Archived Posts July 2005 - Page 2 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Here’s a great interview from the Marketplace Morning Report with Chris Farrell, in which he argues for the lifting of trade sanctions against dictatorial and oppressive regimes. He compares the cases of Cuba and China, in which two different strategies have been used, with vastly different results.

We need to “stop the policy of broad based sanctions against nations that we don’t like,” says Farrell. This is directly opposite of the view, for example, which primarily blames economic engagement and the concern that, in the words of Kai Ryssdal, “some of these governments will be propped up.”

This is something the Acton Institute has been talking about for years. Read Rev. Robert A. Sirico’s “It’s Time to Do Unto Cuba as We Do Unto China,” from The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2000.

Following months of Zimbabwe’s brutal “Drive Out Trash” campaign, pleasantries exchanged between Mugabe and a UN delegation may have made some headway. The UN report on the situation, according to Claudia Rosett, began “with a delicacy over-zealously inappropriate in itself to dealings with the tyrant whose regime has been responsible for wreck of Zimbabwe” by describing Mugabe’s reception of the UN officials with a “warm welcome.”

Despite the shortcomings of the UN report with respect to policy solutions (more aid!), the combination of a “stick and carrot” approach may be bearing some measure of success. ENI reports today:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was being feted as a key African leader in China when his security forces finally declared a respite in a two-month long destruction of homes of poor people in urban areas that triggered the ire of international church groups and the United Nations. The South African Council of Churches said a container of relief supplies would be sent to Zimbabwe at the beginning of August as part of its “Operation Hope for Zimbabwe”, aimed at relieving suffering after the government’s Operation Murambatsvina which means in the Shona language, “Drive Out Trash”.

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Slate features an article by Henry Blodget, a former securities analyst, which examines the investments of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts. In an analysis that has more than you would ever need to know about a person’s finances (and perhaps reads a bit too much into the investments), Blodget writes of Roberts, “His fortune is self-made, which suggests a bias toward self-reliance rather than entitlements and subsidies.” That sounds promising.

HT: Fast Company Now

Blog author: dphelps
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Close at Home

The House of Representatives voted early this morning (12:03 am) to approve the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) after weeks of intense lobbying on both sides. The final vote was a close 217-215.

My predictions: somehow, any dip in employment (if there is one) in the next six months will somehow be linked to CAFTA by its detractors. Detractors will attempt to take the moral high ground in American politics in ’06 and ’08, and even if we experience greater prosperity as a result of CAFTA, the hills will be alive with the sounds of “Where are the jobs?” and “I told you so.”

But here’s the other side of it that detractors will not draw your attention to in coming months: Central Americans will have access to cheaper goods. Cheaper goods mean higher productivity. Higher productivity means more wealth creation. More wealth creation means more prosperity, less poverty, and friendlier neighbors. Why friendlier? Because now, Central American workers have greater access to something that is indespensible in the market, something that affirms their dignity as workers and as persons: freedom. Free trade is nothing more than individuals and bodies excercising the truth about themselves, that they are free beings and ought to come into agreements freely, without governmental impediments like tariffs.

Here’s to free trade and our success together as neighbors.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

S. T. Karnick over at The Reform Club comments on a recent suit filed against DuPont over Teflon, claiming that “DuPont lied in a massive attempt to continue selling their product.”

Karnick observes that abuse of the tort system is rampant, in part because “it has been perverted into a proxy for the criminal justice system: a means of punishing supposed wrongdoers through the use of a weaker standard of proof—preponderance of the evidence instead of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Trial by Fury

Law professor Ronald J. Rychlak outlines the changes over time to America’s tort law system in his recent book, Trial by Fury: Restoring the Common Good in Tort Litigation. The weakened burdens of proof is one of the trends that Rychlak investigates, in addition to increases in damage awards, the recognition of new torts, and the growth of class action suits.

Rychlak argues for a recovery of the purpose of the tort system. He concludes in light of the changes in tort law, “Effective tort reform, therefore, must return the system to one based on fault and causation, that holds responsible those who caused the damage, makes the injured whole, and does not impose upon the innocent.”

Mugabe: The Culprit

The United Nations has released a report on the ongoing upheavals in Zimbabwe, where tyrant Robert Mugabe has been punishing his political opponents under the guise of “cleaning up” the country’s cities. The effect of Operation Murambatsvina (meaning either “Operation Restore Order” or “Operation Drive Out Trash,” depending on who’s translation you believe) has been to leave some 700,000 people homeless, jobless, or both. A downloadable copy of the UN report is available here.

While the report does illuminate the brutality that has been going on for the last two months or so in the African nation, Claudia Rosett notes in today’s Wall Street Journal that the UN offers only one solution to the problem: more international aid:

With a delicacy over-zealously inappropriate in itself to dealings with the tyrant whose regime has been responsible for wreck of Zimbabwe, the report starts by thanking Mr. Mugabe for his “warm welcome” to the U.N. delegation, which visited the country from June 26 to July 8. The report, issued by the secretary-general’s special envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, then proceeds to the usual U.N. prescription that what Zimbabwe needs is more aid, and a framework–here comes the UN lingo–“to ensure the sustainability of humanitarian response.” While the report also calls for the “culprits” to be called to justice under Zimbabwe laws, Mugabe himself is somehow excused from direct responsibility.

Instead, the report faults wealthy nations for not providing more aid already, and notes that “With respect to the funding issue, some in the Zimbabwe political elite and intelligentsia, as well as others of similar persuasion around the continent, believe the international community is concerned more with ‘regime change’ and that there is no real and genuine concern for the welfare of ordinary people.”

Somehow it doesn’t seem to occur to the UN and ‘others of similar persuasion’ that the desire for ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe is directly related to a genuine concern for the welfare of ordinary people. In fact, those ordinary people that the UN professes so much concern for have themselves expressed a desire for ‘regime change’ in two consecutive elections, only to see their votes nullified by the rampant corruption of the Mugabe government.

The situation seems ripe for another UN failure. In fact, today’s Boston Globe notes that Mugabe is continuing his disastrous “clean-up” operation:

Government authorities demolished huts and evicted people west of the capital yesterday, witnesses said, defying UN demands to halt the much condemned urban renewal program that the world body says has left 700,000 people homeless or without a job…

…The government authorities came at night, beat people, and burned huts at Porta Farm, a settlement the government set up in 1991 to house 3,000 squatters so that they would not be seen by visiting Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, a witness said. The number of inhabitants has grown to 30,000 in the past 14 years.

Thousands of people were told they have to move to rural areas, said the witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

For more insights on the current state of affairs, visit This is Zimbabwe.

The Service Employees International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have broken away from the AFL-CIO, complaining that the federation has focused too much on political activism in the face of declining union membership and influence.

Dr. Charles Baird was a featured guest on yesterday’s edition of Kresta in the Afternoon on Ave Maria Radio, discussing Catholic perspectives on unionism and whether the modern American labor union movement is compatible with church teachings. Dr. Baird is Chair of the Department of Economics at California State University and the author of Liberating Labor: A Christian Economist’s Case for Voluntary Unionism (part of Acton’s Christian Social Teaching series and available for purchase in the Acton Bookshoppe). To listen to the interview, click here (5.1 mb mp3).