AllAfrica.com published a press release from the Guttmacher Institute, the research division of Planned Parenthood, summarizing a new study that “the poorest countries are lagging far behind higher-income developing countries in meeting the demand for modern contraception. Between 2003 and 2012, the total number of women wanting to avoid pregnancy and in need of contraception increased from 716 million to 867 million, with growth concentrated among women in the 69 poorest countries where modern method use was already very low.”
Around the developing world, “Roughly three-quarters (73%) of the 222 million women in developing countries who want to avoid a pregnancy but are not using a modern method now live in the poorest countries, compared with 67% in 2003,” according to the report. “Furthermore, women in the poorest countries who want to avoid pregnancy are one-third as likely to be using a modern method as those living in higher-income developing countries.” Thankfully, between 2003 and 2012, “there was a shift away from sterilization (declining from 47% to 38% of all modern method use in developing countries) toward methods with higher failure rates, namely barrier methods (increasing from 7% to 13%) and injectables (from 6% to 9%).”
For those who value human dignity, this is actually good news. The “lagging behind” of birth control availability and success is the greatest hope for the developing world. In addition to the rule of law and sustained property rights, what Africa needs is more people, not less, in order for many countries to build the types of sustainable economies that allow real needs to be met in the long-run. In Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II explains why:
Read more on The Failing Success of Population Control in the Developing World…
Values & Capitalism, a project of the American Enterprise Institute, has published a primer of sorts entitled, Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing. The text is just over 100 pages, and gives the reader a thoughtful, concise and essential source on free market economics and its correlation to human flourishing and economic growth.
The horrific factory collapse in Bangladesh, now surpassing 1,100 in total deaths, has caused many to ponder how we might prevent such tragedies in the future, leading to plenty of ideological introspection about economic development and free trade.
Describing the situation as “neither too simple nor too complex,” Brian Dijkema encourages a healthy mix of confidence and caution. With folks calling for the complete take-down of global capitalism on one end and elevating stiff pro-market arguments on the other, Dijkema reminds us that we should respond, first and foremost, to the simple “brutality of death,” with clarity, prayer, and compassion.
Yet when it comes to understanding the drivers of the disaster, we should recognize the complexity of things. Responding to Pope Francis’s corresponding critique of profit-driven business decisions, Dijkema warns that by “conflating what is complex into what is simple or vice-versa,” we risk dishonoring the “dignity of the human person” and “the dignity of labour.”
Over at Ethika Politika, Andrew Haines places a similar emphasis on complexity, focusing on an argument free-market advocates routinely make in response to such circumstances:
If you know a free market champion, then you’ve heard the argument that low-wage, low-skill, mostly mindless jobs are better than no jobs at all. The idea works well in theory. I admit, I’ve even made the case myself from time to time.
On the other hand, you might have heard recently about things like the collapse of an industrial building in Savar, Bangladesh—home to five garment factories—where the death toll recently topped one thousand.
I say “on the other hand” since the any-job-is-better-than-no-job argument (AJBNJ) works well, until it doesn’t.
Haines proceeds to offer what I think is a fair critique of the any-job-is-better-than-no-job maxim (AJBNJ), arguing that it “suffers a huge blind spot when it comes to connecting ‘better’ economics with ‘better” humanity.’” Read more on The Bangladesh Factory Collapse and the Messiness of Economic Development…
If Baby Boomers are said to have fled to the suburbs in the pursuit of the “American Dream,” using zoning laws as a tool, today’s young adults could be charged with the exact same mission in light of the promises of New Urbanism.
The American Dream has been defined as, “the notion that the American social, economic, and political system makes success possible for every individual.” Baby Boomers moved out to the suburbs in pursuit of the conditions that were believed to lead to social success for themselves and their children–which included, many argue, race and/or class homogenization. Why? Because this is what makes the American Dream a dream. It is not where you pursue social success but the Dream lies in the fact that one expects planned success to be tangibly achieved. In this regard, elites who planned the suburbs for social success, through public/private arrangements, and elites in the cities are both driven by the same cause: a lust for planned social success. It is the same dream in a different zip code.
Like the suburban planning of a few decades ago, New Urbanism promises to set up the conditions for everyone’s social success. For example, the Congress of New Urbanism on the 2012-2017 strategic plan commit to the following:
Read more on Same American Dream, Different Zip Code…
In The Examiner, Tim Carney asks, “When do 21 Republicans senators vote for higher taxes? Answer: When the biggest businesses and local politicians hire top K Street lobbyists to push for the tax-hike legislation.”
If you’re a young American adult (the 25-to-34 age range), and you have a good job, count yourself blessed. Most of your peers aren’t so lucky. The New York Times reports that “[o]ver the last 12 years, the United States has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest.”
Of course, young Europeans have been dealing with this for years. Greece, Spain and Portugal have unemployment rates between 17-27% (Greece being the highest), and the outlook is grim for most of the European Union (EU). Even taking into account that many young people may be studying or raising families and therefore not looking for full-time work, the deterioration of the EU’s economies is obvious. But it’s not just lack of jobs. As Samuel Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research, points out in his book Becoming Europe, “Europe’s social systems are under considerable internal strain from the remorseless deterioration associated with unaffordable welfare states, population decline, low productivity levels, and the preferential treatment of politically connected insiders.” Read more on Idle Young Americans: Are We Becoming Europe?…
At The American Spectator, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg looks at France’s embattled Socialist president, François Hollande, as the first anniversary of his term in office approaches. As Hollande’s approval ratings hit new lows, “Mr. Normal,” Gregg writes, is starting to look like “Mr. Irrelevant.” What’s more, he adds, “two of the biggest problems that have corroded Hollande’s credibility: his apparent inability to address France’s economic difficulties; and a growing awareness throughout France that la grande nation is slipping into the minor league when it comes to countries that wield influence in the EU.” More from Gregg: