Archived Posts August 2012 - Page 2 of 14 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Three things the American people don’t understand about trade
Logan Albright, AFF Doublethink Online

The problem with the way trade is discussed in politics and the media can be boiled down to three common misconceptions that crop up again and again.

Cronyism: Crushing the Free Market and Promoting Rent-Seeking

A system of political favoritism is increasingly encroaching on America’s free-market system. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Luigi Zingales, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, argues that crony capitalism is at the root of the West’s economic situation and that the U.S. is not far behind Italy and Greece when it comes to fiscal woes.

Economists Debate: Keynes v. Say
Paul Solman, PBS

Say thought that gluts could not exist, or at least not for long, because businesses respond quickly to what consumers really want. But suppose lots of people begin to produce things that, in the long run, nobody wants at all

The Primacy Of Catholic Social Doctrine
Dan Flaherty,

When it comes to formulating a broad understanding of what’s right and wrong in the economic sphere, do you believe that revenue and price considerations are all that matter?

What economic issues do America’s two main political parties agree on? The short answer: not much. But the New York Time‘s Annie Lowrey identifies eight areas of overlap:

1. Tax simplification
2. Regulatory simplification
3. Fannie and Freddie
4. Avoiding the fiscal cliff
5. Son of Debt Ceiling
6. Drill, baby, drill
7. Start-ups
8. Iran sanctions

What is interesting about the list is that except for the items that are overly obvious (e.g., #4 could be restated as “Avoid the Apocalypse), the areas of agreement are concerns that would be common to corporate lobbyists—and ignored by the general public. This is probably to be expected since the political parties are heavily influenced by lobbyists. But another reason may be that if politicians followed the bipartisan advice of economists, they’d never get elected.

For instance, NPR’s Planet Money asked a panel of economists (mostly left-leaning, though with a couple of libertarians thrown into the mix) to come up a economic platform for a presidential candidate. They mostly agree on the following items:


A recent national Pew Research Center survey has found conflicting opinions regarding many Americans’ view of the rich:

As Republicans gather for their national convention in Tampa to nominate a presidential candidate known, in part, as a wealthy businessman, a new nationwide Pew Research Center survey finds that many Americans believe the rich are different than other people. They are viewed as more intelligent and more hardworking but also greedier and less honest.

Nearly six-in-ten survey respondents (58%) also say the rich pay too little in taxes, while 26% say they pay their fair share, and just 8% say they pay too much. Even among those who describe themselves as upper or upper-middle class … 52% say upper-income Americans don’t pay enough in taxes.

In spite of these views, overwhelming majorities of self-described middle- and lower-class Americans say they admire people who get rich by working hard (92% and 84%, respectively). (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Sad Secular Monks
Leah Libresco, First Things

Most careers aren’t vocations, so we need space outside them to grow and love.

Study: Less religious states give less to charity
Associated Press

A new study on the generosity of Americans suggests that states with the least religious residents are also the stingiest about giving money to charity.

Does Belief Belong In the Marketplace?
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

The arguments made by the Justice Department in Newland v. Sebelius may infer that religious belief can be left at the doorsteps of both the marketplace and the public square. But they cannot.

Wheaton College lawsuit dismissed
Manya A. Brachear, Chicago Tribune

A federal judge has dismissed Wheaton College’s lawsuit against the Obama administration for requiring the evangelical Christian college to offer health insurance that covers the cost of contraception, including the morning-after pill, for employees.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, August 27, 2012

As the Presidential debates draw near, there is one question that tops my wish list of questions that should (but won’t be) asked of the candidates: What income range constitutes “middle class”?

This undefined group of citizens seems to be a favorite of politicians on both ends of the political spectrum. Reagan and Bush cut their taxes. Clinton too. And Obama promised not to raise their taxes. But who are these people? Ask the janitor sweeping your company’s floors and he’ll likely tell you he’s in ‘middle class.’ Query the vice-president of marketing and he will give you the same answer. The single girls down in accounts payable and the married attorneys in the legal department will give the same response. In the land of equal opportunity, it appears, we’re almost all middle class.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center confirms that almost half (49%) of adult Americans say they are in the middle class. But as Catherine Rampell notes, there is a wide variety of responses about what a family of four needed to earn to maintain a “middle-class lifestyle.”


Marvin Olasky, a Senior Fellow in Acton’s Research Department, has an article in World Magazine regarding evangelism and effective economic development in Ghana. There is an effort to teach strategic economic skills to budding entrepreneurs incorporating a wholistic approach, combining not only economic lessons, but spiritual ones as well.

The clubs teach about showing love to neighbors in concrete ways. For instance, young Esther Wood received business start-up money that allowed her to buy a small bowl and fill it with plastic containers to sell. When she reported back to the older women, she was discouraged: I’m selling, yet I have no money. They asked what she did with the money she earned, and she said: Whatever my eyes saw, I bought, items like ice cream and meat pies. So the club leaders talked with her about resisting the temptation to fritter away her earnings.

The next time Wood reported to them, she was so successful that she had traded in her small bowl of plastic wares for a big one filled with attractive cooking pots. She gave her small bowl and a few plastic items to another woman starting out. Now, when Dwarko, Teye, or Gyemfi walk through Pokuase, residents come to them with job problems and hear from them messages like those Ampadu vigorously proclaims: “We have no excuse for our poverty. … We will not advance without integrity and compassion.”

Some of the more interesting aspects to come out of the program are noted by Chris Ampadu, coordinator of the Samaritan Strategy ministry in West Africa. He teaches college-level courses that address ethics, corruption and pride in one’s community. He is also quick to point out

…the need for Africans themselves to help their neighbors, and shows schools and wells and other projects produced by the savings and sweat of Ghanians themselves: “Western money will not solve our problem.”

Cross-posted at PovertyCure blog.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, August 27, 2012

HHS Mandate “Serious” Threat to Religious Liberty
Ken McIntyre, The Foundry

Are the concerns of religious employers about a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) simply a matter of getting “all worked up over nothing,” a new video asks, as the Obama Administration suggests?

When Liberals Misread Bastiat
Sheldon Richman, Reason

Slate’s Matt Yglesias furnishes the latest example of “vulgar liberalism.”

Why the Gold Standard Is the World’s Worst Economic Idea, in 2 Charts
Matthew O’Brien, The Atlantic

Whether it’s 1896 or 2012, it doesn’t make sense to crucify our economy on a cross of gold.

Hayek’s Serfdom: Fifty Years Later
Ralph E. Ancil, The Imaginative Conservative

In the present political and economic circumstances of the United States, the difficulty of attaining true liberty should have made us all covetous of it long ago. Instead, we seem to have whitewashed the fence that keeps liberty out while congratulating ourselves we were doing something worthwhile.