Archived Posts June 2013 | Acton PowerBlog

dysonOver at Mediate.com we have the opportunity to see one of America’s famed black public intellectuals provide another example of unreasonable commentary. Michael Eric Dyson, University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, in response to the recent Supreme Decision striking down one section of the 1965 Voting-Rights Act said that Clarence Thomas joining the majority opinion is like “A symbolic Jew [who] has invited a metaphoric Hitler to commit holocaust and genocide upon his own people.” Dyson also believes it is asinine that, in America “we should trust [Southern] states to police themselves.” Whites simply cannot be trusted.

One has to wonder why a network like MSNBC would want this type of commentary, but it is important to understand what Dyson is implying. It is pretty well known that black progressives hate all the things that Clarence Thomas represents, so we should not be surprised that Dyson would criticize anything Thomas did. However, to accuse Thomas of being like a self-hating Jew who wanted Hitler to kill his own people is beyond ridiculous. If I were Jewish I might even be offended at the reduction of comparing the Holocaust to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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Blog author: jsunde
posted by on Friday, June 28, 2013

I recently wrote on the implications of “pathological altruism,” a term coined by Oakland University’s Barbara Oakley to categorize altruism in which “attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.”

In a segment from the PovertyCure series, HOPE International’s Peter Greer offers a good example of how this can play out, particularly in and through various outreaches of the church:

Oakley’s paradigm depends on whether such harm can be “reasonably anticipated,” and as Greer’s story indicates, far too often the church isn’t anticipating much at all. Ship the stuff, check the box, and sing our merry songs. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, June 28, 2013

babiesWould your life be better off if only half as many people had lived before you?

That’s the intriguing question Ramez Naam asks in his new book, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. As Ronald Bailey says in a review of the book,

In this thought experiment, you don’t get to pick which people are never born. Perhaps there would have been no Newton, Edison, or Pasteur, no Socrates, Shakespeare, or Jefferson. “Each additional idea is a gift to the future,” Naam writes. “Each additional idea producer is a source of wealth for future generations.” Fewer people means fewer new ideas about how to improve humanity’s lot.

Earlier this week, I wrote that human resources are not only the most valuable natural resource, they are the only real natural resources on the Earth. To this I would add that the individual human is the only unique resource on the planet. A barrel of oil or a pound of gold is much like any other barrel of oil or pound of gold. But a human has a unique combination of God-given gifts, skills, talents and experience that make them unique as a producer of ideas and innovation.

If the acquisition of oil, gold, or any other “natural resources” were to slow to a crawl, humanity could survive. But we can’t flourish as a species unless we continue to create the most important resource of all: babies.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, June 28, 2013

When Jessica Lahey started teaching English at a “core virtues” school she thought it would only require talking about empathy and courage when discussing To Kill a Mockingbird. She soon learned what it really meant — and what it meant for her students:

I mean come on. Character education? Core virtues? I teach English, not Sunday school, and besides, I teach middle school. If I were to walk into my eighth grade English class and wax rhapsodic about prudence and temperance, those kids would eat me alive. It’s hard enough to keep the attention of a classroom full of middle school students without coming on like an 18th-century schoolmarm.

Somewhere along the way, someone must have started dosing me with the character education Kool-Aid, because five years in, I have come to understand what real character education looks like and what it can do for children. I can’t imagine teaching in a school that does not have a hard-core commitment to character education, because I’ve seen what that education can mean to a child’s emotional, moral, and intellectual development. Schools that teach character education report higher academic performance, improved attendance, reduced violence, fewer disciplinary issues, reduction in substance abuse, and less vandalism. At a time when parents and teachers are concerned about school violence, it is worth noting that students who attend character education schools report feeling safer because they know their fellow students value respect, responsibility, compassion and hard work. From a practical perspective, it’s simply easier to teach children who can exercise patience, self-control, and diligence, even when they would rather be playing outside – especially when they would rather be playing outside.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, June 28, 2013

How the West was Won
Richard Reinsch, Liberty Law Blog

Conscience for most of the Western tradition meant the presence in man of the divine. Christians didn’t discover this notion, as it is found among pagan philosophers as well as Church Fathers and Scholastic theologians.

Doing Bad by Doing Good
Jacqueline Otto, Values & Capitalism

Issues of vulnerability and suffering are ultimately issues of economic development and whether the institutions of that community encourage or discourage productive entrepreneurship.

Staying in the Face of Persecution: The Martyrdom of a Syrian Monk
Matthew Block, First Things

“Christians in Syria continue to look at the destruction of their sister communities in Iraq and wonder if they will be able to remain in their country, the place where disciples of Jesus were first called Christians.”

U2′s Bono Praises George W. Bush and Evangelicals for Fighting AIDS
Susan Berry, Breitbart

In a recent interview with Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, U2 star and activist Bono praised former President George W. Bush and evangelical Christians for their work in fighting AIDS in Africa.

Home Economics: The Consequences of Changing Family Structure (Values and Capitalism)When it comes to integrating family and vocation, modernity has introduced plenty of opportunity. But it has also produced its own set of challenges. Though our newfound array of choices can help further our callings and empower our contributions to society, it can also distract us away from the universe beyond ourselves.

Thus far, I’ve limited my wariness on such matters to the more philosophical and theological realms — those areas where our culture of choice threatens to pollute our thinking about marriage, weaken our obligations to the family, and limit our view of Christian discipleship and vocation in the process.

In his new book, Home Economics: The Consequences of Changing Family Structure, Nick Schulz provides firmer support to these concerns, focusing on the more tangible economic outcomes we can expect from key shifts in the modern American family, namely: declines in marriage, increases in divorce, and spikes in out-of-wedlock childbearing.

Avoiding the deeper debate about whether these developments are “right” or “wrong” in a moral or theological sense, Schulz seeks instead to analyze the data as an economist, identifying which economic outcomes we can expect from which changes in the American family, along with some intriguing social speculation as to the why.

Schulz begins by pointing to an widely discussed study from the Brookings Institution, which found that “if young people finish high school, get a job, and get married before they have children, they have about a 2 percent chance of falling into poverty and nearly a 75 percent chance of joining the middle class by earning $50,000 or more per year.” Another study, referenced in a book by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, found that “adolescents who have lived apart from one of their parents during some period of childhood are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to have a child before age twenty, and one and a half times as likely to be ‘idle’—out of school and out of work—in their late teens and early twenties.”

The research rolls on, and Schulz wields the scalpel nicely, explaining how children raised without a mom and a dad are at much higher risk of failure across a variety of areas. (more…)

Perhaps for the first time in American history, orthodox and traditional Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others may need to form a new alliance in order to defend their religious liberties in an America that’s increasingly less tolerant of principled diversity.

Religious and cultural progressives, secularists, and militant atheists pose a significant threat to religious freedom all in the name of “fairness.” What is not “unfair” is that religious communities are not free to not embrace cultural morality. In the coming years, fairness will be forced upon traditional religious groups by progressives (secular and religious) to destroy religious liberty. Religious communities that hold to classical teachings will not necessarily have their freedom directly undermined by a single President, specific laws in Congress, or maybe not even judicial activism, but primarily by the unchecked power of government regulatory agencies who operate essentially as our fourth branch of government.
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Blog author: sstanley
posted by on Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alejandro Chafuen, president and chief executive officer of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and board member of the Acton Institute, recently wrote a piece for Forbes.com discussing youth unemployment in the United States. According to the latest report, U.S. youth unemployment is at 16.2 percent which is more than double the adult unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for youth in Europe is currently at 24 percent. Chafuen asks, “Can we learn from the European experience?”

Using data compiled by the economic freedom indices of the Fraser Institute in Canada, and the Heritage Foundation, in the United States, we recently looked at how economic freedom, labor regulations, social spending, and regulatory climate, correlated with youth unemployment. Against our preconceptions, at least as shown with our simple static analysis, there were no convincing results.  I will spare the reader the statistical jargon and graphs and focus on apparent contradictions. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, June 27, 2013

Man-of-Steel-General-Zod-HelmetIn the new movie Man of Steel, Superman engages in a fight with his fellow aliens from Krypton that causes significant damage to Metropolis. Disaster expert Charles Watson estimates the costs of the physical damage done to the city to be about $2 trillion. To put that in context, 9/11’s physical damage cost $55 billion, with a further economic impact of $123 billion.

What would be the impact of Superman’s fight on the economy? According to some liberal economists, it would lead to a economic boom. In defending President Obama’s stimulus proposal in 2011, Paul Krugman proposed a peculiar solution for economic recovery that mimics the one in Man of Steel: prepare for an alien invasion.

“If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months,” he declared, arguing in favor of the president’s stimulus package. “And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren’t any aliens, we’d be better [off].”

Man of Steel must be Krugman’s favorite movie: you not only get an alien invasion (Kal-El, General Zod and his soldiers) but you get alien destruction on a massive scale. Just think of all the economic benefit Metropolis gained!
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, June 27, 2013

Russian Church to organize gathering aid for Syria
Pravmir.com

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has urged the believers to help those affected by the armed conflict in Syria amid the tragic events in the country.

‘Moral Mondays’ Protests in North Carolina Pits Liberal Christians Against Republican Legislature
Tyler O’Neil, Christian Post

The Raleigh, N.C. police arrested 120 protestors Monday involved in “Moral Mondays,” a weekly protest that takes place on Mondays against the Republican-controlled state legislature’s budget cut. The uproar has raised the question among the Christian community of whether giving to the poor is a private or a government responsibility.

Short Films and Cartoons on Economics
Compass Classroom

During the process of editing Economics for Everybody, we discovered a treasure trove of old films and cartoons on economics. – See more at: http://www.compassclassroom.com/economics-for-everybody/short-films-and-cartoons-on-economics/#sthash.QrOdivnw.dpuf

Religious Liberty and the Gay Marriage Endgame
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Would social conservatives be better off with a swift judicial settlement on gay marriage?