Archived Posts 2012 | Acton PowerBlog

Acton’s Twitter followers are at an all-time high, and we’re gaining about 45 new followers every month. Here’s a look back at our 10 Most Tweetable Moments of 2012:

Acton Commentary: The LBJ Curse on the Black Vote

How to explain the entitlement crisis to an 8 year old

The FRC Shooting & the vocation of a hero

The Israelites of the Hebrew Bible never quite figured out how best to arrange human political affairs

Internships for 2012

Christian schools are not a withdrawal from the world

Mary Tyler star: we need “Moore” taxes on the rich

Doug Devos: Free Enterprise & the Entrepreneurial Spirit

For black voters, entitlement programs trump moral issues every time

The High Cost of Conscience

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, December 31, 2012

As we close out the year, we want to thank our PowerBlog readers for reading and contributing to our blog. If you’re a new reader we encourage you to catch up by checking out our top 10 most popular posts for 2012:

1. What’s Next in the Fight Against the HHS Mandate
Elise Hilton

Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, gives us a glimpse of what is ahead in the fight for religious liberty regarding the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate, given the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

2. Is The Post Office Trying to Send Us a Message About Freedom?
Joe Carter

“Forever stamps” are a form of non-denominated postage first introduced in 2006. The U.S. Postal Service recently issued a “Four Flags” version which “continues [the U.S. Postal Service's] tradition of honoring the Stars and Stripes.” But there seems something peculiar—even a bit ominous—about the new stamps.

3. Popes Say No to Socialism
Michael Severance

Popes in Rome have attempted to steer the Catholic flock away from the “seductive” forces of socialist ideologies threatening human liberty, which since the late 1800s have relentlessly plucked away at ”the delicate fruit of mature civilizations” as Lord Acton once said.

4. How God Makes a Pencil
Joe Carter

In 1958, Leonard Read published his brilliant essay, “I, Pencil.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute recently released a wonderful video that illustrates Read’s point that the creation of a pencil requires an unfathomable level of complexity and undirected cooperation.

5. Cristiada: A Story of Heroic Martyrdom
Michael Severance

Truth be told, many of us had not heard much about the Cristeros War, the civil rebellion led by priests and laity to resist the total elimination of religious liberty in Mexico in the 1920s under marxist President Plutarco Calles.

(more…)

Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Monday, December 31, 2012

It was once said that the sun never set on the British Empire. The Brits colonized vast areas of the earth, civilizing exotic places  with the likes of afternoon tea and cricket. Oh, and happily using up natural resources along the way.

Those days are gone, but we’ve entered a new era of colonialism: renting the wombs of women in exotic places to fulfill a desire to have a child, under any circumstances. And now the natural resources are the wombs of destitute women.

Wesley J. Smith in National Review Online calls this “biological colonialism“, and cites a story from The Independent. This renting of wombs seems centered in India, where regulations are minimal, and the law allows not only married couples to rent a womb, but gays and lesbians as well. Smith notes this story:

Stephen Hill and his partner Johnathon Busher first held their twin girls in their arms less than 12 hours after their birth in a Delhi hospital last April.The gay couple, from the West Midlands, had been together for 18 years when they decided they wanted a family.

In 2011, they travelled to India and agreed a contract with a clinic in Delhi where Mr Hill’s sperm was used to fertilise an egg from a donor they had selected, and the resulting embryo was implanted in a surrogate mother. When the twins were born there was an “awkward moment” before the surrogate mother agreed to hand them over, as her husband had been telling medical staff the infants were his own. “She was reminded that it was a deal and she was fine. She was a little bit too attached and she needed to be reminded,” Mr Busher said. “We produced the contract and we were able to take them out of the hospital. We were so happy our feet didn’t touch the ground.”

It is hard to know where to begin with the horror of this “transaction”. The mother was a “bit too attached”? “We produced the contract”? Then there is the underlying notion that someone who wants a baby should simply have one – “I want it, I deserve it, I’m going to buy one” – as if it’s the latest tech toy or car.

200 years ago we were buying and selling people and calling it slavery. Now we’re calling it parenthood.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, December 31, 2012

What I Learned in the Poverty War
Peter Cove, City Journal

Work, not welfare, uplifts the poor.

How Government Suffocates Charity
Joy Pullman, Values & Capitalism

The pending January 2 tax hike—what everyone is calling the “fiscal cliff”—will mean we cannot afford half our usual charitable contributions next year.

Russian Orthodox Church backs Vladimir Putin’s Ban on Americans Adopting Russian Children
Miriam Elder, The Guardian

The Russian Orthodox church has been attacked for supporting a new law banning Americans from adopting Russian children, at the end of a year that saw it plagued by scandal and accusations of collusion with an increasingly authoritarian Kremlin.

Syrian rebels ‘beheaded Christian and fed him to dogs’
Matthew Campell, The Australian Times

He had just got married and his wife was about to give birth but this did not save Andrei Arbashe, a young Christian, from a horrific fate at the hands of rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime earlier this month.

New York Post illustration

New York Post illustration

In the New York Post, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg looks at “the spread throughout America of economic expectations and arrangements directly at odds with our republic’s founding” and asks what the slow walk to “Europeanization” means for the long term. Gregg:

Unfortunately there’s a great deal of evidence suggesting America is slouching down the path to Western Europe. In practical terms, that means social-democratic economic policies: the same policies that have turned many Western European nations into a byword for persistently high unemployment, rigid labor markets, low-to-zero economic growth, out-of-control debt and welfare states, absurdly high tax levels, growing numbers of well-paid government workers, a near-obsession with economic equality at any cost and, above all, a stubborn refusal to accept that things simply can’t go on like this.

It’s very hard to deny similar trends are becoming part of America’s economic landscape. States like California are already there — just ask the thousands of Californians and businesses who have fled the land of Nancy Pelosi.

Europeanization is also reflected in the refusal of so many Americans to take our nation’s debt crisis seriously. Likewise, virtually every index of economic freedom and competitiveness shows that, like most Western European nations, America’s position vis-à-vis other countries is in decline.

Is there a way out, even as the “fiscal cliff” negotiations vividly illustrate the inability of Washington’s political elites to take spending and tax problems seriously? Gregg holds out hope: (more…)

“Why are you going to business school?” my friend asked, with some concern, “It seems like such a waste of your time. Why not study history or philosophy or the Great Books or something you’d enjoy.” It was a good question. I was commmitting myself to spending two years going to school full-time (while working full-time) to get a degree in a subject—business administration—in which I didn’t feel particularly passionate. But I felt that God was calling me to go to B-school. So I went.

Living in northern Virginia I was fortunate to have several excellent MBA programs to choose from so I applied to a local, private Catholic university. Although I’m an Evangelical (a Reformed Baptist, to be exact), I figured attending a Catholic school would help teach me to integrate business with my Christian faith. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

School of BusinessWhat I soon discovered was that in this “Catholic” school Christ could be found on the crucifix above the doorways but would be found nowhere in the curriculum. None of the professors ever expressed a specifically Christian viewpoint and some grew rather uncomfortable when I or my classmates would do so. Just as in non-Christian colleges, the prevailing impression at this Catholic school was that secular neutrality was the only legitimate norm. The result was that expressing an opinion that resembled that of, say, a Catholic bishop, was often considered offensive. For instance, in a class on non-profit marketing the adjunct instructor was shocked when I expressed the opinion that Planned Parenthood was the epitome of corporate evil and was not, as she had assured us, a model for marketing excellence.

I suspect my experience is not uncommon. While there are still some schools that subscribe to the idea of Christian scholarship, they have become exceedingly rare. In most schools—particularly in most business schools—the assumption is that the topics of study are “religiously neutral.” What does God have to do with finance? What does Wall Street have to do with Jerusalem?
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, December 28, 2012

Every Wednesday we publish the Acton Commentary, a weekly article that covers topics related to Acton’s mission. As 2012 comes to a close I thought it would be worth highlighting the superb commentaries that have been produced by Acton Institute staffers over the past year.

The following list includes articles published in 2012 by various Acton Institute staffers:

Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton

February 08, 2012
Obamacare vs the Catholic Bishops

May 02, 2012
Vatican Affirms ‘Supernatural’ Purpose to Work Life

 

Michael Matheson Miller, research fellow and director of Acton Media

March 28, 2012
Here I Come to Save the World Bank

 

Kevin E. Schmiesing, research fellow at Acton

October 10, 2012
Vincent de Paul, Welfare Statist?

 

Elise Hilton, marketing coordinator for Acton

October 03, 2012
Obama Administration Leaves Human Trafficking Victims Out in the Cold

Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Zero-sum: It’s thinking that if you have more, I have less. One more baby in a family is one more mouth to feed, and less food for everyone else. One new business opens up on the block, and all the rest of the businesses suffer. The guy in the cubicle next to you gets a raise, and you get nothing, because there’s nothing left.

Except that it’s wrong. Lots of people know it, too. P.J. O’Rourke knows it, and he wants to make it clear to President Obama as well. O’Rourke congratulates Obama for some things here at the end of 2012, such as taking care of Osama bin Laden and for not being Jimmy Carter. However, O’Rourke also schools Obama on the fallacy of zero-sum thinking:

You sent a message to America in your re-election campaign. Therefore you sent a message to the world. The message is that we live in a zero-sum universe.

There is a fixed amount of good things. Life is a pizza. If some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box. You had no answer to Mitt Romney’s argument for more pizza parlors baking more pizzas. The solution to our problems, you said, is redistribution of the pizzas we’ve got—with low-cost, government-subsidized pepperoni somehow materializing as the result of higher taxes on pizza-parlor owners. (more…)

Every Wednesday we publish the Acton Commentary, a weekly article that covers topics related to Acton’s mission. As 2012 comes to a close I thought it would be worth highlighting the superb commentaries that have been produced by Acton Institute staffers over the past year.

The following list includes articles published in 2012 by Ray Nothstine, an associate editor at Acton and managing editor of Religion & Liberty:
(more…)

Over at AEIdeas, James Pethokoukis challenges our attitudes about work and leisure by drawing a helpful contrast between economists John Maynard Keynes and Deirdre McCloskey.

First, he points to “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” in which Keynes frames our economic pursuits as a means to a leisurely end:

Thus for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem-how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.

The strenuous purposeful money-makers may carry all of us along with them into the lap of economic abundance. But it will be those peoples, who can keep alive, and cultivate into a fuller perfection, the art of life itself and do not sell themselves for the means of life, who will be able to enjoy the abundance when it comes.

Then, he draws the contrast, relying on Deirdre McCloskey’s The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. In the book, McCloskey quotes Studs Terkel, who eloquently describes a job “as a search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” (more…)