Archived Posts April 2006 - Page 3 of 6 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jballor
Monday, April 17, 2006
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Having completed his discussion of the covenant of redemption, Herman Witsius writes the following at the conclusion of Book II of his De oeconomia foderum Dei cum hominibus:

What penetration of men or angels was capable of devising things so mysterious, so sublime, and so far surpassing the capacity of all created beings? How adorable do the wisdom and justice, the holiness, the truth, the goodness, and the philanthropy of God, display themselves in contriving, giving, and perfecting this means of our salvation? How calmly does conscience, overwhelmed with the burden of its sins, acquiesce in such a Surety, and in such a suretiship; when here at length, apprised of a method of reconciliation, both worthy of God, and safe for man? Who on contemplating these things in the light of the Spirit, would not break out into the praises of the most holy, the most righteous, the most true, the most gracious, and the most high God? O! the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! O the height of mysteries, which angels desire to look into! Glory to the Father, who raised up, accepted, and gave us such a Surety! Glory to the Son, who clothing himself in human flesh, so willingly, so patiently, and so constantly performed such an engagement for us. Glory to the Holy Ghost, the revealer, the witness, and the earnest of so great happiness for us. All hail! O Christ Jesus, true and eternal God, and true and holy man, all in one, who retains the properties of both natures in the unity of thy person. Thee we acknowledge, thee we worship, to thee we betake ourselves, at thy feet we fall down, from thy hand alone we look for salvation. Thou art the only Saviour; we desire to be they peculiar property, we are so by thy grace, and shall remain such for ever. Let the whole world of thine elect, with us, know, acknowledge, and adore thee, and thus at length be saved by thee. This is the sum of our faith, and hope, and this is the top of all our wishes. Amen.

Amen, indeed. Something like this in the middle of a scholarly treatise might be surprising to some, but it does show how piety and learning were closely integrated in the work of this Dutch Reformed theologian.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, April 14, 2006
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Almighty Father, who hast given thy only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: Give us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

–U.S. Book of Common Prayer, “Friday in Easter Week.”

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, April 13, 2006
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Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

–U.S. Book of Common Prayer, “Thursday in Easter Week.”

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, April 13, 2006
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Regarding biblical economics at St. Maximos’ Hut, Andy Morriss writes on John 10:9-16: “Shepherds care for their flocks because their flocks belong to them; hirelings will not sacrifice for their flocks because the flocks do not belong to them. What better illustration of the value of property rights in encouraging stewardship could there be?”

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, April 13, 2006
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Here’s an abstract of some recent NBER research:

“Why Does Democracy Need Education?,” by Edward Glaeser, Giacomo Ponzetto, Andrei Shleifer

“Across countries, education and democracy are highly correlated. We motivate empirically and then model a causal mechanism explaining this correlation. In our model, schooling teaches people to interact with others and raises the benefits of civic participation, including voting and organizing. In the battle between democracy and dictatorship, democracy has a wide potential base of support but offers weak incentives to its defenders. Dictatorship provides stronger incentives to a narrower base. As education raises the benefits of civic participation, it raises the support for more democratic regimes relative to dictatorships. This increases the likelihood of democratic revolutions against dictatorships, and reduces that of successful anti-democratic coups.”

But here’s a follow-up question: Does a top-down, dictatorial model of eduation undermine education’s tendency to support democracy? If so, then it seems the best model for education in a democracy would be the vigorous and free schooling provided by the private sector.

Blog author: jspalink
Thursday, April 13, 2006
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When I was in college, living in the dorms, friends of mine would play a game called bigger and better. In this game, they would take an object–something that they owned–and trade it up for something that was worth a bit more to them, but worth a bit less to the person that they were trading with.

This is a perfect example of a market economy. You have something that you can trade, somebody else has something that they can trade, and both parties are better off for the transaction. My friends could go out with a pen and come home with a couch for the dorm. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t always this successful. It usually involved a little bit of time, but it made for a fun Saturday afternoon.

Then I found this website, a blog, where a man documents his game of bigger-and-better. He started out with a little red paper-clip. Right now he’s looking to trade one year in Phoenix (which includes one year free rent in the heart of downtown Phoenix. [If needed, the apartment can also come fully furnished] and roundtrip airfare for two from any major airport in North America) for something bigger-and-better. His goal is to own a house at the end of his game.

A small example of how having something of little value to yourself doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage what you have on the market to find something of greater value to yourself.

An op-ed earlier this week in the New York Times examines the emphasis and attention that has been placed on the influx of low-wage immigrants to the United States. According to Steven Clemons and Michael Lind, “Congress seems to believe that while the United States must be protected from an invasion of educated, bright and ambitious foreign college students, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, we can never have too many low-wage fruit-pickers and dishwashers.”

They base this conclusion on many of the measures and stipulations that have been put forth in the varieties of proposals, bills, and amendments flowing out of the latest discussions over immigration reform. “While the United States perversely tries to corner the market in uneducated hotel maids and tomato harvesters, other industrial democracies are reshaping their immigration policies to invite the skilled immigrants that we turn away,” they write.

The answer, say Clemons and Lind, is to model US immigration policy on the successful examples of other countries, that see highly-educated and motivated immigrants as a boon rather than a curse. Even so, the authors oppose the interests of skilled and educated immigrants against those of the unskilled and uneducated. In doing so, I think they go a bit too far.

It is one thing to say that the influx of competitive, driven, educated, and skilled immigrants has not received enough positive attention in the current debate. Clemons and Lind are right on that score. As they write, “more talent means more innovation and opportunities for all, immigrant and native alike.”

They don’t think this holds true for unskilled immigrants however, and view them in a rather less positive light: “with the vast pool of poorly paid, ill-educated laborers already within our borders, we do not need a third of a million new ones a year.” But to make their case, I don’t think Clemons and Lind have to pit the skilled against the unskilled.

It is true that higher competition for low-wage jobs will have the tendency to lower wages, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a powerful incentive for unskilled natives and immigrants alike to pursue new training and education to increase their standard of living. Being a line-worker at Subway is ideally not a career, but rather ought to be a transitional position and motivation for workers to increase the cost of their labor.

The Copenhagen Consensus of 2004 recommended policies that lower barriers to migration for skilled workers as a “fair” program, because they “were regarded as a desirable way to promote global welfare and to provide economic opportunities to people in developing countries.” The reason that the Consensus opposed guest-worker programs was not because low-skilled workers necessarily have a negative economic impact, but because they have a “tendency to discourage the assimilation of migrants,” by placing them in a social and economic position that is lower than natives.

Andrew Yuengert makes the case that there is a limited right to migrate in his monograph, Inhabiting the Land. The unskilled possess this right to no less of an extent than the skilled.