Archived Posts November 2012 - Page 8 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

In Britain, a new zeitgeist is capturing business people, academics and political players from both the Left and Right, says the BBC’s Matthew Taylor:

Catholic Social Teaching is a doctrine well-suited to today’s quest for more ethical businesses, a less overbearing state and a more vibrant and cohesive civil society.

Now, as in 1891, many fear we will not be able to adapt to profound change without dangerous social upheaval. It may not provide easy or even practical answers right now, though it does, at least, seem to be grappling with the right questions.

And for those of us tired of the ritual adversarialism and technocratic wrangling on show in Westminster, there is something rather inspiring about the response of a shrewd operator like Jon Cruddas.

When I ask him whether the ethical foundations of Catholic Social Teaching imply a different way of thinking about politics, he says: “Yes, I do and I see them in different parties. It’s going to be uncomfortable, difficult, but it means that we have to focus in on almost transcending the formal architecture of politics in the national good.”

Jordan Ballor and Hunter Baker recently argued that Catholic Social teaching could be a worthy model for engagement here in America too:
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Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, gives us a glimpse of what is ahead in the fight for religious liberty regarding the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate, given the outcome of Tuesday’s election.  In the National Catholic Register, Duncan outlines that current federal lawsuits fall into two broad categories: those filed by nonprofit organizations and those filed by business owners. In the case of the nonprofits,

The federal government has not responded to the merits of these lawsuits, but has instead sought to have them thrown out as premature. The government says that its non-binding promise of an “accommodation” by August 2013 means that the courts should not hear the lawsuits now — even though the mandate is a final rule that is now harming these plaintiffs’ ability to plan, hire and budget.

Unfortunately, in two of the cases (Belmont Abbey and Wheaton), the courts have agreed with the government and dismissed the lawsuits. Those dismissals will be reviewed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in December.

The cases filed by business owners such as John Kennedy of Autocam and David Green of Hobby Lobby have met with “some success”, the article states, but the fight is far from done.
Because these business lawsuits are not subject to any delays, the government has had to respond on the merits. Its response is startling.The government has flatly stated that a person who goes into business to make a profit loses any right to exercise religion in his business pursuits. A kosher butcher, for instance, would presumably have no religious rights associated with his decision to stock only kosher products. A Bible seller would have no religious rights associated with the sacred texts she is selling.

The profit motive alone dissolves these individuals’ rights to exercise religion. The government apparently wants to enforce its own theology of how God and mammon should mix. But its interpretation would bar individuals from providing for their families in ways consistent with their religious beliefs.

 

 

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 9, 2012
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Mitt Romney may have lost to Barack Obama but his was not the biggest loss of the election—at least not economically. Despite the millions the GOP spent to elect their candidate, the real economic losers of the 2012 election, as Joel Kotkin explains, are entrepreneurs:

The real losers are small business owners, or what might be called the aspirational middle class. The smaller business — with no galleon full of legal slaves pulling for them — will face more regulation of labor, particularly independent contracting. There will be more financial regulation, which is why Romney’s top contributors were all banks.

Small businesses will also face challenges associated with Obamacare, which now will sail on unchallenged. Health care costs are expected to go up 6.5% per employee. Some 58% of businesses say they will shift the costs to their employees. Many owners will face a higher individual tax bill: couples making $250,000 or more and singles making $200,000 or more will pay a 3.8% Medicare tax starting 2013.

All this is troubling, as American start-up rates are already falling. Much of what happens now occurs not from a great hunger to succeed as a desire to maintain. Outside of the inherently entrepreneurial immigrant classes, the only group of Americans starting business more than before are the fifty somethings and above. Many of these may simply be former employees of larger firms, now doing work sometimes in the same industry and even for the same company.

Read more . . .

John Kennedy,  president and CEO of Autocam and Autocam Medical in Grand Rapids, MI, recently filed suit over the HHS mandate requiring employers to provide artificial birth control, abortifacients and abortions as part of medical care coverage. On Wednesday, government attorneys explained the rejection of his suit, on the basis that it had no merit.

The government contends that provisions of the law that form Kennedy’s objections “are intended to help ensure that women have access to health coverage, without cost-sharing, for certain preventive services that medical experts have deemed necessary for women’s health and well-being.”

The services include contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sterilization, and education and counseling for women during reproductive years.

“Plaintiffs’ challenge rests largely on the legal theory that a for-profit corporation established to engage in manufacturing can claim to exercise religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity and protect the rights of employees,” Jacek Pruski, U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, wrote in response to the lawsuit.

“This cannot be,” he wrote.

Mr. Kennedy’s attorney, Jason Miller, says the law forces some employers to participate in what they believe is intrinsic evil.

Mr. Kennedy recently spoke on this topic in a free Acton podcast available here.

You can read the entire Mlive.com article regarding the federal lawsuit here.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 9, 2012
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Five Temptations for Classical Christian Education
Brian Douglas, First Things

Having taught at a classical Christian school for five years and followed the classical Christian education movement for some years prior, I have come to believe that it is the best approach to K-12 education available today.

Disasters Create Bigger, Not Better, Government
Amity Shlaes, Bloomberg

Whew. That was the general reaction when President Barack Obama told waterlogged New Jersey that “we are here for you.” After all, these days, a president is expected to “be here.”

Three Fallacies of the Social Gospel
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

In the early 20th century, the Social Gospel movement was driven by the belief that the Second Coming of Christ could not happen until humanity rid itself of all social evils by human effort. Followers applied Christian ethics to social justice issues, especially as it related to economic policy.

Elections, Political Parties and an Eternal Hope in a King
T. Kurt Jaros, Values & Capitalism

We just concluded months—or years, actually—of “your party vs. my party” politics. So I wanted to take this moment to remind my fellow YHWH worshippers that although we have temporal party affiliations, there is a certain political affiliation that is eternal: We are monarchists. This is seen both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, November 9, 2012
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Article: “The Ethics of Digital Preservation”
Peter Johan Lor and J.J. Britz. “An ethical perspective on political-economic issues in the long-term preservation of digital heritage.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 61, no. 11 (November 2012): 2153-2164.

The article provides an overview of the main ethical and associated political-economic aspects of the preservation of born-digital content and the digitization of analogue content for purposes of preservation. The term “heritage” is used broadly to include scientific and scholarly publications and data. Although the preservation of heritage is generally seen as inherently “good,” this activity implies the exercise of difficult moral choices. The ethical complexity of the preservation of digital heritage is illustrated by means of two hypothetical cases. The first deals with the harvesting and preservation in a wealthy country of political websites originating in a less affluent country. The second deals with a project initiated by a wealthy country to digitize the cultural heritage of a less affluent country. The ethical reflection that follows is structured within the framework of social justice and a set of information rights that are identified as corollaries of generally recognized human rights. The main moral agents, that is, the parties that have an interest, and may be entitled to exercise rights, in relation to digital preservation, are identified. The responsibilities that those who preserve digital content have toward these parties, and the political-economic considerations that arise, are then analyzed.

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On Dec. 7, Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., will deliver his last lecture at Georgetown University in Washington as he prepares for retirement. A great friend of Acton, Rev. Schall will be speaking in Gaston Hall in a lecture titled “A Final Gladness.” A good turnout is expected so register in advance by contacting Utraque.Unum@gmail.com by Nov. 28.

To see an archive of Rev. Schall’s Acton articles, please go to this link.

From his Georgetown bio:

Father Schall’s interests include classical and medieval political philosophy, natural law, Christian political philosophy, and the nature of political philosophy. His books include: Reason, Revelation, and the Foundations of Political Philosophy; Another Sort of Learning; At the Limits of Political Philosophy; Jacques Maritain: The Philosopher in Society. He also writes two columns, “Sense and Nonsense,” in Crisis magazine and “Schall on Chesterton,” in Gilbert!.

President Obama has been re-elected, and as many commentators point out, he faces a nation even more divided than when he took office.

In his victory speech, the President’s message came back to unity, how “we rise and fall together as one nation and as one people.” This comes, I should note, after a campaign that sought to demonize the rich and downplay the efforts of the entrepreneur. For those who believe prosperity comes from a full-scope appreciation of mankind, from the minimum-wage worker to the business owner, the President’s calls for national unity likely ring hollow. This is an administration that has taken a fracturing zero-sum approach to human engagement. If unity is at all possible, as the President hopes, it will require a fundamental realignment of rhetoric and policy.

Yet I am hopeful that such a realignment is indeed possible. Unlike his victory speech in 2008, the President seemed refreshingly aware of the inevitability of ideological conflict. “Each of us has deeply held beliefs,” said the President. “And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t.”

As I’ve written elsewhere, this stirring of the passions is a positive sign of social and moral engagement—what Madison called democracy’s “relief”. If properly identified and channeled, such sparring can be a boon for authentic unity should we actually recognize our disagreements and move to the dirty work of sorting things out. Ideology is important, and the first step to restoring economic confidence, whether through the investor, the entrepreneur, or the low-level laborer, will be for this administration to recognize that it has thus far led a significant segment of economic producers to feel isolated, insecure, and picked on.
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For 159 years, the state of Florida attempted to disenfranchise it’s citizens by suppressing voter turnout. At least that’s the logical conclusion that can be drawn from the recent partisan claims about voter suppression in the state.

As part of it’s post-2000 election reforms, Florida officially implemented early voting for the 2004 election. Until then, voters had to vote absentee or on Election Day.

But as a cost-cutting measure, the state legislature passed a law in 2011 reducing the early voting window from 14 days to eight, though it extended the hours during those eight days.

Now, critics of the law are attempting to claim the change was intentionally made to disenfranchise minority voters. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic, is a prime example of the type of liberal pundits who are attempting to spark racial animus by implying the law targets African American voters:

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Blog author: rnothstine
Thursday, November 8, 2012
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Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel has written a solid essay asking “Is ‘free’ now more important than ‘freedom?” It’s a serious and much needed indictment against our culture and the political class. McDaniel is a deep thinker and his work has been highlighted on the PowerBlog before. Below is an excerpt from his recent essay:

Building on their principle of self-rule, we have always understood the need for balance between freedom and order; and we built our hopes on a society based on individual liberty, free market economics and limited government. But now, citizens seemingly stand on the edge of a precipice, embracing and adoring the weight of federal authority in a fashion never envisioned by preceding generations.

Making matters worse, our politicians are guilty of encouraging the growth of government by demanding that it sustain and shelter us cradle-to-grave, while universally neglecting families, religious organizations, community charities and others that are better able to perform needed services. Producing a guardian society, they have abandoned historic precepts found in the Constitution, and “the people” have followed suit. Instead of encouraging independence, we have placed protectors in office who have suggested countless feel-good programs, using our desires of security to fuel their ambitious careers.

Read all of “Is ‘free’ now more important than ‘freedom’?