Archived Posts September 2012 - Page 6 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

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.”

Hobby Lobby is the largest and only non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate, focusing sharp criticism on the administration’s regulation that forces all companies, regardless of religious conviction, to cover abortion-inducing drugs.

Hobby Lobby faces $1.3 million a day in fines if they choose not to participate in the HHS mandate.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby; you can read their statement here.

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.

“This is a great place to be and it doesn’t stop us from being the international organization we want to be,” Mauren said. The Acton Institute plans to move into its new home when construction is complete near the end of this year.

Jim Harger, of Mlive.com, shares the entire story, along with photos of the construction, here.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 13, 2012
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Norman Borlaug: The American Who Fed The World
Jarrett Skorup, AFF Doublethink Online

Called “arguably the greatest American in the 20th century,” during his 95 years, Norman Borlaug probably saved more lives than any other person.

‘Earned success’
Marvin Olasky, World

Free enterprise is fair, says economist Arthur Brooks, and arguments for it should emphasize its morality

Why Men Drop Out of the Labor Force
Catherine Rampell, New York Times

The most frequent reason given by men 25 to 54 for leaving the labor force over the last 15 years was illness or disability. For women, a majority left to become household caregivers.

Political Economy for Embodied Souls
John Attarian, The Imaginative Conservative

Are we embodied souls created by a transcendent God, whose purpose it is to struggle upward toward Heaven? Or are we creatures of matter, rational animals, pleasure-seeking and pain-shunning, with utility maximization as our life’s goal? Kirk affirmed the former; economic utopians of Left and Right, the latter.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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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.”
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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:

Abba Agatho was asked: “Which is more difficult, bodily discipline, or the guard over the inner man?” The Abba said: “Man is like a tree. His bodily discipline is like the leaves of the tree, his guard over the inner man is like the fruit. Scripture says that ‘every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.’ So we ought to take every precaution about guarding the mind, because that is our fruit. Yet we need to be covered with beautiful leaves, the bodily discipline.”

Abba Agatho was wise in understanding, earnest in discipline, armed at all points, careful about keeping up his manual work, sparing in food and clothing. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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Trailer at Overton Farm, Cranham - geograph.org.uk - 670364In 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.”
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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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.

Russell Kirk and the Anamnesis of the West
Bradley J. Birzer, The Imaginative Conservative

Western culture itself has served as an anamnesis, an event that brings us back to right reason and reminds us of the sovereignty of the Transcendent.

The gift of constraints
James K.A. Smith, Faith & Leadership

Instead of a “completely free hand,” maybe what we need are good constraints and the imagination to receive them as gifts for innovation.

A helping hand for Haiti
David Brown, Oman Tribune

Personal coaches help Haitian families escape poverty

Blog author: rnothstine
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
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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.

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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?
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Blog author: jcouretas
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
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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?

“Unlike Rand,” he writes, “Röpke grounded his critique of socialism and his defense of free markets in a thoroughly Christian understanding of man and his world.” He goes on to say that not only is this critique “of an entirely differing quality than Rand’s, it’s far deeper as well. Röpke saw the materialist answers of socialism as papering over the spiritual crisis that beset Western civilization in the middle twentieth century, and still does to this day.”

Miller also includes a link (bottom of post) to a free, downloadable copy of Röpke’s The Humane Economy.

The PowerBlog has archived a number of articles on Röpke by Samuel Gregg, Acton Research director and author of Wilhelm Ropke’s Political Economy (Edward Elgar, 2010).

In the archives you’ll find links to the July 2 American Spectator piece titled “The Prophet of Europe’s Crisis” and have access to “The Profoundly anti-Keynesian Political Economy of Wilhelm Röpke,” a new podcast on the Library of Law and Liberty.