Archived Posts February 2013 - Page 4 of 15 | Acton PowerBlog

The Acton Institute, founded 23 years ago, is ready to move into its new home in the heart of Grand Rapids, MI. Not only will Acton have more room for events, visiting scholars, and conferences, the new building boasts the best in technological innovations, while seeking SERF (Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities) certification for its re-use and recycling of the original historic building at 98 E. Fulton. According to Mlive.com:

photo courtesy of Mlive.com/Chris Clark

photo courtesy of Mlive.com/Chris Clark

The $7 million remodeling project creates a lecture hall, conference center, library, and studios for television production, radio programming and webcasts, giving the 23-year-old institute an international base for its mission of advocating free market Christianity.

The institute, which was ranked 13th in the “Top 50 Social Policy Think Tanks” by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program in January, is vacating offices it has occupied in the Waters Building.

Built in 1929, the original building has seen its exterior restored as well. One exterior wall boasts a mosaic mural, Tracy Van Duinen’s Metaphorest Project, the 2nd prize winner in the 2011 ArtPrize contest, which will remain in place. In addition, the third story of the building is home to the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), a non-profit which provides a culture of opportunity for people to create social and economic progress in their lives and community through art and career training courses.

John Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam Corp.,  co-chaired the $12.5 million fundraising campaign.

“It’s part of the ethos and culture of West Michigan to say, ‘How do I do things better?’ and ‘I want to live a better way,’” said Kennedy, a Catholic who co-chaired the campaign with Sid Jansma Jr., president and CEO of Wolverine Gas and Oil Corp. and a member of the Christian Reformed Church.

Kennedy said Acton excels in encouraging entrepreneurs to develop their skills in the marketplace to improve the lives of others.

“They don’t say the markets are moral, but players in the market have a responsibility to be moral,” said Kennedy.

The Acton Institute plans to be in the new building by March 5, 2013.

One has to wonder how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would respond to the state of black America in 2013. From the nonsense that regularly spews from the mouth of rappers like Lil Wayne to the black-on-black violence that continues to plague many black urban and rural neighborhoods, we are moving further away from King’s dream. Did MLK die so that rappers like Lil Wayne could saturate their music with misogyny and materialism? Did MLK die so that young black males could sabotage their lives and the lives of others in their neighborhoods? Moreover, what continues to baffle many of us is the curious absence of a discussion about the promotion of moral values in low-income communities as a way to undermine the mass incarceration epidemic in the black community because of the government’s failed drug policies.

Maria Lloyd, Business Manager for Your Black World Network, recently wrote a column outlining a few of the social consequences of the mass incarceration of African American men resulting from failed federal drug policy including the proliferation of HIV/AIDS, unemployment, and mass incarceration. In fact, a December 2012 recent Justice Department report observes that “nearly half (48%) of inmates in federal prison were serving time for drug offenses in 2011, while slightly more than a third (35%) were incarcerated for public-order crimes.” Lloyd continues,
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, February 22, 2013
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U.S. Catholics Divided On Church’s Direction Under New Pope; Three-quarters express a favorable view of Pope Benedict XVI
Pew Research

Among U.S. Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week, nearly two-thirds (63%) say the new pope should maintain the traditional positions of the church, while about one-third (35%) say the new pope should move the church in new directions.

A Christian Approach to Economic Uncertainty
Taylor Barkley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

When economists talk about the free-market economy, they use principles that help explain what may come from certain actions. Their explanations emphasize an element of predictability.

Coolidge: A Man to Be Followed
Gregory J. Sullivan, Public Discourse

Calvin Coolidge is an exemplar for conservative leaders because he was the very opposite of an ideological dreamer; he saw his vocation as a duty to provide the country that elected him with honest and frugal government that respected limits.

NYC Sues Hasidic Shopkeepers Over Dress Codes
Mark Movsesian, First Things

According to the deputy commissioner, the signs are “pretty specific to women,” and requiring women to “dress modestly if they come into the store” is illegal.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, February 21, 2013
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“[He] belongs more in an insane asylum than at the head of a multinational corporation.”

beret-on-cowboyThat was the reaction by a French union official to an amusingly harsh letter by Maurice Taylor, chief executive of tire maker Titan. Taylor was initially interested in buying the French tire factory, which is facing closure following five years of unsuccessful negotiations with unions to enhance its competitiveness. However, after visiting the plant three times, he wrote a letter to France’s industry minister Arnaud Montebourg, saying: “Sir, you would like to open discussions with Titan. You think we’re that stupid?”

Taylor says the plant’s 1,173 workers “have one hour for their lunch, they talk for three hours and they work for three hours. I said this directly to their union leaders; they replied that’s the way it is in France.” The Titan CEO added:

“Titan has money and the know-how to produce tyres. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government. The French farmer wants cheap tyres. He doesn’t care if those tyres come from China or India and these governments are subsidising them. Your government doesn’t care either: ‘We’re French!’

Titan is going to buy a Chinese tyre company or an Indian one, pay less than one euro per hour wage and ship all the tyres France needs. You can keep the so-called workers.

Taylor isn’t exaggerating the problems caused by French unions. In his new book, Becoming Europe, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg writes,
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“We have to pass the bill so that you find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Nancy Pelosi was the House Speaker when she made those remarks about Obamacare at the 2010 Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties. At the time, Pelosi was mocked for not understanding what was in the legislation she was supporting. But the reality is that with all legislation that is considered by Congress, we almost never really know what is in it until it has been passed.

obamacare-redtapeIf you took civics class in high school (or just watched Schoolhouse Rock), you likely know how a bill becomes a law. But what most people don’t understand is the process by which a law becomes policy.

We often think that the judiciary is the branch of government responsible for interpreting the law. But in reality most interpretation is done by the executive branch, through the various regulatory agencies. Regulatory agencies handle administrative law, primarily by codifying and enforcing rules and regulations. When Congress passes a new law it usually goes to a regulatory agency to determine how the law will be put in place.
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Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, writing on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is reaching out to members of Congress regarding religious liberty and the HHS Mandate. In a sharply-worded letter, he reminds members of Congress that there is a clear history of protecting the rights of those with religious and/or moral objections to paying for services such as abortion. He then goes on to address the so-called “war on women”:

It can hardly be said that all these Presidents and Congresses, of both parties, had been waging a war on women. I have seen no evidence that such laws, showing respect for Americans’ conscientious beliefs, have done any harm to women or to their advancement in society. What seems to be at issue instead is a new, more grudging attitude in recent years toward citizens whose faith or moral principles are not in accord with the views of the current governing power. And while the mandate for coverage of abortion-causing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization is hailed by some as a victory for women’s freedom, it permits no free choice by a female employee to decline such coverage for herself or her minor children, even if it violates her moral and religious convictions.

Archbishop Lori concludes on this note: “I fear that the federal government’s respect for believers and people of conscience no longer measures up to the treatment Americans have a right to expect from their elected representatives.”

You can read Archbishop Lori’s entire letter here.

workaholicDuring an interview in support of his new book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, Tim Keller recently noted the importance of submitting our work as service to God rather than worshipping it as an idol. “Work is a great thing when it is a servant instead of a lord,” Keller said.

When thinking about work as an “idol,” we may begin to conjure up images of the workaholic who spends above-average time and energy in all that he does. But although overly aggressive workers may indeed choose to put their jobs before God, family, and the rest, we should be careful not to be overly rash in our attempts to draw stark lines between “work” and “life.” Idolatry is about the position of our hearts and needn’t be defined by hours worked per week or high levels of workplace passion and devotion.

Many do, however, seek to rid themselves (and others) of “excessive work” altogether, believing quite vigorously that life would be better if we all worked less and vacationed more. Look no further than Europe’s general disdain for American busyness and the corresponding labor policies to see how deeply and decidedly many free, democratic societies choose to value leisure over enterprise.

Yet as Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic argues in a recent post at the Harvard Business Review blog, much of the negative research done on the “over-worked” is incomplete because it fails to distinguish between those who are doing “what they love” (or, as we Christians might say, “what they’re called to do”) and those who are working for other various reasons:

Most of the studies on the harmful effects of excessive work rely on subjective evaluations of work “overload.” They fail to disentangle respondents’ beliefs and emotions about work. If something bores you, it will surely seem tedious. When you hate your job, you will register any amount of work as excessive — it’s like forcing someone to eat a big plate of food they dislike, then asking if they had enough of it.

Overworking is really only possible if you are not having fun at work. By the same token, any amount of work will be dull if you are not engaged, or if you find your work unfulfilling…Maybe it’s time to redefine the work-life balance — or at least stop thinking about it. (more…)

When most folks (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) hear “papal infallibility”, they often think “Catholics have to believe everything the pope says. They have to believe he’s never wrong.” Except that sometimes he is wrong, and that idea is too. In light of all the commentary we are going to hear in the coming weeks as the Church prepares to elect a new pope, it’s a good time to take a look at this particular Church teaching.

First, Catholics believe that Christ himself established the papacy by declaring Peter “rock” (Mt. 16:18) Thus, the “Chair of Peter” is the one the pope occupies as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Church. All popes are heir to the legacy of Peter. As John Zmirak explains, “What the bishop is for his diocese, the pope is for the whole church.” (more…)

Blog author: abradley
Thursday, February 21, 2013
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Brittney C. Cooper, Assistant professor of Women’s and Gender studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, writes at Ebony Magazine.com that President Obama is being unfair to the black community by pointing out that many of the violence-related pathologies in inner cities are a result of fatherlessness. Cooper objects saying,

Instead when the president began by suggesting that we need to “do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood,” I started shaking my head. Rather than empathizing with those Black families that have been destroyed by violence, he blamed the prevalence of non-nuclear Black families for contributing to it! Recycling this tired narrative about broken families and absentee Black fathers does nothing to address the steady flow of guns into our communities, nor the pathologies that lead young people to fire them.

Later on, Cooper raises a good point when she observes that although 70 percent of Black children are born to unmarried parents, this does not mean that 70 percent of Black children don’t have active fathers. Cooper concludes that the social pathologies we find in inner-city black communities are the result of economic stress. Cooper says,
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Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, February 21, 2013
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School Choice in the Time of Calvin Coolidge
Rachel Sheffield, The Foundry

Some may think school choice is a new idea. Not so. In fact, the nation’s first voucher program began back in 1869 in the state of Vermont.

Socrates and the minimum wage
Mark J. Perry, AEI Ideas

If Socrates was alive today, here’s how Larry Reed imagines such a dialogue might go.

Conn. Bill to Require Homeschoolers to Undergo Behavioral Health Assessments
Melissa Barnhart, Christian Post

A controversial bill requiring behavioral health assessments of all home-schooled and public school educated children has been introduced in Connecticut.

How the Supreme Court Found the Wall
Mark Movsesian, First Things

Many Americans know that the Supreme Court has stated that the framers intended the Establishment Clause “to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.’”. . . But hardly anyone knows the very interesting story that historian Don Drakeman (Church, State, and Original Intent) tells in a recent paper.