Category: Public Policy

always-be-positive-quote-1Does your boss require you to be pleasant and cheerful? Do they expect you to maintain a positive workplace environment? Are you being asked to conduct yourself in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships?

If so, your company may be violating your rights.

In their employee handbook its employee on “Workplace Conduct”, the wireless carrier T-Mobile included the clause:

Employees are expected to maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships with internal and external customers, clients, co-workers, and management.

In a lawsuit against the company, a group of employees included the claim that the undefined phrases “positive work environment” and “communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships” are ambiguous and vague, and would “reasonably chill employees in the exercise” of their right to unionize.
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A few weeks ago in connection with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I looked at Lex Luthor as the would-be crony capitalist über Alles, and pointed to Bruce Wayne along with Senator Finch as the economic and political counterpoints to such corruption, respectively.

In this week’s Acton Commentary, Daniel Menjivar looks more closely at Bruce Wayne as representative of aristocratic virtue, the capitalist hero to Luthor’s crony capitalist villain. And while, as Menjivar concludes, “In cape and cowl he is a true hero, the Dark Knight. But in suit and tie, Bruce Wayne is the quintessential capitalist superhero, a shining example of corporate nobility,” Menjivar also notes that Wayne is an imperfect hero.

Threat Bruce Wayne“One clear fault is Bruce’s assumption that by simply fulfilling the material needs of the survivors he has done his part. This is most clearly evidenced in the character of Wallace Keefe, the very man that Bruce Wayne pulled from the rubble of the Wayne building in Metropolis. Wallace loses his legs in the aftermath of the battle, however, he refuses and returns all of Bruce Wayne’s checks,” writes Menjivar.
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soil-stewardship-sundayDuring the drought that struck the United States from 1934 to 1937, the soil became so badly eroded that static electricity built up on the farmlands of the Great Plains, pulling dust into the sky like a magnet. Massive clouds of dust rose up to 10,000 feet and, powered by high-altitude winds, was pushed as far east as New York City.

When the “black blizzard” hit Washington, D.C. in May 1934, Hugh Hammond Bennett — the “father of soil conservation” — was testifying before a congressional committee about the effects of soil erosion. Bennett’s testimony lead Congress to unanimously pass legislation declaring soil and water conservation a national policy and priority.

But fixing soil erosion was not something the government could do on its own. As the National Association of Conservation Districts explains, “Because nearly three-fourths of the continental United States is privately owned, Congress realized that only active, voluntary support from landowners would guarantee the success of conservation work on private land. In 1937, President Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending legislation that would allow local landowners to form soil conservation districts.”
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pollution-cleanedAlthough Earth Day 2016 has officially ended, the call for Christians to care for the Earth continues. For us, every day is Earth day.

Too often, though, we Christians don’t have a robust enough understanding of how to care for the environment or how that duty is connected to economics.

A decade ago, Acton research fellow Jordan Ballor wrote the best, brief explanation you’ll ever find on the connection between economics and environmental stewardship. As Ballor says, economics can be understood as the theoretical side of stewardship, and stewardship can be understood as the practical side of economics.
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We all need help thinking more clearly — you, me, U.S. Senators like Barbara Boxer, says John Stonestreet. And denying it sometimes proves the opposite.

A hearing that was held last week of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works consisted of Senator Barbara Boxer of California, Alex Epstein, the President for the Center for Industrial Progress, and Father Robert Sirico, a priest and president of the Acton Institute, among others.

The topic was how the president’s climate policies had impacted economic opportunity, national security, and related issues. As Mr. Epstein finished his testimony by telling a story from his book A Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Senator Boxer demanded: “Mr. Epstein, Are you a scientist?”

“No,” he replied. “I’m a philosopher.” When Boxer sarcastically implied that he didn’t belong in the hearing because he wasn’t a scientist, Epstein pointed out that philosophy helps folks think more clearly. Boxer snapped back, “I don’t need help thinking more clearly.”

Well, with all due respect to the good senator from California, the entire exchange demonstrated she does need help thinking more clearly, since hers was a classic example of a self-defeating set of statements. First, if philosophers do not belong in such a hearing because they are not scientists, do politicians belong who are not scientists?

Here’s the video of Rev. Sirico tangling with Sen. Barbara Boxer on the Pope, energy, and the environment.

shavethatyakSince today is Earth Day you’ll be hearing even more discussions than usual about the problem of anthropocentric climate change. What you aren’t likely to hear is sufficient consideration of the question, “What kind of problem is it?”

Many people claim that it is an environmental problem. Some claim that it is a technological, scientific, or even moral problem. Others vigorously contend that is it not a “problem” at all. I believe that, first and foremost, anthropocentric climate change is a political problem. And political problems require that we choose a solution from a range of political options.

Although it may not exhaust the range of possibilities, I believe the basic listing of positions and options on climate change can be derived from a combination of these three categories:
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tubman-on-tenLast Summer I predicted that Harriet Tubman would be replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. I was almost right. She’ll be replacing Andrew Jackson.

The U.S. Treasury announced last year that the $10 bill is the next paper currency scheduled for a major redesign — a process that takes years because of the anti-counterfeiting technology involved — and will feature a “notable woman.”

The new ten will be unveiled in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment, which gave women the right to vote. As the Treasury explained, “The passage of the nineteenth amendment granted women their right to fully participate in the system our country was founded on—a government by the people, a democracy.”

In a post last June I wrote: “I’m almost certain they already know who Treasury is going to choose: It’s going to be Harriet Tubman.” Instead, it was Jackson who got demoted to the back of the currency while Tubman will take his place on the front.

I think the Treasury made the right decision. As the first Treasury secretary, Hamilton deserved to stick around on the $10 (leaders of the women’s suffrage movement will be featured on the other side). But it was time for a woman to join the men on our money and, based on the criteria used for consideration, Tubman is a solid choice. She was not only an abolitionist, she served in the Civil War as a Union spy and became the only woman during that conflict to lead men into a battle.

Unfortunately, fans of Tubman will have to wait awhile longer to see her new portrait: the $20 isn’t scheduled for a redesign until 2030.

In the meantime, here was my reasoning from last year on why Tubman was all but inevitable based on the Treasury’s criteria for a “noble woman” candidate:
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