Who needs sustainable cities? It appears that China does. Slashdot reports that a leading architect of the sustainable city movement, William McDonough, has been commissioned by the Chinese government to create “a national prototype for the design of a sustainable village, an effort focused on creating a template for improving the quality of life for 800 million rural Chinese.” A quick survey of McDonough’s clients includes Ford Motor Company, Fuller Theological Seminary, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and IBM Corporation.
Cigar Jack passes along this story about “faith leaders” soliciting the government to place tobacco regulation under the auspices of the FDA. The proposed legislation, which has twice been left languishing in the U.S. House of Representatives, “would give the FDA authority over the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.”
“In the first nationwide study that specifically measures how faith relates to the organization and delivery of human service programs, initial results indicate that faith-based or religious charities do indeed conduct their operations in ways that markedly set them apart from secular organizations.”
That commercial, the one where all the celebrities and guys in collars and habits are talking about raising your “voice” for the world’s poor, has been nominated for an Emmy award for best TV commercial.
The Wall Street Journal editorializes today (subscription required) on a rare bit of good news from the world of tort law:
If the criminal investigation of class-action titan Milberg Weiss is anything to go by, prosecutors may finally be starting to hold the trial bar accountable for its legal abuses. Another good sign is that a separate federal grand jury, this one in New York, is investigating the ringleaders of the latest tort scam, silicosis.
It’s hard to be a great power if your population is shriveling. Europe’s birthrates have dropped well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children for each woman of childbearing age. For Western Europe as a whole, the rate is 1.5. It’s 1.4 in Germany and 1.3 in Italy. In a century — if these rates continue — there won’t be many Germans in Germany or Italians in Italy. Even assuming some increase in birthrates and continued immigration, Western Europe’s population grows dramatically grayer, projects the U.S. Census Bureau. Now about one-sixth of the population is 65 and older. By 2030 that would be one-fourth, and by 2050 almost one-third.
As public policy debate about the extent of government regulation over charities, Karen Woods argues in favor of a “common sense approach” that “would look to transparency and accountability measures that are already on the books, rather than fashioning yet more regulation and mandated enforcement from public agencies.”
Some caricatures of Puritans depict them as strict, severe, and stolid. H.L. Mencken’s famous definition of a Puritan is an example of this: “A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.”
This stereotype carries over into various areas of life that are often considered “fun,” including the drinking of alcoholic beverages. Indeed, Christians have historically been at the forefront of efforts at prohibition of various drugs, most notably perhaps in the case of The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). The United Methodist Church notably opposes alcohol use, stating, “We affirm our long-standing conviction and recommendation that abstinence from alcoholic beverages is a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love.” Baptists are so famous for their traditional teetotalling that “the Baptist minister” has become a figure appearing in jokes and humorous stories (see “The Wedding Reception”).
The position in favor of complete abstinence from alcohol is far from ubiquitous in Christian circles, however. This issue, as most others, receives a variety of responses from faithful Christians. Martin Luther’s love for beer has been variously exploited slanderously by opponents and celebrated by his followers. My own denomination takes a middle-ground position on the issue, “Though abstinence from alcohol is a morally creditable choice, those who, in their freedom in Christ, choose to use alcohol moderately are not to be condemned.”
Christians of course agree on the impropriety of drunkenness, following the biblical injunctions, but seem to split over whether there is any legitimate popular use of alcohol in moderation. Certainly some of the Christian oppposition to alcohol stems from the linkage of drunkenness with pagan practices. In this sense, alcohol use is understood as characteristic of sinful behavior.
An interesting editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal argues that there are empirical data that suggest otherwise, at least in our contemporary situation. Arthur C. Brooks, an associate professor of public administration at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, in “Drink More, Earn More (& Give More),” writes,
moderate drinkers tend to be more charitable than nondrinkers. For example, 54% of nondrinkers contribute to charity each year, giving away an average of $1,100. In contrast, 62% of those who take one to two drinks per day have an average annual giving level of $1,200. The alcohol effect has diminishing returns, however: Just 40% of people drinking five or more drinks per day are donors, and they give only $230 per year on average. (So once you get past two or three, you have to stop claiming you’re “doing it for a good cause.”)
He sums up the matter this way, “Compare two people who are the same in terms of income, education and even religion, but where one drinks moderately and the other doesn’t: The drinker will give between $50 and $100 more to charity each year.”
Read more on The Virtues of Drink…