Archived Posts 2013 - Page 112 of 167 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, April 25, 2013
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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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In today’s New YorkerJiayang Fan offers a family memoir that highlights the degradation of China’s One-Child Policy and hints at the demographic issues that we are facing globally.

photo credit: Michel Croix

photo credit: Michel Croix

Fan recalls, at the age of seven, meeting an aunt for the first time. It was widely-known in the family that this aunt had been sold for two bushels of rice, as she was the result of an unplanned pregnancy. She was adopted by a childless couple, and then grew up to work for the government as a family planner; that is, she helped implement the government’s One-Child Policy. (more…)

While some environmentalists claim that Judaism and Christianity have been neglectful of environmental concerns, the history of these faith traditions shows otherwise. Matthea Brandenburg looks at the patristic witness, using the recent work of an Eastern Catholic scholar who argues that prayer and a healthy, every-day asceticism can keep relations between Creation and Creator on solid footing. What’s more, we should also be cautious about secularized views of nature offered by contemporary Gnostics—technocrats with “special” knowledge. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
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The following official joint statement has been released by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East:

On Monday the 22.04.2013, we were surprised by the news that our brothers Bishop Paul (Yazigi) of Aleppo and Alexandretta and Bishop John (Ibrahim) Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo, have been kidnapped on their way back to Aleppo after accomplishing a humanitarian mission. We deeply regret what happened as we regret all similar acts targeting civilians, regardless of their belonging and therefore we address to the local and international communities the following declaration:

1- The Christians living here are an essential part of their lands. They suffer the pain every person suffers, work as messengers of peace to lift the injustice off every oppressed: They follow the teaching of their Gospel telling them that love is the basis of human relations. The official positions issued by the spiritual leaders of the various churches, are the best expression in this respect and the mission fulfilled by the two kidnapped bishops is but a further proof of this orientation.

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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Kidnap of Syrian bishops sparks global concern
OCP News

The kidnapping of two Syrian bishops, reportedly by Chechen fighters, sparked international concern on Tuesday, as rebels battled regime and Hezbollah forces in Homs province, a watchdog said.

How Internet Sales Tax Would Destroy Small Online Businesses
Bethany Mandel, Commentary

In reality and practice, the bill would end up like many liberal projects: a disaster for small business owners.

Arguments Heard Today in German Homeschoolers Deportation Case
Napp Nazworth, Christian Post

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard arguments Tuesday in a case, Romeike vs. Holder, that could grant or revoke asylum for the Romeike homeschooling family.

Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate
Interview by Andy Crouch, Christianity Today

The Redeemer pastor explains how he ministers to laypeople facing career confusion.

The Pavilion End pub with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background

Last week following Acton’s seminar on morality, virtue, and Catholic social teaching with a group of financiers, bankers, and other business executives in London, I was invited to attend a private eulogy service organized by the Freedom Association for the late Lady Margaret Thatcher.

The eulogy service was organized in “proper British fashion” while sharing memories and more over ales at a pub—The Pavilion End—located right behind St. Paul’s Cathedral where Britain’s conservative elite gathered for formal prayer, hymns, and a sermon given by the Bishop of London at Margaret Thatcher’s elaborate state funeral.

A few hundred in attendance at The Pavilion End pub listen to the impressive speakers

A few hundred in attendance at The Pavilion End pub listen to the impressive speakers

I joined this unique opportunity, of course, to pay my own international respects as an adopted American son of Britain’s great Mother of Liberty. It was during my 1980s Catholic conservative upbringing that I gained immense respect for the Iron Lady, who joined forces with our own President Ronald Reagan and Rome’s John Paul II. In the end, this powerful triumvirate won the Cold War and effectively rolled back the Iron Curtain to inspire unprecedented economic growth and human flourishing in the modern world. (more…)

James Pethokoukis of AEI says that this is the most important economic chart in Western civilization. I completely agree.

042313growth

The concept is so important that no student should receive a passing grade in any economics class—whether in high school or college—unless they can explain why economic growth matters (ideally, every educated Christian would be able to do so too since it has theological implications).

Yet, sadly, few Americans recognize its importance despite the fact, as Pethokoukis notes, that in real terms, the average income of Americans over the past two centuries went from $2,000 per person to $50,000. Pethokoukis credits the change to a shift in thinking: Respect and reward innovators and innovation. He includes a great quote by Deirdre McCloskey on how the West became a business-admiring civilization:

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Questions about poverty and social teaching are on the forefront of Pope Francis’ mind, as he’s made convincingly clear in his young papacy. This calls for cogent thinking on the topic, according to Fr. John Flynn, LC in “Francis and Catholic Social Teaching: Debates About Economy, Equality and Poverty Sure to Continue.”

Flynn cites Jerry Z. Muller, professor of History at the Catholic University of America, who gives credit to the astonishing “leap in human progress” that capitalism has brought about, but cautions that some find the disparity between rich and poor, the powerful and the dispossessed, to be grounds for anti-capitalist sentiment. Muller points out that this type of inequality seems to be growing internationally. (more…)