“Most of us enjoy an economy where we can purchase with ease the things we need and enjoy. However, there is no moral justification for the commercialization of some things; human beings are not products to be bought and sold,” writes Elise Hilton in the latest Acton Commentary (published October 3). The full text of his essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
Jordan Ballor’s paper, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Two Kingdoms, and Protestant Social Thought Today,” just made the Social Science Research Network’s current Top Ten download list for Philosophy of Religion eJournal. From the abstract:
Last century’s Protestant consensus on the rejection of natural law has been quested in recent decades, but Protestant social thought still has much work to do in order to articulate a coherent and cogent witness to contemporary realities. The doctrine of the two kingdoms has been put forward as a model for advancing the discussion, and while there is much to be learned from such a doctrine, its excesses ought to be avoided, just as the excesses of a transformationlist ethic ought to be avoided as well. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and theologian, is put forward as an example of a modern Protestant thinker with much to offer towards the advancement of Protestant social thought today, particularly with regard to his perspectives on the two kingdoms and the divine ethical mandates (marriage, work, government, and church).
You can download a free copy here.
Dr. Pamela Casson, a pediatrician in Colorado Springs, knows what it means literally to be “On Call.” This week she shares with us in this video interview with Jon Hirst how she sees God working through her in her work with families, children and the world around her. Thank you Pamela for giving us an inside look at how you see your work as blessing the world.
A Shifty Sojourner
Mark Tooley, The American Spectator
Is an Evangelical Left icon preparing for life after Obama?
The Economic Freedom Alliance Act
Devin Nunes, National Review Online
We need a new foreign-policy approach centered on free trade.
The Great Fight For Food Freedom
Erica Smith, Doublethink Online
One increasingly popular method of protecting restaurants is for cities to bar food trucks from operating anywhere near them. In Nashville, where episode 5 took place, food trucks cannot sell within 150 feet of restaurants.
Study: America falls to 18th in economic freedom
Mary Katherine Ham, Hot Air
Not as free as she used to be. That’s the verdict from the Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report on the U.S., which fell to 18th in the rankings this year.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a group that works exclusively for the U.S. Congress, issued a report with one of the greatest titles I’ve ever seen on a government document:
Receipt of Unemployment Insurance by Higher-Income Unemployed Workers (“Millionaires”)
Now the first nine words are nothing special, typical policy-wonk speak. But whoever added in the word “millionaires” with scare quotes and parentheses is a genius. Most people would have been nodding off around the word “Insurance” but seeing millionaires (that’s such a quaint word nowadays) in the title makes you wake up and ask, “Wait, are they saying that millionaires got unemployment insurance?”
The answer: Yes. Yes they did. Millionaires have indeed been getting unemployment insurance. In fact, almost 3,000 of them in 2008 were on the dole:
At least Obamacare comes at us head on. The greater legislative threat may be the one that most Americans have never heard of. Economist Scott Powell and Acton friend Jay Richards explain in a new piece in Barron’s:
While Obamacare received more attention, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, also known as Dodd-Frank after its Senate and House sponsors, … unleashed a new regulatory body, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to operate with unprecedented power.
Dodd-Frank became law in 2010 and is supposed to avert the next financial crisis. Yet banks are still too big to fail and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain wards of the state, while the CFPB has been given sweeping authority over consumer credit and other financial products and services that played no significant role in the crisis of 2008.
Powell and Richards then offer some specifics:
You cannot apologize to a fanatic, says Lee Harris. It only serves to convince him that he was right all along:
The last few weeks have witnessed a peculiar and disturbing spectacle: An American administration that has spent a great deal of time and energy apologizing for our liberties—in particular, for what many would regard as the foundation of all our other liberties, namely, the freedom to express our minds as we see fit. This signature freedom, of which Americans were once so boastful, has clearly become a source of befuddled embarrassment to the current administration and many of its liberal supporters. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the speech President Obama delivered before the UN Assembly yesterday. The president was bold and strong in making clear that there can be no excuse for the riots that have swept the Muslim world, but he was weak in his defense of our most fundamental freedom. The president came across as if he regarded the right to free speech as a bothersome and irritating nuisance that Americans put up with solely because it’s one of our quaint and bizarre local traditions, instead of celebrating it as a moral lesson to mankind and a blessing bequeathed to us by our ancestors. It did not seem to bother Obama in the least that he was apologizing to the world for the First Amendment, and that is very troubling.
What’s a Christian Response to Poverty?
Thomas Purifoy, Economics for Everybody
We are in an odd spot when it comes to views on poverty. Today, many people blame poverty on the free market and personal liberty. But that’s like blaming malaria on modern medicine and environmental engineering.
Most of the Work of Ministry Is Done by Christians Who Work Secular Jobs
Jon Bloom, Desiring God
Most Christians struggle at some point with the sense that ministry jobs are just more sacred than other jobs. You can see this reflected in our terminology: we tend to call non-ministry jobs “secular jobs.” It can be hard not to see them as “unspiritual” or “less spiritual” jobs.
Quality of Life in an Economic Downturn
RJ Moeller, Values & Capitalism
I am not entirely sure why, but we never seem to want to talk about the positive moral, emotional and even psychological impact that a dynamic, prosperous and growing economy can have on a citizenry.
Millennials and the Biblical Doctrine of Work
Greg Ayers, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
This hunger for work that makes an impact offers an opportunity for Christians to share a biblical perspective on work. The question is how to best share this message of hope.
Alan Duncan, an aid minister in the UK, says his government is “forced” to hand over large amounts of money to the EU’s foreign aid budget, but has no say in how the money is spent. The problem is that much of the $2 billion+ “aid” money (one-sixth of the British budget) goes to projects such as making a Moroccan water park more eco-friendly, an art project in St. Petersburg, and building a hotel and leisure complex in Barbados. Britain’s International Development Committee reports that only 46% of the “development” donations go to “low-income” nations.
Some are urging that the British government “redefine their official development assistance (ODA), through which the relevant EU aid is spent“, with the British Development Committee warning that the situation will “devalue” the concept of aid in the eyes of its citizens.
Oxfam policy adviser Claire Godfrey stated, “If aid is not about helping the poorest then it is not worthy of the name.” Peter Bone, a Tory, had this to say about the money given to wealthier nations:
The Government has been saying for the past two years that this money’s been spent brilliantly. Alan Duncan is right to say the money is being wasted, but wrong to say there’s nothing we can do about it. There is: all you have to do is stop paying the money. It’s no good just crying crocodile tears about wasted money. If we stop paying, what will the EU do: sue us for not funding water parks in Morocco? Come on!
It is good to recall what Robert Woodson, a poverty activist in the U.S. has said about this type of situation:
There is a poverty industrial complex. You’ve got huge numbers of people who profit off our differences. You see, if you are problem oriented, you can write about the problem, you can lecture about the problem, you can consult on the problem. You can do everything but solve the problem.
Clearly, some in the British government are becoming aware of the fact that transparency, accountability, and outcome are absolute necessities in foreign aid and transferring money from one government to another. It remains to be seen if the UK government will take action, or will write, lecture and consult.
This article is cross-posted at PovertyCure.org.
Want to help the poor? Promote a free market in health care. That’s the argument made by John C. Goodman, author of the new book Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.