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

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, December 13, 2012

In France, more than half of the population benefits directly or indirectly from welfare payments. Not surprisingly, the result has been that that the poverty rate for the past twenty years has remained unchanged. “Despite its good intentions,” says Sylvain Charat, “welfareship has created a ‘poverty trap.’”
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, December 13, 2012

One of the strongest arguments against Right to Work legislation is that such laws exasperates the “free rider” problem. In the context of unions, a free rider is an employee who pays no union dues or agency shop fees, but nonetheless receives the same benefits of union representation as dues-payers. While this concern should not override an employee’s right of free association, it was a concern that, I had always thought was worth taking seriously.

But yesterday I discovered that there is no free rider problem unless a union explicitly chooses to create free riders.

Policy wonk extraordinaire Reihan Salam pointed out a helpful explanation by James Sherk:
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Blog author: dpahman
posted by on Thursday, December 13, 2012

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to present a paper at the Sophia Institute annual conference at Union Theological Seminary. This year’s topic was “Marriage, Family, and Love in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition.” My paper was titled, “What Makes a Society?” and focused, in the context of marriage and the family, on developing an Orthodox Christian answer to that question. The Roman Catholic and neo-Calvinist answers, subsidiarity and sphere sovereignty, respectively (though not mutually exclusive), receive frequent attention on the PowerBlog, but, to my knowledge, no Orthodox answer has been clearly articulated, and so it can be difficult to know where to begin. To that end, it is my conviction—and a subject of my research—that a historically sensitive, Orthodox answer to this question can found be in the idea of asceticism, rightly understood.

While I will not reproduce my paper here, I wanted to briefly summarize two of its main points that might have broader interest. First of all, what is asceticism? Second, how can asceticism be viewed as an organizational principle of society? Lastly, I want to briefly explore—beyond the scope of my paper—the relevance of this principle for a free society. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, December 13, 2012

The False Social Concerns About Right-to-Work
James M. Hohman, Mackinac Center

In the Detroit Free Press, Stephen Henderson expresses concern that right-to-work states are doing worse than forced unionism states in a number of social trends.

Jonathan Rauch’s (Mostly) Failed Agenda for Hurting Workers – and What Would Work
Greg Forster, Hang Together

I see lots of attention being paid to this article by Jonathan Rauch on the economic crisis of America’s working class. He’s looking at the right problem, but he’s looking at it all wrong.

The Cliff Hangs on the Fed: Why Ben Bernanke Controls the Economy’s Fate
Ramesh Ponnuru and David Beckworth, The Atlantic

The liberal nightmare about the fiscal cliff is overwrought, since the Fed has the power to avert disaster. If Bernanke acts properly, Congress could cut spending deeply without risking a recession.

From “Third Ways” to the First Way
Bonchamps, The American Catholic

The search for an economic and political “third way” between socialism and capitalism has been underway since the early 20th century, if not sooner. In Catholic circles, Distributism is a third way that many are eager to discuss.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, December 13, 2012

My friend John Teevan of Grace College sends out a newsletter every month called “Economic Prospect.” This month’s edition included this valuable insight:

Here is a short passage from Ezekiel 28:4-5 that speaks to us about overconfidence in producing wealth:

By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.

There is a pattern I had not seen before: wisdom plus understanding plus skill yield wealth. Sounds good and sounds like God’s approval of human ingenuity and skill. There is a problem but it is not wealth creation; it’s that “your heart has grown proud.” Can we be wealthy without being proud? Sure, and the clue comes from the word ‘amass’ which is the opposite of being generous in giving. A Christmas thought.

John will be teaching a course on “Evangelicals and Social Justice” at Acton University next year. Check it out, and send John a message if you’d like to be added to his “Economic Prospect” list.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What is a Right to Work law?

Right to Work laws are state laws that guarantee a person cannot be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union as a condition of employment.

righttoworkWhy are Right to Work laws considered a matter of economic freedom?

Economic freedom exists when people have the liberty to produce, trade, and consume legitimate goods and services that are acquired without the use of force, fraud, or theft. Mandatory unionism violates a person’s economic freedom since it forces them to pay a portion of their income, as a condition of employment, to a third-party representative—even if they disagree with the aims, goals, or principles of the representative group.

What’s wrong with being forced to pay for union representation?
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Blog author: rnothstine
posted by on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In today’s culture, there is always an abundance of news stories about the “War on Christmas.” In my commentary this week, I address that concern and the lack of understanding of the deeper meaning of Christmas. Here’s a highlight:

Every December cultural warriors mourn the incessant attacks on Christmas and secularism’s rise in society. News headlines carry stories of modern day Herods banning nativity scenes, religious performances, and even the word “Christmas.” Just as a majority of young people profess they will have less prosperity and opportunity than their parents, many people now expect less out of Christmas. Continual bickering over holiday messaging in corporate advertising itself points to a shrinking and limited Christmas.

Yet these problems are signs on the way to important truths, if we have the eyes to see. Record spending and debt, whether in Washington or the home, allude to a society trying to fill an emptiness of the heart. Even our disappointment in poor leadership in America reminds us that we crave a true King and are expectant of a greater day.

In 2010, I penned a related essay “Why the Nativity?” That post delves even deeper into the theology of the incarnation and the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Christmas is a hard time for many people because expectations for joy and changes in their life are so high. In my own life, I count myself among those that have had a difficult time at Christmas because I’m so reflective and I realize life isn’t always how I want it.

There is a sign in front of the church that I attend that reads, “Jesus is all you want, if Jesus is all you have.” I find that the more I deeply ponder the incarnation of Christ, the more I am amazed and my heart is transformed.

I quoted Charles Wesley in my commentary in where he called Christ the “desire of every nation,” and “joy of every longing heart.” The hymn is of course, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” The words are beautiful and I’ve always loved Wesley’s hymns because they deal with the deepest hopes of the heart and he personalizes the person of Christ for all.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Anti-sharia legislation being proposed by the Michigan state legislature is being opposed by what may seem like an unlikely group: Catholics.

The Michigan Catholic Conference, citing a potential impact on Catholic canon law, is speaking out against a bill in the Michigan House of Representatives that would prohibit the application of foreign law in Michigan.

The legislation, House Bill 4769, is primarily aimed at prohibiting Muslim Sharia law in the state, but Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO Paul Long said the bill also could have an adverse effect on canon law, which is the juridical structure that facilitates life and governance in the Catholic Church.

Canon law governs aspects of Catholic life such as church structure and authority, doctrine, the appointment of pastors, the care of objects used in sacred worship, and rules regulating Catholic parishes and schools. In a news release, the MCC said canon law in many cases predates and is even the basis of some civil laws in the western world.

The threat posed by such legislation extends far beyond it’s impact on Catholic canon law. By helping to push the idea that religious beliefs should be kept private, anti-sharia laws are a threat to all of our religious liberties. As legal scholar Robert K. Vischer explained earlier this year in First Things:
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Blog author: dpahman
posted by on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

G. K. Chesterton
(one of the founding fathers of distributism)

Today at Ethika Politika, in response to a few writers who have offered, in my estimate, less-than-charitable characterizations of capitalism, I ask the question, “Which Capitalism?” (also the title of my article). I ask this in seriousness, because often the free economy that people bemoan bears little resemblance to the one that many Christians support. In particular, I ask, “Which Capitalism?” in reference to the following from Pope John Paul II, who outlines in his encyclical Centesimus Annus (no. 42) two different forms of capitalism as follows:

The first is “an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector” that “is the victorious social system” since the fall of the Soviet Union and that “should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society.” The second is “a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious.”

All three of the authors I take issue with are Roman Catholic and two of them have voiced their support for distributism as an alternative to capitalism. However, I ask with all sincerity, “[S]hould not distributists be asking whether distributism is a form of capitalism, rather than setting it up as an alternative to capitalism?” Given the high praise given by Pope John Paul II to capitalism, rightly understood as the free economy, ought not distributists simply be arguing that they, perhaps, have some valuable insights for supporters of capitalism, rather than opposing distributism to capitalism, uncharitably understood? (more…)

Blog author: jsunde
posted by on Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller

In a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Tim Keller discusses the major themes of his new book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, which aims to properly orient our work toward worship and service (HT).

In the interview, Keller argues that we live in a culture that has misplaced its identity in work, rather than pursued it as part of a deeper, more sacred commitment:

When you make your work your identity…if you’re successful it destroys you because it goes to your head. If you’re not successful it destroys you because it goes to your heart—it destroys your self-worth… What you need with faith, is faith gives you an identity that’s not in work or accomplishment, and that gives you insulation against the weather changes. If you’re successful, you stay humble. If you’re not successful, you have some ballast. So, basically, making your work your identity, kind of an idol, to use Biblical terminology, is maybe the big sin of New York City.

There is, of course, a balance, and much of Keller’s book is devoted to uncovering this balance. As he goes on to explain in the interview, “Work is a great thing when it is a servant instead of a lord.”

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