Archived Posts 2012 - Page 5 of 160 | Acton PowerBlog

Jeff Sandefer, co-author (with Rev. Robert Sirico) of the newly published book, A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey, has been nominated for Business Professor of the Year by The Economist‘s Economic Intelligence Unit.

Sandefer, a lifelong entrepreneur, now uses his business acumen in teaching both business students and children. One of his adult students shared this about him:

Jeff has this insatiable thirst to build principled entrepreneurs and business leaders that I have never seen in anyone before. His passion to serve the community as well as the classroom is both contagious and inspiring. . . . As a student and alumni, I had my fair share of bumps, scrapes and humbling moments in class, but nothing has prepared me more than Acton and what Jeff instilled in us. The very tools I used in Jeff’s class is [sic] what I am using on a day-to-day basis as a leader and partner in a quickly growing international company.

The award, which comes with a $100,000 prize, requires a professor to be nominated by students. The long list of top nominees is shortened by a judging panel, and the four short-listed professors will engage in a live “teach-off” in March 2013.

Sandefer’s book, published by the Acton Institute, is available for free Kindle download until December 23, 2013, 3 a.m. EST.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas as Heavenly Economy
Peter J. Leithart, First Things

Since the early centuries of the Church, Christians have thought of giving and receiving gifts as a fitting way to celebrate the Incarnation. The logic is simple: God so loved the world that he gave; so should we.

It’s a Wonderful Country: Pottersville or Bedford Falls?
Carson Holloway, Public Discourse

In the classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the humane society of Bedford Falls is built on conservative principles, not contemporary liberal ones.

The Case of the Vanishing Orphanage
Christ Horst, Values & Capitalism

This type of story can cultivate skepticism, prompting us to pull back. But it doesn’t have to.

Selfishness, Self-Interest, and Significance
Jay W. Richards, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

This March, Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation in the pages of The New York Times. His reasoning: the company’s employees and culture had morphed into a gross entity that sidelines the interests of the client in favor of making a quick buck.

Blog author: sstanley
Thursday, December 20, 2012

PropertyCoverÉtienne Cabet, a French philosopher and founder of a utopian socialist movement, once said: “Communism is Christianity.” The concept of property has existed longer than Western Civilization; trying to understand what property is and who can claim it has been an important issue for centuries. But, what is the Christian view of private property and ownership?

Cabet, and others who believe that Christianity supports the concept of communism or socialism, base their opinion on one particular passage of Scripture. In Acts: 32-37, Luke tells us that no believer:

Claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. NIV

One interpretation of this passage says that the Church does not support private property, but the Christian perspective on the institution of property is not so simple. Wolfgang Grassl, professor of business administration at St. Norbert College (De Pere, Wis.), addresses this complicated and controversial issue in Property, the latest in the Christian Social Thought series from the Acton Institute.

Grassl points out that the issue of property is absolutely central to Western civilization and Christian social thought. He goes as far to say that understanding property is essential in order to understand the human person. Grassl quotes Pope John Paul II, who addressed the complexity of this issue in Centesimus Annus. He said: (more…)

“There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution,” wrote Judge Brian Cogan in his ruling issued two weeks ago against a Justice Department motion to dismiss the Archdiocese of New York’s lawsuit against the HHS mandate. “To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction.”

More federal judges are coming to the same conclusion. Earlier this week a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. issued a partial but significant victory to Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College in their lawsuit against the Obama administration’s contraception and abortifacient mandate.

The Obama administration had announced plans to create a new rule protecting the religious liberties of these Christian colleges and other similarly situated religious groups. But to date, the administration has not yet taken the steps necessary to make that promise legally binding. Lower courts dismissed the colleges’ cases while the government contemplated a new rule, but the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided the cases should stay alive while it scrutinizes whether the government will meet its promised deadlines.

“The D.C. Circuit has now made it clear that government promises and press conferences are not enough to protect religious freedom,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The court is not going to let the government slide by on non-binding promises to fix the problem down the road.”

Conservation Trust THConnellI found this profile of Mark Tercek, the former Goldman Sachs managing director who was tapped to head the Nature Conservancy, raises some profound issues concerning the relationship between economics and the environment:

Tercek, 55, didn’t come to the Conservancy to fight financial brush fires. With the help of his board and the input of the Conservancy’s 600 scientists, he wants to remake the face of the American and global environmental movements. He has no quarrel with the current model—largely built on the strategies of confront, litigate, regulate. But by itself, that approach has proven inadequate. “All the things we care about—forests, coral reefs, fish stocks, biodiversity—we have less of instead of more of, despite everyone’s best efforts,” Tercek says.

Environmentalism, he fears, has become too elitist, too white, too partisan, too full of doomsayers, too concerned with saving nature from people instead of for them. He’d like to expand environmentalism to include the world’s largest polluters so that ecologists and corporations can work jointly to preserve nature because it’s the smart economic choice.

That last point is critical. Sustainable and responsible economic growth is based on properly valuing the natural environment. All too often environmental damage and degradation is due to improperly valuing and inadequately appreciating natural resources. In many cases it is because of a lack of well-defined property rights and responsibilities.

To use the language of Acemoglu and Robinson, unsustainable economic activity is extractive rather than inclusive. Consider how Tercek is actively and positively engaging Dow Chemical for an inclusive approach:

Tercek’s biggest bet yet is the Conservancy’s five-year partnership with Dow Chemical (DOW), announced a little more than a year ago. During the project, 20 Conservancy scientists are getting unprecedented access to Dow’s facilities, starting at Dow’s sprawling Freeport (Tex.) plant. The idea is to help the chemical giant do an inventory of its global land and water assets as a way of allowing Dow to put a value on its “natural capital” and to determine how to best protect and enhance it.

“I know there’s a lot of skepticism about these corporate initiatives, but for Dow to agree with us philosophically that it relies on nature for business reasons and to begin to put a business value on its natural assets, that’s huge,” says Tercek.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, December 20, 2012

Domino’s Founder Files Lawsuit Challenging HHS Mandate
Dominique Ludvigson, The Foundry

Tom Monaghan, founder and former owner of Domino’s Pizza, is the latest business owner tofile a lawsuit challenging Obamacare’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization as “preventive services” in their health care plans.

Western Europe vs. Religious Freedom
Mary Ann Glendon and Azizah al-Hibri, The National Interest

When most people picture Western Europe, they envision well-established democracies where fundamental freedoms are vigorously protected.

Q&A about ‘First Freedom’ documentary with Matthew Holland
David Ward, Deseret News

When it comes to religious liberty, I don’t think the contributions of George Washington have been adequately appreciated.

The Rich, the Poor, and the Significance of Wealth Creation
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

How should Christians understand wealth and poverty as it relates to our faith?

During the debate about how to resolve the fiscal cliff crisis, lawmakers on both sides have considered reducing the charitable tax deduction. That strikes many people as the wrong approach (especially those of us who work for non-profits!) even though we may not be able to explain why it’s such a bad idea.

Fortunately, John Carney has provided a superb explanation for why reducing or removing this deduction is counterproductive. For instance, changing the charitable deduction as Carney notes, has the same effect as another deduction that most of us didn’t even know exist: the deduction for volunteers.

Imagine that you serve a charity that pays you $15 a hour for your labor. Instead of cashing their checks, though, you immediately donate that money back to the charity. If this income was taxed and deduction was allowed, it would mean we were paying a tax on the time we volunteer to charities. But as Carney explains, this is the same thing as when we provide “free” labor to a charity. The income we forgo is equivalent to donated income.