Archived Posts October 2012 - Page 4 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
By

The Alleged Pro-Business Bias of the Supreme Court… Sigh…
Stephen Richer, Forbes

Things that happen almost every October: A new Supreme Court term starts, and liberal pundits raise the specter of “The Unjustly Pro-Business Supreme Court.”

Debunking a Progressive Constitutional Myth; or, How Corporations Became People, Too
John Fabian Witt, Balkinization

In the past year or two, a DaVinci Code-like story about the history of the Supreme Court and corporations has made its way through the progressive blogosphere and the Occupy encampments around the country.

Where Orthodoxy Stands
Fr. John A. Peck, Preachers Institute

Orthodoxy contends that the faith cannot be understood from outside the living reality of the Church itself. This creates problems for the habits of modernity.

Why the Christian Philosopher and Christian College Need Each Other
Thaddeus Kozinski, Front Porch Republic

In short, Christian colleges and universities have served as the philosophical guilds in which the Christian philosophical tradition has been passed on from masters to apprentices, for it is only through, in, and by colleges and universities that apprentices become masters.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 22, 2012
By

Perhaps I’m exceptionally naive, but it always surprises me when colleges and universities—the supposed bastions of tolerance in secular society—refuse to accept people or groups whose views do not align with their own administrators. The latest example comes from Tufts University:

Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) has lost its official recognition as a Tufts Community Union (TCU) student group over alleged discriminatory clauses in the group’s constitutional requirements for its leaders.

TCF leadership says the group plans to appeal the decision.

The group’s Vision and Planning Team (VPT) failed to make revisions to their governing document that would bring it in line with the TCU Constitution’s non-discriminatory clause, Judiciary Chair Adam Sax, a senior, said.

As an unrecognized group, TCF will lose the right to use the Tufts name in its title or at any activities, schedule events or reserve university space through the Office for Campus Life and request and receive funding allocated by the TCU Treasury, Sax said.

TCF is the Tufts chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, an evangelical Christian mission on college campuses across the country, and also has ties to the university Chaplaincy.

The group had been operating in a state of suspended recognition after the Judiciary found that the group’s constitution excluded students from applying to leadership positions based on their beliefs. The clauses in question require that any TCF member who wishes to apply for a leadership role must adhere to a series of tenets called a Basis of Faith, or eight “basic Biblical truths of Christianity.”

The Judiciary last month recommended that TCF move the belief-based leadership requirements from the constitution’s bylaws, which are legally binding, to its mission statement, which is not.

Here are the eight exclusionary tenets that Tufts administration finds to be unacceptable:
(more…)

Blog author: dpahman
Monday, October 22, 2012
By

Recently at Big Questions Online, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead answers the question, “Does a culture of thrift cultivate generosity?” with a solid yes, documenting the history of thrift and generosity in the United States and their subsequent and unfortunate decline in recent years:

By the 1960s, however, the coalition of national organizations promoting thrift ceased their activities. Schools gave up their savings programs. And American households increasingly turned to consumer debt rather than savings to finance their wants and needs. The savings rate, which stood in double digits as late as the early 1980s, fell to near zero in 2005 and has since rebounded to a still anemic 4.4 percent.

As a consequence, thrift has lost much of its cultural force. Few schoolchildren today have even heard the word, much less are able to say what it means. A teacher of my acquaintance reports that her students, rich, poor and in-between, customarily throw their loose change into the trash along with their lunch leftovers. Apparently, they are clueless as to the value of their nickels and dimes when their customary medium of exchange is the “swipe” card.

Read more . . .

At some point in tonight’s foreign policy debate between the two presidential candidates, Governor Mitt Romney should send his very capable inner wonk on a long coffee break and press a big-picture truth that otherwise will go begging: America’s strength on the international stage requires economic strength, and our economic strength cannot long endure under the weight of a government so swollen in size that it stifles human enterprise.

The connection between economic freedom and economic growth is well-established. The connection between the relative strength of a nation’s economy and its strength on the international stage is also well established.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but it’s maybe easiest to grasp by thinking about technology. Our strength rests partly on our position as a technology leader, which allows our military to do more with less. But we’re unlikely to maintain that position of leadership if our government habitually suffocates our high-tech entrepreneurs under high taxes and hyper-regulation.
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 22, 2012
By

Morality and Markets: The Humane Balance
Ralph E. Ancil, The Imaginative Conservative

To protect the market system against these destructive abuses, a commitment to permanent values is required by market participants, both consumers and producers, and to what German economist Wilhelm Roepke called a “terror regime of decency” as well as to a public policy rooted in that decency.

Minnesota Relaxes on Online Ed
Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest

On Friday, we remarked on the outrageous story that online education startup Coursera was being banned in Minnesota on the grounds that it hadn’t registered with the state government.

The Clarity and Specificity of Thomistic Natural Law
Howard Kainz, The Catholic Thing

Natural law theory has had a long and honorable history – from ancient Greek philosophy to the Stoics, St. Thomas Aquinas and other scholastics, as well as Protestant “natural lawyers” such as Grotius, Cumberland, and Pufendorf.

The Virtue of Business
Kevin Lowry, Integrated Catholic Life

We can probably agree that business is a major driver of not only economic, but social change. Not that it’s all good, but that’s exactly why we need to consider the bigger picture: what is the purpose of business in our world? How can we harness its value for the good of mankind?

Blog author: mhornak
Friday, October 19, 2012
By

Is the “secular vs. sacred” worldview struggle just another first-world problem? Join us in a discussion of this topic in the AU Online series Freedom and Virtue in the Developed World. The first lecture of this AU Online series will be held on Tuesday October 23 at 6:30pm EDT. Don’t miss your chance to explore this important topic!

In the Freedom and Virtue in the Developed World series, Acton’s Director of Research, Dr. Samuel Gregg, will lead us through a theoretical and practical reflection of the far ranging economic, social, and political causes and impacts of the West’s identity crisis.

If you’re interested in participating but might not have the extra time in your schedule, don’t worry! Everyone who registers for an AU Online series will have access to recordings of the live online lectures to view at their convenience. Visit the AU Online website for more information or to register. For further questions about AU Online, please contact the AU Online team at auonline@acton.org.

This week I wrote about the dignity of paying taxes (among other ways of contributing to social flourishing). But as we know, not all taxes are created equal. Indeed, as Antony Davies and James Harrigan write this week at US News, “Politicians are in the business of buying votes with tax breaks and sweetheart deals for their preferred constituencies, and they have to offset these deals by taxing disfavored constituencies at increased rates. The longer this game is played, the more convoluted the tax code becomes.”

As I argued previously at Capital Commentary, this amounts to a kind of back door social engineering (as well as playing favorites, picking winners, and so on). The fundamental purpose of taxation is not to buy votes and give preference to lobbies and special constituencies. Instead, as I write, “The point of taxation is to raise funds to enable the government to fulfill its moral, political, and social responsibilities.” Such a view is ultimately at odds with a Utilitarian theory, which considers taxation to be a tool rather used “to maximize overall well-being in society.” Matthew Weinzierl argues for greater attention to a theory of Equal Sacrifice, which on Weinzierl’s account “assumes individuals have the first claim to their output, and that they voluntarily agree to form societies that collect taxes in order to purchase public goods.”
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 19, 2012
By

George Weigel on why Americans respond positively to presidential aspirants who lift up “a vision of American possibility—prosperity linked to creativity, responsibility, and generosity”:

A robust economy is not only an economic imperative; it is a moral and cultural imperative. A robust economy makes honorable work possible for all who wish to be responsible for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. And work, according to Blessed John Paul II in the 1983 encyclical Laborem Exercens, is an expression of our participation in God’s sustaining “creation” of the world.

A robust economy makes possible the empowerment of the underprivileged—the true “preferential option for the poor” in Catholic social doctrine, according to John Paul’s 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus—even as it helps conserve public resources by making the resort to welfare less necessary.

A robust economy is essential in supporting one telling sign of America’s enduring generosity and idealism: the remarkable philanthropy of the American people. Americans, these days, give some $300 billion a year to charitable organizations, including religious institutions that fund vast networks of education, health care, and social service serving people in real need. There is simply nothing like this anywhere else in the Western world; if you doubt that, go to Europe or Canada, where the tradition of the benign, caretaker state (the contemporary version of the benign, caretaker monarch) has severely eroded charitable instincts—meaning giving.

Read more . . .

Blog author: dpahman
Friday, October 19, 2012
By

Working Paper: “The Eurozone Debt Crisis — The Options Now
Buchheit, Lee C. and Gulati, G. Mitu
SSRN Working Papers, October 8, 2012

The Eurozone debt crisis is entering its third year. The original objective of the official sector’s response to the crisis — containment — has failed. All of the countries of peripheral Europe are now in play; three of them (Greece, Ireland and Portugal) operate under full official sector bailout programs.

The prospect of the crisis engulfing the larger peripheral countries, Spain and Italy, has sparked a new round of official sector containment measures. These will involve active intervention by official sector players such as the European Central Bank in order to preserve market access for the affected countries.

This paper surveys the options now facing the sovereign debtors and their official sector sponsors. It concludes that there are no painless or riskless options. In the end, the question may come down to this — to what extent will the official sector sponsors of peripheral Europe be prepared to take on their own shoulders (and off of the shoulders of private sector lenders) a significant portion of the debt stocks of these countries during this period of fiscal adjustment? (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 19, 2012
By

State-by-state advocacy of U.S. religious liberty launches
Anne Reiner, Baptist Press

Representatives from nine state legislatures have announced the formation of state-level religious freedom caucuses in a new nationwide effort to combat religious discrimination.

Voting According to Catholic Principles, Not Partisan Politics
Arland K. Nichols, Crisis

How do we cut through the rhetoric so that we might become aware of and guided by Catholic principles and priorities? In answering this, we must be aware that it is virtually impossible to address election related matters without being accused of partisanship.

Why We Need More Religion in Politics, Not Less
Timothy Dalrymple, Philosophical Fragments

Where do people get this notion that the Right has claimed ownership over Christianity? It’s best understood historically. And while there are certainly points in this story on which to criticize the Right, the story has just as much to do with poor decisions on the Left.

Q&A: Peter Greer on Poverty, HOPE International, and Economic Development
Values & Capitalism

Peter Greer recently answered questions for Values & Capitalism related to economic development, the importance of combating both physical and spiritual poverty, and more.