Yesterday, privately-owned Hobby Lobby, a popular craft store chain, filed suit opposing the HHS mandate which forces employers to provide “preventive care” measures such as birth-control and “morning after” pills.
“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” said David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO and founder. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
The Acton Institute is anticipating a move to our new building in the heart of Grand Rapids, MI. With the generous funding of donors, the 24,000 square feet of space will allow us to serve an even larger community. Acton’s Executive Director, Kris Mauren, says the $6 million renovation allows the Institute to remain in its Grand Rapids home, while raising its international profile.
For many nuns in the U.S. April is a busy month. Not only do they have the liturgical season of Easter but they have the proxy season of corporate governance.
The proxy season is the time when many companies hold their annual shareholder meetings. During these meeting any shareholders who own more than $2,000 in stock or 1% of the company can recommend the company take a specific course of action or institute a policy change for the betterment of the company. As the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy reports, Catholic orders are among the most active of these shareholder activists.
As far as activism goes, shareholder activism is rather inert. To date shareholders have introduced only 1.43 proposals per company in the Fortune 200. The most active religious organization, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, submitted a total of 21.
In their lengthy report, the Manhattan Institute (MI) admits that shareholder proposals are rarely submitted, rarely adopted, and submitted by a small group of activists. MI also notes that while the idea that “maximizing share price is the sole fiduciary duty of corporate managers” has been a “long-standing norm in the American securities” there has been push in the past two decades for the idea that “the duty of management ought to extend beyond shareholders and share value to the interests of a broader class of ‘stakeholders.’”
The reality is that management has always taken the “interests of a broader class of ‘stakeholders’” into account when making decisions. Stakeholders include employees, suppliers, the local community, politicians, and—most substantially—the managers themselves. Indeed, you’re more likely to hear about “corporate social responsibility” today than you are “maximizing shareholder wealth.”
Read more on Nuns vs. Managers in the Proxy Wars…
In his Acton Commentary today, Jordan Ballor writes,
All work has a spiritual dimension because the human person who works in whatever capacity does so as an image-bearer of God. “While the classic Greek mind tended to scorn work with the hands,” write Berghoef and DeKoster, “the Bible suggests that something about it structures the soul.” If we derogate work with the hands, manual and skilled labor, in this way, we separate what God has put together and create a culture that disdains the hard and often dirty work of cultivating the world in service of others. The challenge that faces the church and society more broadly then is to appreciate the spiritual meaningfulness of all kinds of work, to celebrate it, and to exhort us to persevere in our labors amidst the unavoidable troubles that plague work in this fallen world.
This point—the need for a renewed appreciation of “the spiritual meaningfulness of all kinds of work” and “manual and skilled labor” in particular—reminds me of the following story that I recently reflected on elsewhere from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
In today’s Acton Commentary, “Mike Rowe and Manual Labor,” I examine the real contribution from a star of the small screen to today’s political conversation. Mike Rowe, featured on shows like The Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs, has written letters to both President Obama and Mitt Romney focusing attention on the skills gap and our nation’s dysfunctional attitudes towards work, particularly hard labor, like skilled trades and services.
In his letter to Romney, Rowe writes that “Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce.”
Read more on Of Ministers and Muck Farmers…
Does Jubilee Involve Redistribution of Wealth?
Art Lindsley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
If Jubilee did not involve the forgiveness of debt, and was instead the celebration of a debt paid off, then there is no redistribution of wealth. There is no redistribution because the land never left the ownership of the original family to whom God gave the land.
Below is my review of A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future by Os Guinness. A final version of this book review will appear in the Fall 2012 Journal of Markets & Morality (15.2). You can subscribe here.
A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future. By Os Guinness (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2012). 205 pages
Review: A Free People’s Suicide
That our republic suffers from disorder and decay is no secret. The moral and economic order appears increasingly chaotic and lacks a deeper meaning. The country, bitterly divided politically, cannot agree on the purpose of freedom. Frustration has turned into increased political activism and fragmentation, and perhaps the only national agreed-upon principle is that people feel increasingly separated from their own government.
The current year (2012) has seen some like-minded books published to address the magnanimity of the crisis we face. Sound thinkers such as Arthur Brooks and Rev. Robert Sirico have offered up, respectively, The Road to Freedom and Defending the Free Market. They are, without a doubt, worthwhile examinations of economics and our moral order. While there is no dearth of books to address our problems and its root causes, perhaps none is better than Os Guinness’s A Free People Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future.
Guinness trumpets a stirring defense of ordered liberty, examining the deep meanings of freedom and its ability to survive and perhaps flourish again. An assessment of freedom beyond the surface is truly central to our republic. Americans, as they have in the past, must once again ask, “How can a free Republic maintain its freedom?
Read more on Review: A Free People’s Suicide…
On his personal blog, author and publishing industry executive Joel J. Miller asks, “What if we dumped Rand for Röpke?” Good question. Miller says that it’s simply unnecessary for Christians to invoke Rand in their defense of the free market. Why not base that defense on the work of a Christian economist instead?