Fair Trade and Good Intentions

A constant theme here at the Acton Institute is the idea that good intentions are not enough…they need to be connected to sound practice. In a reflection on fair trade at WORLDmag.com, D. Continue Reading...

DeKoster on Work and Food

I mentioned Lester DeKoster’s little classic, Work: The Meaning of Your Life—A Christian Perspective, in the context of the Lutheran World Federation’s General Assembly and the theme, “Give us today our daily bread.” In this book, DeKoster makes a pointed connection between work and food: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” The Lord is saying that where humans are hungry, there he too chooses to hunger. Continue Reading...

Work, Globalization, and Civilization

In this week’s Acton Commentary, “Lutheran World Federation Misses the Mark on Work and Wealth,” I reflect on the recently concluded general assembly of the Lutheran World Federation, held in Stuttgart. Continue Reading...

Religious Development

Bill Easterly has a brief reflection on the role of religion in global societies, a role that must be taken into account by development ‘experts.’ Speaking of his experience at an Anglican worship service in Ghana: I think it’s something about how to understand people’s behavior, you need to understand how they see themselves. Continue Reading...

Fair Trade: Rhetoric and Reality

The NYT Freakonomics blog notes that the Fair Trade movement does not exist independently of the laws of economics: But the problem with Fair Trade coffee is that as the program scales up, the alternative market ethics it wants to sustain collapse. Continue Reading...

Walk, Pedal, Drive

Some of the assumptions built into the mainstream international aid and development movement are puzzling. Among them is the faulty assumption that the comparison that matters most is how the developing world is doing in relation to the developed. Continue Reading...

Micro-Finance and Major Disaster

As we’ve noted before, the Planet Money team is on the ground in Haiti getting a hands-on look at the economic situation after the disaster. Today they broadcast a moving story of an entrepreneur who lost all her capital in the earthquake. Continue Reading...

Promises and perils of globalization

Thomas P.M. Barnett has written a good, concise, piece on the consolidation and deepening of globalization, specifically Wal-Mart’s tapping into local producers in developing countries. (HT: Real Clear World) As far as I can tell, there are no Wal-Mart’s in Italy, but having spent the last three weeks at my parents’ home in Flint, Michigan and shopping at places like Wal-Mart and Target, I can clearly see how far behind the curve Italy is. Continue Reading...

Critiquing Fair Trade and Dead Aid

Cardus’ Robert Joustra rightly pillories “fair trade” along with the logic of foreign aid in a challenging article, “Fair Trade and Dead Aid: ‘My Voice Can’t Compete with an Electric Guitar.'” Joustra’s point of departure is sound: “The aid model is not working, and no large-scale cash infusion or debt forgiveness scheme is going to make it suddenly start working. Continue Reading...