Archived Posts January 2007 - Page 3 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

The Detroit News ran my commentary from the end of last year on the role of religion and prisoner reform today, “Don’t prevent religion from helping to reform prisoners.” The version that ran today omits the references to Jeremy Bentham, which you can get from the original and this related blog post.

In related news, Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley reports today that the “Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has set February 13, 2007, for oral arguments in the appeal of the ruling against Prison Fellowship and the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI).” The appeal will be argued in St. Louis, MO and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be part of the three judge panel.

Get more information about the case at the IFI Ruling web page.

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

You may have seen this story a few weeks back toward the end of last year: “Some faith groups say bottled water immoral,” by Rebecca U. Cho of the Religion News Service.

The core of the story revolves around this assertion made by the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program and a number of other mainline projects: Drinking bottled water is a sin.

Cassandra Carmichael, director of eco-justice programs for the National Council of Churches, bases this claim on the assumption that bottling water by definition deprives access to a natural resource basic to human existence.

“The moral call for us is not to privatize water,” Carmichael said. “Water should be free for all.”

According to the RNS piece, “Rebecca Barnes-Davies, coordinator of Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, said bottled water companies encourage a culture in the U.S. that is comfortable with privatizing a basic human right.”

“As people of faith, we don’t and shouldn’t pretend to have ownership of any resource — it’s God’s,” she said. “We have to be the best steward we can be of all those resources.”

The foundational document for the NCC’s campaign is “WATER: THE KEY TO SUSTAINING LIFE: AN OPEN STATEMENT TO GOVERNING BODIES AND CONCERNED CITIZENS,” which presents the following false dilemma, “Water should be viewed as a gift from God for all people, not a commodity that can be traded for profit.”

The problem is that “Access to fresh water supplies is becoming an urgent matter of life and death across the planet and especially for the 1.2 billion people who are currently suffering from a lack of adequate water and sanitation.”

The lack of access to water in many developing nations is a real and serious problem (more on that here). The exploitation of this real problem by the NCC, however, is indefensible. (more…)

Blog author: dwbosch
Monday, January 22, 2007

Via Drudge, the Weather Channel "Climate Expert" is taking serious flack (check the comments) for her call to pull the credentials of any media meteorologist who doesn’t endorse the theory of human-caused global warming. The cover provided by her boss doesn’t garner any more favorable feedback.

I think people want more science from scientists and less dogma. I know I do.

UPDATE: On the other hand, this seems a little over the top.

If forecasters can’t reliably tell us what will happen in two to three months from now, why would anyone trust that they know what will happen with the weather in 50 or 100 years from now and let them tell us how to live our lives accordingly? This is all about Big Brother do-gooders trying to control how you live your life, and stripping away the freedoms and liberties of people to live their lives as they see fit, engage in commerce and raise their families.

The truth is probably someplace in between.

UPDATE: Sorry, the cartoon is doing something funny with the format. Link is here.

UPDATE: Lots more here.

Blog author: jballor
Monday, January 22, 2007

Child labor is too expensive, at least for the Grand Rapids Press. As part of “cost-cutting measures,” The Press will no longer be delivered by paperboys and papergirls under the age of 18.

According to, “In a change to the way they deliver their papers to their carriers, The Press announced they will drop off their papers to depots around the city instead of at neighborhood corners. The carrier will have to go to that depot to get their bundle and then deliver them.”

This means that only people 18 and over can go and deliver the paper, presumably because of transportation and insurance concerns.

This is the headline from Zenit on January 18. "Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako, the archbishop of Kirkuk warns that a division of boundaries will lead to more conflict, with Christians caught in the middle."

“He says ‘a divided Iraq will not be a peaceful Iraq.’ …Archbishop Sako fears that possible plans for a Christian safe haven on the Nineveh plain will not succeed. He said: ‘They would have their own territory, but to be viable, the idea of a protected zone, a safe haven, which is viewed sympathetically by the Kurds and even the Americans, needs an end to the violence and remains in any event, a dangerous plan. The Nineveh plain is largely surrounded by Arabs, and Christians would serve as a useful and undefended buffer zone between Arabs and Kurds.'”

In other words, Christians would be caught in the cross-fire between Arabs and Kurds, unless something is done to curb the violence.

"According to the archbishop the best solution is religious freedom:" ‘In my opinion it would be preferable to work at the constitutional level and each area to guarantee religious freedom and equal rights for believers of all faiths throughout the land, including Christians, who can be found everywhere.’
Note: San Diego County, where I live, has one of the largest concentrations of Iraqi Catholics outside of Iraq. They are known as Chaldean Catholics, and they use Aramaic as their liturgical language. That is the language Jesus Himself used. It would be a shame for Iraqi Christians to be purged from their country.

Cross-posted at my personal blog.

Acton senior fellow Rev. Gerald Zandstra comments on the first 100 hours of the new legislative session in this Associated Baptist Press article by Robert Marus.

Zandstra had previously examined one of the core planks in the House leadership agenda, raising the federal minimum wage, in a recent Acton Commentary, “Minimum Wage and Common Sense.”

Blog author: kschmiesing
Thursday, January 18, 2007

Higher education is one of those areas—like health care—in which prices are so out of whack because of so many distortions in the market that it’s hard to know just how to go about rectifying the situation.

Richard Vedder, a great economist who has done pathbreaking work on the causes of the Great Depression, offers an incisive analysis of a Democratic proposal to lower student loan interest rates. It serves as an excellent case study in the law of unintended consequences.

By the way, the bill, which was voted on yesterday, passed.