Category: Interviews

Nuns Gabriella Bottani (L), Estrella Castalone (C) and Carmen Sammut hold the logo of an international campaign called ''Play in Favour of Life-Denounce Human Trafficking' - Reuters

Nuns Gabriella Bottani (L), Estrella Castalone (C) and Carmen Sammut hold the logo of an international campaign called ”Play in Favour of Life-Denounce Human Trafficking’ – Reuters

Did you watch the U.S. v. Portugal game last night? Did you cheer for the amazing play of American keeper Tim Howard? Did you howl in disbelief at the last minute goal by Portugal? Even if you’re not a soccer fan, it’s hard not to get swept up in the fun and rivalry of the world’s biggest soccer extravaganza.

Unless you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Every large sporting event in the world has become a red-light district. Where there are many people, there are many people who are willing to buy sex. And that means human trafficking. In December, Time noted that while the nation of Brazil (currently hosting the World Cup) has an age of consent of 14, a recent court ruling allowed that sex with a 12 year old did not necessarily constitute statutory rape, setting the stage for human trafficking to thrive during one of the world’s largest sporting events. This is not to say that the illegal sex trade doesn’t already have a place in Brazil, as Time reported:

Thiago, 27, has worked as a pimp and trafficker across Brazil, convincing the mothers of girls like Amanda and Emmanuelle to hand over their daughters for some $5,000 to $10,000. “I sought the girls in Recife because there is so much poverty there,” he says in São Paulo, asking that his last name not be published. “It makes it way easier to convince the girls to come down and prostitute themselves.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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actonuThis is the week for the annual Acton University, a unique educational experience focused on the intersection of liberty and morality. Here are five facts you should know about Acton U.

1. Acton University is a four day annual conference on liberty, faith and free-market economics held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

2. Each even includes nine sessions in which attendees can create a customized learning path from 100+ courses taught by 55+ international, world class experts.

3. The conference is open to undergraduate and graduate students, professors, non-profit professionals, pastors, seminarians, entrepreneurs, business people, and anyone interested in deepening their understanding of the integration of sound economics, rigorous philosophy, and the Judeo-Christian faith.

4. New attendees at Acton U are required to take the four foundational lectures, courses that offer participants a framework and context rooted in Judeo-Christian anthropology. The courses are: Christian Anthropology, Christian Vision of Government, Economic Way of Thinking, and Biblical Foundations of Freedom. These foundational courses are also offered online for free at AU Online.

5. Out of all the conferences offered in the U.S. every year, Acton U is by far the one where you will learn the most about freedom and economics and meet the most intriguing people from around the world. It is also the greatest recurring event in the history of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Note: Point #5 may stretch the meaning of the term “fact.”

This morning, Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico took some time away from his preparations for Acton University to speak with Jim Engster, host of The Jim Engster Show on WRKF radio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, discussing how to address the issue of poverty in society, and the approach taken by Pope Francis and the church in general to that and other issues. They also discussed the problems with the ObamaCare model of health-care reform, among other issues. You can listen to the interview using the audio player below.

Rev. Robert Sirico was recently on WSJ Live, talking to  Simon Constable about Pope Francis and his shakeup of Vatican finances:

Acton Institute President and co-founder, Rev. Robert Sirico was recently interviewed on both Bloomberg TV as well as Fox & Friends’ Varney & Co. Sirico spoke with Trish Regan on Bloomberg’s “Street Smart” about financial reform in the Vatican:

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I met Naomi Schaefer, not yet Riley, while she was editor of “In Character” and just about to have her first book “God on the Quad” published. I invited her to be a speaker at a Catholic business conference that I was involved with in southern California. The following week she married Jason Riley. The writing career continues to produce good stuff. And there are three kids now and a house in the burbs. Good stuff all around.

Her latest book’s title “Got Religion – How Churches, Mosques and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back” made me think of the intermittently resurrected advertising campaign of a few years ago, “Got Milk.” The reference in that campaign was to make the point that everybody needs it and if you’re missing milk, you’re missing something important. Really important.

Well, that’s the same way Naomi feels about religion and this latest book informs us of how much things have slipped in our culture. And it informs the reader of what we and others can do and are doing about it.
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pope and cross

Pope Francis

Much has been said about Pope Francis’ views on economics (in fact, you can read Acton’s Special Feature on this here.) In The Wall Street Journal, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, discusses how the media has skewed Francis’ remarks as endorsing redistribution and denouncing capitalism. Cardinal Dolan says this is unfortunate, given what the pope has actually said. While the pope is clear that we must be generous in all our social activity, he is not denouncing capitalism.

The church believes that prosperity and earthly blessings can be a good thing, gifts from God for our well-being and the common good. It is part of human nature to work and produce, and everyone has the natural right to economic initiative and to enjoy the fruits of their labors. But abundance is for the benefit of all people.

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Time magazine, 1964: Lyndon B. Johnson as Man of the Year

Time magazine, 1964: Lyndon B. Johnson as Man of the Year

As noted here on the Acton PowerBlog earlier this week, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of war on poverty. Economist Nicholas Eberstadt, in an interview with the American Enterprise Institute, discusses what he calls the “brave new welfare state” we now have due to over-grown public assistance and unintended consequences of government programs.

Asked if we need to spend more money on anti-poverty initiatives, Eberstadt answers:

Let me suggest this is not the right way of framing the question. Quite the contrary: if we presume that government entitlement transfers are the answer to the poverty problem, we are pretty much doomed to failure before we even start.

For a healthy national community of prosperous and independent citizens, we need a nation with strong families, solid education, a serious work ethic, and a good jobs market. Anti-poverty programs can only substitute for these fundamentals—and unfortunately such programs are necessarily rather limited and imperfect substitutes. Of course there is a role for public resources in addressing public need—but such government resources can be targeted more efficiently and intelligently than we are doing today.

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A couple of interviews to bring you up to speed on from that last couple of days:

First of all, here’s Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg on the GRN Alive morning show on the Guadalupe Radio Network this morning to discuss current efforts to raise the federal minimum wage, giving his analysis on the likely impact of such a move on the economy and the job market.

And from yesterday, here’s Acton co-founder and President Rev. Robert A. Sirico with host Mike Rosen on The Mike Rosen Show on 850 KOA in Denver, Colorado, to discuss Pope Francis’ recent comments to United Nations officials, which included remarks on “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State.” Rosen and Sirico speak extensively about Catholic teaching on economics, and about the misleading nature of the term “trickle-down economics.”

tea party catholicSam Gregg, Director of Research for Acton, is featured in an interview with the National Catholic Register. The interview ranges from Gregg’s education and career at Acton to how Catholicism and the free markets dovetail.

Trent Beattie questioned Gregg about St. Bernadine of Siena, who defended business and entrepreneurs. Gregg replied:

Most Catholics are unaware of the broad Catholic intellectual and institutional contributions to the development of market economies in general, especially during their early phases in the Middle Ages. Too often, we buy into the “Dark Ages” mythology about this period. So the fact that St. Bernardine of Siena — and many other Franciscans — were among the first to grasp the importance of the entrepreneur as a key catalyst for economic growth, or that they made clear and important distinctions between money-as-sterile and money-as-capital, get missed alongside all the other things that happened in the so-called “Dark Ages.”

I also think that many people have an imaginary understanding of St. Francis and the Franciscan orders that followed in his wake. They weren’t all poor mendicants. Lots of them were very intellectually serious men who lived, worked and often taught in urban centers, and thus experienced what some scholars have called the Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages. They didn’t try to resist it. Rather, they sought to understand it so that they could guide the faithful in the “how” of living a Christian life in the midst of this new world.

Beattie also asked Gregg to comment on common misconceptions that Catholics have about economics.

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