Archived Posts June 2013 - Page 5 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

There are over 8 million internationally sponsored children in the world. With the average monthly sponsorship level set at about $30 (not including other gifts sent to sponsored children), the flow of resources from wealthy countries to poor countries from international child sponsorships is about $3.2 billion per year.

child-sponsorshipDespite the substantial amounts of money being funneled through these child-sponsorship charities, few empirical studies have been conducted to gauge their effectiveness. Earlier this year peer-reviewed, independent study on the viability of international child sponsorship led by Bruce Wydick, professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, found that “large and statistically significant impacts on life outcomes for children enrolled in Compassion International’s Christian child sponsorship program.”

In the latest issue of Christianity Today, Wydick explains how he approached the research and reveals some of the findings:

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, June 20, 2013
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Christendom’s Greatest Cathedral to Become a Mosque
Raymond Ibrahim, PJ Media

Turkey is reclaiming its jihadi past, while Europe is simultaneously erasing its own Christian heritage.

Feeding the world’s poor through efficient markets: A step in the right direction
Vincent Smith, AEI Ideas

The winners from the Royce-Engel amendment are numerous. They include the victims of the tragedies that have created famine and dire need, as well as ordinary US citizens who will feel grateful that, through the efficient use of markets, more people in real need are being helped.

Faith groups oppose legal prostitution because they care about women’s lives
Lorna Dueck, The Globe and Mail

In his day, Jesus was criticized for being a friend to prostitutes, outcasts and those on the margins. Some things haven’t changed in 2000 years.

The Five Best Economics Articles for Beginners
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

If you are interested in learning more about economics but feel short on time, below are five of my favorite beginner articles.

This morning at Acton University I attended a fascinating lecture by Dr. Edd Noell, “Origins of Economics: The Scriptures and Early Church Fathers.” I have briefly examined one ancient Christian perspective on wealth in the past (here), but Dr. Noell’s survey today was far more expansive. For the benefit of PowerBlog readers, I would like to reflect on some of the major themes of his talk here as a sort of preview of what one could expect once the audio is available for sale. (more…)

swedepoliceriotsOver at the Values & Capitalism blog, I recently shared some of the more memorable quotes from P.J. O’Rourke’s remarkable chapter on Sweden in his 1999 book, Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics.

What’s most notable about O’Rourke’s analysis is that it largely avoids the typical arguments about whether the Swedish system “works” — whether mouths are fed, entitlements are sustainable, healthcare is accessible, etc. — pondering, instead, what kind of spirit bubbles beneath its shiny skin:

Even O’Rourke is stunned to find such a neat-and-tidy realm of politeness and prosperity. “The Swedes, left wing though they may be, are thoroughly bourgeois,” O’Rourke writes. “They drive Saabs like we do, know their California chardonnays, have boats and summer cottages, and vacation in places that are as much like home as possible, which is to say at Disneyland.”

If life is all about cutting the pie evenly and outsourcing the “big things,” all while still holding dearly to your washer and dryer and that cute little cabin on the bay, Sweden beckons…

…[T]he bulk of O’Rourke’s critique eventually rests on the supposed perfection itself: whether a land wherein “nobody is doing anything bizarre” is one worth pursuing in the first place. Though O’Rourke is at first pleased to find “no visible crazy people” in the public squares, the lifeless humdrumness of it all quickly leads to uneasiness.

In the past, I’ve labeled such misaligned dreamlands as “robot utopias” — environments that, despite being imagined as comfy and cozy and efficient and equitable, are not particularly suited to human needs or divine dreams. (more…)

Acton University is happening all week, so if you’d like to read what our attendees are up to, follow the #ActonU hashtag on Twitter.  You can bookmark the feed and check back later, or search for the #ActonU hashtag on one of the various Twitter apps for Apple, Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry.  If you’re at the event, use the tag to let others know what you’re learning!

Click here to view #ActonU on Twitter.

It is no secret that Europe is becoming less and less religious. A 2010 survey stated that only about half of Europe’s citizens believed in God, with some places (such as Sweden and the Czech Republic) registering belief in only about 20 percent of the population. And it’s not just that less people believe; it’s that there is growing hostility to religion in the EU.Slovak coin

Take for example Slovakia. The National Bank of Slovakia has ordered the removal of religious symbolism for a coin minted specifically for that nation’s celebration of the arrival of Christianity in that nation.

The coins, designed by a local artist, were intended to celebrate the 1,150th anniversary of Christianity’s arrival in Slovak lands but have instead become tokens of the faith’s retreat from contemporary Europe. They featured two evangelizing Byzantine monks, Cyril and Methodius, their heads crowned by halos and one’s robe decorated with crosses, which fell foul of European diversity rules that ban any tilt toward a single faith.

Stanislav Zvolensky, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bratislava, that nation’s capital, is distressed by this move, saying that it shows hostility towards Christianity, which is a significant part of Slovakia’s history. Not only that, the archbishop says that Christianity has been a uniting force in Slovakia, and that should be celebrated. (more…)

In a new paper, “Concepts and Implications of Altruism Bias and Pathological Altruism,” Barbara Oakley of Oakland University argues that scientists and social observers have mostly ignored the harm that can come from altruism. Though “the profound benefits of altruism in modern society are self-evident,” Oakley observes, the “potential hurtful aspects of altruism have gone largely unrecognized in scientific inquiry.”

heartback

Aiming to lay the groundwork for such inquiry, Oakley focuses on what she calls “pathological altruism” — “altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.” As for whether such behavior is “intended,” Oakley believes it can emerge from “a mix of accidental, subconscious, or deliberate causes,” though it can be more clearly identified by whether an external observer would conclude that the harm was “reasonably foreseeable.”

In other words, the pathologically altruistic have a sort of tunnel vision, a way of looking at the world around them that lends toward destructive self-sacrifice. Some already know it, others simply should. (more…)

FAULKNERCourtesy today’s edition of Prufrock, a fine daily newsletter edited by Micah Mattix, comes this classic resignation letter from William Faulkner, onetime postmaster at the University of Mississippi:

[October, 1924]

As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.

This, sir, is my resignation.

(Signed)

As the economist Walter Williams once observed, in the market system you don’t have to love your neighbors, you just have to serve them, even if they happen to take the form of an “itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.” That, apparently, was something that Faulkner just couldn’t tolerate.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
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School prayer: 50 years after the ban, God and faith more present than ever
Lee Lawrence, Christian Science Monitor

School prayer was banned by the US Supreme Court 50 years ago, but there is probably more presence of religion in public school environments – through club ministries, classes, after-school and interfaith programs, and faith-based services – than ever.

Sweden’s “Good Socialism:” Not So Good for Young People
Michael Hendrix, Values & Capitalism

Sweden is a nation of young Adams cast out of a socialist Eden. Employment protection laws—meant to protect against market travails—represent the original sin, only serving to throw up walls around permanent jobs.

Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom, Fundamentally At Odds
Matthew J. Franck, Public Discourse

Marriage and religious freedom will stand or fall together.

Five Tools for Applying Faith, Work, & Economics to Your Life
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Five cognitive tools based on scriptural teaching that can help us simplify and organize the countless inputs we get from the world around us.