Category: General

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, July 26, 2012

Capitalism Or What?
Isaac Morehouse, Values & Capitalism

When analyzing any social or economic system, the three most important words are: “Compared to what?” Capitalism has its shortcomings. It has shortcomings because life has shortcomings in our own subjective evaluations.

Churches, Pacifism, and Gun Control
Mark Tooley, Mark Tooley

There may or may not be good arguments for more gun control in America. But can a pacifist make them?

Income Equality Is the Road to Middle-Class Taxation
Brian Domitrovic, The Imaginative Conservative

The funny thing about “income inequality” is that it uses taxable income as its measuring point. The problem with this, obviously, is that if high taxes reduce the rich’s taxable income, the rich in turn will not be able to carry the burden of paying taxes—their income will be too low. High taxes on the rich will necessitate further taxation of the middle class.

Tchaikovsky on Work Ethic vs. Inspiration
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.

There are some misleading statistics that never die. Take, for example, the claim that “American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.”

For decades economists and pundits have explained why that figure, even if accurate, doesn’t tell us what we think it does (e.g, that woman are being discriminated against in the workforce). But many people are still confused by such claims, so it’s encouraging to hear Anna Broadway explain what such statistics fail to account for:

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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, July 23, 2012

The Conservatives vs. the Intellectuals?
Peter Lawler, Big Think

Arguably, the biggest change since the time of Socrates is the idea of the free person—one introduced into the world by Biblical and Christian thought. When our deterministic scientists deny the real existence of the free person, they, today’s conservatives often object, are asserting more they they really know.

Does teacher merit pay work? A new study says yes.
Dylan Matthews, Wonkblog

There’s very good evidence that teacher quality matters a lot in terms of student performance in school and success later on in life.

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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, July 20, 2012

Poor countries are unhealthy countries
Roger Bates, AEI

American leftists might laud the nationalized healthcare provision in Cuba, but cholera outbreaks should remind even these folks that without wealth generation, a healthy nation is rarely attained and never sustained.

The eurozone’s religious faultline
Chris Bowlby, BBC

Discussion among eurozone leaders about the future of their single currency has become an increasingly divisive affair. On the surface, religion has nothing to do with it – but could Protestant and Catholic leaders have deep-seated instincts that lead them to pull the eurozone in different directions, until it breaks?

A Christian Alternative to Health Insurance
Kimberly Leonard, The Atlantic

Exempt from regulation, taxation, and the individual mandate, Christian collectives called health care sharing ministries are paying for the care of their neediest members — if they approve of the morality of their needs.

Thinking About Time with an Eternal Perspective
Carolyn McCulley, True Woman

There’s only one person who will ever complete His “To Do” list and He already did it.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, July 19, 2012

‘Guilty as charged,’ Cathy says of Chick-fil-A’s stand on biblical & family values
K. Allan Blume, Baptist Press

“We don’t claim to be a Christian business,” Cathy said in a recent visit to North Carolina. He attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, “There is no such thing as a Christian business.” “That got my attention,” Cathy said. Roach went on to say, “Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me.”

Lessons from Bonaventure on the Spirituality of Work
Ryan Bradley

According to Bonaventure, those in the mechanical arts are fundamentally involved in ministering the mercy of God. Think of the architect who designs a house that literally protects a family from the stigma of homelessness and the suffering of being “in the elements;” a building that makes it less difficult for that family to feel a sense of connection and security.

Chinese Love Free Markets as Much as Americans Do
Cahtherine Rampell, New York Times

Chinese people are as likely to believe that most people benefit from a free market economy as Americans are, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Four Tenets of American Republicanism: A No-Frills Primer
Bradley J. Birzer, The Imaginative Conservative

One may find four fundamental tenets to republicanism rightly understood. First, for a society to be effective, men must behave virtuously. Second, men must use the gifts that nature or God has bestowed upon them.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Does Acts 2-5 Teach Socialism?
Art Lindsley, The IFWE Blog

Acts 2-5 presents a beautiful picture of Christian community. But does it mandate socialism for believers? What can be said to such a claim?

Choices Matter in Avoiding Poverty
John Leo, Minding the Campus

The problem is that single mothers are presented as victims of a tsunami of inequality that has little or nothing to do with their own behavior. The language is passive. Two-income families are presented as a sort of unfair advantage that descends on some married women more often than on single ones.

When Bankers Behave Badly
Irwin M. Stelzer, The Weekly Standard

Where’s the outrage? No, not at President Obama’s performance, foreign and domestic, or his airbrushing the past three years of his failed economic policies out of the history books. That particular outrage Mitt Romney is taking good care to express as part of his strategy of concentrating on Obama’s failures rather than risk proposing policies to return morning to America. But where is the Republican candidate’s outrage at some of those who might be considered his own friends and allies?

Regulatory Capture in Action
Matthew Yglesias, Slate

Regulatory capture is sometimes treated as a somewhat mysterious illness, and in the right circumstances, it can be. But it can also be surprisingly crude, which is exactly what we saw with the regulatory officials who were supposed to be overseeing mining on federal land and here with the bank regulators.

Blog author: aknot
posted by on Wednesday, July 18, 2012

That’s the question asked at the “Economics for Everybody” blog. The answer? A resounding yes:

Work is important to God. It’s so important that He put Adam in the garden “to work it and keep it.” God took His creation and assigned it to Adam “to fill and subdue.” That sounds like work to me.

So, what does this have to do with economics?

The Bible shows us economics begins with work. God demonstrated this with His own creative action, then told Adam to follow His example. But it’s not work for work’s sake, or even work for Adam’s sake. It’s work for God’s sake.

This is the point of God commanding Adam to do specific things. Theologians often refer to these initial commands as the “creation mandate.” They are binding for everyone in the world. You could say the creation mandate is pressed into our DNA. We were designed to follow God’s commands. It’s our purpose in life.

Now when you follow someone’s commands, it means you’re ultimately working for them. In other words, with the creation mandate, God made us stewards of the creation. According to Genesis 1 and 2, our primary job as stewards is to have families and manage God’s property for their provision, all the while enjoying a close relationship with Him.

The article goes on to note that stewardship necessitates choices, and choices are foundational to economic thinking. Be it naming animals, investing, farming, or leading a family, daily tasks of stewardship are marked by the choices they demand. These choices require a broadened sense of economic thinking and force us to reckon with economics as a serious field of thought and study in the created world.

The article concludes:

This means economics starts with work, is driven by choices, and is guided by God’s commands. We could sum it all up by saying ‘economics is the study of the choices we make while using our limited resources in order to be good stewards before God.’

Complete article here.

Blog author: Mindy Hirst
posted by on Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our On Call in Culture community has been on a journey exploring different areas that God has us On Call in Culture. We have such a rich community of people living their lives to bring God glory. Here are examples of people we have seen who are being On Call in Culture in their life and work. Are there other job areas you would like to see us focus on? We’d love to hear what you think!
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On National Review Online, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg challenges liberals on economic immobility:

When it comes to applying liberté, égalité, fraternité to the economy, modern liberals have always been pretty much fixated on the second member of this trinity. It’s a core concern of the bible of modern American liberalism: John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971). Here a hyper-secularized love of neighbor is subsumed into a concern for equality in the sense of general sameness. Likewise, economic liberty is highly restricted whenever there’s a likely chance that its exercise might produce significant wealth disparities.

So while it’s tempting to ascribe the Obama administration’s more or less naked appeal to class envy in the current electoral cycle as resulting from immediate calculations about how to defeat Mitt Romney, one shouldn’t forget just how central the endless pursuit of ever-greater economic equality is to the modern Left’s very identity. In fact, without it, the modern Left would have little to its agenda other than the promotion of lifestyle libertarianism and other socially destructive ends.

Read more . . .

American Enterprise Institute president and 2012 Acton University plenary speaker Arthur Brooks has a recent column in The Washington Post that lists five myths about free enterprise. Brooks’ five myths address some of free enterprise’s most common critiques and do so by giving free enterprise a moral aspect. The five points are especially relevant this election season, he says, because the two candidates represent such different fiscal perspectives.  Here’s a look a myth #2:

2. Free markets are driven by greed.

I once asked Charles Schwab how he built the $16 billion investment company bearing his name. He never said a word about money. He spoke instead about accomplishing personal goals, creating good jobs for employees and the sacrifices along the way — including when he took a second mortgage on his home so he could make payroll.

Entrepreneurs are rarely driven by greed. According to Careerbuilder.com, in 2011, small-business owners made 19 percent less money per year than government managers. And as Northwestern University business professor Steven Rogers has shown, the average entrepreneur fails about four times before succeeding.

Free markets and entrepreneurship are driven not by greed but by earned success. For some people, earned success means business success, while for others, it means helping the poor, raising good kids, building a nonprofit, or making beautiful art — whatever allows people to create value in their lives and in the lives of others.

Earned success gets at the heart of “the pursuit of happiness.” The General Social Survey from the University of Chicago reveals that people who say they feel “very successful” or “completely successful” in their work lives are twice as likely to say they are very happy about their overall lives than people who feel “somewhat successful.” And it doesn’t matter if they earn more or less; the differences persist.

Those acquainted of Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico will recognize arguments such as these from Sirico’s recent title, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy. Sirico, like Brooks, argues that free enterprise is the economic system that best complements morality.

To listen to Brooks’ 2012 Acton University Lecture, click here.