Archived Posts October 2012 - Page 5 of 16 | Acton PowerBlog

Quoting former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Mitt Romney was right to make the point that the federal deficit is the biggest national security threat to our country. Romney has also been critical of President Obama for failing to resolve significant cuts to defense spending under the Budget Control Act. Both political parties agree these cuts would be a disaster and they were implemented primarily as a motivational mechanism for real budget reform.

While cuts to defense will not solve our budget crisis, considering the depth of our spending mess, defense cuts can’t be ruled out entirely. Acton’s own principles for budget reform declare, “While no federal spending measures should be immune from cuts, our funding priorities should reflect the constitutional responsibilities and duties of the federal government.”

The defense budget was raised dramatically over the last decade to combat terrorism and fight two wars. Certainly as some forces draw down, savings can be made along with new investments for national defense and readiness. At home, we also have a moral obligation to care for our wounded warriors, which I addressed at greater length in a 2009 commentary, “Veterans First on Health Care.”

The challenge of course is securing savings while not compromising our constitutional charge to defend the country. Defense spending and defense budgets are a complex subject, but there are areas for savings. The military has a fairly long tradition of acting in one degree or another as a social laboratory. Military social programs continue to swallow up even more of the defense budget. I leave you with these words offered by Allen Baker in a discussion I had with him this morning. Baker, a combat veteran, served as a naval aviator:

We are three aircraft carriers short of providing absolute minimum coverage. When the “Arab Spring” sprung, guess what wasn’t in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in a half-century? (Hint for Pres Obama: It’s a ship where airplanes take off and land). Ditto when terrorists murdered our ambassador in Benghazi. No U.S. carriers nearby (despite the clearly elevated threat). That’s because we have too few, and the ones we have are either worn out, or are wearing out at a faster-than-programmed rate due to the extremely high operations-tempo . . .

They are building multi-million dollar child development centers in places like Columbus, Miss. while the Training Squadrons have broken jets sitting idly on the ramp for lack of parts and maintenance . . .

The Army needs new tanks. Smaller, faster, cheaper. New helicopters, too. Less child development and ‘total warrior support’ and just more warriors and weapons. Simple stuff, really.

The “culture war” is going to determine the future direction of evangelical political engagement, says Greg Forster. But Forster wonders why we can’t fight for justice in politics and build civic solidarity with our unbelieving neighbors:

We have a moral imperative to be the church militant and fight for justice; we also have a moral imperative not to impose Christianity on people by force. God did not create a chaotic universe. Therefore, a way to do both at the same time must exist. Our job is to find it.

I am a political guy and always have been. Politics affects every aspect of human life. The things we say and do in politics are the most important single factor controlling what people throughout society perceive to be just and unjust. That’s why we have such an important responsibility both to be involved in politics and also to keep our involvement faithful to real justice.

However, I have also come to realize how dangerous it is when political people like myself start to view everything in society as merely “downstream” from politics. Church, family, the economy, and other social spheres also have an effect on every aspect of human life, just as much as politics does. We have to preserve the integrity of these other spheres rather than merely subordinating them to politics.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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

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:

Blog author: dpahman
Monday, October 22, 2012

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.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 22, 2012

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?