Archived Posts January 2013 » Page 5 of 14 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The wildly-popular BBC production, “Downton Abbey” has offices buzzing on Monday mornings. Like the “Upstairs, Downstairs” of old, “Downton” provides the viewer with two distinct lifestyles in one house: that of Lord and Lady of the manor and of the staff that runs the place.downtonabbey

Despite the lavish lifestyle of the fictitious Grantham family, Great Britain in the 1920s was economically stagnant. One percent of the nation held two-thirds of the nation’s wealth, but weren’t investing it. The ruling elite was financially idle – giving and attending parties, while thinking they were doing their part by employing scads of household servants. Running an actual business?  Actually creating jobs? Beneath one’s station in life. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If you want to improve the material conditions of the poor and working classes, what is the one economic metric you should consider most important?

carpooling-Life MagFor progressives the answer is income inequality, since a wide disparity between the incomes of the rich and poor is considered by them to be an obvious sign of injustice and a justification for using the force of the government to redistribute wealth. But for conservatives, the answer is upward economic mobility, the ability of an individual or family to improve their economic status. One of the benefits of the free market is that it harnesses liberty, diligence, and hard work in order to advance economic mobility.

The economic realm, though, exists in the physical realm, which is why economic mobility often requires effective means of physical mobility, that is, reliable transportation. While progressives tend to favor government-controlled public transit (such as busses and subways), conservatives tend to prefer individual transportation, especially access to cars. The reason is that history has shown, as Sasha Volokh says, that freedom drives a car:

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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Modern State Causes the Problems it Pretends to Fix
Anthony Esolen, Crisis

Pope Leo XIII affirms that a well governed State will promote the material and moral prosperity of its citizens, will honor private property and free association, and will protect the poor from abuse or depredation by the rich.

Obama Brings God Into the Climate-Change Fight
Will Oremus, Slate

By bringing in God, he’s attempting to reframe the issue as one that transcends not only partisanship but the divide between those who believe in science and those who doubt science but believe in God.

The Young and the Economically Illiterate
Nicholas Freiling, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

The fact is, most of today’s young people are economically illiterate. Most don’t understand how the economy works, or what drives economic progress.

Here’s why we might actually be winning the war on poverty
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

I am skeptical of all economic statistics showing Americans no better off than they were 30 or 40 years ago. This new study makes me even more confident in that stance.

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past few months you’ve surely heard of the debt limit crisis. But if you’re still unclear on what it’s all about, this video provides a brief, helpful explanation.

The key point in the video is that the debt limit is about paying bills already incurred. Congress agreed to allow the government to spend in excesses of revenues but is now refusing to pay what is due. As Albert Mohler notes,
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Matthew Feeney, assistant editor at Reason Magazine’s 24/7 blog, today reviews Samuel Gregg’s new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future. In his article titled “Europe: America’s Crystal Ball?” Feeney notes the similarity between Gregg’s views and many in the tea party movement who worry that “the U.S. is adopting similar norms and institutions [to Europe's current economic culture,] thereby losing what Tocqueville called Americans’ “spirit of enterprise.”

Feeney states that:

It is frustrating to many Europeans that Americans refer to “Europeanization” or a “European culture.” Europe, after all, is a continent of many countries and hundreds of languages; any attempt to generalize its people or culture will inevitably fall short. Thankfully, Gregg doesn’t fall into this trap. While acknowledging those differences, he also explains what enables commentators to discuss a common European culture, from the presence of an established lingua franca (be it Latin, French, or English) to the centuries of trade between its different peoples to the ongoing influence of Christianity. And it surely makes sense to speak of a “European economic culture” given the existence of the European Union, whose bloated bureaucracies regulate 27 of the continent’s states.

While Americans should be reassured that their political and economic culture is broadly pro-enterprise and pro-market, Gregg’s book is a healthy reminder that the United States has indeed been moving toward a more European economic culture. At the same time, Gregg makes sure to point out that the U.S. is not there yet. It remains to be seen how much Americans will push for free markets, transparency, and property rights in the years ahead. But thanks to Gregg’s book, they cannot claim to have not been warned.

Read the full article here. Learn more about or purchase a copy of Becoming Europe here.

On January 18-19, over 200 Christians gathered at the Common Good RVA event in Richmond, VA, to “explore what it means to see our everyday work as a meaningful part of our Christian calling.” Barrett Clark, director of strategy and analytics for Ivy Ventures, attended the event and provided a helpful summary to On Call in Culture.

By Barrett Clark

Common Good RVAThroughout history, the term “common good” has been used in a variety of ways, taking on various meanings, often in the service of personal or political ends.

At the recent Common Good RVA event in Richmond, VA, hosted by Christianity Today and two Richmond churches, local believers were challenged to give meaning to the phrase in their faith and daily lives. As the event sought to affirm, the Common Good is ultimately God–acting through his people, by his delegation.

The conference was an extension of Christianity Today’s This is Our City series, which covers Christian-led cultural renewal efforts in several American cities, whether it be selling mattresses or providing low-cost lighting to the developing world. With a band, beards, and a program broken up by videos and tweets, the event had all the signs of a conference geared toward 20- and 30-something creatives and young professionals.

Andy Crouch, senior editor of Christianity Today, led the event, covering some of the main points from his book, Culture Making. Pointing to the current state of American Protestant church, Crouch drew parallels with 19th-century Pope Leo XIII, who chose to lead from a position of spiritual power when the Catholic Church lost a degree of temporal power in physical territory and earthly governance. In a similar way, Crouch argued, today’s American church is losing some of its own temporal power when it comes to directly influencing government, policy, and power. Once again, we are pressed to rely more heavily on spiritual power, engaging society and culture for the Common Good at lower, closer levels of human interaction and engagement. (more…)

National Review Online asked Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg to weigh in on President Barack Obama’s second term inaugural address.

Gregg points to “our president’s worldview that the government is the primary way in which we address our common problems and realize our responsibilities and obligations to each other as citizens and as human beings.” He wonders if it has occurred to Obama that “many such responsibilities and obligations might be realized outside the realm of politics … ”

Gregg goes on to suggest, for the presidential reading list, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Jacques Maritain’s writings on civil society in the United States.

Read “Why Barack Obama Needs to Read Alexis de Tocqueville” by Samuel Gregg on NRO.

While you’re at it, pick up a copy of Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future (Encounter Books, January 2013).

At most inaugural events the sartorial buzz is about what designer dress the First Lady is wearing. But yesterday everyone was more interested in a Supreme Court Justice’s hat. Many people were left wondering: Why is Antonin Scalia wearing a renaissance era painter’s hat?

University of Richmond School of Law professor Kevin Walsh has the answer:
morescalia

The hat is a custom-made replica of the hat depicted in Holbein’s famous portrait of St. Thomas More. It was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia. We presented it to him in November 2010 as a memento of his participation in our 27th annual Red Mass and dinner.

Was the imitation of More a form of silent protest? As First Things’ Matthew Schmitz says:

Wearing the cap of a statesman who defended liberty of church and integrity of Christian conscience to the inauguration of a president whose policies have imperiled both: Make of it what you will.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reduce poverty by promoting schools, families
William J. Bennett, CNN

Often forgotten in our national political discourse are those who need our attention the most: the poor.

On the Necessity of Theological Courage in the Public Square
Owen Strachan and Andrew Walker, First Things

On the subject of religious controversy, 2013 started off with a bang, not a whimper. Hobby Lobby, the craft chain owned by a Christian couple, chose to defy the odious HHS mandate pioneered by the administration of President Barack Obama.

ECFA Reveals Where Evangelicals Give (and No Longer Give) Their Money
Melissa Steffan, Christianity Today

Report examines whether giving to adoption, short-term missions, education, and other causes has increased or declined.

What Do You Do When Work Fails to Fulfill?
Taylor Barkley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

A Christian attitude toward work is an assurance that no matter what we are doing, we are doing it for God. His work can be done through nearly any kind of job.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, January 22, 2013

DenethorI’m reading through the Lord of the Rings trilogy with my son, and there’s a striking exchange between Gandalf and Denethor in The Return of the King. Gandalf has just arrived with Pippin from Rohan, and the two have been admitted into an audience with the Steward of Gondor.

As Denethor says of himself to Gandalf, “Yet the Lord of Gondor is not to be made the tool of other men’s purposes, however worthy. And to him there is no purpose higher in the world as it now stands than the good of Gondor; and the rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine and no other man’s, unless the king should come again.”

To this Gandalf responds, “Unless the king should come again? Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”

Consider this claim not only in contrast with the decadent stewardship of Denethor, who conflates the particular good of his realm with the common good of Middle-earth, but also with respect to the corruption of Saruman. For as the resurrected Gandalf the White says, “Indeed I am Saruman, one might almost say, Saruman as he should have been.”

For a funny look at what Gandalf’s stewardship responsibility amounts to in the LOTR, check out the “Gandalf Problem Solving” flowchart (HT: Jon Acuff):Gandalf Problem Solving Flowchart