Category: Economic Freedom

We’re continuing to round up appearances by Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg as he does radio interviews nationwide to promote his latest book, Tea Party Catholic. This past Monday, Sam made an appearance on the Relevant Radio network show A Closer Look with Sheila LiaugminasAs usual, it was a wide-ranging and intelligent discussion, and you can listen to it via the audio player below.

Tea Party Catholic

Tea Party Catholic

In Tea Party Catholic, Samuel Gregg draws upon Catholic teaching, natural law theory, and the thought of the only Catholic Signer of America's Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton—the first “Tea Party Catholic”—to develop a Catholic case for the values and institutions associated with the free economy, limited government, and America's experiment in ordered liberty. Beginning with the nature of freedom and human flourishing, Gregg underscores the moral and economic benefits of business and markets as well as the welfare state's problems. Gregg then addresses several related issues that divide Catholics in America. These include the demands of social justice, the role of unions, immigration, poverty, and the relationship between secularism and big government.

Visit the official website at www.teapartycatholic.com

$24.00

poverty_2226036b1Over at the New York Times, economist Jeffrey Sachs opines about the need for greater measures to “end poverty” in countries across the world where people are truly suffering. Using data from the World Bank, Sachs reports that the proportion of households in developing countries below the extreme-poverty line has declined sharply from 52 percent in 1980, to 43 percent in 1990, 34 percent in 1999, and 21 percent in 2010. Sachs then explains what is needed in order for this to continue:

Here are the basics: economic growth, and hence a market economy, is vital. Africa’s poverty is declining in part because its growth rate picked up from 2.3 percent per year during the lackluster years of 1990-2000 to 5.7 percent during 2000-10. Without economic growth, there cannot be sustained gains in income, health and other areas. Continued progress depends on heavy investments in major infrastructure — water, electricity, waste management — and these in turn depend on large-scale private financing, hence a suitable market framework.

So anti-market sentiment is no friend of poverty reduction. But neither is free-market fundamentalism. Economic growth and poverty reduction can’t be achieved by free markets alone. Disease control, public education, the promotion of new science and technology, and protection of the natural environment are public functions that must align with private market forces.

At this point we can begin to see the lack of social imagination in the goal of simply “ending poverty.” The Christian tradition, instead of focusing on only two spheres of society — government and the economy — pushes the conversation forward toward human flourishing and sustainable economies because people are made for more than simply living in a less-bad world. Christian teaching places emphasis on the moral, social, political, and economic contexts that contribute to societies where humans can flourish in morally excellent ways consistent with their creational design. Sachs completely misses, then, the importance of mediating institutions.
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obamacareWith Obamacare (the Affordable Health Care Act) set to begin on October 1, many companies are changing their employee health care. For some, it’s a change in what benefits employees will receive; for others, employees will be losing health care all together and told to sign up under Obamacare.

The Wall Street Journal did a “round-up” of companies who’ve announced changes. Walgreens is the largest employer yet to disclose employee health care changes.

[T]he drugstore giant disclosed a plan to provide payments to eligible employees for the subsidized purchase of insurance starting in 2014. The plan will affect roughly 160,000 employees, and will require them to shop for coverage on a private health-insurance marketplace. Aside from rising health-care costs, the company cited compliance-related expenses associated with the new law as a reason for the switch.

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This is a guest post by Michael Hendrix in response to the recent debate sparked by a provocative post on millennials and Gen Y “yuppie culture.” Michael serves as the director for emerging issues and research at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of St. Andrews and a Texas native.

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By Michael Hendrix

Over the past few weeks, much has been written on GYPSY unicorns and my generation’s dashed hopes (warning: strong language). For my fellow millennials who get overly defensive on such matters, I have a request: Get over yourselves and get to work.

We are entering an era of profound economic change, and I fear that the career prospects of many in my generation have too much in common with those of the horse at the advent of the automobile. Consider these words from the economist Gregory Clark, who’s quoted at a key point in Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s Race Against the Machine:

There was a type of employee at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution whose job and livelihood largely vanished in the early 20th century. This was the horse. The population of working horses actually peaked in England long after the Industrial Revolution, in 1901, when 3.25 million were at work. … But the arrival of the internal combustion engine in the late 19th century rapidly displaced workers, so that by 1924 there were fewer than 2 million. There was always a wage at which these horses could have remained employed. But that wage was so low that it did not pay for their feed.

Structural changes are coming. Information and communications technologies (ICT) are bringing about a shift equally as profound as that of the Industrial Age. Just as steam power and the internal combustion engine swept away inefficient production and labor, so too will the Information Age’s connectivity and automation advance on so many of the jobs we hold dear. What Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue — and not without controversy — is that technology is advancing on mankind’s comparative advantages in a way that previous revolutions never could. Building a steam-powered hammer to take on John Henry’s brawn is one thing; fashioning a highly cognitive robot with fine motor skills is quite another. And while this future hasn’t fully arrived yet, it’s the process of getting there that we must prepare for. (more…)

DollarSignCapitalism is routinely castigated as an enemy of the arts, with much of the finger-pointing bent toward monsters of profit and efficiency — drooling only for money, caring nothing for beauty, and so on. Other critiques take aim at more systemic features, fearing that the type of industrialization that markets sometimes tend toward will inevitably detach artists from healthy social contexts, sucking dry any potential for flourishing as a result.

Yet while free economies certainly introduce a unique series of challenges for artists and consumers alike, and despite the wide array of bottom-dollar record-company execs and merchandising-obsessed Hollywood crackpots that demonstrate such obstacles, recent increases in economic empowerment have also led to plenty of artistic empowerment in turn.

Empowered to Create

The more obvious and overarching examples of this have to do with the simple ways in which widespread prosperity has freed up our time, energy, and resources. As collaboration and innovation accelerate, folks are continuing to discover new ways of doing more with less. As result, the tools and time needed to participate in a variety of artistic ventures, from hand-painting to stage acting to music production, are closer to common fingers than ever before.

Of course, market forces aren’t perfect. As channels of culture, they mostly funnel what they funnel, and that includes squalid appeals to the lowest common denominator. But neither are such forces limited to the hands of the tasteless and trite. Indeed, despite the best efforts of the powerful and privileged, many artists are now finding themselves increasingly equipped to bypass the big shots altogether, taking their art and their audiences with them, from the purchase of their paintbrushes to the publication of their portrait.

As a young boy, I dreamed of one day becoming a filmmaker. After working only two summers at minimum wage, I was able to save up enough cash to put that dream to the test, purchasing a-state of-the-art video camera and my very own digital editing equipment. Thanks to the innovations of others, and the basic freedoms that unleashed it all in the first place, at the age of 16, I was able to secure the tools needed to begin my work — tools that, only a decade prior, were confined to the hands of Hollywood bigwigs. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, September 18, 2013

EFW-Map-300x217The Canada-based Fraser Institute has released the ninth edition of its annual report, Economic Freedom of North America 2013, in which the respective economic situation and government regulatory factors present in the states and provinces of North America were gauged.

After ranking 2nd in 2000, the U.S. falls to 17th in this year’s report. As the authors explain:

Unfortunately for the United States, we’ve seen overspending, weakening rule of law, and regulatory overkill on the part of the U.S. government, causing its economic freedom score to plummet in recent years. This is a stark contrast from 2000, when the U.S. was considered a bastion of economic freedom and ranked second globally.

A PDF version of the report is available here.

Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ebt cardsThe U.S. government food stamp program, better known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is being credited for “alleviating poverty” as the government releases statistics for 2012.

SNAP plays a crucial, but often underappreciated, role in alleviating poverty,” said Stacy Dean, an expert on the program with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based research group that focuses on social programs and budget policy.

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Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg continues his radio rounds today with an interview in support of his new book, Tea Party Catholic, on WOCA 96.3FM in Ocala Florida. You can hear his discussion on AM Ocala Live! via the audio player below:

Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, has begun making the radio rounds in support of his soon-to-be-released book Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing, talking extensively about the intersection between support for limited government and Catholic thought. Here’s a roundup of recent interviews.

First of all, here’s Sam discussing the book with Glen Biegel on 700 KBYR in Anchorage, Alaska last Thursday:

Also on Thursday, Sam talked with Chuck Wilder of CRN Talk Radio:

Saturday saw Sam on the Chris Salcedo Show on The Blaze Radio Network:

And finally, Sam joined host Paul Anderson on The Source with Paul Anderson on Sunday night:

Don’t miss Sam’s conversation this afternoon with Al Kresta on Kresta in the Afternoon. Al is one of the most thoughtful hosts on the air today; it’s sure to be a great conversation today during the five o’clock hour.

 

Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Monday, September 16, 2013

ekgObamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Health Care Act, continues to find opposition from both individuals and states. The act is scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2013 for most of the country, but a USA Today/Pew Research poll finds that 53 percent of Americans polled oppose Obamacare. The numbers are even lower when one accounts for political parties.

Overall, just 13% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of the law while 85% disapprove. Fewer than half of all Republicans and Republican leaners (43%) want elected officials who oppose the law to do what they can to make it fail; 37% say they should try to make it work as well as possible.

53% disapprove of the health care law, the highest level since it was signed; 42% approve. By an even wider margin, intensity favors the opposition; 41% of those surveyed strongly disapprove while just 26% strongly approve. Fifty-three percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care policy, an historic high.

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