The Black Book of CommunismLord Acton’s famous dictum, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” has been proven true time and time again throughout history, most vividly in totalitarian systems. The worldwide destruction caused by communism is perhaps the prime example.

According to The Black Book of Communism, communist regimes, inspired by Marxist-Leninist ideology, are responsible for nearly 100 million deaths (and counting). However, in contemporary times there seems to be a tendency to ignore this reality. In The Daily Beast article, “Communism’s Victims Deserve a Museum,” James Kirchchick highlights a popular sentiment about communism: “Communism is an excellent idea in theory, it just hasn’t worked in practice.”

A turn through the pages of history, however, to the true tyranny of former communist regimes: gulags, executions, forced famines, and destruction of religious freedom, may cause one to question this optimistic and lighthearted view.

In an effort to expose the inhumanity of communism, the Acton Institute will host a lecture event on November 6th featuring Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, and the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art’s education committee chair, Luba Markewycz. The event will place particular focus on the “Holodomor,” the brutal man-made famine imposed on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin’s Communist regime. Markewycz will share her exhibit, “Holodomor Through the Eyes of a Child: The Famine Remembered,” composed of artwork created by contemporary children throughout Ukraine. Gregg will discuss the historical context and the ways in which the Holodomor amounted to an assault on human dignity and basic individual liberties. More details will follow.

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Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Captured Iraqi soldiers under ISIS control

Captured Iraqi soldiers under ISIS control

A second reporter has been killed by ISIS, Steven Sotloff. Women are being sold off as “brides.” Teen girls are raped repeatedly. Thousands are murdered. There are plenty of news reports, but in some quarters, the silence is deafening.

Kathryn Jean Lopez asks what can we do, what must we do, in the face of evil, at National Review Online.

I don’t want to have on my conscience that I was complicit in something as horrendous as this simply by being quiet,” is how Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., reflected on the persecution being conducted against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria — which are far enough away from the U.S. that we mostly go on with our lives, perhaps without even a thought or a prayer.

The President plays golf, Beyoncé is applauded for her “women’s power” performance that is laden with sexual imagery, we worry about our favorite celebrities as their nude photos get leaked. And people die. En masse. For their faith, for where they live, for their willingness to say “I believe” when someone with a sword demands they recant. (more…)

fast-food-strikeWould you be in favor of a pay increase of 107 percent for your current job?

Most of us would be thrilled at having our pay more than double, and would readily support such a change. Imagine if all that was required was to vote for your industry to become unionized. Who wouldn’t support unionization if it resulted in a bigger paycheck?

But what if the change came with one caveat: If the pay increase were approved you’d not only lose your job, you’d no longer be qualified to work in the same industry. Would you still support the pay increase if it cost you your job?

That’s the choice a lot of food-service workers face—though few understand the true implications of their decision. Most fast-food workers going on strike for higher wages simply believe they are deserving of more money and aren’t aware of the basic economic factors that could cause them to become unemployable.
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barred windowThis isn’t easy to read. It’s stomach-churning. But we must know our enemy, and ISIS is determined to destroy liberty, freedom, culture and families.

According to The Daily Beast, ISIS is holding girls and women for one of two purposes: to sell them or to destroy morale by raping and torturing them. These are mostly Yazidi women, being held in Iraq. Reports of what is happening in the prison in Mosul come from the women themselves. Some smuggled in cell phones; others have been forced to call their families by their ISIS captors so that the families can listen as the girl or woman is raped repeatedly.

Pakhshan Zangana, head of the High Council of Women’s Affairs for The Kurdish Regional Government Zangana, is literally pleading with the world for help, but every day the situation gets more and more desperate, and help seems further and further away. (more…)

save-to-winPeople who play the lottery with an income of less than $20,000 annually spent an average of $46 per month on lottery tickets. That comes out to more than $550 per year and it is nearly double the amount spent in any other income bracket.

Those who have the least spend an inordinate percentage of their income every year on lottery tickets (estimates vary from 4-9 percent). Yet while it is irrational for those in poverty to waste their limited resources on a one in 176 million chance, there is something almost rational in the reasoning for doing so. In 2012, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson noted that,

For the desperately poor, lotteries perform a role not unlike the obverse of insurance. Rather than pay a small sum of money in exchange for the guarantee of protection that you’ll need in the future, you pay a small sum of money in exchange for the small probability that you’ll win money to help your lot right away. It is, for lack of a better term, a kind of aspirational insurance.

But what if the poor could pay a small sum to themselves (in the form of savings) and still reap the “aspirational insurance” benefits of the lottery? As the New York Times reports, some credit unions and non-profits are doing just that:
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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev: No Winners in a World War
Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Breitbart

A century ago, the First World War began. On 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, then on 1 August, Germany declared war on Russia, and over the course of a few short days, several more world powers joined the conflict either on their own initiative or by needs.

Climate Change Costs By 2100: Doing Nothing Has the Same Price Tag as Doing Something
Ronald Bailey, Reason

Adapting to climate change would cost roughly the same as trying to slow it.

Spontaneous Charity Is Good; Thoughtful Charity Is Even Better
Jayme Metzgar, The Federalist

What’s better than the Ice Bucket Challenge? These six steps for thoughtful charity giving.

This map shows where slavery and forced labor are happening around the world
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

An estimated ~21-30m people are in slavery around the world, including forced labour, bonded labour, human trafficking and child slavery.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, September 1, 2014
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India Christians Still Await Justice Six Years After Radical Hindu Attack
Anto Akkara, Aleteia

But Hindus and Muslim join Christians in solidarity march to mark anniversary.

Are Churches Being Crowded out of Poverty Alleviation Efforts?
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Prior to the Great Depression, most aid was provided through families, church communities, and other decentralized institutions. Today there are 126 separate and often overlapping government anti-poverty programs.

Thuggery wins, free speech rights lose
Eugene Volokh, Washington Post

Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. People who are willing to use violence to suppress speech will learn that such behavior is effective, at least when the police don’t come down particularly hard on the thuggery.

Many religions heavily concentrated in one or two countries
Conrad Hackett and Joseph Naylor, Pew Research Center

While Christians and Muslims are more widely distributed around the world, the other groups have a majority of their populations in just one or two nations, according to 2010 estimates from our Global Religious Landscape report.

ISSchk0825_280More than 100 million Americans are getting some form of “means-tested” welfare assistance, reports Investor’s Business Daily:

The Census Bureau found 51 million on food stamps at the end of 2012 and 83 million on Medicaid, with tens of millions of households getting both. Another 4 million were on unemployment insurance.

The percentage of American households on welfare has reached 35%. If we include other forms of government assistance such as Medicare and Social Security, almost half of all households are getting a check or other form of government assistance. The tipping point is getting closer and closer.

So much is shocking and dismaying about these numbers. How is it that the number of recipients and the price tag for many of these programs kept skyrocketing though the recession officially ended in 2009? Normally, you’d expect welfare caseloads to fall in a recovery as the unemployment rate dips, but this time welfare participation keeps expanding.

Read more . . .

On Tuesday, the Acton Institute welcomed Ron Blue to the Mark Murray Auditorium to deliver an address on the topic of “Perpetual Generosity.” In his lecture, Blue draws from his nearly 50 years in the financial services world, with 35 of those working almost exclusively with Christian couples, in order to lay out some basic principles and strategies for developing and wisely distributing wealth. Over this time, he has observed that those who are consistently generous over the long term exhibit three characteristics that have nothing to do with money: contentment, confidence, and the ability to communicate with each other, their children, and advisors if they use them.

Watch Blue’s full lecture below:

Blog author: johnteevan
Friday, August 29, 2014
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In his August 24, 2014 syndicated column Scott Burns tells of a study by Dunn and Norton who give five principles for having “Happy Money.”

  1. Buy experiences not things: go to Chicago rather than buy a new stuff.
  2. Make it a treat: don’t keep ice cream in the house, make it special by anticipating going out every Tuesday night for ice cream.
  3. Buy time: we are “time poor” people so slow down and avoid expenditures that devour time.
  4. Pre-pay your vacation so you don’t worry about spending “all that money.”
  5. Invest in others: give gifts or cash or support someone on a ministry trip or hand out $20 when you feel like it.

These ideas will help remove the tendency to endless question of “Is this worth it?” Burns does not mention it, but giving money to church, mission, health, poverty, orphan care or directly to people in need is “Happy Money” as well.