Category: Acton Commentary

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimagePopulism makes for strange bedfellows, says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Take Pope Francis and Donald Trump, for instance. They are certainly populists of very different sorts, but there is one issue that unites them – both are harsh critics of economic globalization.”

Francis does explicitly and by name what Trump does implicitly and in practice. In fact, they seem to derive much of their popularity precisely because they attack free markets as an enemy of the people. Their worlds will collide later this month when Pope Francis visits America’s centers of political and financial power – K Street and Wall Street will not be treated nicely, we can be sure.

But really, how can the pope and the Donald see eye-to-eye on anything? Isn’t Francis the compassionate voice of concern for the world’s marginalized and excluded, while Trump is the aggressive, often insulting face of strident nationalism? Trump’s answer to America’s illegal immigration problem (i.e., building a wall across the border with Mexico, deporting illegals and denying those born in the US birthright citizenship) couldn’t be more opposed to Francis’s. Trump would strengthen the US military and has said that he doesn’t ask God for forgiveness. There couldn’t be a starker contrast between Christian humility and American bravado.

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, September 2, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimage“The world is not a parsimonious place, in spite of the dogmas of the ecologists,” says James V. Schall in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Our most unsettling economic problems are actually not economic but moral—moral ones that cannot be simply passed on from generation to generation. They need to be chosen and internalized by each person in each generation at the risk of deflecting material goods from their proper purposes.

Work likewise is not exclusively for its own sake. Rather work, while being an expression of human dignity and concrete accomplishment, aims at a product, aims at the material wellbeing in which something more than work can happen. The basis of culture, as Josef Pieper wrote in a famous thesis, is not only work but also leisure that lies beyond work. We work in order to have leisure, not the other way around.

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

On September 8-10 we’ll be having a free ebook giveaway of Schall’s latest book. More information on the giveaway will be coming soon, so check back here on the PowerBlog to learn more.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Pope Francis is famous for his strident denunciations of a “throwaway culture” that ruthlessly discards human beings not considered useful in an economy that ‘kills’,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. But has the pope accurately identified the real cause of the problem?

My concerns were only heightened by the secret videos of Planned Parenthood officials blithely discussing buying and selling the body parts of aborted babies. Part of me is nervously awaiting the pope to denounce capitalism for this social evil as well. In fact, there are U.S. federal laws prohibiting profit-making in this type of commerce and Planned Parenthood itself denies making any money from it. (Even abortionists recognize the evil of profits!) But another part of me questions whether it’s the quest for profits that drives the abortion industry to not only perform but brazenly justify its barbaric practices.

Let me restate the problem this way: Assuming Planned Parenthood is telling the truth that it makes no profit in the buying and selling of fetal body parts, would that make the “crushing” and “crunching” of babies acceptable? Would it be ok to abort babies out of “humanitarian” or “compassionate” rather than “self-interested” motives? Are government-subsidized abortions somehow less gruesome than private-sector ones?

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

acton-commentary-blogimageThe Orthodox Church in Russia has proposed a banking model that corrects what it sees as the most serious of that global banking industry’s moral failings, says Rev. Gregory Jensen in this week’s Acton Commentary. However the system the Church purposes is unlikely to foster economic growth. It also overlooks the convergence of the free market with key elements of the Orthodox moral tradition.

Banks require varying amounts of collateral from and charge different interest rates to different customers. Yes, the bank does this to protect its own profitability.  For the Orthodox moral tradition there is nothing necessarily immoral in the pursuit of profit. More importantly for our concern here, however, profit is not the bank’s only concern.

Treating potential customers differently also reflects the bank’s moral responsibility to determine and safeguard the unique circumstances of the person and so the ability of the borrower to repay the loan. This isn’t morally wrong. While it may seem unfair, when we look at the situation more carefully we see that it reflects the very financial personalism that Surmilo says is at the heart of the Russian model.

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, August 5, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimageFor centuries influential thinkers have claimed that economic growth will be caused by vice and distribution by greed. “Clearly, the connection between vice and growth needs to be addressed, says James V. Schall in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Is there a case for virtue and growth?”

Long-range economic growth does not deny that wars and rumors of war will happen, though it does doubt that economics is their main cause. Nor does it doubt that many individuals, by accident or by their own choices, will fall by the wayside and need help. The need for something beyond justice always remains. The fact is, however, that the world has seen sustained growth of wealth and population for four centuries. This growth suggests that the problems of historic poverty can be and are being solved gradually as we apply the proper means to them.

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

acton-commentary-blogimage“Public money is used for a multitude of things that many Americans find objectionable,” says Zack Pruitt in this week’s Acton Commentary. “When standards for congressional spending become virtually obsolete, the financial door swings wide-open for potential abuse.”

Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million each year from American taxpayers, which comprises over 40 percent of its budget. It was recently shown on video ostensibly seeking to profit from the sale of aborted baby parts (as opposed to being reimbursed for tissue donation), perhaps in violation of federal law. Make no mistake, the big picture story here is not congressional overspending; it is the Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood graphically describing her efforts to “not crush” vital organs when performing abortions in an effort to preserve them and recoup “between $30 and $100 per specimen.” In another video, the President of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors Council indicates a profit-motive for aborted parts by negotiating for higher prices and haggling over the cost of “intact tissue.” When a system allows for unfettered spending, taxpayers can wind up paying not only for unnecessary services, but ones that straddle the line between genocide and the commercialization of human body parts.

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

acton-commentary-blogimageDuring his encounter with President Morales of Bolivia last week, Pope Francis was given a “communist cross.” In this week’s Acton Commentary Jorge Velarde Rosso explains why the gift was not so harmless.

Of course Morales had an agenda with that gift. It wasn’t an innocent gesture. Designed by the same Jesuit priest who had been honored by Francis a few minutes earlier, the pope’s “that is not OK” represented a correction to Morales. The fact, however, that Morales gave Francis this cross — it is unthinkable that anyone would have given John Paul II or Benedict XVI a cross in the shape of a symbol of death and oppression for millions, including the millions of Catholics who have suffered at the hands of Marxist regimes and movements — underscores that Morales didn’t think Francis would be offended. Indeed, only a few minutes later Pope Francis expressed his support for the work of Morales’ regime.

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