Archived Posts April 2013 - Page 11 of 13 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, April 8, 2013

Francis gets his ‘oxygen’ from the slums
John L. Allen Jr., National Catholic Reporter

In Argentina, they say that if you want to understand the priestly soul of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, then you have to know the villas miserias, literally “villas of misery,” meaning the slums in Buenos Aires where the poorest of the poor are found.

You Can Love Nature and Still Hate the Tyranny of Environmental Regulations
John Stossel, Reason

Throughout the world, most reductions in pollution have been achieved because of capitalism, not government control.

What Real Persecution Looks Like
Nina Shea, CNN

Persecution for conversion to Christianity – a faith with the “Great Commission” to share the Gospel – is rising globally, along with persecution of some very long-established, even 2000-year-old, Christian communities.

Is The Image of God An Engine of Economic Progress?
Jay W. Richards, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

We aren’t ghosts trapped in bodies. We’re made of dirt, we’re made to work with dirt – and yet we have in us the very breath of God. Work itself is part of God’s original blessing, not his curse after the fall.

Blog author: michael.severance
Saturday, April 6, 2013

I have corrected an error of mistaken identity published as an audio post (now corrected here) and reposted with transcript content here.

In these posts, I was relating a personal experience I had in meeting then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio some 12 years ago at the University of Dallas Rome Campus. This I have now verified as incorrect.

I had actually met a different Argentine Cardinal who came to speak at the Dallas Rome campus with the exact same first and similar second name –Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia. Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia is also from Buenos Aires, served as archbishop (curial) and was elevated to cardinal during the same February 2001 conclave as Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Both are also apparently close friends and very similar in humble disposition.

Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia is the archivist and librarian emeritus of the Vatican Secret Archives, but earlier served as Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. He is a former Vatican colleague and was a guest of the university’s chaplain on the reported occasion.

I regret the error.

Many of us function under the assumption that our role as stewards of God’s creation is to to leave things as we’ve found them. Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. would disagree.

A significant error of environmentalists is the assumption that the purpose of man on this earth is to keep it in the same condition that it was when man first appeared. Behind this theory is a subtle denial of the whole issue of the resurrection of the body. Man’s ultimate end is not this earth but God. The earth and its development by man are themselves the arena in which the drama of each person’s relation to God could be and is worked out. It is also true that this “working out” concerns one’s neighbor and man’s relation to fellow man.

Further, Fr. Schall wants to make it clear that certain types of environmentalism put the environment ahead of people, and that hurts the poor. We find the basis for this in the book of Genesis in

…the admonition that man was to increase, multiply, and subdue the earth. The implication was that precisely by providing for man’s needs and purposes, the earth would be a better place. The purposes of both matter and man were directly connected. It would be a misuse of matter if it no longer could serve man’s ends. The earth was not simply given for it to sit there unused and uncultivated. It was rather to be a garden, the work of human hands. It was intended to support the purpose for which man existed. It was not itself the purpose of creation.

Fr. Schall questions whether some programs designed to help the poor actually put them under “state control”, regulating their lives to the point where they cannot escape poverty.

Read “How Environmentalism Harms the Poor” in Crisis Magazine.

marriage_moneyFrom an economics perspective both getting a college degree and getting married are beneficial for one’s earning potential. So why do economists promote the college wage premium while downplaying or ignoring the marriage wage premium? As Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry says,

In contemporary societies, there is a strong college wage premium. That is to say, people who go to college make more money on average than people who don’t. While a minority of economists (including Cowen) have questioned why this premium should exist, the majority of economists generally take the existence of this college wage premium to mean that college is good and important, that more people should go to college, and that public policy has some role to play in promoting and subsidizing college attendance. I would bet a goodly sum of money that if you picked at random ten tenured economists from top-20 economics departments, and asked them to list what an 18-year-old should do to increase his chances of getting high wages, a majority would say “go to college.”

There also exists a marriage wage premium, which is roughly as significant and as consistent as the college wage premium. To say that the marriage wage premium doesn’t get the same amount of attention is an understatement. Economists recoil at the idea of praising marriage and supporting public policies that increase marriage. They are much more likely to dismiss the marriage wage premium as reflecting selection bias (it’s not that marriage makes people earn more money, it’s that people who would have earned more money anyway tend to get married) or intone that “correlation is not causation”–criticisms that apply equally to analyses of the college wage premium. I would bet a goodly sum of money that if you picked at random ten tenured economists from top-20 economics departments, and asked them to list what an 18-year-old should do to increase his chances of getting high wages, none of them would say “get married and stay married”–even though the data on the marriage wage premium supports this conclusion to the same extent as it does going to college.

Gobry posits that the reason is bias: economists have an education bias because to become an economist requires numerous years of higher education and they have a liberal-cosmopolitan bias against government encouraging people to make intimate choices.

Blog author: jsunde
Friday, April 5, 2013

I have a hearty appreciation for jokes about first world problems. The fries are too cold. The Brita filter is too slow. The phone charger is all the way upstairs. That sort of thing.

Consider this round-up:

But although it’s healthy to poke fun at some of the pampered attitudes that come with widespread prosperity and convenience, plenty of real problems have also emerged. (“Pampered attitudes” are somewhere on the list.)

Focusing on a recent trip to Hong Kong, Chris Horst of HOPE International dives in on this point, observing that although markets have brought great prosperity to the once-impoverished land, materialism and greed appear to be active:

On my way to a lunch meeting, I noticed something peculiar: Upscale jewelry stores sat on every corner. That in itself was intriguing. But the concerning sight was how these stores were all mobbed. With teenagers. And they weren’t just browsing; they were buying.

Groups of adolescents entered and exited these stores adorned with Chanel watches and Cartier necklaces. Bags hung on every elbow. This was extreme materialism.  Their parents felt the pains of prosperity too. Parents I met lamented the culture of workaholism.

Greed, obesity, hedonism, isolation, spiritual apathy, lethargy and depression lurked in the shadows of Hong Kong’s glassy towers. Hong Kong used to look like North Korea looks today—mired in grinding poverty and shackled by failing economic policies. People lived short, hard lives and many died simply for lack of food or basic medicine. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, April 5, 2013

Want to Help the Poor? Focus on Relationships.
Jacqueline Otto, Values & Capitalism

Spokespeople for free markets and limited government are often good with numbers, but they are rightly critiqued for their lack of emotional appeal.

North Carolina getting a state religion? No.
Eric Marrapodi and John Blake, CNN

Politicians often declare that the U.S. is a Christian nation, but a group of representatives in North Carolina wants to add a new wrinkle to that argument.

School Choice Versus Religious Prejudice
Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

A number of Republican members of the Tennessee state senate have expressed opposition to school choice because they fear that it would mean some children would have the ability to choose a Muslim school.

Government Subsidies Diminish Value Of College Education
Jarrett Skorup, AFF Doublethink Online

When the government is in the business of handing out money, interest groups lobby to get it — or advocate to receive more than they are already getting.

“What’s a crony? It’s like having a best friend who gives you other people’s stuff.”

Blog author: ehilton
Thursday, April 4, 2013

In a world apparently dominated by Christian footwear, a Berlin-based company has come to the rescue of atheists. Atheist Shoes boast a line of footwear that proudly announces the wearer’s lack of faith. The soles of the shoes (not to be confused with “souls”, mind you) state “Ich bin Atheist” (“I am an atheist”). The company  thinks the world needed a “nice, understated way for people to profess their godlessness”, and the founders of the company wanted to help atheists proclaim their unbelief, especially in a world hostile to non-believers (despite the fact that Christians are now among the most persecuted people on the planet right now.)

We’re lucky to live in Berlin, a city where roughly two thirds of the population are atheists, but we’re conscious there are still places where it’s difficult to be godless.


db_file_img_930_160xautoIn case you missed it when it came out, I thought it’d be worth posting a reminder that the Acton Institute recently partnered with the Christian History Institute to produce an issue of Christian History magazine. The issue (which you can download as a free PDF) examines the impact of automation on Europe and America and the varying responses of the church to the problems that developed. Topics examined are mission work, the rise of the Social Gospel, the impact of papal pronouncements, the Methodist phenomenon, Christian capitalists, attempts at communal living and much more.

Check out these feature articles:

Blog author: mvandermaas
Thursday, April 4, 2013

We’re continuing to round up clips of Acton involvement in the media coverage of the recent papal conclave and the election of Pope Francis, and today we present two clips from across the pond that our American readers likely haven’t seen yet. First up, Istituto Acton’s Kishore Jayabalan joins Father Thomas Reese, former editor of America magazine and current fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, DC, to discuss the conclave process as it progressed; the interview took place prior to the election of Pope Francis on March 13th.

Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico also made an appearance on the BBC, providing analysis for GMT with George Alagiah on March 14 following the election of Francis.