Archived Posts April 2013 » Page 2 of 13 | Acton PowerBlog

Ronald Davis is homeless and living on the streets of Chicago. In this video clip he shares how he feels about the way other people treat him.

“No matter what people think about me, I know I’m a human first.”

When we see people like Mr. Davis on the streets our first tendency is often to wonder how he got into this situation or what, if anything, can be done to help him out of his plight. But Davis shows there is an even deeper need that is as powerful and as urgent as food or shelter: the need to be treated with dignity.

All too often we see the Ronald Davis’ of the world and our thoughts turn to big-picture policy questions (e.g., What can be done about homelessness in America?). But while such concerns should motivate us to find responsible solutions, that shouldn’t necessarily be our first thought when we are face to face with the men and women in our world like Davis.

We can think about the “homeless problem” when we’re in our cars or at our desks. While we’re on the street, confronted with a cup-shaking panhandler, we should be wondering how we can show them that we recognize their dignity. We should seek to let them know we realize they too were made in the image of Creator of the universe. We need to show them that whatever else they’ve lost—job, home, family—they still have their dignity. And that no matter what we might think of them, we know they’re a human first.

(Via: 22 Words)

There is such powerful interest in sports being a way out of poverty for many low-income males, especially black males, that we tend to forget about other things, like wisdom, that contribute to success. For many young men and women sports has given them and their families amazing new opportunities to quickly go from subsistence to wealth. However, for many athletes the lessons of stewardship, which are first modeled in the home, were never properly cultivated, resulting in them losing all of their earnings within a short time. Here are just a few recent ones from BusinessInsider.com:
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A recent CNBC article by Mark Koba notes the bleak outlook for 2013 college grads looking for work:

A survey released last week from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that businesses plan to hire only 2.1 percent more college graduates from the class of 2013 than they did from the class of 2012.

That’s way down from an earlier NACE projection of a 13 percent hiring rate for 2013 grads.

There is good reason for this bad news, however. As Koba notes, “One reason there may not be so many grads hired is that many employers don’t believe college graduates are trained properly.” He goes on: (more…)

Americans continue to be fed the false narrative that poverty causes crime rates to rise. While it is true that not having material needs met makes people vulnerable to do things like steal—even the Bible teaches that (Proverbs 30:8-9)—the ongoing reduction of morality and materiality is doing nothing but setting the stage for the failure of well-intended programs because we are missing core moral issues. One such idea is a New Haven, Connecticut plan to reduce crime rates by giving more welfare. The problems there were recently introduced in a New Haven News article:
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, April 26, 2013

How Do You Meet the World’s Needs Through Your Calling?
Greg Ayers, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

According to Jeremiah 29:5-7, one reason we as Christians work to fulfill the Cultural Mandate is for the benefit of others, not just for ourselves. Our work is intended for the shalom, the peace and prosperity of our surrounding culture.

Make business ethics less boring
Edward Hadas, Reuters

If finance is to be made more ethical, Nichols and other crusaders will have to offer something more substantial and detailed than eloquent but vague calls for virtue.

Nigerian gov’t allowing religiously related violence to destabilize country
Alliance Defending Freedom

Ongoing attacks and retaliations by Muslims and Christians in Nigeria’s violent, religiously-and-ethnically-mixed Middle Belt has left more than 100 dead and dozens of properties destroyed since March of this year.

Christian Critics of Capitalism
John Turner, The Anxious Bench

One major reason that more Christians are not critical of capitalism is a simple belief that it works pretty well compared to most economic systems.

Elsa Walsh and her daughter - Courtesy of Elsa Walsh

Elsa Walsh and her daughter – Courtesy of Elsa Walsh

In a recent piece for the Washington Post, Elsa Walsh offers some healthy reflections on motherhood and career, hitting at some of the key themes I pointed to in my recent post on family and vocation.

She begins by discussing her own college-aged feminism, saying, “I wanted to be independent and self-supporting. I wanted love, but I wanted to be free.” With marriage and children, however, her views on freedom, family, and success would eventually change. “I’ve come to question many of the truths I once held dear,” she writes. “The woman I wanted to be at 22 is not the woman I wanted to be at 38 — not even close — and she is certainly not who I am now at 55.”

Tying things to the current discussion about women and career — driven largely by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s popular book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead — Walsh notes that, much like the revolutionary feminism of the 1970s, there’s something narrow and unsatisfying in the way that womanhood and career are currently being discussed:

Every few years, America rightly plunges into a public and heated discussion about women and feminism, work and family. The latest round has been stoked by Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Marissa Mayer, who have become symbols and participants in the argument over what women want. Yet, I find it to be a narrow conversation, centered largely on work, as though feminism is about nothing more than becoming a smart and productive employee and rising to the top.

Parenthood and family are much more central to our lives than this conversation lets on. The debate has become twisted and simplistic, as if we’re merely trying to figure out how women can become more like men. Instead, let’s ask: How can women have full lives, not just one squeezed around a career?

It helps to take a longer view of a woman’s life. (more…)

obamacareIn 2010, FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, attempted to debunk a rumor that the pending Obamacare legislation exempted members of Congress and their staffs from its provisions. They snarkily replied, “No. This twisted claim is based on misrepresentations of the House and Senate bills, neither of which exempts lawmakers.”

Members of Congress are subject to the legislation’s mandate to have insurance, and the plans available to them must meet the same minimum benefit standards that other insurance plans will have to meet. “All plans would have to follow those requirements by 2019,” Aaron Albright, press secretary for the House Committee on Education and Labor, told FactCheck.org. “People actually believe we wrote in the bill that Congress exempts itself from these requirements. That falsehood has been going around since the very beginning.”

You can almost hear the exasperation in Mr. Albright’s voice. How could anyone think that the same members of Congress who believed the legislation was good for America would exempt themselves from its provision? Do we think lawmakers and their staff are a bunch of hypocrites?

Well, yes. Yes we do.

Is anyone (other than Mr. Albright and the folks at FactCheck.org) really surprised that Congress is now trying to find a way to exempt themselves from the law they foisted on the rest of America?
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Poll Finds Texas Voters Favor Private School Choice
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

School choice may be a contentious topic in the legislature, but a new survey shows more than half of Texas voters favor increasing student access to private schools.

Why Christians Should Care About Transaction Costs
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Where do we see transaction costs in our lives today? In Common Sense Economics, economists Jim Gwartney, Richard Stroup, and Dwight Lee give us three broad types of transaction costs.

Could a program tracking identities of 1.3 billion Indians be the secret to ending poverty?
Howard Schneider, Wonkblog

Could a semi-Orwellian program to collect biometric data for 1.3 billion Indians become a key tool to pulling people out of extreme poverty and integrating them into the global economy?

Second Attempt to Bar Religious Law in Oklahoma Courts Succeeds
Melissa Steffan, Christianity Today

The Oklahoma State Senate has approved a new bill that prohibits courts from applying any foreign or religious law in state courts—and lawmakers hope this bill is more successful than its predecessor.

If I grill a Porterhouse steak for dinner, eat half and then throw away the other half, I’m being wasteful but not necessarily immoral. But if I grill a steak and then, instead of eating it, throw it all in the garbage disposal, my wastefulness is morally problematic. God didn’t create cows or ranchers so I could toss steaks in the trash.

government-wasteA similar distinction can be made when it comes to government waste. Almost all areas of government contain inefficiencies that waste a valuable resource—the taxpayers money. But some waste is an inevitable result of the Fall, while other forms are the inexcusable result of a inept bureaucracy.

Consider, for example, how the Federal government spent $890,000 on nothing. And by nothing I mean, quite literally, nothing:
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Last April 16, Acton’s Rome office co-sponsored a seminar in London on “The Morality of Work, Commerce and Finance: Lessons from Catholic Social Teaching” with St. Mary Moorfields, the only Roman Catholic parish in the Square Mile and located in the very heart of London’s investment banking district.

With several astute financiers, bankers, and business executives in attendance, the seminar’s expert speakers helped them articulate and ponder the moral and vocational aspects of the financial world in which they work. The seminar’s speakers also addressed the political and legal frameworks that regulate their sectors in light of traditional free market economic philosophy and the particular Catholic social teachings that both challenge and sustain modern practices in the sector.

Participants listen attentively to Philip Booth's technical and moral-theological assessments.

Participants listen attentively to Philip Booth’s technical and moral-theological assessments.

Msgr. Martin Schlag, a moral theology professor at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, led off discussion with his talk “Personal Virtues in the Workplace”. Schlag spoke about the interplay of the classical virtues before raising a discussion on the uniquely Christian “theological” or supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
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