Archived Posts August 2012 - Page 8 of 14 | Acton PowerBlog

In addition to internal logical inconsistencies which raise serious concerns of long term economic sustainability regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), recently analyzed by John MacDhubhain, Robert Pear reports in the New York Times over the weekend how confusion over certain ambiguities in the law (ironically over the meaning of the word “affordable”) would end up hurting some of the people it is precisely designed to help: working class families.

Pear writes,

The new health care law is known as the Affordable Care Act. But Democrats in Congress and advocates for low-income people say coverage may be unaffordable for millions of Americans because of a cramped reading of the law by the administration and by the Internal Revenue Service in particular.

Under rules proposed by the service, some working-class families would be unable to afford family coverage offered by their employers, and yet they would not qualify for subsidies provided by the law.

Read more . . .

Blog author: dpahman
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I have written on several recent occasions about the role of incentives in education, both for teachers and for students (see here, here, and here). Yesterday, David Burkus, editor of LDRLB, wrote about a recent study by Harvard University economic researchers on the role of incentives in teacher performance. Interestingly, they found that incentives (such as bonus pay) are far more effective if given up front with the caution that they will need to be returned if the teacher’s performance is not up to par. When teachers regarded the bonuses as already their property, they fought far more effectively to protect them.

Burkus writes,

A total of 150 teachers were randomized into several groups, including a control group, a traditional pay-for-performance group, and another group given a $4,000 bonus up front and told it would be reduced in relation to their students’ performance. The results were as impressive as they were surprising. On average, the students taught by the upfront bonus group outperformed students with similar backgrounds by up to 10 percentage points.

One possible explanation for this effect is “loss aversion.” Simply put, we’re more motivated to protect assets that we already have than to attempt to gain more assets. Once we are given an object or sum of money, we begin to build psychological connections to it, picturing the ways we’ll enjoy owning it or remembering fondly the ways we’ve used it. Perhaps what was missing from the incentives equation was the subtle push provided by the thought of loss.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jail a new church-state option for bishops?
Terry Mattingly

“I could see myself going to jail possibly at some point over the next 15 years, if God spares me, if I speak out,” the 61-year-old bishop told STV News.

The Market Is an Ecosystem
Joy Pullmann, Values & Capitalism

Farming, like a free market, is an ecosystem. No action a businessman takes is without consequences. My uncle, for one, knows crop farmers suffer when dairy farmers suffer, because both depend financially on exchanging their goods (crop farmers get money, dairy farmers get feed for their cows, which eventually becomes money).

Is This Really the Worst Economic Recovery Since the Depression?
Catherine Rampell, New York Times

Economists often assert that we are in the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Are we? Not technically, but it’s still unusually bad.

Casinos as the Bleak New Senior Citizen Center
Amy Ziettlow, The Atlantic

Are we turning a blind eye to a government-sponsored movement that creates false community, drains money, and undermines dignity for those most vulnerable among us?

Blog author: Mindy Hirst
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

As an older teen and early twenty-something I hated checking in. I thought telling others where I was or what I was up to was a sign of dependence and immaturity. In my invincible state of mind, I did not see the dangers and pitfalls of being completely on my own. I saw our natural human need to look out for each other as a weakness and not the strength that it is.

Allowing others a window into our lives by checking in is wisdom. Not only does it give the ones who care about us insight into what we are dealing with so they can be a help to us, but it also allows us to process our own experiences by putting our life into words. That is why this summer we have been forming the On Call in Culture Check In Team—to allow those who want to be On Call in Culture the ability to connect with others who value bringing God glory through their work as well as the opportunity to see what they are doing daily as God’s work in the world.

Earlier this month, India experienced the worst blackout in global history. Over 600 million people—more than double the number of people in the U.S. and nearly one in 10 people in the world—were left without power.

The crisis highlights the fact that corrupt governance and lawless institutions can keep even an entrepreneurial people in the dark:

Along with a lack of investment in infrastructure, the crisis also had roots in many of India’s familiar failings: the populist tone of much of its politics, rampant corruption and poor management in its government and public sector, weak law enforcement, and a maze of regulations that restrict many industries.

Officials said they did not know what caused the blackout Tuesday, although a similar failure Monday was blamed on individual states drawing too much power from the grid, in defiance of regulations.

“It is open lawbreaking that goes on all the time in India,” said a Power Ministry official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject. “This time, it went beyond limits.”

Read more . . .

Samuel Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research, has an article in Crisis Magazine entitled ‘Irony of Ironies: Vatican II Triumphs Over Moribund Modernity‘. Challenging the incoherence of modern thought, Gregg remarks

Another characteristic of late-modernity is the manner in which moral arguments are increasingly “settled” by appeals to opinion-polls, choice for its own sake, or that ultimate first-year undergraduate trump-card: “Well, I just feel that X is right.” For proof, just listen to most contemporary politicians discussing the ethical controversy of your choice.

Such incoherence, however, owes much to many moderns’ determination to limit reason to scientific rationality. Empirical reason is a powerful tool. But it can’t resolve extra-empirical problems. And once you implicitly deny the existence of extra-empirical reason, there’s really no other basis for answering normative questions other than appeals to feelings. Emotions, however, aren’t a rational basis for settling arguments about anything.

Read the entire piece here.

Acton Research Fellow and Director of Media Michael Matheson Miller will be featured on Christopher Brooks“Christ and the City” radio program this evening at 5:00 p.m. EST. Brooks is the pastor of a Detroit church and his program, which airs from 4 – 6 p.m., addresses matters of faith from a variety of perspectives. Miller will be joining the program to discuss PovertyCure, an Acton educational initiative, and the PovertyCure team’s recent trip to Haiti.

Follow this link to listen in at 5 p.m. EST.