Category: Economic Freedom

316853_288803591143707_552690558_nIn a recent episode of EconTalk, Russell Roberts chats with Acton Institute’s Michael Mattheson Miller about Poverty, Inc., the award-winning documentary on the challenges of poverty alleviation in the developing world.

The entire conversation is rich and varied, ranging from the ill effects of Western do-gooderism to the  dignity of work to the need for institutions of justice.

You can listen to the whole thing below:

Later in the episode, Miller discusses the need for us to reach beyond mere humanitarianism to a fuller expression of love, recognizing the dignity and capacity of every human person, as well as the full scope of human needs — material, social, spiritual, and otherwise: (more…)

paul ryanDue to a surprising series of events, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is now Speaker of the House.

Given the range of interparty disruptions that preceded the event, many are wondering what, if anything, he might accomplish. Those questions won’t be answered anytime soon, but if Ann Coulter’s recent criticisms offer any clue, his views on poverty alleviation are a good appetizer to his broader vision for the country.

More recently, Ryan embarked on a series of on-site visits in poor neighborhoods, learning how local leaders, institutions, and enterprises are effectively fighting poverty. Bob Woodson, who hosted the visits, notes that the “focus was on the victories—the miraculous transformations witnessed and redemptions of people—being accomplished against all odds, not on the presence of state, local, or federal policy makers.” (more…)

In Cuba, taxi drivers earn far more than doctors, raking in more money in one day than a doctor will make in an entire month.

The reason? Unlike most of the Cuban economy, taxi licenses are privately held and wages are not set by the state.

Johnny Harris explains:

Although Cuba offers few opportunities for private enterprise — outside of its sprawling black market, that is — the number of self-employed workers has slowly grown in recent years. Seven years after Raul Castro took over, 20% of the economy is now private.  (more…)

On October 21st, the Acton Institute celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a dinner at DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The keynote address for the evening was delivered by Acton President and Co-Founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico, who reflected on how the world has changed in the quarter century since he and Kris Mauren founded the Institute, and on what challenges those of us committed to a free and virtuous society face as Acton embarks upon its next twenty-five years. We’re pleased to present the video of Rev. Sirico’s address below.

property and practical reasonAt Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg (Acton’s director of research) discusses Adam Macleod’s Property and Practical Reason, which Gregg says attempts to rethink this key element of economic liberty and renews “the manner in which natural law scholars have traditionally addressed this topic.”

Gregg first outlines classical reflections on natural law. Then, he offers what he sees as Macleod’s insights:

In addition to drawing on new natural law theory (of which he provides one of the most accessible explanations that I’ve read), MacLeod is attentive to other exponents of pluralist non-paternalistic perfectionist accounts of law, such as the liberal legal theorist Joseph Raz. MacLeod’s core thesis is summarized concisely in the second sentence of the book’s introduction: “institutions of private ownership are justified, and in many communities are required, by a basic moral principle. That principle is equal respect for human beings as agents of practical reason.”

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right to workIn places like Chicago, ties between unions and Catholics often run deep. However, with right-to-work becoming a voting issue in many states, the intersection of union membership and church membership is becoming a hot topic. Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich got himself tangled in this arena this week:

At the request of local unions, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich recently spoke at a West Side union hall about the church’s teachings on work and workers.

After the speech, Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan and government unions boasted that Cupich and the Catholic Church were on their side.

“The archbishop has said the same thing that we’ve been saying in Springfield,” Madigan said.

Government unions in Illinois promoted their interpretation of the archbishop’s comments online.

“Cupich today reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s longstanding commitment to collective bargaining, to unions … a message a certain governor might want to consider,” Service Employees International Union posted on its Facebook page.

Acton’s Samuel Gregg, clarifies Church teaching regarding unions:

The church supports the right of workers to join unions. Catholic social teaching has never, however, taught that workers are required to join unions — let alone be forced to join unions,” said Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute, a conservative think tank that studies the intersection of religion and public policy.

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“Globalization must do more than connect elites and big businesses that have the legal means to expand their markets, create capital, and increase their wealth.” –Hernando de Soto

6898950_7a0fd3b3d9_bWhen assessing the causes of the recent boom in global prosperity, economists and analysts will point much of their praise to the power of free trade and globalization, and rightly so.

But while these are important drivers, we mustn’t forget that many people remain disconnected from networks of productivity and “circles of exchange.” Despite wonderful expansions in international free trade, much of this has occurred between “outsiders,” with many partners still languishing due to a lack of internal free trade within their countries.

Much of this is due to an absence of basic property rights, as economist Hernando de Soto argues throughout his popular book, The Mystery of Capital. If the global poor don’t have the legal means or incentives to trade beyond families and small communities, so-called “globalization” will still leave plenty behind. (more…)