Category: General

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, July 16, 2012

Several years ago economist Walter Williams explained “How Not to Be Poor”:

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

Williams is right—it’s not rocket science. Yet many Americans are shocked to discover that life choices are often (though certainly not always) the most determinative factor in the financial security of both individuals and families. Some people, particularly on the political and cultural left, are even offended by the idea that promotion of bourgeois institutions like marriage might be the key to entering—and staying in—the middle class.

But the evidence has become so hard to ignore that even the New York Times is being forced to acknowledge the obvious. This weekend, Jason DeParle wrote a lengthy article highlighting how a primary cause of class division in this country is based on who gets—and stays—married:
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Franciscan University has launched the site Faith and Reason intended to be a hub for Catholic intellectual life. The Rev. Robert Sirico, along with others such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal at the Apostolic Signatura and Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, preacher to the Papal Household, are contributors to the site which focuses on issues concerning the Church, culture, politics, philosophy, morality and the marketplace.

Read more about Faith and Reason here.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, July 13, 2012

Readers of PowerBlog are already aware that Acton research fellow Anthony Bradley‘s ability to blend theology, ethics, and economics has made him on of the most intriguing public intellectuals in America. Now readers of Black Enterprise Magazine are finding what we’ve already known for years: “His writings and commentary on issues ranging from race and religion to politics and economics have led to his recognition as one of the most brilliant minds of the century.”

In a profile by Aisha M. Taylor, Bradley makes an important point about how even theologians need to network:
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, July 12, 2012

Capitalism Is Not…
Isaac Morehouse, Values & Capitalism

Capitalism gets saddled with a lot of baggage that doesn’t properly belong to it. Some of this is the result of ignorance of basic economics, some of it a poor reading of history, but most of it is due to a bad definition of capitalism.

Will the Obamacare “Tax” Trump Religious Liberty?
Seana Sugrue, Public Discourse

Though the Supreme Court has long been hostile to tax exemptions for religious reasons, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Establishment Clause should give religious organizations reasons to hope that they won’t be penalized by the Obamacare “tax.”

Striking Contrast in Median Incomes of Men and Women Since 1968
James R. Rogers, First Things

Between 1968 and 2010, the number of men in the workplace grew by 68.6 percent. Over this same period, the number of women participating in the paid workplace more than doubled, increasing by a whopping 118.7 percent. Prior to 1979 there were more men working in the paid workforce than women. Since 1979, women have outnumbered men in the paid workforce every year.

Voucher demand soars in Louisiana
Will Sentell, The Advocate

More than 10,000 students have applied for state vouchers to attend private or parochial schools rather than troubled public schools, which is well above initial estimates, officials said Wednesday.

Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan and regular blogger at The Gospel Coalition, featured Rev. Robert Sirico’s latest book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, on his blog. DeYoung praises Defending the Free Market for making a serious moral case for a free market system:

Robert Sirico, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy (Regnery 2012). Rev. Sirico is a Catholic priest, the president of the Grand Rapids based Acton Institute, and a former radical leftist. As you can guess by the title, he’s since said goodbye to his socialist and Marxist leanings. It’s a shame than in our hyper-partisan climate many people will automatically dismiss the book as Republican propaganda. But it really isn’t. Sirico is picking up where Michael Novak left off in making a strong moral case for capitalism, free markets, and the calling of the entrepreneur. It’s a case that Christians need to consider more carefully, even if you end up disagreeing with some of Sirico’s points, especially the many pastors who bring a superficial understanding of business and economics with them into the pulpit. This would be a great book to read and discuss in a small group, a book club, or a senior seminar.

For a free chapter of Sirico’s book, check out the official book site here.

Blog author: aknot
posted by on Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Much has been made of income inequality in the United States this election season. Income inequality exists in the United States, more so than almost any other developed nation. Around sixty years ago, America’s Gini coefficient–the best measure of income equality, where zero represents the least inequality and one the most–was .37. Today, it is .45.

These numbers are startling, especially for a country that so proudly proclaims all men to be “created equal.” But, as Matthew Schoenfeld points out in The Wall Street Journal, income equality is a far cry from the equality the Framers preached in the Declaration of Independence.

Schoenfeld’s article, titled “Air Jordan and the 1%”, transposes the issue of income inequality from the public policy arena to the basketball court. For many people in and around public policy, a rising Gini coeffecient is enough to call for economic redistribution. Of course, this narrow reasoning doesn’t hold up in other arenas, as Schoenfeld’s basketball analogy points out:

And that brings us to Michael Jordan, who starred for the Chicago Bulls from 1984 to 1998. In 1986, the Bulls’ median player salary was $300,000. The team’s lowest-paid player made $135,000, and its highest-paid player made $806,000. The team’s Gini coefficient was 0.36. But Jordan’s superstardom increased the team’s popularity and revenues, and by 1998 salaries looked different. The median income was $2.3 million, the lowest was $500,000, and the highest (Jordan’s) was $33 million. The Gini coefficient had nearly doubled, to 0.67.

Jordan’s salary of $33 million consumed over half the payroll, but everyone was better off. The median player in 1998 made more than seven times what the median player made in 1986, while the income of the lowest-paid player in 1998 quadrupled that of his 1986 peer.

Schoenfeld’s analysis calls to mind a line from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. In the book, de Tocqueville claims, “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.” Equality is certainly a necessary virtue, one that ensures that all can enjoy basic rights and freedoms. But it is not equality alone that generates human flourishing. This is what the Framers, de Tocqueville, and the 1984-1998 Chicago Bulls got right. Humans require freedom and opportunity to fully tap into their inherent creative potential. To return to basketball:  Every successful offense is built around creating the best shot, and the opportunity for a slam dunk always trumps a prayer from half-court.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Top 5 Reasons to Repeal Obamacare
Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation

The House is scheduled to vote today on full repeal of Obamacare. Although many reports are circulating that Congress has already voted on this numerous times, this is only the second time the House will have voted to fully repeal the law.

Yes, Actually, Obamacare Is the Biggest Tax Increase in History
Ira Stoll, Reason

Just because a headline or an idea is repeated over and over again doesn’t make it true.

Beyond Bailouts: What Is Cronyism?
Matthew Mitchell, Mercatus Center

While the bailouts of hundreds of firms in 2008 are, for many, the most prominent example of cronyism in modern American history, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Bailouts are but one example in a long list of privileges that governments give to particular businesses and industries.

Bible museum planned for Washington, D.C.
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

A large-scale Bible museum will open in Washington, D.C., within four years, say planners who have been touring the world with portions of their collection.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, July 11, 2012

“The most dangerous enemies of capitalism today are capitalists,” says Timothy P. Carney. “This is becoming clearer every day to people committed to free markets.”

The conservative and libertarian grassroots came to deeply distrust big business after the Wall Street bailouts and Obama’s stimulus and health care bills, both of which had big-business backing. Tea Party ire focused on subsidy-suckling businesses as much as at big-spending politicians.

Beltway conservatives have also joined in the fight against corporatism. Last spring, the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation all lined up against the Chamber of Commerce and pressed GOP congressmen to vote to kill the Export-Import Bank, which nonetheless was reauthorized by an overwhelming margin.

Republican politicians, despite being lobbied hard by their big-business donors and K Street advisers, are nevertheless moving slowly away from corporate welfare and toward free-market populism. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan wrote an op-ed in Forbes in 2009 titled “Down with Big Business” (a headline he borrowed from a 1979 Wall Street Journal op-ed).

And now academia’s free-market players are getting in on the game, beginning to rebuild the intellectual infrastructure to argue against corporatism. George Mason University’s Mercatus Center this week is kicking off a series of papers on cronyism and business-government collusion.

Read more . . .

Blog author: Mindy Hirst
posted by on Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This week we feature an interview with Diane Paddison, Chief Strategy Officer for Cassidy Turley in Dallas, Texas. She is the founder of non-profit 4WORD and author of the book Work, Love, Pray; Practical Wisdom for Young Professional Christian Women. For resources and to get connected into her community, follow her on Twitter @4wordwomen and Facebook.
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Comparing artists is about as helpful as comparing beer or theologians; it often simply comes down to a matter of taste. However, just as with theologians, there are new insights to be gained from artists, even if they don’t turn out to be our favorite (I suppose the same holds with beer, as well.)

Robert Royal, in an article for the Catholic Education Resource Center, poses the question of whether or not French poet Paul Claudel might be the best modern Catholic poet ever.

I believe the greatest modern Catholic poet, and the most unknown, even to Catholics, is Paul Claudel (1868-1955). His family was modest, his father a local government official. A strong creative streak was hidden somewhere because his sister Camille was a gifted sculptor and student, then mistress, of Rodin — but that’s a story for another day. Claudel studied for a diplomatic career, but was also attracted to poetry. He succeeded spectacularly in both realms.

Some of his predecessors — Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud — were poetes maudits (“cursed poets”), who more than dabbled in sin and occultism. Yet all finished as Catholics. Rimbaud in particular — who stopped writing in his teens and is today sometime a patron saint of self-indulgent rock musicians — helped bring Claudel to belief.

Partly because of the marvelous realm beyond smug modern materialism that Claudel discovered in Rimbaud, he found himself in Notre Dame of Paris on Christmas Day 1886 during Vespers: “The children in the choir were singing what I later learned was the Magnificat. In an instant, my heart was touched and I believed.”

Royal points out that Claudel was not a starving artist, but had a thriving diplomatic career, and frankly, didn’t write that much while he was still actively working. Claudel has a great sense of humor, especially about himself, and while his work is rooted in French culture, most Christians will find themes with which they can identify. His poem, ‘The Day of Gifts’, particularly showcases his self-deprecation and knowledge of his sinfulness before God:

But if by chance You should have need of a lazy and imbecilic bore,
If a prideful coward could prove useful to You, or perhaps a soiled ingrate,
Or the sort of man whose hard heart shows up in a hard face—
Well, anyway, You didn’t come to save the just but that other type that abounds,
And if, miraculously, You run out of them elsewhere . . . Lord, I’m still around.
As with beer and theologians, you may not find Claudel to your taste. But then again, you may find a new favorite.