Archived Posts January 2013 - Page 11 of 14 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: abradley
Thursday, January 10, 2013
By is reporting that Junior Seau, who committed suicide in May, just two years after retiring from the NFL, tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy(CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that has been associated with dementia, memory loss and depression found in many deceased NFL players. Naturally, as more data and deaths point to football’s brain injury risks, there will be more and more calls to action. A fundamental question in this discourse is this: “who has the moral responsibility and authority to regulate sport at any level?”

901016P JUNIOR SEAU CHARGERSI have friends with boys under seven-years-old who have decided that their sons will never play organized tackle football. The correlations with long-term brain damage is too great of a risk for my friends to expose their children to for the sake of playing the game. Every week it seems that we hear about an college or NFL player leaving the game because of a concussion. A few weeks ago, three NFL starting quarterbacks–Michael Vick of the Eagles, Alex Smith of the 49ers and Jay Cutler of the Bears– all suffered concussions. Because of the frequency of concussions in the NFL, some are raising questions about whether or not the game should still be played at all. The question for parents is simple, “is tackle football worth the risk?”

USA Today has a piece today on the HHS mandate battle. What I noticed was not so much the story, but the photo the newspaper chose to run. It’s an AP photo by Derik Holtmann from a rally held last spring, about the same time as numerous other rallies were taking place around the country. Since there is nothing in the story about the photo, I can only assume it was chosen “randomly.”  Here it is:


I don’t know what you notice, but here’s what I see: A lot of older people. Grey hair. Elderly. The photo — I believe — is meant to give the impression that a few old people showed up to protest against birth control … clearly an issue they don’t have to worry about, right?

Yet, when I Google “HHS Mandate rally,” I get photos like this:








I didn’t dig for these — they are on the first page of the Google search. I can also attest that at the rally I attended last spring, there were families, high school students, young adults and older folks — a wide range of people from various faith traditions deeply concerned about religious liberty in this country.

Oh, USA Today? I think your media bias slip is showing. Cover up and get with it.

Blog author: jsunde
Thursday, January 10, 2013

I recently discussed the importance of aligning ourselves to God before getting too carried away with our own plans for economic restoration. We should instead seek to supplant the personal for the divine, embracing a transcendent framework through which we can pursue what we already recognize to be transcendent ends.

This is particularly difficult in a society that persistently glorifies a misguided conception of the self, and it’s not much better in broader Christian culture, where an increasing number of pastors promote a brand of self-help largely indistinguishable from that of the gurus gracing Oprah’s sofa.

In a fascinating article on the various philosophies driving today’s “self-help” movement(s), Kathryn Schulz helps outline the competition. Schulz, whose book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, is a fun romp of a read, would likely reject my proposed orientation for Christians, yet she does point to it —albeit a bit inaccurately—even giving slight credence to its results:

In self-help programs that draw on religious or spiritual practices, the locus of control is largely externalized; the real power belongs to God (or a supreme being, a universal consciousness—whatever you care to call it). But these programs also posit a part of the self that is receptive to or one with that external force: an internal fragment of the divine that can triumph over human weakness.

This is pretty much the oldest kind of dualism in the book: your sacred soul against your mortal flesh. You can see it at work in 12-step programs, where addicts begin by admitting they are powerless to control their addiction and then make “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.” But think about that for a moment: How do recovering addicts simultaneously exercise and abdicate their right to make decisions? How do they choose to let a higher power do the choosing—not just once but every time temptation comes along? Twelve-step programs are reputed to be one of the more effective ways to treat addiction, yet how their followers pull off this sleight-of-self remains a mystery. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Economic Consequentialism
Pat Archbold, National Catholic Register

To do something wrong, no matter the intended or even realized consequence, is to do something wrong. Period. I think this principle is often overlooked when it comes to the matter of public spending and public debt.

‘Virtual’ Public Schools Draw Interest of Religious Families
Omar Sacirbey, Sojourners

In the 2011-2012 school year, 275,000 students were enrolled in online K-12 programs, up from 50,000 a decade ago.

Why Your 2013 Paychecks Are 2 Percent Less
Joseph Henchman, Tax Foundation

The questions are already rolling in: why did my pay drop?

Latvia gives Greece a lesson in austerity
Anders Aslund, The National

In a severe crisis, it is much easier to cut public expenditures than to raise revenue. Moreover, taxpayers think the government should tighten its belt when they are forced to do so. Cuts in public spending accounted for two thirds of the Latvian fiscal adjustment.

In this week’s Acton Commentary, “The Mundane Morality of Les Misérables,” I explore the new musical film and in particular a transitional episode where the main protagonist, Jean Valjean, is faced with a moral dilemma: “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!”

Here’s a performance of the scene from the musical’s 10th anniversary, featuring Colm Wilkinson as Valjean:


In one of my favorite exchanges on the sitcom Seinfeld, Cosmo Kramer and Jerry Seinfeld have the following discussion about tax write-offs:

kramerKramer: “It’s a write-off for them.”
Jerry: “How is it a write-off?”
Kramer: “They just write it off.”
Jerry: “Write it off what?”
Kramer: “Jerry, all these big companies, they write off everything.”
Jerry: “You don’t even know what a write-off is.”
Kramer: “Do you?”
Jerry: “No, I don’t.”
Kramer: “But they do. And they’re the ones writing it off.”
Jerry: “I wish I had the last twenty seconds of my life back.”

Fortunately, Jerry and Kramer were talking in person. If this had been an email exchange they might have been flagged for being in the “fraud triangle”—the nexus where rationalization, pressure, and opportunity meet.

Software developed by the FBI and Ernst & Young reveals that Kramer’s favorite business term is on the most common words and phrases used in email conversations among employees engaged in corporate fraud:

Hell hath no fury like a tax-and-spend liberal scorned”  -Me (like ten minutes ago)


In the on-going debate between proponents of Big v. Limited government, it can often be too easy to dismiss the other side on partisan, emotional grounds. The Left accuses the Right of possessing callous hearts toward the poor, indifference toward the “infrastructure” of our nation, and a blind allegiance to nefarious, shadowy 1%-ers who pull the strings of Big (insert any word but “Government” here). The Right views the Left as being naive about mankind’s fallen state, indulgent with other peoples’ money, and un-serious about the, shall we say, “troubling” fiscal position our nation (and many of our states) finds itself in.

Mixed up and lost in all the hyperbole and high emotions are actual facts, figures, and dollar amounts. Regardless of someone’s religiosity, most Americans want to be good stewards of the unprecedented wealth we’ve been blessed with. In fact, many who embrace the most fiscally-detrimental tax-and-spend policies are the most certain they are living out our Lord’s call to look after “the least of these.”

With all of that said, please consider this recent Bloomberg News article on the economic upswing taking place in Texas:

America’s recent fiscal crisis has been delayed, not averted. Even if action is taken within the next few months to cut spending and/or raise taxes, the day of reckoning will only be slightly delayed since no one is willing to touch the three programs that constitute almost half the federal budget: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

As Collin Garbarino argues, this situation will likely continue because “most Americans aren’t ready to have granny living in the spare bedroom.”

Everyone, not just the rich, will need to pay more to the government, unless we, as a nation, change how we view end-of-life care. Right now Americans want to keep the elderly out of sight and out of mind, letting the federal government manage them. This frees younger Americans to pursue their dreams. Remember the American dream: get the house, get one or two kids, get rid of the kids, and spend twenty years collecting seashells in Florida. Caring for an elderly parent or grandparent is not part of America’s normal.

For a country that once prided itself on adhering to Christian principles, we’ve done a fairly rotten job of honoring our fathers and mothers. Americans expect the state to fulfill our Christian and familial devotion, and for some reason we’re all surprised that it didn’t go well. Until American expectations change, American finances won’t.

For many Americans this will amount to a lower standard of living, because either a husband or a wife will be required to forgo full-time employment to care for an ailing parent. Instead of parents and children viewing this situation as a burden to be alleviated by the state, we must believe that fulfilling the fifth commandment is an honorable Christian sacrifice. During times of economic instability, when retirement accounts fail, the community, especially the Church, should ensure that the vulnerable members of society are being cared for.

Read more . . .

Record unemployment rates in Europe have been published and they should alarm Americans. Why? Because we are headed in the same direction. Nile Gardiner, of The Telegraph, is quite sure of this:

The United States isn’t just gliding towards a continental European-style future of vast welfare systems, economic decline, and massive debts – it is accelerating towards it at full speed. Or as Acton Institute research director Samuel Gregg puts it in his excellent new book published today [January 8] by Encounter, America is already “becoming Europe,” with the United States moving far closer to a European-style welfare state than most Americans realize.

The American Interest spins a further tale of woe, citing an 11.8 percent unemployment rate for the 17-nation Eurozone. Pity Spain: they have a 27 percent unemployment rate. Yes, you read that correctly: 27 percent. And young people (those under 25) are especially hard hit: 24 percent unemployment in the E-zone, with over 50 percent unemployment for young people in Spain and Greece.

Is it too late for America to reverse course? Read “Becoming Europe” by Samuel Gregg.

Read Nile Gardiner’s “128 million Americans are now on government programmes. Can America survive as the world’s superpower?

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Man Offers Own Mountain Of Proof Against Russia’s U.S. Adoption Ban
Richard Solash, Radio Free Europe

D’Jamoos is one of several disabled U.S. adoptees from Russia who have taken on activist roles in recent weeks, protesting their birth country’s ban on American adoptions.

Income inequality can be explained by demographics
Mark J. Perry, AEIdeas

Income inequality can be explained by demographics, and because the demographics change, there’s income mobility

Courts Issue Contradictory Rulings as Contraceptive Mandate Fines Begin
Melissa Steffan, Christianity Today

Ruling Roundup: For-profits seeking injunctions against HHS have 10-3 winning record.

Wendy’s, Taco Bell franchises are latest to cut employee hours, blaming Obamacare
Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC

Two more fast food franchises are cutting worker hours in order to avoid paying for Obamacare-mandated employee health care.