Archived Posts September 2012 - Page 6 of 13 | Acton PowerBlog

A video surreptitiously filmed during one of Mitt Romney’s private fundraisers was leaked and captured the Republican presidential nominee talking to donors last April in a Florida home (watch below) during a very candid moment.

While Romney states the facts and opinions as he sees them regarding the prevalent public welfare culture in America, he quotes figures that will surely stir animosity from within the Obama administration and his loyal Democratic voters.

Here’s a summary of what Mitt Romney told his campaign donors:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. ..They will vote for this president no matter what… And so my job is not to worry about those people. I will never convince them [that] they should take personal responsibility and care for their own lives. What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center, that are independents, that are thoughtful, the look at voting one way or the other…


Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ray Nothstine, Associate Editor at the Acton Institute and Managing Editor of Religion & Liberty, appeared on Relevant Radio’s “On Call” today to discuss political messianism, Calvin Coolidge, and school choice. Click here or on the link below to listen.

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As Secularism Advances, Political Messianism Draws More Believers

Moral Formation and the School Choice Movement

Calvin Coolidge and the Foundational Truths of Government

Financially strapped politicians in Europe think they may have found a way to tap into a new source of revenue: tax the Catholic Church.

Rubio, a city council member in Alcala, is leading an effort to impose a tax on all church property used for non-religious purposes. The financial impact on the Catholic Church could be devastating. As one of the largest landowners in Spain — with holdings that include schools, homes, parks, sports fields and restaurants — the church could owe up to 3 billion euros in taxes each year.

“We want to make a statement that the costs of the crisis should be borne equally by every person and institution,” said Rubio, a 36-year-old former accountant in his first term in office.

Similar efforts that target church coffers or powers are underway in neighboring countries. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Monti has called for a tax on church properties or on those portions of properties that have a commercial purpose. In Ireland, the minister of education is fighting to end church control of many of the country’s primary schools, and the government has slashed in half the grants it gives poor families for first Communions. More than half the city councils in Britain have eliminated state subsidies for transportation to faith-based schools, leading to a precipitous drop in enrollment.

Once an untouchable institution in some parts of Europe, the Catholic Church has come under fire for its government subsidies at a time when the continent’s economies are faltering and the population is subject to painful cuts in jobs, benefits and pensions.

Read more . . .

Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“Petty” bribery is an accepted way of life in much of the world. A person simply understands that he or she will need to “grease the palms” of certain officials in order to get a business license, a work contract or help with a legal matter. In Rev. Robert Sirico’s book, ‘Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for a Free Economy‘, he recounts how economist Hernando de Soto decided to see how long it would take the average person to set up a small business in Peru.

He [de Soto] and his colleagues decided to test the question by establishing a two-sewing machine shirt-making business in a Lima shanty town, and he took himself out of the equation by sending out four students under the supervision of a seasoned lawyer to do the work of trying to comply with all of the legal requirements. “I’ve discovered that to become legal took more than three hundred days, working six hours a day,” De Soto writes. “The cost: thirty-two times the monthly minimum wage.”

This type of corruption is a leading cause of poverty. While many times the amounts of money may seem small – therefore “petty” – the cost is enormous when viewed more globally. Eduardo Bohórquez and Deniz Devrim, of Transparency International, Mexico, have studied “petty” bribery and concluded that this type of corruption not only hampers economic growth, but is truly devastating to the economies of developing nations, calling bribery a “regressive tax on the poor.”

The Index on Corruption and Good Governance suggests that while Mexican households with an average income spent 14% on bribes in 2010, households with the minimum income spent 33% of their monthly income on corruption, a percentage that by no means can be considered to be “petty”. The survey on experienced corruption in the Western Balkans confirms the finding that the average number of bribes paid is higher among lower income groups than wealthier citizens.

Further, Bohórquez and Devrim conclude that bribery doesn’t simply cost the poor money; it weakens their trust in public officials and institutions  and undermines struggling democratic underpinnings of government. In fact, they state, “Calling corruption in public service delivery “petty” minimizes its devastating effects and the high damage it has on the development of societies. Therefore, the term “petty bribery” needs to be banned from the anti-corruption vocabulary.”

Read Bohórquez and Devrim’s ‘Cracking the Myth of Petty Bribery‘.

This article is cross-posted at

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pope Makes Plea for Religious Freedom
Kareem Fahim, New York Times

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday implored young Christians not to emigrate from Lebanon, saying they were “meant to be protagonists” as the country moved forward, and urging them to forge closer bonds with Muslim youth.

Where’s our ambassador for religious freedom?
Robert Joustra, Comment

What do our ambassadors do, and what are they for? Asked that way, the fast and furious closure of our increasingly marginal embassy in Tehran looks less shocking than the prolonged absence of an ambassador for religious freedom.

What’s Driving High Poverty Numbers?
Rachel Sheffield, The Foundry

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual poverty numbers. It reports that 46.2 million Americans remain poor; the figure was unchanged from last year. The percentage of Americans who were poor remained at a near-record 15 percent.

The Constitution Still Matters
Wesley Gant, Values & Capitalism

The center stage of contemporary political debates seems dominated by questions of economics and entitlements, as though government’s role is to simply decide which levers to pull and how far. Were Americans better educated in the history and philosophy of the U.S. Constitution, we might be better equipped for this discussion.

In his essay on the eurozone crisis Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves claims there is a misunderstanding about the nature of criticism by “populists”:

That I submit is a problem, a serious problem and a threat to Europe we have only begun to realize. When we still talk about new and old members, we still talk nonsense about “populism” in all the wrong ways. Indeed I believe that the “populism” and the “specter of the 30s” that all kinds of pundits unknowledgeably appeal to has nothing to do with the populism we see in Northern Europe. That is not a populism of the dispossessed, the unemployed. It is a populism more akin to what Calvin and Luther appealed to than what the fascists of the 1930s appealed to. It is, like most populism, based on resentment, and resentment at unfairness. But the unfairness is, as it was in the 16th Century, a resentment of those who flaunt their flouting the rules by which others abide. Resentment on the part of those who take commitments seriously regarding those who do not: Is that the “specter of the 30s”?

As Mark Movsesian of the Center of Law and Religion notes, this isn’t merely a divide between Protestants and Catholic worldviews since some fiscally responsible countries that Ilves praises, like Austria and Poland, are historically Catholic. “Still, one can’t help noticing,” says Movsesian, “that the ‘frugal’ countries happen to be mostly northern and historically Protestant, and the ‘profligate’ countries tend to be southern and historically Catholic (or Orthodox).”

(Via: First Things)

Blog author: ehilton
Monday, September 17, 2012

Tom Gilson, in an article at Thinking Christian, gives some thought to the Christian view of stewardship. Too often, he says, that view is “low”:

…our churches are teaching a low view of stewardship. We’re missing the essential goodness of work in particular, even “non-spiritual” work. “Non-spiritual” work, in case you’re wondering, is any work in which God is not interested, which is just to say there is no such thing.

Gilson notes that he works in “Christian work”, which is often esteemed in the eyes of believers. But, he says,

So does any other honest work. I’m deeply grateful for those who make chairs and carpets, who sell breakfast cereals and coffee, who deliver gasoline to service stations and hamburger patties to restaurants. Without such a community of co-creators, I’d be one cold and hungry blogger right now. There is something essentially good about the business of building a world with and for each other. It can go wrong, obviously, and when it does (unless it’s due to factors beyond anyone’s control), it’s a failure of stewardship: the effective and godly management of all that God has entrusted to us.

What Gilson further states is that the Stewardship Study Bible gets the idea of Christian stewardship right.

But it’s not only about work. It’s about creation care, serving the poor, creating beauty through art, guarding the truths entrusted to us, managing our finances, giving, receiving, and so much more. Stewardship extends into every aspect of life; it is the way we live our lives with the resources we have at hand. That’s why it’s a theme worthy of a study Bible.

I’ve read the books of Isaiah and 1 and 2 Thessalonians in the Stewardship Study Bible so far. To me it hits a sweet spot: its articles on stewardship are consistently relevant to the adjacent text, without commanding how that text must be interpreted. Dozens, maybe hundreds of authors are quoted in these articles, providing a wide range of of insight, all of it faithful to the intent and meaning of Scripture.

Is your view of stewardship an elevated one, or do you still think that there is work that God is not interested in?