Category: General

Back in April I wrote about the Baltimore riots and noted the long term impact riots have historically had on cities. At the time I wrote, “Within a few weeks the riots in Baltimore will subside and the country’s attention will shift to other problems. But the economic damage caused by the violence and looting will affect the community for decades to come.”

Most of us who weren’t directly affected have indeed moved on to other problems. But in the wake of the devastation, it is worth taking the time to consider the causes and consequences of rioting and whether they can be predicted or prevented in the future. As Jon Russo of Areavibes writes,

The misinformation that often accompanies rioting only makes these questions more difficult to answer. The rapid spread of information through social media can make prosecution and identification of offending parties easier, but can also intensify public debate and distort the truth. With rioting making more and more news across the United States, we decided to find some hard data on the subject. In this infographic, you’ll find the crimes that characterize typical riots, the impact on lives and property, and the boiling point that turned each incident into a national headline.

His infographic provides a useful overview of the riots in American in the past two decades:
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Jean Valjean in “Ep. 4: The Economy of Order”

“Seeking justice isn’t a matter of designing the right programs or delivery systems… Seeking order means acting in accord with a true vision of our brothers and sisters.” –Evan Koons

American society and public discourse seem to be stuck in a state of feverish discord, rightly concerned with severe acts and systems of injustice, even as we continue to dig deeper cultural divides over everything from healthcare to sexual ethics, race relations to religious liberty, immigration to foreign policy.

As Evan Koons asks in Episode 4 of For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles: “How are we to operate with so much hurt, so much dysfunction in the world? What hope is there for justice?”

When we consider the Economy of Order, it can be intimidating to even think about enacting change. Government, policy, and the big bureaucratic food chain that supports it all don’t necessarily tend  toward inspiring optimism, patience, and trust. (more…)

overpopulation1In 1865, W. Stanley Jevons predicted that with coal reserves of 90 billion tons, England would run out within 100 years. Today, the country has between three trillion and 23 trillion ton, enough to last Britain for centuries.

In 1914, the Bureau of Mines fretted that with a total future production limit of 5.7 billion barrels, the U.S. only had about a ten-year supply of oil. Today, a hundred years later, we’re estimated to have 36 billion barrels left in the ground.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich predicted that because of an inability to produce enough food, hundreds of millions of people would starve in the 1970s. Instead, the population has doubled—from 3.5 to 7 billion—and the number of famine victims from 1970-2015 combined is less than in the 1960s.

Each time experts predicted a decline in natural resources would be detrimental to population growth. And each time history proved the experts wrong.

Yet despite this history, modern scientists are still more pessimistic about population growth than the general public, according to a pair of 2014 Pew Research Center surveys.
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cure_for_consumerismThe latest monograph from Acton, The Cure for Consumerism by Rev. Gregory Jensen,will be available for free starting this Wednesday, June 10, and ending Friday, the 12th, at midnight. This is the second monograph in the Orthodox Christian Social Thought Series.

Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, there has been a rapid growth of human flourishing, but critics of the market economy have argued that these improvements have led to consumerism and rampant materialism. This monograph will explore the possible cures for consumerism. Can society actively choose to consume less? Does our economic system need a complete overhaul? Rev. Jensen will explore these possibilities, synthesizing insights from the spiritual tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church with modern social science. This monograph will offer practical solutions to consumerism, putting both faith and economic freedom to work for the common good. (more…)

Members of  the “Acton Club” of West Catholic High School

Members of the “Acton Club” of West Catholic High School

Culture has either an overly optimistic view of youth culture, or an overly dour and depressing one. However, neither view is entirely true, nor are such disparate opinions very helpful.  The unavoidable truth is this: younger generations will have to bear increasingly more difficult levels of financial, and societal responsibility in the coming years. To put it mildly their future will not be an easy walk in the park.

However, in my experiences at Acton, I am witnessing a renaissance, a flowering of maturity in which young men and women are not waiting for someone to offer them a free hand-out, but rather are seeking a better version and a more compelling vision for their future. Certainly the root of this renaissance has been occurring over the past ten years with college students at Acton University, but the flowering I am talking about is happening amongst high school students.

In the spring of 2014, a group of students from West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids made an appointment to tour our offices and to learn more about Acton’s work. After the tour, I expected the students to simply say, “thank you” and then depart, but the leader of this intrepid band said, “Mr. Cook, we have a core group that are serious about our Christian faith, and we want to be successful, ethical and virtuous business leaders. We want to learn how we can live our faith as Christian business leaders in our world today.” Then he said something really amazing.

“Do you think it’s possible for us to start an ‘Acton Club’ in our high school?’

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thatcherForty years ago today, to the surprise of almost everyone, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Conservative Party. She was the first—and to date the only—woman to be elected leader of a major political party in the United Kingdom. Four years later she became the first—and again the only—female prime minister of Britain.

Thatcher served as PM for nearly a decade, during which time she became, along with Ronald Reagan, one of the West’s greatest champions of free enterprise, anti-communism, and individual liberty.

Here are nine things you should know about the former British Prime Minister.
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Food-Network1For most of human history, the average person spent much of their day trying to produce enough food to survive. Even in the mid-1800s 90 percent of Americans were farmers.

But that was soon to change, and by the 1870 census farmers dropped to a minority at 47.7 percent of all employed persons.

In that same year the average person spent 62 percent of their waking hours— 70 hours a week—working. But over the next 150 years the number of working hours dropped considerably. Because of productivity gains and innovation, the average person in Western countries now works fewer than 40 hours a week.

screen shot 2014-12-14 at 1.02.23 pm

That means we now have an extra 1,800 minutes more free time every week than did our nineteenth century ancestors. So how are we spending those non-working hours?
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
By

babyhandFrom Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away:

God told the world he was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock’s tail will do for his crib. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She’ll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening.

Jesus came on cold straw, Jesus was warmed by the breath of an ox. “Who is this?” the world said. “Who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?” The world said, “Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter.”

 

 

As many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts around the globe, reports UNICEF. Globally, an estimated 230 million children currently live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts.

“This has been a devastating year for millions of children,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.”

According to UNICEF, the sheer number of crises in 2014 meant that many were quickly forgotten or captured little attention. Protracted crises in countries like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, continued to claim even more young lives and futures. This year has also posed significant new threats to children’s health and well-being, most notably the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated 5 million out of school.

170189260This past summer, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) reportedly stole uranium compounds from Mosul University in Iraq. Writing to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 8, Iraqi UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said that 88 pounds of uranium used for scientific research at Mosul University had been looted. Now, some militants associated with the group are claiming they have built a “dirty bomb” and are targeting London. Is this cause for serious concern?

Not really. Here’s why.

Since the advent of the Atomic Age in the 1940s, catastrophic nuclear events— Hiroshima, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl—have caused the general public to develop a deep-rooted fear of radiation. The new threats brought about by the specter of terrorism, particularly the concept of the radiological dispersion bomb (aka “dirty bomb”), have only increased this “radiophobia.”

Such terror threats are indeed real and we must constantly take precautions to prevent such attacks as we would any bombing. But we also have a moral and civic duty to prepare ourselves, both physically and—even more importantly—psychologically, should such an attack take place on our homeland.

When it comes to dirty bombs, the true power of such a device lies not in its ability to spread radiation but in its ability to spread panic and fear. As we’ve seen in the ear can lead to citizens and their governments to restrict freedoms in a ways that far exceed the threats imposed by actual terrorist attacks.

In order to defuse this anxiety we therefore need to develop an awareness of the myths and realities about radiation exposure:
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