Category: General

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.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 16, 2012
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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
Friday, July 13, 2012
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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
Thursday, July 12, 2012
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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.

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
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
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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.