Category: News and Events

Too bad there isn't a "Hamilton" song titled, "Sovereign Debt Solutions."

Too bad there isn’t a “Hamilton” song titled, “Sovereign Debt Solutions.”

Despite Greece being the current poster child for sovereign debt, national debt crises are nothing new and won’t be going away anytime soon. Governments habitually solicit capital loans only to default. In a new article for Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg discusses not only Greece, but also some of the deeper issues surrounding sovereign debt crises. He asks:

What is the most reasonable framework through which governments should try to address such matters? Should they try to resolve them through appeals to necessity and pragmatism? Or should they seek more principled approaches that take justice seriously? If so, where may such methods be found?

When facing these financial woes, governments often turn to–what some would consider–justifiable, but unethical solutions:

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walter_williams2On this day in 1936, Walter E. Williams was born in the city of Philadelphia. The George Mason University economist is famous for his classical liberal views, often arguing that free market capitalism is not only the most moral economic system known to mankind, but it allows for the creation of the most wealth and prosperity. He has discussed many diverse themes, including: race in the United States, politics, liberty, education, and more. A prolific writer, Williams has written ten books, dozens of essays for scholarly journals, and hundreds of newspaper articles.

In honor of turning eighty, here are ten excellent quotes from Williams:

At the beginning of each semester, I tell students that my economic theory course will deal with positive, non-normative economic theory. I also tell them that if they hear me making a normative statement without first saying, “In my opinion,” they are to raise their hands and say, “Professor Williams, we didn’t take this class to be indoctrinated with your personal opinions passed off as economic theory; that’s academic dishonesty.” I also tell them that as soon as they hear me say, “In my opinion,” they can stop taking notes because my opinion is irrelevant to the subject of the class — economic theory. Another part of this particular lecture to my students is that by no means do I suggest that they purge their vocabulary of normative or subjective statements. Such statements are useful tools for tricking people into doing what you want them to do. You tell your father that you need a cell phone and he should buy you one. There’s no evidence whatsoever that you need a cell phone. After all, George Washington managed to lead our nation to defeat Great Britain, the mightiest nation on Earth at the time, without owning a cell phone.

Democracy and liberty are not the same. Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.

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og-fn-americas-news-hqOn Sunday, March 27, Acton’s President and Co-founder, Rev. Robert Sirico will join Shannon Bream and Leland Vittert on Fox News’ America’s News HQ. He will offer an Easter reflection and comment on any significant breaking news. You can catch him between 1 and 2PM Eastern. America’s News HQ on Fox News Channel reports the latest national and world news. It reports expert insight on health, politics and military matters.

021816PearceRichardsDebate-6In the Detroit News, Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute, offers a commentary on the two-year battle with the city of Grand Rapids over the institute’s exempt status under state property tax law (see the March 15 Acton news release, “Acton Institute Prevails in Property Tax Dispute with City of Grand Rapids” for background). In his opinion piece, Rev. Sirico writes:

We were assured earlier from then-City Attorney Catherine Mish that it all wasn’t political, but a brief signed and submitted by assistant city attorneys tells another story.

The city made the accusation that the Acton Institute “is a politically driven think tank that publishes right-wing libertarian, philosophical and political propaganda tempered with extreme-right religious viewpoints.” The city further alleged that our educational curricula and publications were “tailored narrowly to the mission of spreading its right-wing libertarian viewpoint.”

It’s clear Acton was being denied this exemption for so long not on the merits, but on personal and political grounds. An undercurrent of menace is unmistakable throughout the brief, directed at our religious and economic teachings.

This is part of a larger trend of over-spending city bureaucrats targeting nonprofits to make up for the city’s own mismanagement of funds.

Read “When politicians want your money” in the Detroit News by Rev. Robert A. Sirico.

Also see the March 18 article “City on hook for $205K in tax decision” by Rachel Weick in the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

“We had asked the city at the very beginning of this process to identify for us why they believed we didn’t qualify. They could never articulate an answer for us,” said [Acton attorney Deborah] Ondersma. “I would say that the most disappointing part of the process for me as an attorney was to see the tone of the city’s briefing. That was surprising and disappointing to me.” (more…)

Acton’s Director of International Outreach Todd Huizinga has been quite busy since the release of his book The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in EuropeLast week Thursday, he continued to talk about this topic in an Acton Lecture Series address that we’re pleased to share with you today on the PowerBlog. Additionally, we’ve posted audio of Todd’s hour-long appearance last night on WBZ Boston’s “Nightside” show with host Dan Rea after the jump.

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Pope Benedict XVI often ventured into venues historically hostile to the Judeo-Christian tradition. A new collection of essays discusses many of these speeches, probing the relationship of reason to religion, the West, and natural law. Pope Benedict XVI’s Legal Thought: A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law, edited by Marta Cartabia and Andrea Simoncini, explores the Pope Emeritus’ speeches as well as the implications they have for law and democracy.

Writing for Public Discourse, Acton’s Samuel Gregg discusses this collection of the former Pope’s essays, arguing the theme seems to be a return to reason:

The contribution of these essays to showing how Benedict’s speeches provided pathways for faith and reason to restore coherence to the foundations of Western law and democratic systems is best described as uneven. Among the stronger papers are those of Glendon, the legal scholar J.H.H. Weiler, and the moral theologian Martin Rhonheimer. Each of these authors grapples directly and cogently with Benedict’s arguments concerning how religion and full-bodied conceptions of reason must necessarily shape each other, and in the process of doing so, help infuse greater rationality into our legal systems and democratic institutions.

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Associated Press Photo

UPDATE: (3/17/16) United States: Islamic State committed genocide against Christians, Shi’ites.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:

“The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians. Yazidis because they are Yazidis. Shi’ites because they are Shi’ites,” Kerry said, referring to the group by an Arabic acronym, and accusing it of crimes against humanity and of ethnic cleansing.

Video of Secretary Kerry giving his statement on the Islamic State is now included at the bottom of this post.

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In a rare 393 to 0 vote, The U.S. House has officially condemned the Islamic State and its crimes against humanity, by passing H. Con. Res. 75. The hope is that this will give greater attention to and eventually action to help the victims of the Islamic State.   Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry  (R-NE), this bill “[expresses] the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL [The Islamic State of of Iraq and the Levant] against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” [emphasis added]

This bill declares that:

  • the atrocities committed against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities targeted specifically for religious reasons are crimes against humanity and genocide; (more…)