Archived Posts October 2005 - Page 2 of 5 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Former president of El Salvador, Francisco Flores
Acton Insititute, President, Rev. Robert Sirico

I compiled a short list of quotations taken from the remarks made by Rev. Robert Sirico and former president of El Salvador, Francisco Flores. Both speeches are available online (Francisco Flores , Robert Sirico ) and have a filesize of about 4 Mb. Rev. Sirico’s speech provides a great history of the Acton Institute and what events led to its foundation.

Francisco Flores – Speech highlights:

  • “Responsibility and freedom are two sides of the same coin.”
  • “A free man is a responsible man.”
  • “Opportunity is choice, and choice is freedom.”

Robert Sirico – Speech Highlights:

  • “If you’re not a socialist when you’re young, you have no heart. But if you remain a socialist when you’re old, you have no brains.”
  • “A priest that believes in the free market? Well lets give it a try!”
  • “The elevator was a metaphor of the ineptitute of socialism as a whole; that it couldn’t get you from one floor to another.”
  • “I saw what freedom did. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t complete, but the people were vibrant; the stores were full.”
  • “This delicate balance between having an institutional separation of church and state on the one hand, but not prohibiting the moral and religious influence that can extend throughout a society on the other hand, and that is a neccessary part of that society. How risky it is to get that balance wrong.”
  • “When we witness even good and decent people who see the state as the resource of first resort, as the mediator in all social disputes, as the chief enforcer of morality; when we see this, we know that our mission is as essential now as it was fifteen years ago.”

On a related note, the Acton podcast will supply your MP3 player or Podcast aggregator with audio content from the Acton Institute.

Blog author: dphelps
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Perhaps Uncle Sam…

Interesting news from across the pond today. Our British friends seem to be making education a bit more ‘user friendly’. Education Secretary Ruth Kelly is proposing a system where “parents dissatisfied with local schools will be encouraged to set up their own…’The underlying principle is simple – freedom for schools and power for parents,’ said the education secretary.”

The Acton Institute has long promoted the idea that the primary responsibility for a child’s education lies with the parents. The recent proposal in England is an example of someone at least acknowledging that parents ought to be allowed the freedom and responsibility to make educational decisions for their own children.

…could take a lesson from John Bull.

Groups of parents concerned about underachieving schools can either ask the local authority to intervene – or else set out plans for the creation of their own school. If local authorities reject parents’ proposals, the parents can appeal for adjudication – which Ms Kelly says could lead to the government forcing local authorities to fund such new school projects.

The point is this: generally, when people are given opportunity (freedom), they can succeed more than when a government dictates to them how they will ‘succeed’. I would think this applies especially to education, where bureaucratic mandates can take a family only so far.

Blog author: mvandermaas
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

An illuminating passage from an interview with Peter Schweizer on National Review Online. Schweizer is the author of Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy:

…the consequences of liberal hypocrisy are different than for the conservative variety. When conservatives abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they end up hurting themselves and their families. Conservative principles are like guard rails on a winding road. They are irritating but fundamentally good for you. Liberal hypocrisy is the opposite. When the liberal-left abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they actually improve their lives. Their kids end up in better schools, they have more money, and their families are more content. [Their] ideas are truly that bad.

Blog author: jspalink
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

iBelieveApparently, the religion of iPod is the fastest growing religion in the world. And now, you can even buy the “divine iBelieve” cap for your iPod shuffle, to let others know of your commitments to your religion and music.

But now bring me a man who plays music. And when the man played music the groove came upon them.
~ 2 Jobs 3:15

Who comes up with this stuff, I don’t know. I can just see it now, though – walking into the weight room at [insert name of some Christian college here] and noticing that every other person in the place is wearing an iPod shuffle cross…

Blog author: dphelps
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Last night, at Acton’s 15 Year Dinner in Grand Rapids, former president of El Salvador Francisco Flores gave a reason for his county’s great economic success: it stopped blaming others. Compare this with another statement yesterday by another politician, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm. In a bid to the federal government to help the ailing Michigan manufacturing industry, she said (among other things) that “a crisis is upon us and the Federal Government needs to step up and do its share” presumably because “NAFTA and CAFTA have given Michigan the shafta.”

Now, I may be a sucker for semi-witty wordplay, but the reason I bring this up is simply to point out the following: one politician, whose state was once in a financial ruin Michiganders cannot imagine, pulled his country to increased prosperity with a “don’t blame others; take responsibility for yourself” mentality (to read another speech he gave along these lines, click here); another politician, whose state is on the economic slide, blames the policies of the federal government for it and then demands that the same federal government fix the problem. The irony that these two politicians made these two statements on the same day in Michigan evokes in me–well, lafta.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
—James 1:9–11 (NIV)


Blog author: jcouretas
Monday, October 24, 2005

In case you missed it, the Washington Post did a fun review of the new three-volume art book on the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. For a parent who raised two daughters during the strip’s 10-year run from 1985 to 1995, it’s refreshing to learn that creator Bill Watterson rejected all attempts at further commercializing the adventures and musings of the young boy and his stuffed tiger.

It seems that every children’s flick and television series of the Calvin and Hobbes era – remember those greedy orange cats, troubled baby dinosaurs looking for their mothers, and rebellious mermaids? — was released with the primary motive of selling everything from beach towels to underpants. Many children’s films were – and are — simply 90-minute commercials intended to convince children they needed to own junk emblazoned with registered trademarked likenesses.

Watterson quit while he was ahead and his strip is still vibrant, witty and charming. He had no interest in turning Calvin and Hobbes into a Spielberg film, television series, calendars or anything else. Those atrocious stickers you see on vehicles with a young boy resembling Calvin urinating on Chevy bow-ties and Ford blue ovals? Rip-offs.

Instead, Watterson held firm to the integrity of his strip, which featured characters named after John Calvin, Thomas Hobbes, and a teacher named Wormwood — Satan’s nephew in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. The strip was imaginative, frequently hilarious and often discussed philosophical concepts without coming down definitively on any side.

The beauty of the free-market system is that it grants us freedom to earn as much as possible, but also grants us the freedom to say “enough.” We can know how much money is enough for our individual needs – and that art and literature might suffer terribly at the hands of merchandisers who would dilute its value for a quick buck.

Blog author: jcouretas
Monday, October 24, 2005

Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, is calling on all “civilized and rational” people to combat anti-trade populism of the sort that is designed to whip up fear and protectionism. In an interview with The Times (London), Barroso issued what he called a wake-up call: “If the signal we give to our children is ‘Protect yourself — hide under the table because there is globalisation, resist it’ — then we are nothing.”

This week, European leaders are headed to London for a meeting designed to “forge a consensus on the way forward for Europe,” The Times said. Barroso described the populist problem as widespread, but one that was chiefly engineered by France and Germany. As the Time reported:

France has led a series of attacks on the Commission’s free-market policies, which have caused chaos in world trade. France and Italy, among others, pushed the Commission into putting up barriers to Chinese textile imports, which led to clothes being piled up at European ports recently.France, Spain and other countries tried to block talks about it because they were concerned about the Commission’s promises to cut farm subsidies. France and Germany also torpedoed an attempt to open the internal market for services in Europe. President Chirac of France denounced “neo-liberalism” as the “new communism” earlier this year.

Senhor Barroso hit back at leaders, including M Chirac, who curry support by denouncing free markets. “There is now a kind of populism from the so-called Right or Left. Because it is against the market, it is against the institutions we have created, it is against some values — of tolerance, for instance — because there is also some kind of xenophobia coming up.”

The 2005 Samaritan Award Grand Prize winner was announced today! If you are unfamiliar with the Samaritan Award, or the Samaritan Guide, information can be found here, here, here or here. The winner of the $10,000 award was the Lives Under Construction Boy's Ranch Residential Treatment Program. This program, based in Lampe, Missouri, takes in boys with serious behavioural problems and turns their lives around. The program teaches the value of making right choices, emphasizing the importance of good work and instilling a sense of self-worth in those who feel that the whole world is against them.

The program features physical job training (carpentry, animal husbandry, welding, mechanics, housekeeping, cooking...) as well as educational assistance. An 11 minute video presentation ( - 20Mb) gives a brief but concise description of this amazing organization.

Samaritan Award Honorees were also announced and include the Washington City Mission, Washington, Pa.; Panama City Rescue Mission, Panama City, Fla.; Promise of Hope, Inc., Dudley, Ga.; Hearts of Christ Youth Outreach Ministry, Memphis, Tenn.; Citizens for Community Values of Memphis, Memphis, Tenn.; Good Shepherd Shelter of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.; Samaritan Inns, Inc., Washington, D.C.; Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities, St. Paul, Minn.; and Knox County Christian Women’s Job Corps, Knoxville, Tenn.

Please read the official Acton Press Release for more information. Also, please visit the Samaritan Guide for more information about these individual programs.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, October 21, 2005

“I don’t think many of the conflicts I’ve covered were really about religion. It’s about territory. It’s about power. It’s about other things. It’s just broken down along religious lines.”

James Nachtwey, war photographer, 56, New York City
(Interviewed by Cal Fussman, Esquire, Oct 01 ’05)