Category: Public Policy

Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
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“Christians obtain grace from reflecting on the miracle of the Incarnation but they have given the event called Christmas as a glorious gift to the world,” Rev. Sirico writes. “This is why this holiday can be so secular and yet remain so sacred. There is a distinction between the two but not always a battle between the two.”

Read the full commentary here.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
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A while back I mentioned a new book coming out questioning conventional wisdom on the “brain drain” problem caused by emigration from developing nations. The book will not be out for a while yet, but the author, Michele Pistone, has a long post on Mirror of Justice describing her findings and how they relate to traditional moral concerns raised by Catholic social teaching.

Remember: when you recieve a “free” service from the government, it’s not actually free. You’re paying for that service through your taxes. And when the government sets up a monopoly in an area like health care, it’s probably going to end up being more expensive and cheaper at the same time – more expensive because people are less likely to use a “free” service prudently, and cheaper because the overuse of the service will force officials to impose major restraints on the program in order to aviod complete financial disaster, thereby reducing the amount and quality of services available to consumers. Anthony Dick provides an overview of Canada’s situation today on National Review Online:

Canada’s universal-health-care system has long been a darling of the nanny-state Left. Its stated purpose, jealously touted by swooning cohorts of compassion from coast to coast, is to provide free and equal health care for all, regardless of ability to pay.

In practice, sadly, this high-minded endeavor has hit a few snags. The pesky fetters of reality have imposed stingy budget constraints on the enterprise, while the promise of free service for all has increased the demand for treatment. The Canadian government has thus struggled to treat more patients while spending as sparingly as possible on each of them, causing waiting lists to swell and the quality of care to sag. Not helping matters have been some medical professionals, who have fled the public system in search of better compensation. With shaking heads and sullen spirits, everyone involved agrees: It’s just not fair.

There is hope, however, thanks to the legal efforts of Jacques Chaoulli, a 53-year-old French Canadian physician. As they say, read the whole thing.

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
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Fr. Philip De Vous, chaplain of Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, KY and an adjunct scholar of public policy at the Acton Institute, writes of a recent trip to see operations of the Doe Run Company in Lima, Peru.

It seems that the Doe Run Company has been accosted by “criticism from certain journalists and certain sectors of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations” regarding its practice of business ethics.

What Fr. De Vous experienced in Peru, however, caused him to question the complaints against the company. “What I heard and saw was completely different from what I had read in various news stories or was told during two meetings with some of those critics,” he writes.

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
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Here’s the best ad hominem (no pun intended) reason to deplore the creation of chimeras: Stalin, the self-proclaimed “Brilliant Genuis of Humanity,” wanted them.

The Scotsman reports that “Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.”

According to the documents, the order came from Stalin’s wish to create a race of super-soldiers: “I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.”

Blog author: dphelps
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
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2015: “Sorry guys! My bad!”

Predictions, anyone? Chavez continues to flex his socialist muscles as he has now given ExxonMobil an ultimatum: either give him the controlling interest in their company, or lose their Venezuelan operation altogether. This story is notable because ExxonMobil is the only company who has thus far refused Chavez’s “offer they can’t refuse.”
Now, I don’t think anyone had any misconceptions that Chavez would be a ‘nice socialist’, but what was that proverb about being doomed to repeat history? What worries me about the Venezuelan situation is when their economy gets even worse (as it inevitably will), whom do you think Chavez will blame? I suspect he won’t apologize then for his own policies.

Blog author: jballor
Monday, December 19, 2005
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Fast Company Now is reporting that “for the first time, customer satisfaction with federal agency Websites has surpassed offline government services,” according to an American Customer Satisfaction Index report.

What is especially noteworthy, however, is that online private sector services consistently rank higher in satisfaction than their governmental counterparts. “Where the gap between offline public and private services has narrowed, the report said, e-government is trailing far behind the private sector online. That, said ACSI chief Claes Fornell, shows room for improvement: ‘They still have ground to close,’ he said.”

Update: In case you were wondering, FEMA’s ratings were dragging down the aggregate federal number a bit. The two divisions of FEMA’s that were rated by the ACSI were its “Flood Map Store” and the “Mitigation Division website”, which scored 70 and 65 respectively (out of 100). The overall governmental average was 71.3.

The Acton debate on the relationship has featured blog posts on Rodney Stark and David Brooks’s column on Starks.

Amy Welborn’s site has more in these two posts (here and here), with a somewhat lively debate in the comments sections.

Several of the comments regard Max Weber’s thesis on the Protestant work ethic and capitalism, and reveal a misunderstanding of what makes for economic growth in Ireland and the lack of it in Latin America.

It’s pretty obvious there are few Actonites or economists taking place in the debate over at Amy Welborn’s. If they had been reading the Journal of Markets and Morality, they could have saved themselves a lot of time.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Friday, December 16, 2005
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Eugene Hickok and Gary Andres give us an optimistic piece on education reform on NRO today. They see even public educational professionals opening up to the positive potential of reforms that shift the educational enterprise into non-governmental hands. No doubt the continued advance of public education threats such as homeschooling and vouchers have prodded some educators into reform-mindedness. Progress on this issue is painstakingly slow and therefore hard to gauge, but one hopes Hickok and Andres have correctly identified the direction of momentum.

Paul Theroux, a former Peace Corps volunteer, indicts what he calls the “more money” platform, headed by none other than U2 frontman Bono, in a NYT op-ed, “The Rock Star’s Burden.”

“Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions.”

The piece is well worth reading: “We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for – and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful; it is also ignoring some obvious points.” Theroux goes on to examine some of these points, in convincing fashion.