Category: Acton Occasional Series

Father and son walkingThis Sunday is the day Americans set aside to honor their fathers. Here are 5 facts you should know about dads and Father’s Day.

1. After listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash. wanted a special day to honer her father, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. The first Father’s Day celebration, June 17, 1910, was proclaimed by Spokane’s mayor because it was the month of Smart’s birth. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Father’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

2. Based on the unpublished Census data (2008), there are an estimated 70.1 million fathers across the nation. 24.9 million were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2015. 21 percent were raising three or more children younger than 18 (among married-couple family households only).
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net-neutrality-op-660x528-660x420What just happened?

On Monday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying the agency had the legal authority to enact their Open Internet Order (i.e., net neutrality rules.)

What was this case about?

Last Spring the CTIA, the trade group that represents the wireless communication sectors, filed a lawsuit with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the FCC’s decision to “impose sweeping new net neutrality rules and reclassifying mobile broadband as a common carrier utility.” The CTIA had argued that the the FCC had “opted to resuscitate a command-and-control regulatory regime, including a process where innovators must first seek permission from the FCC before rolling out new services.” In so doing, they claim, the FCC “usurped the role of Congress and departed from a bipartisan mobile-specific framework to create a new intrusive regulatory framework.”

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality (short for “network neutrality”) refers to both a design principle and laws that attempt to regulate and enforce that principle. The net neutrality principle is the idea that a public information network should aspire to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. At its simplest, network neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally and that every website — from Google.com to Acton.org — should be treated the same when it comes to giving users the bandwidth to reach the internet-connected services they prefer.

Net neutrality laws are legislation or regulation that prevents Internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating or charging different prices based on such criteria as user, content, site, platform, application, or type of attached equipment.

What is the basic argument in favor of net neutrality regulation?
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islamic-state_350_210_90On Sunday, an American-born terrorist named Omar Mir Seddique Mateen killed 49 and wounded 53 in Orlando. In a 911 call during the attack Mateen pledged his allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS. Although the group also claimed responsibility for the attack, U.S. officials said they haven’t seen a direct link between the gunman and the terrorist group.

Here are five facts you should know about ISIS:

1. ISIS (aka ISIL, Islamic State, IS, Daesh) is the name of an Islamic militant group that was established in Iraq in 2004 and pledged allegiance to “Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” They later broke away from Al-Qaeda because of differences in doctrine and objectives and formed a distinct organization. From late 2006 to mid 2013, the group called itself the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). From 2013 to mid 2014, when they expanded into Syria, they called themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). (Most Western media translate “Levant” as “Syria,” hence ISIS.) Since 2014, they have expanded their ambitions to be a global organization and today simply refer to themselves as “Islamic State.” Enemies of ISIS sometimes refer to it as Daesh, a loose acronym of the Arabic for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham).
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Note: Later today at the Faith & Freedom conference I’ll be speaking on a panel titled, “A Cronyism Crisis: How Corporate Welfare Undermines Markets and Human Flourishing.” If you’re at the conference please stop by this session.

crony-capitalismThe Term: Crony capitalism (sometimes referred to as cronyism or corporatism)

What it means: Crony capitalism is a general term for the range of activities in which particular individuals or businesses in a market economy receive government-granted privileges over their customers and/or competitors.

Why it Matters:  For as long as there have been government officials, there have been economic cronies—friends, family, and associates who use their connections for their own financial gain.

In ancient Israel, for example, when the prophet Samuel appointed his own sons as leaders, they began to engage in cronyism: “[Samuel’s] sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3).

Unsatisfied with these corrupt leaders, the elders of Israel asked Samuel to appoint a king over them. God told Samuel to warn the people of the consequences, which included even worse forms of economic cronyism: “[The king] will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants” (1 Samuel 8:14-15).

We read passages like that and instantly recognize this as unfair and unjust, a corrupting influence on both the people and the government. Yet we tend note to even notice the cronyism that occurs in our own economic system. Because the “dishonest gain” is often more subtle than the examples found in the Bible, we often do not recognize cronyism because we don’t know what to look for.
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paydayloansWhat just happened? 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the U.S. government’s consumer protection agency, has proposed new regulations that would affect payday lending in an attempt to end payday debt traps by requiring lenders to take steps to make sure consumers can repay their loans. 

What loans would the new regulation apply to?

The proposed regulations would cover two categories of loans. The first is loans with a term of 45 days or less. The second is loans with a term greater than 45 days, provided that they (1) have an all-in annual percentage rate greater than 36 percent; and (2) either are repaid directly from the consumer’s account or income or are secured by the consumer’s vehicle.

In other words, the regulation would cover almost all “payday lending” and “car title” loans.

What does the regulation do?
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UnemploymentSeries Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).

Overview: While most of the metrics were positive, few jobs were added and a large number of Americans dropped out of the labor for, making this one of the worst jobs report in years.
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, May 30, 2016
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memorial-dayToday Americans will observe Memorial Day, a federal holiday for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Here are five facts you should know about this day of remembrance:

1. Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military both in wartime or peacetime.

2. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. Three years after the Civil War, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30 since it was believed flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
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