Archived Posts February 2013 - Page 13 of 21 | Acton PowerBlog

sotuNear the beginning of his State of the Union address last night, President Obama said, “. . . and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger.”

If you were surprised to hear that the union is “strong” then this was probably the first time you’ve heard a State of the Union address. Over the last hundred years presidents have described the State of the Union (SOTU) in various ways—Good (Truman), Sound (Carter), Not Good (Ford). But it was Ronald Reagan who started the “strong” trend in 1983 by referring to the SOTU as “Strong, but the economy is troubled.” Since 1983, “strong” has been used to refer to the SOTU in 25 addresses.

Here is how the state of the Union has been described over the past hundred years:

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pope Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger) on the Gospel’s call to justice
Michael Scaperlanda, Mirror of Justice

My only personal encounter with Joseph Ratzinger was a few weeks before his election as Pope, when he celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s for those attending a conference on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes

Are You Part of the Problem, or Are You Part of the Solution? An Interview with Fr. Robert Taft
Fr. John A. Peck, Preachers Institute

The legacy of Archimandrite Robert Taft S.J. is so significant that no one who is seriously interested in the evolution of the Divine Liturgy can afford to ignore it.

FEMA’s Ugly Superstorm Sandy Policy: No Churches Allowed
Paul de Vries, Christian Post

It is stunning how policies in a country so blessed by God can turn into programs that severely undermine the good work done in God’s name.

Resigning From the AARP
Rod Sider, Huffington Post

I’m a senior. And I’m mad. In fact, I am resigning from the AARP.

On National Review Online, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg reflects on President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, and flags the “reality-denial” that is expressed by “a few token references to free enterprise and rewarding individual initiative (to reassure us we’re still living in America instead of just another declining European social democracy).” More:

Judging from the president’s remarks, you’d never guess we just had a negative quarter of economic growth; or that the unemployment rate just ticked up again; or that millions of Americans have simply given up looking for work; or that Obamacare is (as predicted) already driving up the health-care costs that the president claimed are falling (just ask those businesses busy shifting thousands of employees into part-time positions in order to cap their exploding health-care costs); or that . . . again, I fear I am belaboring the point.

What’s the plan from the White House?

… we hear the president tell us, yet again, that we need to pump more money into universities and colleges. Never mind the higher-education bubble, which is going to implode sooner than most people think. We’re also told that we need to develop high-speed rail. One wonders if anyone has asked people in the People’s Republic of California how that’s working out. Then there is the apparently endless promise of green energy, which, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars poured into it, hasn’t actually created that many jobs at all. In addition to all this, we are now informed we must raise the minimum wage. Never mind all the evidence underscoring just how much damage minimum-wage laws do to the job prospects of the poor and many young people, not to mention newly arrived immigrants who just want a chance to start working.

Read “Rhetoric versus Reality” by Samuel Gregg on NRO.

And pick up a copy of Gregg’s new book Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future here.

Thanks to RealClearPolicy for linking.

During the State of the Union address President Obama suggested that having a minium wage was a moral issue. In the speech he said:

not-hiring2Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.

The President believes that it is a moral wrong for any full-time worker, regardless of what the job is, how much the job is worth, etc., should be able establish a home for a family of four. To solve this problem the President announced:

Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. . . . For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.

I probably sound like a broken record, beating the same drum, but if you were a minority or teenager raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour is not what you wanted to hear. Here’s why as I stated back in 2006:

Georgene Rice recently interviewed Samuel Gregg about his latest book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America can Avoid a European Future.  Her show airs on KDPQ FM in Portland, Oregon.

Rice says that Becoming Europe is “sobering, but not hopeless.” She says that it

Exposes the true scope of the crisis gripping our transatlantic cousins: the crush of economic debt, governments consuming close to 50 percent of the economy, high taxation, sharply aging populations, crony capitalism, and staggeringly high numbers of public sector workers being supported by an ever dwindling class of private sector employees. Most alarmingly, the book Becoming Europe reveals that America has already moved in the direction of the European state, much closer than most Americans realize.

Listen to the full interview here:

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You can learn more about Becoming Europe and Samuel Gregg here.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Earlier this week at the Heritage Foundation, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg argued that if our elected leaders don’t find the courage to reform the economy and government spending soon, the U.S. could find itself in the same terrible economic situation as many European countries do today.

Gregg’s lecture will be broadcast this weekend on CSPAN 2 Book TV at 8:45pm EST on Saturday and at 4:45pm EST on Sunday, February 17.

It hasn’t happened in some 600 years: a conclave of cardinals called together to elect a pope, while the previous pope is still living. So what will this conclave look like?

First, Benedict XVI will officially step down on February 28. The conclave will begin soon thereafter, as quickly as the cardinals across the world can gather in Rome. Benedict is allowed to attend, but not vote; no cardinal over the age of 80 is eligible to vote. Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, says it is unlikely Benedict will play any role in the conclave. John Burger, at, interviewed several people regarding this historic event:

Father Lombardi said that when the abdication is effective, Pope Benedict will move to the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, but that when renovation work on a former convent of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican, Mater Ecclesia, is complete, the Holy Father will move there “for a period of prayer and reflection.” He said he will not take part in the conclave to elect his successor. Father Lombardi said it is likely that a new pope will be elected in time for Holy Week and Easter. Palm Sunday this year falls on March 24.

The fact that Benedict is still alive “will have no direct impact on the outcome of the conclave,” said Church observer and author Russell Shaw.

Michael Miller, a research fellow at the Acton Institute, says the Pope’s abdication is an act of great humility.

“We live in a world where people are very reticent to let go of anything,” Miller says. He predicts that the spirit of the conclave will be different from previous ones because the Church won’t be mourning a death, but there will be somberness, nonetheless.

As the Cardinals ponder their choice for Benedict’s successor, Miller says, the New Evangelization that was promoted by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI will be at the fore. Benedict contributed to that New Evangelization with “deep intellectual work” on the crisis of truth and the “dictatorship of relativism,” the crisis of reason (in his address at Regensburg, he spoke of the need for reason to be “rehabilitated,” purified by faith), the importance of beauty, and the importance of having a friendship with Christ.

Read “The Next Conclave” at