Category: Acton Commentary

“Both economic and religious freedom tend to exist together in the same societies,” says Jay Richards in this week’s Acton Commentary, “they are both based on the same principles; they tend to reinforce each other; and over the long haul, they arguably stand or fall together.”

By economic freedom, I refer to the social condition in which individuals, families, and associations enjoy the rule of law, respect for their rights, limited government, a vibrant civil society outside the jurisdiction of the state, well-delineated rights to private property and contracts, and broad discretion on economic matters. If it is easy to start a business; to seek employment; to hire employees without invasive dictates from political authorities, private cartels, or organized crime; to negotiate salary, benefits, and responsibilities; to have fair contracts enforced; and the like, then a society enjoys some measure of economic freedom.

The philosophical basis for religious freedom rests on the same foundation as the case for economic freedom: individual rights, freedom of association and the family, and the presence of a government with limited jurisdiction.

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

gmo-food1“A group of more than 100 Nobel Laureates have publicly declared Greenpeace’s anti-GMO campaign a crime against humanity,” says Allison Gilbert in this week’s Acton Commentary.  “These men and women say the science is clear — the world needs GMOs, and objecting to the production of genetically modified foods both denies scientific evidence and exacerbates the suffering of the world’s poor.”

“We call upon Greenpeace to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general,” the laureates write.

Richard Roberts, the molecular biologist who spearheaded the campaign, said that mankind has been modifying food for centuries, and modern GMOs are only a continuation of this process. The letter urged Greenpeace to “re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide” to recognize that biotechnology is safely improving seeds, crops and farming’s environmental impact.

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

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Day five of the Holy and Great Council. Photo: Dimitrios Panagos

Recently, The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church was held in Crete, culminating in a document titled “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World”.  In the most recent Acton Commentary, research fellow and managing editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality Dylan Pahman comments on the flaws in economic principles and guidelines espoused in the document.

In framing the criticism, Pahman argues that “the statement’s economic pronouncements range from ambiguous and questionable to both wrong and harmful.”  Says Pahman:

While claiming that the “Church cannot remain indifferent to the economic processes which have a negative impact on all humanity,” the mission document gives little indication that its authors are aware of any actual, basic economic processes like competition, the price system, business cycles, creative destruction, inflation, and so on. Instead, it ambiguously asserts the “need … of structuring the economy on moral principles.”

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51DoYmEdweL“When I first read the description of Fr. Alexander Torik’s novel Flavian, I was skeptical,” says Rev. Gregory Jensen in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Recently translated from Russian, it is the story of “an unexpected turning point in the life of Aleksei, a quite ordinary city dweller.”

A chance meeting with a former classmate turned much in the life of this physics-major-turned-successful-manager upside down, setting Aleksei on a new path with many amazing discoveries along the way.” I couldn’t help wondering if this was going to be simply a diatribe against business, the free market and the West.

But read it I did. And what I discovered wasn’t an angry preacher heaping scorn on the unrepentant but a loving pastor offering spiritual guidance to his flock.

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

Image credit: Guy Mendes

Image credit: Guy Mendes

A new documentary, The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, misses the real story on U.S. farming productivity, says Bruce Edward Walker in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the bulk of the film’s running time ignores two-thirds of what, for me, makes Berry so special – his fiction and poetry – in favor of what renders him more of a curmudgeon, which is his activism against industrial agriculture. Somebody cue up the mid-1980s John Mellencamp and rally the Farm Aid troops, because tobacco farms in Berry’s backyard are struggling. According to the film, some tobacco farmers – gasp! – have been forced to diversify their crops, or increase the amount of acreage farmed in order to optimize expensive new equipment while eking out miniscule profits.

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

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
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ca-civilwarThe new Marvel film Captain America: Civil War examines the conflict between conscience and coercion, says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The latest superhero blockbuster Captain America: Civil War opened to a huge box office as well as to critical acclaim last weekend. The basic dynamic of the film focuses on conflict between authority and responsibility. The film could well be understood as an extended reflection on Edmund Burke’s observation: “Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.”

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

Banca_Monte_dei_Paschi_di_Siena_in_Pisa“Money has not only the character of money,” says Samuel Gregg in this week’s Acton Commentary, “but it also has a productive character which we commonly call capital.”

Like all medieval clergy, Olivi and Bernardine fiercely opposed usury. “Usury,” Bernardine wrote, “concentrates the money of the community in the hands of a few, just as if all the blood in a man’s body ran to his heart and left his other organs depleted.” Yet the same Bernardine also invested time in explaining why it was legitimate for creditors to charge interest on loans to compensate themselves for relinquishing the opportunity to invest their money elsewhere. In such circumstances, the lender had a right to be compensated for what amounted to foregone profits. “What,” Bernardine maintained, “in the firm purpose of its owner is ordained to some probable profit has not only the character of mere money or a mere thing, but also beyond this, a certain seminal character of something profitable, which we commonly call capital.”

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