Archived Posts 2013 - Page 35 of 167 | Acton PowerBlog

hospitalA new provision under Obamacare will fine tax-exempt hospitals via the Internal Revenue Service:

A new provision in Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, which takes effect under Obamacare, sets new standards of review and installs new financial penalties for tax-exempt charitable hospitals, which devote a minimum amount of their expenses to treat uninsured poor people. Approximately 60 percent of American hospitals are currently nonprofit.

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noun_project_19538As the US federal government sidled up to the debt ceiling earlier this week without quite running into it, one of the key arguments in favor of raising the debt ceiling was that it is immoral to breach a contract. The federal government has creditors, both from whom it has borrowed money and to whom it has promised transfer payments, and it has an obligation to fulfill those promises.

As Joe Carter argued here, “Member of Congress who are refusing to raise the debt ceiling (or raise taxes) until their ancillary demands are met are acting immorally, since they are refusing to pay the debts they themselves authorized.”

But as Connie Cass writes, the idea that the United States has never defaulted isn’t quite true. As she writes,

America has briefly stiffed some of its creditors on at least two occasions.

Once, the young nation had a dramatic excuse: The Treasury was empty, the White House and Capitol were charred ruins, even the troops fighting the War of 1812 weren’t getting paid.

A second time, in 1979, was a back-office glitch that ended up costing taxpayers billions of dollars. The Treasury Department blamed the mishap on a crush of paperwork partly caused by lawmakers who — this will sound familiar — bickered too long before raising the nation’s debt limit.

So if it is immoral to default, then America has done so at least twice.
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 18, 2013
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The Moral Challenge of America’s Pension Crisis
Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest

America’s pension crisis has crossed the line from financial challenge to moral crisis.

The Spiritual Value of Mortgage Banking
Derek Rishmawy, Reformedish

In some churches, guys are often fed the lie that unless they’re a pastor, or doing some ‘secular’ work that can be quickly linked to some moral or spiritual value, it’s 2nd-class work.

A Farmer’s Mission to Reweave Shalom
Elise Amyx, Values & Capitalism

Everything is interwoven in God’s great design. Salatin says his personal mission statement is “to develop emotionally, economically, and environmentally enhancing agricultural prototypes and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.”

What Does the Old Testament Says About Poverty and Riches?
Walter Kaiser, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The basic thought of the Torah is that Yahweh is the protector and defender of the poor. God does not want his kingdom to have poverty, though he knows that because of sin this goal will not be accomplished until he returns.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 17, 2013
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home_logoThe government shutdown and debate over the debt limit has ended — at least for now — with a rather anticlimactic denouement. A majority of Congressional representatives recognized that approving legislation was the only way to avert an economic and political crisis. So last night, they took a vote.

What is extraordinary, from a global and historical perspective, is that not only Congress but also the other branches of government, as well as a plurality of citizens, recognized that was the only legitimate option. No other extralegal option was even proffered. Sure, a few political pundits might have argued that the president should act unilaterally and ignore Congress. But hardly anyone took such proposals seriously, much less believed they would happen. Almost no one, in other words, was willing to overthrow America’s King – the rule of law.

For most of human history, the will of the ruler or ruling class was absolute. The concept of Rex Lex — the king is law – went largely unchallenged. In the 1600s, though, a new idea Lex Rex — the law is king – began to take hold. In 1644, this reversal of tradition gained traction when the Scottish Presbyterian minister Samuel Rutherford published Lex, Rex, a defense of the rule of law against royal absolutism. The idea spread, and within a hundred years, America would become the greatest example of what happens when the “law is king.”

Today, we take the concept, so it’s useful to define what it means. As the World Justice Project explains, the rule of law is a system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:
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Shutdown DealThe U.S. government shutdown ended last night with a budget agreement that raises the debt limit, funding the government until February.  Acton director of research, Samuel Gregg, addressed this in a new post at Aleteia. He says:

Once again, I’m afraid, the United States Congress and the Administration has opted to live in un-truth by denying the dire fiscal realities facing America. Since August 2012, the total public debt of the United States has increased from $16,015 trillion to $16,747 trillion. And in the meantime, the size of the federal government also continues to grow. How much more debt do our political masters think Americans want? How much bigger do some of them think the federal government should be? Is there any upper limit in their mind?

But it isn’t just a question of the failure of legislators and government officials. There are, it seems, a good number of American citizens who simply don’t care about fiscal responsibility, not to mention plenty of businesses that prefer corporate welfare rather than actually competing in the marketplace.

In Gregg’s newest book, Tea Party Catholic, he says that governments and individuals running up high levels of debt may be dealing with a “deeper moral disorder.” He quotes Benedict XVI who said that living off of debt is “living in untruth.” (more…)

3708GSD_21136_CheerLH_V10L.tifThe 2013 proxy shareholder season is over, resolutions debated into their respective win/loss columns and reports filed. This hasn’t stopped those shareholder Godflies – the clergy, nuns and other religious on the left – from firing the first salvos for 2014 corporate battles. Among the companies targeted for the initial fusillade is General Mills Inc., purveyor of such perceived market atrocities as the Cheerios breakfast cereal and Yoplait yogurt. Specifically, the company’s packaging practices and use of genetically modified organisms has come under fire

Mind you, your writer has nothing against reasonably priced foods as part of a healthy, affordable breakfast. In fact, Cheerios was a “get-up-and-go” staple of this former farm boy’s life. Continuing the trend, a bag of those little grainy nuggets of morning goodness served church going well by quieting my rambunctious toddlers during innumerable Sunday masses. I do, however, rankle when so-called “religious” activists employ bad science to drive up food prices for those least able to afford it, especially families with young children.

As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy group allied with such Godflies as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and “social responsibility investment” firms Walden Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management presented a resolution to General Mills this past month that would have required the company to implement “extended producer responsibility” for packaging waste. Apparently, it’s incumbent upon the company to ensure cereal boxes and yogurt cups are recycled once consumers empty them. (more…)

Blog author: ehilton
Thursday, October 17, 2013
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mauritania30 million. It could be just another statistic, another number in a blur of facts and figures that fly by our faces in a day. But this 30 million has a face. It is the face of the modern slave.

The Global Slavery Index 2013 has been released. It estimates that there are 30 million people held in bondage around the world: in the sex trade, domestic servants, farm workers, child soldiers. Of course, that is only an estimate, as slavery depends on secrecy to continue. China and Pakistan have the most slaves in terms of population, but if the numbers are adjusted for percentage of population living in slavery, the African country of Mauritania is slavery’s modern outpost. Anywhere between 10 to 20 percent of Mauritania’s population are slaves, despite the fact that slavery has been illegal there since 1981. (more…)

Flourishing Churches and CommunitiesWhat distinct features does Pentecostalism bring to our discussions about stewardship and whole-life discipleship?

In Flourishing Churches and Communities, one of three tradition-specific primers on faith, work, and economics, Dr. Charlie Self provides a response, exploring how Pentecostal considerations influence our approach to such matters.

In the introduction, Self offers a basic portrait of Pentecostalism and “Spirit-filled” Christianity that is easy to connect with some of the key drivers of stewardship — vocation, virtue, responsibility, obedience, discernment, decision-making, etc.:

Spirit-filled Christianity touches all of life. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit includes active participation in the economy, work as worship, and “providential increases” (John Wesley) in the influence of the kingdom of God…

…The heart of Pentecostal identity is the present reality of the work of the Holy Spirit, who empowers all believers for gospel service. This includes the expectation of continual encounters with God that enrich calling and effectiveness and release believers to follow in the delivering, healing, and reconciling work of Jesus Christ. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 17, 2013
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Malaysian court rules use of ‘Allah’ exclusive to Muslims
Siva Sithraputhran, Reuters

A Malaysian court ruled on Monday that a Christian newspaper may not use the word “Allah” to refer to God, a landmark decision on an issue that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.

Southern Baptists fight contraception regulation
Tony Gonzalez, The Tennessean

Three non-profit religious groups are suing the federal government over mandate in health law.

Four Charts on How Economic Freedom Makes Your Life Better
Ryan Olson, The Foundry

Political gridlock, the government shutdown, and Obamacare are making Americans gloomy. But, largely thanks to economic freedom and the free-market system, things aren’t so bad after all.

Faith, Culture & Religious Freedom in 21st Century America
ERLC

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Manhattan Declaration bring you a conversation about the future of religious freedom in America featuring a diverse group of expert voices.

“Wishful thinking will not fix our nation’s spending and debt problem,” says Dylan Pahman in this week’s Acton Commentary. “The longer we procrastinate, the harder it will be for us to actually do it.”

In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, a collection of wise stories and sayings from the first Christian monks, the following is attributed to one Abba Zeno: “Never lay a foundation on which you might sometime build yourself a cell.” This saying has at least two possible applications: 1) Do not start something you do not intend to see through. 2) Do not put off for tomorrow the asceticism you can do today. Unfortunately, both of these lessons are lost on our federal government when it comes to financial responsibility, and it is our children who will pay for the sins of their fathers.

The full text of his essay is here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.