Archived Posts October 2005 - Page 2 of 7 | Acton PowerBlog

Real estate mogul and reality show guru Donald Trump made a guest appearance on the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” last week and, in a real stretch, he played himself. The brief cameo was in the context of Mr. Trump’s visit to the Horton Foundation, a charity based in the fictional town of Salem. The dialogue between Trump and Mickey Horton gives us some insight into Donald Trump’s view of economic success and the resulting responsibility:

Donald Trump

Mickey: Thank you very much, Mr. Trump, for your generous contribution to the Horton Foundation on its anniversary. And I can assure you that it will be put to very good use.

Donald: Well, I’m glad to do what I can, Mickey. I’ve always believed that with success comes a responsibility, and that responsibility is very important — helping those in need. Your foundation’s been doing a great job for a long time. Happy 40th anniversary, and keep up the great work.

Mickey: We’ll try. I want to thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to come all the way up here to Salem.

Donald: I’ve been hearing so much for so long about what you’ve been doing, and I really had to come up and see the place for myself. It’s great. It’s really terrific.

Now of course in many ways this view might be an artifact of the need to find some device for Donald Trump to appear on “Days”. But this season of Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice”, gives us some other clues in this regard.

On his own show, the reward for the winning team in Week 3 was to “give back to the community” by “distributing tens of thousands of dollars worth of free electronics to kids in the hospital.” This is in distinction to past rewards, which include jet-set getaways and expensive jewelry and gifts.

Joy to the World: Mark enjoys his time with hospitalized kids during Excel’s Santa Claus moment. (Week 3: Tech Expo)

(Kevin T. Gilbert/Blue Pixel)

“It puts everything into perspective,” said Josh. “You can’t really quantify the value of giving a gift and a smile to a kid.” Added Mark, “It was like being Santa Claus.”

And on Martha Stewart’s version of “The Apprentice”, for which Trump serves as executive producer, the Week 2 reward again was “an opportunity to give back to New York City. The corporation banded together with New York Cares to help the Hudson Guild community organization create a garden in Manhattan’s Chelsea district. They transformed a dingy dirt patch into a beautiful oasis of flowers outside the Guild’s new recreation, arts, and children’s center. Working alongside volunteers and neighborhood children, the candidates of Primarius [the winning team] were touched by the joy of giving.”

These are just some of the most recent examples of compassion coming to the small screen. The newest show this season is NBC’s “Three Wishes”, hosted by Christian musician Amy Grant. I’ve discussed before the issue of mixed-motives in the commercialization of compassion, especially with respect to ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. I’m still inclined to give such shows the benefit of the doubt…whatever the motivations, there is good being done. And even if there is duplicity and the motive is purely that of economic self-interest, this merely attests to the foundational reality of mutually beneficial exchange at the heart of the market system.

This post has been crossposted to

Blog author: dphelps
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pork, sweet, juicy pork.

John Stossel, the icon of indignation, has a piece today decrying the spending habits and attitudes of our Republican-led Congress. I will let you read his article for the details, but for what it’s worth, here are some reasons why I think the disgust Stossel projects is an entirely proper and fitting response to pork barrel spending. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A lively discussion is going on over at the evangelical outpost on the idea of the “sin tax,” spurred on by Rev. Sirico’s paper on that subject.

A key point to remember: once the state gets to decide which activities are immoral (but not illegal) and has a vested financial interest in them, you’ll find more and more activities becoming “sins.” Exhibit A: eating fast food.

For more on this subject, see “The Sin Tax Craze: Who’s Next?” by Rev. Sirico.

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…