Archived Posts October 2012 » Page 10 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, October 5, 2012

Economist Bryan Caplan sets out to prove that basic economics is intuitive:

To make my prima facie case, I’m going to present a few allegedly counterintuitive economic propositions, then explain them at a 6th-grade level.

1. Counterintuitive claim: Free trade makes countries richer, even if the other countries have big advantages like cheaper labor or more advanced technology.

Intuitive version: We’d be better off if other countries gave us stuff for free. Isn’t “really cheap” the next-best thing?

2. Counterintuitive claim: Strict labor market regulation is bad for workers.

Intuitive version: Employers don’t like hiring people if it’s hard to get rid of them. Suppose you had to marry anyone you asked out on a date!

3. Counterintuitive claim: Egalitarian socialism creates poverty… even starvation.

Intuitive version: If everyone gets the same share whether or not they work, you’re asking people to work for free. People don’t like working for free, especially when the work isn’t very fun. (This is my response to Sumner’s Great Leap Forward Challenge: “But how do we explain to school children that millions had to starve because of a policy that encouraged people to share?”)

Read more . . .

A few days ago, a documentary entitled: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a portion of which is devoted to depicting the situation of violence against women in Sierra Leone, aired on Public Broadcasting Station (PBS). Not portrayed in the documentary, but also a factor that puts women in the country at a disadvantage is little or no right to private property. An INRN article states, “…the vast majority of women in Sierra Leone live under traditional land tenure structures that do not recognize a woman’s right to own property.”

These structures have prevented women from owning land, which is vitally important for business operation and personal livelihood. Escape from this land system is nearly impossible. Many of the provinces in Sierra Leone are governed through a legal system run by heads of ruling families, known as paramount chiefs. The article goes on to explain, “Paramount chiefs, the “custodians of the land,” are generally men and most ethnic groups do not allow women to inherit land and property.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, October 5, 2012

‘European Civilization – From the Edict of Milan to Christianophobia’
Metropolitan Hilarion, Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church

The Christian world is approaching a remarkable date, the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which entered the world history as a most important legal document dividing the two eras – those of heathen Roma and Christian Europe.

Five Tips for Approaching Economics From A Christian Perspective
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Today I want to share with you five tips that have helped me begin to approach economics from a Christian perspective.

How Do We Recover the Moral Foundations of Economics?
E. Calvin Beisner, Economics for Everybody

Economics will be rescued from the malaise of socialism, bureaucratism, and econometrics only when its roots of applied moral philosophy are restored.

The Dangerous Alliance of Big Government and Big Business
David Masciotra, Front Porch Republic

Recent revelations and ongoing developments prove that, with few exceptions, there is no collision between big business and big government. There is collusion. Their interests often coalesce, and together they form a nexus of centralized power.

Speaking at a conference at Bethel College, Acton’s Director of Media, Michael Miller, told the audience that while good intentions are necessary in the fight against poverty, they simply aren’t enough. Miller spoke directly on the topic of foreign aid to developing nations:

Western countries providing financial aid to developing nations seems to make sense, but there is no correlation between the extent of aid and economic progress in those countries, Miller said.

Much of the aid goes to foreign governments and helps subsidize corruption, Miller said. “It’s not actually going to the people,” he said, referring to that system as “crony capitalism.”

And some of the aid goes to subsidize Western companies, which enter poor nations and provide goods or services instead of promoting the ability of residents to establish their own businesses, he said.

“People are saying, ‘We don’t want any more aid. Stop helping us,’ ” Miller said.

Miller, leader of the PovertyCure initiative, noted that free markets offer the best hope for developing nations and their economies. Allowing the people in the developing world to take responsibility for their own economic progress shifts the focus from foreign aid to local businesses, creating sustainable jobs.

Read “Speaker questions providing aid to poor around the world” in the South Bend Tribune.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Friday, October 5, 2012

Call for Papers: “Economics, Christianity & The Crisis: Towards a New Architectonic Critique”

The 2008 credit crisis is not only a crisis in economics, but also a crisis in the basic concepts and assumptions that underlie our thinking about economics, economics as a science. Critical analyses are called for of both economic practices and economic theory. New concepts and paradigms are needed. The first Kuyper Seminar Amsterdam aims at exploring what resources the Christian tradition has to offer for developing a sustainable and just economy of the future.

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You might get goose bumps watching this fiery speech by Fr. Andrew Kemberling. After all, it is not every day we hear a wholesale condemnation socialism from a priest on the “pulpit” of a conservative political rally!

This vociferous pastor from St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, Colo., delivered an impassioned address last May. It may be old news, but the video has gained enormous popularity and even gone viral (over 1.3 million views) just one month before the U.S. presidential elections.

As the free market vs. socialism politicking are growing to a climax, surely more Christian believers like Fr. Kemberling are declaring they too  have “earned a free pass” to engage in this heated debate to express  their strong convictions against centrally planned, godless political regimes. (more…)

In a model of Orwellian doublespeak, the New York Times published an editorial yesterday defending the ridiculous decision by U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson to dismiss the lawsuit filed earlier this year by Frank O’Brien and his O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC. O’Brien had challenged the requirement that businesses offer employees contraception coverage through health care insurance, claiming it unconstitutionally violated his religious beliefs and the Catholic philosophy he applied in running his business.

Not so, say the NYT editors, who nod in approval at Judge Jackson assertion that the mandate does not rise to the level of a “substantial” burden because the “imposition on religion is trivial and remote.” What the NYT fails to mention is Jackson’s reasoning:
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One line from last night’s debate leapt out at me. It wasn’t a stumble amidst the cut and thrust of open debate. It was during President Obama’s closing statement—400 words that I’m guessing he and his staff crafted with painstaking care.

About half way through his summation, the president gave his vision of government in a nutshell. He said that “everything that I’ve tried to do, and everything that I’m now proposing for the next four years,” was “designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is – is channeled.”

In that one word, channeled, President Obama distilled the problem. It isn’t his job to channel America’s genius, grit and determination anymore than it’s a traffic cop’s job to tell you where to go when you hop in your car. The police officer has an important role. Government has an important role. But it isn’t to channel.

That isn’t how you free a country for greatness; it’s how you suffocate it, by having politicians and bureaucrats endlessly picking winners and losers, inserting themselves into the middle of every market bigger than a lemonade stand. (Oh wait, they got to the lemonade stand, too.)

President Obama quickly went on to explain what he meant by the federal government channeling, but the gloss was cold comfort. The good parts of the gloss—“everybody’s getting a fair shot,” “everybody’s playing by the same rules”—had nothing to do with channeling. And the part that was all about channeling—the government making sure that “everybody’s getting a fair share, everybody’s doing a fair share”—was just same failed, slightly creepy vision of an all-embracing nanny state that has Europe on the brink.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hollywood, Jesus and the Monks of Mount Athos: A Conversation with Actor Jonathan Jackson
Tony Rossi, Christopher Closeup

It’s not that unusual for an actor to thank God when winning an award. It was a first, however, when Jonathan Jackson thanked “the monks of Mount Athos for ceaselessly praying for the life of the world” while accepting his fifth Daytime Emmy for his role as Lucky Spencer on “General Hospital.”

First, Do No Harm
Isaac Morehouse, Values & Capitalism

Over the summer I had a trip to the emergency room that highlighted one of the perversities of the medical industry in the United States: Health practitioners are prevented from helping patients because of regulatory hurdles erected by the state at the behest of vested interests.

The Protestant Work Ethic: Alive & Well…In China
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson suggests in his recent book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, that the rise of Western dominance over the past five centuries is a product of six “killer applications” that “the Rest” lacked. These are the six applications I outlined in a recent blog post about Christianity and western civilization.

The Community Curator: How ArtPrize Is Changing Grand Rapids
Allison R. Graff, Christianity Today

The annual competition founded by Rick DeVos transforms the city’s core—and how residents are engaging the visual arts.

The audio book version of Rev. Sirico’s Defending the Free Market has just been released, and is available at Amazon. If you haven’t bought book yet (or even if you have) you’ll want to download a copy today.