Category: General

Photo Credit: USA Today
Click for original source.

On Friday, representatives from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, including His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus and Metropolitan Josef Michalik, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, signed a joint message committing to further work toward reconciliation between the Russian and Polish peoples and between the two churches. (more…)

Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, has authored a review of the book, “Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel” by John Guy. In it, Gregg notes the continuing need for vigilance regarding religious liberty:

And yet as Islam’s present traumas should remind us, a religion’s capacity to make distinctions between the spiritual and temporal realms makes a difference to the more general growth of freedom. As Guy points out, Henry VIII’s looting and destruction of the sanctuary of St Thomas Becket in September 1538, his burning of Becket’s remains, and the king’s posthumous designation of Becket as a “rebel and traitor to his prince” had a clear political purpose. “Only a monarch not unlike the earlier Henry,” Guy writes, “set on building a regional church under tight royal control, ring-fenced by the coast, as an integral part of a centralized state controlled by himself, could have spoken that way” (348).

It was of course the voice of tyranny, for which libertas ecclesiae and the life of Thomas Becket never cease to serve as constant reproaches.

Read the entire review here.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, August 20, 2012
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Religious Freedom Amendment on the Ballot in Florida
Tim Drake, National Catholic Register

Voters have opportunity to support faith-based organizations.

The Freedom to Homeschool
Matthew Hennessey, First Things

In Spain, where my brother-in-law and his wife are raising two young boys, if you don’t send your kids to school at the age of six, you get a visit from the cops.

Universal Mediocrity
Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal

Why do Britons like their sub-par health-care system so much

Where Free-Market Economists Go Wrong
Sheldon Richman, Reason

Subsidies, stimulus, regulations, protectionism, trade restrictions, government-bank collusion, zoning, bailouts and more do not equal a “free” market.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, August 17, 2012
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Separation of School and State
Isaac Morehouse, Values & Capitalism

If you like the idea of a population that is competent in math, science, reading, writing, physics, philosophy, biology, history, economics and every other field of knowledge, you should oppose state support for education.

Why Capitalism Wants Us to Stay Single
Ewan Morrison, The Guardian

Now that the market is cashing in on the buying power of single people, the radical choice is to get married.

Bureaucrats with a beatific vision
Stephen Ford, Doublethink Online

How—and why—did the administrative state proliferate to such a mind-boggling extent? We need look no further than the early Progressives, our current President’s intellectual predecessors.

Developing A Biblical Theology of Work
Art Lindsley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

The Gospel was given not only to save our souls. It was also given to restore us more and more into who we were created to be.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, August 16, 2012
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Irony of Ironies: Vatican II Triumphs Over Moribund Modernity
Samuel Gregg, Crisis

Few expressions are better guaranteed to spark passionate debates among Catholics today than two words: “Vatican II.” Though most Catholics today were born after the Council closed in 1965, the fiftieth anniversary of the Council’s 1962 opening on 11 October this year will surely reignite the usual controversies about its significance.

Paul Ryan’s Bishop Defends Him Amid Attacks on His Application of Church Teaching
Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register

Madison, Wis., Bishop Robert Morlino says he’s not endorsing Ryan, but upholds the candidate’s reputation as a serious Catholic committed to applying Church social doctrine.

Greed Is Not Good for Capitalism
Greg Forster, The Gospel Coalition

Christians ought to understand how Weber’s view of capitalism undermines the moral foundations of a humane and genuinely productive economy.

Humanitas and the Limits of the Market
Ralph E. Ancil, The Imaginative Conservative

[A] conservative social philosophy must be rooted in the purpose and nature, and thus also the limits, of the market. A free market is intended to provide people with the satisfaction of their legitimate demands such as the basic ones of food, clothing and shelter as well as a host of other items. But it cannot serve as its own foundation; it is not self-sufficient; it is not a source of community; and it is not a cure for other ills.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
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School reform gets cool
Naomi Schaeffer Riley, New York Post

Maggie Gyllenhaal, the ultimate hipster actress, stars in “Won’t Back Down,” an education-reform drama that hits theaters next month. When did school choice became cool?

Do Sports Build Character?
Justin Dyer, Public Discourse

The recent Penn State scandal reminds us that if sports are to instill moral character, we must approach athletics first as an education in the virtues, not as an avenue to fame and wealth.

Inflation and Debt
John H. Cochrane, National Affairs

We stand at the brink of disaster. Today, we face the possibility of a debt crisis, with the consequent financial chaos and inflation, that the Fed cannot control. In order to address this danger, we have to focus on its true nature and causes.

Is the Fed Really to Blame?
Nicholas Freiling, Values & Capitalism

No doubt, blaming “average Joes” for inflation isn’t as marketable as blaming Bernanke. But when Americans are saving less than four percent of their income, the effects of inflation become palatable—even attractive—to many Americans, and elected officials find the support they need to fund excessive spending with irresponsible inflation.

Blog author: dpahman
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
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This morning the online publication Ethika Politika, the journal of the Center for Morality in Public Life, published my response to a previous article by Thomas Storck on natural law and political engagement. In his article, Storck contents that though the natural law exists as a rationally accessible, universal standard of justice, due to the disordered passions of our fallen condition political engagement on the basis of natural law is all but fruitless. Instead, he recommends a renewed emphasis on evangelism, emphasizing that the change of heart that comes through conversion is a far more effective way to effect social change and, in his view, necessary before any political change will realistically happen. In my article today, I respond,

While I am sensitive to Storck’s insistence that evangelism deserves renewed zeal for the sake of moral progress in society, I feel his opposition of evangelism rather than political action (or, more accurately, evangelism then political action) is ultimately harmful. In particular, there would seem to be no vocation for the Christian as citizen or civil servant today, no vital service that he/she has to offer to the kingdom of God now in his/her civic capacity before such a widespread evangelization has taken place.

I focus my response to Storck mainly on the relationship between the natural law and the positive law of the state, but the above quote contains something that I would like to pursue a little further. (more…)

Blog author: aknot
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
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Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg is featured in The American Spectator today with an article titled, “The Book That Changed Reality.” The piece lauds Catholic philosopher, journalist and theologian Michael Novak’s groundbreaking 1982 book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. Called his magnum opus, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism synthesized a moral defense of capitalism with existing cultural and political arguments. Gregg notes this and comments on the book’s timely publication and lasting influence:
(more…)

In addition to internal logical inconsistencies which raise serious concerns of long term economic sustainability regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), recently analyzed by John MacDhubhain, Robert Pear reports in the New York Times over the weekend how confusion over certain ambiguities in the law (ironically over the meaning of the word “affordable”) would end up hurting some of the people it is precisely designed to help: working class families.

Pear writes,

The new health care law is known as the Affordable Care Act. But Democrats in Congress and advocates for low-income people say coverage may be unaffordable for millions of Americans because of a cramped reading of the law by the administration and by the Internal Revenue Service in particular.

Under rules proposed by the service, some working-class families would be unable to afford family coverage offered by their employers, and yet they would not qualify for subsidies provided by the law.

Read more . . .

Blog author: dpahman
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
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I have written on several recent occasions about the role of incentives in education, both for teachers and for students (see here, here, and here). Yesterday, David Burkus, editor of LDRLB, wrote about a recent study by Harvard University economic researchers on the role of incentives in teacher performance. Interestingly, they found that incentives (such as bonus pay) are far more effective if given up front with the caution that they will need to be returned if the teacher’s performance is not up to par. When teachers regarded the bonuses as already their property, they fought far more effectively to protect them.

Burkus writes,

A total of 150 teachers were randomized into several groups, including a control group, a traditional pay-for-performance group, and another group given a $4,000 bonus up front and told it would be reduced in relation to their students’ performance. The results were as impressive as they were surprising. On average, the students taught by the upfront bonus group outperformed students with similar backgrounds by up to 10 percentage points.

One possible explanation for this effect is “loss aversion.” Simply put, we’re more motivated to protect assets that we already have than to attempt to gain more assets. Once we are given an object or sum of money, we begin to build psychological connections to it, picturing the ways we’ll enjoy owning it or remembering fondly the ways we’ve used it. Perhaps what was missing from the incentives equation was the subtle push provided by the thought of loss.

Read more . . .