Archived Posts June 2008 - Page 2 of 5 | Acton PowerBlog

On Tuesday the 17th Mons. Rino Fisichella was called by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed Mons. Elio Sgreccia as the head of the Pontifical Academy of Science, Social Sciences, Life. His Excellency was also raised to the title of archbishop while maintaining his role as Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome.

The Pontifical Academy for Science, Social Sciences, Life has as its scope: “to pay honor to pure science, wherever it is found, and to assure its freedom and to promote its research, which constitute the indispensable basis for progress in science.” It assures dialogue on bioethical issues while defending those primary moral values of the Church and its position on non-negotiable issues such as, research on stem cells, human embryos, cloning, euthanasia and other bioethical and scientific issues.

The position of the Church on bioethical issues is often incorrectly interpreted by secular academic circles as an obstacle to scientific research and progress. This is a common mistake that representatives of the scientific world easily run into and is usually dictated by ignorance of the purpose of the Church’s mission, which is to act for the preservation of human dignity and for the salvation of souls.

In Veritatis Splendor, one of many of Pope John Paul II ‘s encyclicals, there is a passage that clearly mentions how human knowledge cannot be sufficient to grant true freedom and truth to mankind:

the development of science and technology, this splendid testimony of human capacity for the understanding and for perseverance, does not free humanity from the obligation to ask ultimate religious questions. Rather, it spurs us to face the most painful and decisive struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience.

The Pope also underlines the role of Church in safeguarding man from relativism and from the false conviction that God’s law is a burden, a restriction to his freedom. It is quite the opposite, man is as much free as he can understand God’s teachings and accept his commands. Therefore, the Church, being the body of Christ, has the “duty in every age of examining the signs of the times and interpreting them in the light of Gospel, so that she can offer in a manner appropriate to each generation replies to the continual human questionings on the meaning of this life to come and how they are related.”

Archbishop Fisichella will certainly be able to face such a task, thanks to his excellent academic background and his personal concern for the promotion of human dignity. He is long time Acton friend and was an important speaker at two of the Centesimus Annus Conferences on May 4 2006 and on May 2 2007. During his participation at the Centesimus Annus Conferences, archbishop Fisichella recalled how the social teaching of the Church “consists in favoring, promoting and defending the central role of the dignity of the human person, of every person, of the entire person, of every individual without any exception.”

There is no choice to make because there is no opposition, there simply cannot be knowledge without truth, or scientific research without the raising of further questions or of new challenges that will require answers. These answers can be found in Christ, who is always present in the Church.

Blog author: jcouretas
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beginning this month in Christianity Today, Acton is introducing a new advertising campaign that asks readers to look at the economic implications of policy questions put forward by religious leaders. The first ad looks at the top down planning, command-and-control orientation of many humanitarian aid programs and opens with this:

In developing countries, two million children die each year from common diarrhea. Even though a 10¢ dose of oral rehydration therapy can cure it. The remedy is cheap and effective — so why can’t we get it to those poor people?

According to the Religious Left, rich countries just don’t care enough about the poor. Their solution? Government policies that advance a more ‘just distribution’ of wealth. But, will more money get that lifesaving stuff to the mother in Ghana watching her child die?

A special Impact page has been introduced on the Acton site with a deep set of resources for those who want to learn more about faith and policy questions. You can go there to download a copy of the new ad, and access an archive of the previous ads.

The campaign will also include an advertisement for Acton’s new documentary The Birth of Freedom.

The new campaign is being produced by the award-winning team that has partnered with Acton since our first issue advertising rolled out more than two years ago: Copywriter Catherine Snow of Creatif Boutique and Rick Devon and the talented crew at the Grey Matter Group, all of Grand Rapids.

The Wall Street Journal ran a long article yesterday on a dispute between France and Great Britain over how to proceed with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union which consumes about 40 per cent of the EU budget, i.e. $75 billion every year.

The French blame the current global food price inflation on free trade and suggest that the EU must expand its current subsidies for every ton of crop production. Moreover, the CAP model should be emulated in other parts of the world. As explained by the French minister for agriculture, Michel Barnier, in an interview with the Financial Times, the argument runs like this:

What we are now witnessing in the world is the consequence of too much free-market liberalism. We can’t leave feeding people to the mercy of the market. We need a public policy, a means of intervention and stabilisation. I think [the CAP] is a good model. It is a policy that allows us to produce to feed ourselves. We pool our resources to support production. West Africa, East Africa, Latin America and the southern shore of the Mediterranean all need regional common agricultural policies.

It is astonishing to see that someone in the hyper-regulated and hyper-subsidized world of agriculture really tries to blame “free-market liberalism” for the food price explosion. It is also not difficult to spot that Barnier’s “recommendation” for developing and emerging economies to copy the CAP model of throwing public money at farmers is only meant to keep out competition from these countries indefinitely. Of course, they do not have the resources to set up such a system but they have a legitimate interest to gain access to rich-world markets.

It is here that we should take a look at the British criticism of the CAP. The British argue convincingly that the decades-long de facto discrimination of the CAP against food from poorer countries deterred farmers in these economies from investing adequately in agriculture. Now that global food demand is increasing this under-investment causes supply constraints from which the developing world suffers in particular.

The CAP is currently under review as the present agreement runs out in 2013. France has always been one of the great beneficiaries of EU agricultural subsidies and it would probably be a far more EU-skeptical country if the policy was not in place (although the French also voted down the EU Constitution in 2005). In order to appease its agricultural lobby other EU member states are likely to look for another weak compromise for the time after 2013. But then European leaders should not claim that their political horse-trading has nothing to do with the crisis facing the world’s poor.

First Maxine Waters suggested that she might just want to nationalize the US oil industry; now Maurice Hinchey of New York is jumping on that bandwagon. And why wouldn’t they? It’s all the rage these days. Just look at Venezuela, which is rapidly emerging as a South American hellhole paradise after Hugo Chavez started nationalizing everything. Why should we be left behind?

It turns out that there are a number of very good reasons to avoid that particular bandwagon. Dr. Jay Richards discussed them last night on KKLA in Los Angeles on the Frank Pastore Show. Listen in and decide for yourself whether the US should nationalize the oil industry.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Thursday, June 19, 2008

A short time ago I posted a bit about the amount of land owned by the US government.

My blog colleague, Jordan Ballor, located a lovely map displaying graphically the amount of land owned by the government in each state. For your edification, below (see here for more details and a larger image).

Who Own's the West - Map
Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Acton Institute is branching out into the technology sector with its new Acton branded flash drives.

We initially offered these drives to attendees of Acton University where they were received with cheers from bloggers and others who still remember—with a shudder—the horrors of the old 3½ floppies (remember the good old “tape hack” you could use to trick your computer into thinking that it was a DD and not an HD disk?) and even the ginormous 5¼ floppies.

These USB2.0 flash drives hold a handy 1Gb of your favorite portable files, be they MP3s, photos from your recent vacation, or documents for school or work. Just plug one into a USB port (2.0 preferred) on your computer and you’re good to go!

Acton USB Flash Drive

Buy the Acton USB Flash Drive ($20.00 USD) today at the Acton BookShoppe, and support the pursuit of a free and virtuous society.

Don’t forget to check out the other hot sellers including The Call of the Entrepreneur, Slitting the Sycamore, and A Biblical Case for Natural Law.

Shankar Vedantam on the problems of “social” governmental intervention, including increased moral hazard (HT: Arts and Letters Daily):

While it seems like common sense to pump money into an economy that is pulling the bedcovers over its head, the problem with most social interventions is that they target not robots and machines but human beings — who regularly respond to interventions in contrarian, paradoxical and unpredictable ways.

Too true. So much for homo economicus. I might also add that the unpredictability, or should I say spontaneity, of human reactions in all kinds of situations is pretty strong evidence for the reality of free choice and against mechanical determinism.