Archived Posts November 2012 - Page 7 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
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In this entertaining video Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, explains why the free market is morally superior to other economic systems. My favorite part comes near the beginning when Williams explains that money is a form of “certificate of performance” that serves as proof of having served our neighbors.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
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Re-elected, Obama takes aim at religious liberty
Timothy P. Carney Washington Examiner

As an old saw has it, “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” The Obama administration says your right to live as a Christian ends if you go into business

Religious protections are worth keeping
Melissa Musick Nussbaum, National Catholic Register

Exercise is an interesting word because it presumes action. Religious freedom does not simply mean the freedom to think, a power, one presumes, even the most oppressive regimes cannot hold over their citizens.

The Party of Work
David Brooks, New York Times

They created an American creed, built, as the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset put it, around liberty, individualism, equal opportunity, populism and laissez-faire.

Russell Kirk on Cultivating the Good Life
Bruce Frohen, The Imaginative Conservative

Kirk knew the value of economic liberty. Living by his wit and wisdom he could support himself only in a free economy.

Registration for 2013 Acton University, scheduled for June 18-21 at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., will open Thursday November 15. Stay tuned to Acton’s homepage and the AU website for further news and announcements. If you haven’t had the chance to attend in the past, make this the year you do!

In the November issue of Christianity Today, Dr. Amy Sherman, senior fellow at the Sagamore Institute has published an article entitled “The Cutting Edge of Marketplace Ministries.” In this article Sherman describes “holistic ministry” being done by a variety of businesses.

Businesses are able to accomplish this kind of ministry in part when “pastors and faithful Christians grasp their role in God’s economy of all things,” as Stephen Grabill, director of programs and international at Acton Institute describes the work of the Oikonomia Network. This network, which includes more than two dozen evangelical institutions, endeavors to make connections between faith, work, and economics and show how critical these realities are to Christian discipleship. The network accomplishes this in the context of a learning community, which informs pastors how believers do their work and thus how Christians are able to participate productively in the economy.

Click here to read the entire article.

After every electoral defeat—whether suffered by Republicans or Democrats—a period of hand-wringing and soul-searching inevitably develops in the days and weeks after the election. Journalists and politicians take to print to explain “What went wrong” and “Here’s what should be done differently.” Although the solutions are almost always what the pundits were saying before the election, the exercise in self-reflection is, on the whole, a much needed corrective. But too often the advice tends to be of the always terrible, “We should be more like the party that won.”

A prime example is an article today by Wick Allison, publisher of The American Conservative. Allison voted for Obama in 2008 and hinted that he would do so this year too. So it probably shouldn’t be surprising that that his economic solution looks similar to what President Obama would endorse.

Allison says that the “Republican Party can appeal to ‘Judeo-Christian values’ as long as the sun shines and their voices hold out. But they’ve abandoned the most basic moral value of all: fairness.” While he may have a valid point, Allison muddies the argument by his misunderstanding of both taxation and fairness:

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Writing on The Corner over at National Review Online, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg points to the election and, refreshingly, tells us that, “I’m not one of those who, in recent days, have seemed inclined to indulge their inner curmudgeon, apparently convinced that it’s more or less game-over for America and we’re doomed to Euro-serfdom.”

Gregg, author of the soon-to-be-released and available for pre-order Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future (Encounter Books, January 2013), explains why there are, still, important differences between Eurotopia and the United States. For one thing:

… the strength and persistence of private entrepreneurship continues to substantially differentiate America’s economic culture from that of Europe. America remains ahead — and, in some areas, continues to pull ahead — of most of Europe when it comes to private innovation. As noted in a World Bank report earlier this year, the elements that fuel innovation, such as ease in obtaining patents and availability of venture capital, continue (at least for now) to be far stronger in America than in most of Europe.

The same report specified that it is young firms driving innovative growth in America. Among America’s leading innovators in the Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, more than half were created after 1975. They include firms such as eBay, Microsoft, Cisco, Amgen, Oracle, Google, and of course Apple. By contrast, only one in five leading innovators in Europe is young. In America, young firms make up an incredible 35 percent of total research and development done by leading innovators. Their European counterparts account for a mere 7 percent in the old continent. That’s great news for America and a major headache for Europe over the long term.

Read “Are We all Europeans Now?” by Samuel Gregg on NRO.

Peter Lawler, Dana Professor of Government at Berry College, has written a piece at Ethika Politika urging those upset by last week’s election results to be calm and take a deep breath. First, Lawler says we have to understand that there are small political parties and great ones.

Great parties are parties of high principle.  Their dominance on the political stage has the advantage of bringing great men into political life.  They have the disadvantage of rousing up animosity that readily leads to war.  So great parties make great men happy and most men miserable…

Democracies, however, hardly ever have great parties.  Most of the time our parties are coalitions of diverse interests and short on clear and divisive principle.  Politicians make petty appeals to ordinary selfishness, and people vote their interests.  The bad news is that great men are repulsed by the small stakes and contemptible motives of political life, and so they stay away from it.  The good news is that the outcomes of elections aren’t so important, and people aren’t roused up to take to the streets or grab their weapons.  The winning candidate and party is the one that most effectively builds a majority coalition of diverse interests, and the losing candidate and party end up acknowledging that, most of all, it got outhustled.

The problem, as Lawler sees it through Tocquevillian glasses, isn’t one party winning over another or one candidate leading by shining example. No, the problem is that America is now obsessed with individualism. We don’t care much any more what is best for all, but merely what is best for me. I want what I want, damn the consequences.

I think Tocqueville would conclude his observations by noticing what’s changed the most since the America he wrote about is the breakdown of the religious-based American consensus on the limits of self-obsessive individualism.  His America was all about chastity, marital fidelity, what’s best for children, and common moral duties.  This consensus has broken down, and the resulting devolution of marriage into a contractual entitlement devoid of real duties or even duration is the real cause of the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.  The question posed by gays is roughly this:  Given how little marriage really means under the law these days, you have no right to exclude us from its benefits, which have become mainly symbolic.

Read “Tocquevillian Reflections on the Meaning of the Election” at Ethika Politika here.

PovertyCure’s six-episode DVD series on human flourishing is now available for purchase. This high-energy, 152-minute documentary-style series challenges conventional thinking, reframing the poverty debate around the creative capacity of the human person. Listen to the voices of entrepreneurs, economists, political and religious leaders, missionaries, NGO workers, and everyday people as host Michael Matheson Miller travels around the world to discover the foundations that allow human beings, families, and communities to thrive.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 12, 2012
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Is Feeling Good Enough to Fight Poverty?
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

One of rock ‘n’ roll’s most outspoken activists recently made a startling statement concerning an often overlooked method of poverty alleviation.

Liberty and a Free Press
Ted McAllister, Public Discourse

Can the press still prevent a tyrannical majority opinion as it did in Tocqueville’s time?

The Plight of an American Small Business Owner
Joy Pullmann, Values & Capitalism

Government regulations and taxes have increased “since 2008″ he said, to the point where a small business can hardly afford to exist.

Want Your Kids To Attend College? Go To Church, Study Finds
Melissa Steffan, Christianity Today

Churchgoing youth are 70 percent more likely to enroll in college than unaffiliated peers, research finds.

I recently talked to one of Italy’s leading classical liberal scholars, Prof. Nicola Iannello, regarding the outcome of this week’s U.S. presidential elections.  

Prof. Iannello, a devotee of classical liberalism and Alexis de Tocqueville, is an Italian journalist, international lecturer with Istituto Bruno Leoni, and chair of the Einaudi Foundation’s Austrian School of Economics course for Roman university students. Prof. Iannello has published several widely read academic articles on Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and Frédéric Bastiat, among other pro-liberty European intellectuals.

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