Archived Posts July 2012 - Page 9 of 16 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 16, 2012

Several years ago economist Walter Williams explained “How Not to Be Poor”:

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

Williams is right—it’s not rocket science. Yet many Americans are shocked to discover that life choices are often (though certainly not always) the most determinative factor in the financial security of both individuals and families. Some people, particularly on the political and cultural left, are even offended by the idea that promotion of bourgeois institutions like marriage might be the key to entering—and staying in—the middle class.

But the evidence has become so hard to ignore that even the New York Times is being forced to acknowledge the obvious. This weekend, Jason DeParle wrote a lengthy article highlighting how a primary cause of class division in this country is based on who gets—and stays—married:

Franciscan University has launched the site Faith and Reason intended to be a hub for Catholic intellectual life. The Rev. Robert Sirico, along with others such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal at the Apostolic Signatura and Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, preacher to the Papal Household, are contributors to the site which focuses on issues concerning the Church, culture, politics, philosophy, morality and the marketplace.

Read more about Faith and Reason here.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 13, 2012

Readers of PowerBlog are already aware that Acton research fellow Anthony Bradley‘s ability to blend theology, ethics, and economics has made him on of the most intriguing public intellectuals in America. Now readers of Black Enterprise Magazine are finding what we’ve already known for years: “His writings and commentary on issues ranging from race and religion to politics and economics have led to his recognition as one of the most brilliant minds of the century.”

In a profile by Aisha M. Taylor, Bradley makes an important point about how even theologians need to network:

Two Congressional representatives have introduced the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act, seeking to repeal the fine on faith the Obama administration’s abortion-inducing drug, contraception, and sterilization mandate imposes:

The Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act would stop the Obama administration from levying this huge tax on religious employers,” Representative Black said.

“With the HHS mandate, the administration has set up an impossible choice for many religious affiliated institutions: either violate the law and pay a tax, or violate your conscience,” Black says. “This means some of the most respected parochial schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, and universities across our country will have to choose between violating their faith to keep their doors open or paying a potentially devastating tax.”

Read more . . .

Conference: “Free Markets with Solidarity and Sustainability: Facing the Challenge”

Ethical human agency is only possible with freedom. Freely turning to the good, which the Creator has given us, is the highest sign of human dignity. The proper exercise of freedom requires “specific conditions of an economic, social, juridic, political and cultural order”. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 137) The free market is one of these institutions. The free market is the most efficient instrument to guarantee the distribution of goods and services in society. Beyond efficiency, however, markets need sound ethical and cultural foundations. Only free markets can be ethical markets, and only ethical markets can function in freedom. One of these primary and universally recognized ethical principles is charity.

Call for Papers: “The State of the Consecrated Life in Contemporary Canada”

We are pleased to announce an extended deadline for the Call for Papers for the “State of the Consecrated Life in Contemporary Canada” Conference to be held on 25-26 January 2013 in Montreal, Quebec. This conference is held as a part of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada research grant that explores the state of consecrated life in contemporary Canada and seeks will bring together leading researchers from Canada and abroad to share research and insights on this important subject. For more information, please see the attached document or the conference website: The new deadline will be 31 July 2012. Please forward this information to any colleagues, students or contacts who might be interested.

Call for Papers: “Mighty Protectors for the Merchant Class: Saints as Intercessors between the Wealthy and the Divine”

International Congress on Medieval Studies, 9-12 May 2013. By the late medieval period, merchants formed an integral part of urban society; among their activities, they facilitated trade between city centers, participated in the governing of cities, and were patrons of churches and monasteries. At the same time, the wealth that they amassed and their sometimes morally dubious activities, such as money lending, often left merchants fearful of what the afterlife would bring, causing them to appeal directly to specific saints for intercession. This session seeks to explore the religious lives of these elite members of urban society, specifically considering the individual saints to whom merchants appealed for their earthly protection and heavenly salvation as well as the manner in which they made these appeals.

Call for Papers: “Technology and Human Flourishing”

2012 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture (Thursday, October 25-Saturday, October 27) Technology changes us—and the world around us—in countless ways. It eases our labor, cures diseases, provides abundant food and clean water, enables communication and travel across the globe, and expands our knowledge of the natural world and the cosmos. The stuff of science fiction is now, in many cases, reality, and it can make our lives longer, healthier, and more productive than ever. But technological advance is not without complication, and even ardent proponents of technology recognize that our present age of innovation is fraught with concern for unintended consequences.

Paper: “The Decision to Delay Social Security Benefits: Theory and Evidence”
John B. Shoven and Sita Nataraj Slavov, NBER Working Papers

Social Security benefits may be commenced at any time between age 62 and age 70. As individuals who claim later can, on average, expect to receive benefits for a shorter period, an actuarial adjustment is made to the monthly benefit amount to reflect the age at which benefits are claimed. We investigate the actuarial fairness of this adjustment. Our simulations suggest that delaying is actuarially advantageous for a large subset of people, particularly for real interest rates of 3.5 percent or below.

This is a book review by Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute. He blogs at AOI’s Observer. This review will appear in the forthcoming Spring 2012 Religion & Liberty. Sign up here for a free digital subscription to R&L.


Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991. By Leon Aron (Yale University Press, June 2012). 496 pages

Review: The Second Russian Revolution (1987-1991)

Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse

“There are different ways to understand how revolutions work,” writes Leon Aron in his new book Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and the Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991 that chronicles the collapse of Soviet Communism during Glasnost from 1987-1991. The most dominant is structuralism, an approach that draws from Marxist thought and sees the state as the central actor in social revolutions. In the structuralist view revolutions are not made, they happen.

Aron explains that structuralism has some merit because of its chronological linearity. It can reveal the events that lead from point A to B to C; an important function because the historian’s first step is to grasp what actually happened. But structuralism also has a grave flaw: the materialist assumptions (“objective factors”) informing it are deaf to the “enormously subversive influence of ideas.” (more…)

Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico is scheduled to make an appearance on Raymond Arroyo’s “The World Over” tonight on EWTN. The live program begins at 8:00 p.m. EST. Take a look here for complete EWTN programming. Unable to watch tonight? Keep an eye on The PowerBlog in coming days for video.