Archived Posts 2014 | Acton PowerBlog

In an interview on Christian distance education, Dylan Pahman, the assistant editor for Acton’s Journal of Markets & Morality, talks about the education bubble, rising costs of higher education, and whether Christian worldview integration in a distance education program is worth a premium:

Luke Morgan: As a blogger for the Acton Institute, you have written about the education bubble, the textbook bubble, and other items regarding what education costs, and how those things should work in a free market. Could you describe to me what you mean when you say: “the education bubble?”

Dylan Pahman: The idea of a bubble came up in relation to the housing bubble which took place in 2007 in the recent recession. Part [of what] happened is, the government started subsidizing home loans, because they decided “everybody aught to be able to own a home.” So there were good intentions, but what they were doing, was cutting away the calculation of risk… The bank is no longer turning people away, that they normally would have… you have easy access flooded into this market for something people really desire… a nice place to live. In doing so, [the market] ended up ballooning. Demand keeps going up, and as demand goes up the price goes up. So people are getting into more and more debt, for the same exact product until it gets to a certain point where it’s too much, too many people couldn’t handle it, and so a lot of people ended up foreclosing on their homes… it was pretty severe, and it went past the housing market, it effected our whole economy, it effected worldwide economies.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
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“Black lives matter.’ ‘All lives matter. These slogans may forever summarize the deep tensions in American life in 2014,’ says Anthony Bradley in this week’s Acton Commentary. “We can loudly protest that “Black lives matter” but it will mean nothing in the long run if we cannot explain why black lives matter.”

Black lives matter because black people are persons. One of the greatest tragedies in American history was the myth that America could flourish without blacks flourishing as persons. From the founding of this country, throughout slavery, Reconstruction, the Eugenics movement, and the Civil-Rights Movement, black Americans fought to establish themselves, first and foremost, as persons. At minimum we can define persons as centers of creativity, self-transcendence, communication, morality, self-direction, responsibility, choice, freedom, and spirituality, who come to know themselves in union and communion with the Triune God and other personal selves. Persons are simultaneously unrepeatable splendors with great capacity for good and also vulnerable to disordered loves that can lead to profound evil. Not only do they need moral formation; moral norms ought to shape how we structure the elements of justice in politics, jurisprudence, and the marketplace.

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

In this edition of Radio Free Acton, Paul Edwards speaks with Luba Markewycz of the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago, Illinois about the Holodomor – the Great Famine of the 1930s inflicted on Ukraine by Josef Stalin’s Soviet Government that killed millions of Ukrainians through starvation. They discuss the Holodomor itself, and the process undertaken by Markewycz to create an exhibition of art by young Ukrainians to commemorate the event. You can listen to the podcast using the audio player below.

More: Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg joined Luba Markewycz in November at the Acton Building’s Mark Murray Auditorium for an evening of discussion of the Holodomor and the Holodomor Through the Eyes of a Child exhibit.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
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Every Wednesday we publish the Acton Commentary, a weekly article that covers topics related to Acton’s mission. As 2014 comes to a close I thought it would be worth highlighting the superb commentaries that have been produced by Acton Institute staffers over the past year.
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
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How To Make A New Year’s Resolution That Sticks
Tim Challies, Challies.com

The most likely reason your new year’s resolution will fail is that you haven’t actually made a resolution—you have made a wish.

For The West, Christian Hunting Is The Sport Of Lawmakers And Judges
Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

Washington DC’s City Council is moving to force religious K-12 schools and universities to pay for employee abortions and sponsor on-campus gay advocacy organizations.

Constitution’s horrible, no good, very bad year
William A. Jacobson, USA Today

President Obama governs by executive fiat, defacto legislation and ignores separation of powers.

Middle Eastern Christians Flee Violence for Ancient Homeland
Tara Isabella Burton, National Geographic

Refugees flee Syria and Iraq to Midyat, Turkey, which clings to its diminished role as the heartland of the ancient Orthodox faith.

in chainsJanuary 1, for Catholics, is celebrated as the World Day of Peace. For January 1, 2015, Pope Francis’ message is a reflection on the horror of human trafficking.

Entitled No Longer Slaves But Brothers And Sisters, the pope’s message calls trafficking an “abominable phenomenon” which cheapens human life and denies basic human rights to those enslaved. Taking his theme from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, Pope Francis reflects on human dignity and true fraternity among all peoples.

Pope Francis prayerfully mentions migrants who have been lied to regarding jobs in foreign lands, adults and children held captive in labor trafficking and debt bondage, those caught in the snares of sex trafficking, and those who have suffered (and often died from) organ trafficking. The pope knows that human trafficking is not simply another money-making venture. (more…)

Food-Network1For most of human history, the average person spent much of their day trying to produce enough food to survive. Even in the mid-1800s 90 percent of Americans were farmers.

But that was soon to change, and by the 1870 census farmers dropped to a minority at 47.7 percent of all employed persons.

In that same year the average person spent 62 percent of their waking hours— 70 hours a week—working. But over the next 150 years the number of working hours dropped considerably. Because of productivity gains and innovation, the average person in Western countries now works fewer than 40 hours a week.

screen shot 2014-12-14 at 1.02.23 pm

That means we now have an extra 1,800 minutes more free time every week than did our nineteenth century ancestors. So how are we spending those non-working hours?
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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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Catholic Higher Education in Ruins
Robert Oscar Lopez , Crisis Magazine

Before there was Pope Francis, there was a different Francis from Assisi, Italy. Back in the twelfth century, St. Francis heard the call to fix a church falling into ruins. Now it is the twenty-first century, and this Francis ought to hear the call to fix Catholic colleges falling into ruins.

Economic development promotes democracy, but there’s a catch
Daniel Treisman, Washington Post

Does economic development cause countries to become more democratic? A vast literature says yes. Except for a few petrostates, mostly in the Persian Gulf, almost all the richest countries have responsive and accountable governments.

The Continuing Story of the ‘Greatest Collective Humanitarian Endeavor in the History of the World’
Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Corner

African Mission Healthcare Foundation teams up with clinics, hospitals, and other groups that have been at work on the ground, offering funding and other support. Dr. Fielder has served as a full-time doctor and director of AMHF in both Malawi and Kenya. He talked about some of his work with National Review Online.

Jesus as the Best Management Model
Glenn Brooke , Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Though it sounds goofy to some, I unashamedly rely upon this question to help me be a better person and project manager, and a better leader: “What would Jesus do?”

23692407_BG1To end the 2014 on an incredibly dehumanizing note, CBS aired an episode of Undercover Boss that stirred up protests from all walks of life. Undercover Boss is usually a wonderful program that allows CEOs to see what is happening on the ground in their companies and reward hard workers accordingly. However, this particular episode profiled Doug Guller, the CEO of Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, who fired a bartender after she decided not to dehumanize herself by wearing a T-shirt instead of a bikini top on television and “rewarded” another employee for her loyalty by promising to pay for her breast enlargement surgery. (See videos below.)

The episode was so bad that Cosmopolitan released as scathing review saying, “what’s also crazy is that CBS aired all this as if it were good fun and zany reality TV, not horribly misogynistic workplace discrimination.” Writers like Rebecca Rose observed that Guller “has always been totally tone deaf about the sexism he enthusiastically promotes and frankly seems to enjoy having offending people with his business practices.”
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PoliticalScience“If economics is the dismal science,” says Hans Noel, an associate professor at Georgetown University, “then political science is the dismissed science.”

Most Americans—from pundits to voters—don’t think that political science has much to say about political life. But there are some things, notes Noel, that “political scientists know that it seems many practitioners, pundits, journalists, and otherwise informed citizens do not.”

Here are excerpts from Noel’s list of ten things political scientists know that you don’t:
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