Hershey Company, which has agreed to use “simpler ingredients” in its addictive Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars. Yes, “Frankenfood” fearers, the delicious GMO-derived sucrose of Hershey’s chocolate soon will be replaced with an identical product coincidentally known as sucrose.

Finally, the “Sugar, Sugar” bubblegum world imagined by The Archies in 1969 has been realized as “Sucrose, Sucrose.” You might still be my candy, girl, but you’ve got me wanting to lecture you in basic science and economics. Just as most candy Easter bunnies are only air wrapped in chocolate, the Green America triumph is a hollow victory. (more…)

M. Stanton Evans

Lovers of freedom lost a longtime ally this week with the passing of author, journalist and intellectual M. Stanton Evans at age 80. Stephen Hayward penned a remembrance of Evans at Powerline:

If you’ve never heard Stan’s deadpan midwestern baritone in person, you’ve missed a great treat, as it won’t come across anywhere near as well in pixels.  But all is not lost: there are supposedly some recordings of his greatest hits available on the Philadelphia Society website.  [There are also several great YouTube videos of Stan in action: just plug his name in to a YouTube search engine, and be prepared to grin.]  Stan’s specialty is using mordant irony against liberals.  He loves to throw liberal clichés over his shoulder.  Back in the 1960s he wrote, “Any country that can land a man on the moon, can abolish the income tax.”  Or he would shock liberals by saying, “I didn’t agree with what Joe McCarthy was trying to do, but I sure admired his methods.”

Back in 1995, the Acton Institute hosted Evans in Grand Rapids, Michigan and he delivered a lecture entitled “The Theme is Freedom,” which would also be the title of the book he was writing at the time. We’re pleased to provide you with the audio of his remarks from that September night as we too remember a friend and comrade in the fight for liberty.

Update: We’ve added the audio of M. Stanton Evans’ 1995 Acton Lecture Series address, including an introduction by Annette Kirk and the full Q and A session, to our digital download store. It’s available for purchase here.

acton-commentary-blogimage“What could possibly go wrong with a regulatory power grab by a government agency applying an 80-year-old law to the most dynamic and innovative aspect of the world’s economy?” asks Bruce Edward Walker in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The Federal Communications Commission last week voted along partisan lines for passage of network neutrality regulations. The first two attempts were both defeated in U.S. Circuit Court, and one hopes this third try meets the same fate.

The latest strategy deployed by the FCC is reclassification of the Internet from a Title I information service to a Title II communications service. Whereas Title I prescribes a light regulatory touch, Title II opens the floodgates for the agency to regulate as a utility all aspects of the Internet under the 1934 Communications Act. The 1934 law was devised specifically to police landline phones as common carriers with the unfortunate unforeseen consequence of establishing a decades-long telephone monopoly by creating significant barriers of entry for start-ups and smaller companies.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.