Acton Institute Co-Founder and President Rev. Robert A. Sirico made an appearance on America’s News Headquarters on Fox News Channel this afternoon to discuss the impact of Pope Francis’ new encyclical, and to share his thoughts as part of the discussion the Pope has called upon us all to participate in on the state of the environment. You can view his Father’s Day appearance using the video player below.
Acton University 2015 is about to get underway at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and our friend Al Kresta has already taken up residence on the gallery overlook level for his week of Kresta in the Afternoon remote broadcasts. His first guest from Acton University was our own Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton in Rome, who sat down for a twenty minute discussion of Pope Francis, Laudeto Si, and the compatibility of capitalism with Christianity. The full interview is available via the audio player below.
Today’s issue of Public Discourse offers a reflection on the life and work of Michael Novak. It would not be an exaggeration to say Novak is a towering figure in the world of free market economics. Author Nathaniel Peters says that while Novak has had his critics, the question that lies at the heart of all Novak’s work is this: “How do we get people out of poverty?”
What economic systems are most conducive to allowing people to exercise their human dignity, realize their God-given capacities, and provide for themselves and their families? When many people think of capitalism, they imagine factory owners exploiting workers. Novak sees a woman with a micro-loan who can now start a business to support her family, or a community of immigrants who have arrived in America—like Novak’s own Slovak ancestors—who through hard work in their local community can build better lives for themselves and those around them. (more…)
If one decides to destroy the American Dream, there are a few steps that would be necessary.
- Put Big Government in charge. The average American can’t figure out his or her own dreams, let alone what it would take to make them a reality.
- Tell Americans that without the government, the American Dream is hopeless.
- Produce a lengthy document about the American Dream. Leave out the word “freedom,” let alone the idea of freedom.
- Let people know that “freedom” (without actually using the word) is quite harmful. Don’t worry, thought, Big Government will protect you.
Capitalism is routinely blamed for rampant materialism and consumerism, accused of setting society’s sights only on material needs and wants, and living little time, attention, or energy for much else. But what, if not basic food, shelter, and survival, was humanity so preoccupied with before the Industrial Revolution?
As Steve Horwitz argues in a preview of his forthcoming book, Hayek’s Modern Family, our newfound liberty and accelerated activity in the Economy of Creative Service has actually freed us to devote more to other spheres of stewardship, not less:
I recently gave a hearty cheer for bringing back childhood chores, which are shockingly absent in a majority of today’s homes. The same appears to be the case with summer work for teenagers, which is increasingly avoided due to sports activities, cushy internships, video games, clubs and camps, and, in many cases, a lack of employment prospects altogether.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Dave Shiflett explores the implications of this development, recalling the “grit and glory of traditional summer work, which taught generations of teenagers important lessons about life, labor and even their place in the universe.”
Whether it was newspaper delivery, construction, factory work, fast food, or manual labor on the farm or the railroad, such jobs have introduced countless kids to responsibility, creativity, and service, helping connect the dots between God-given gifts and the broader social order. (more…)
At The Stream, Anne Bradley writes about the freedom that free trade brings. Why does free trade matter?
- We live in a world of scarcity: we have unlimited wants and limited means (resources) to satisfy those wants.
- As individuals, we aren’t good at producing everything we need to survive. We are limited in our talents and opportunities.
- We flourish when we are free to trade the things we are better at producing for the things we are not as good at producing.
I grew up in a very small town. Our fashion purchases were limited to the dry goods store (yes, it still went by that name) which carried things like Buster Brown shoes and sensible sweaters, or the grain elevator, where you could buy durable overalls for farm work.
As someone who eagerly awaited Seventeen magazine every month and witnessed the birth of MTV, you can imagine my fashion dilemma. The closest mall was 70 miles away. I needed Calvin Klein jeans, Candies heels and Esprit tops like, now.
Steven Quartz, a philosopher and neuroscientist at Caltech, along with Anette Asp, a political scientist and neuromarketer, feel for me. In The Atlantic, Bourree Lam talked with the two about the connection between “cool” and capitalism. Quartz and Asp, believe, in as sense, that capitalism created “cool.” First, though, Quartz says there are four myths linked to capitalism (or what some would call “consumerism”) that their research shows to be false:
First, that it doesn’t make us happy. Second, that it relies on instilling false needs in us because it’s contrary to our real nature. Third, that it erodes public life. Fourth, that it’s primarily about “stuff.”
No sooner had your writer reported on the metastasis of the sustainability movement from universities to the religious community than it came to his attention that activists were doubling down on efforts to bankrupt the economy and sentence capitalism to the dustbin of history. Because: Social Justice.
This latest head scratcher is scheduled to take place in the Acton Institute’s own Grand Rapids’ backyard, and will feature a sustainability event in a Grand Valley State University facility named after an Acton Board Member. The Rapidian – a Grand Rapids web site for “citizen journalism” – reports:
An activist panel, breakout sessions, lunch, skill building sessions and a general activist assembly will be held at the John C. Kennedy Hall of Engineering in Grand Rapids on Saturday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the local community as well as students and staff.
Two of the key points that will be discussed at the event is that “green” capitalism is not a solution to climate change and that collective climate justice must be achieved through the development of strategies and the use of tactics that rely on direct action.
Max Weber’s classic study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism made the case that the Reformation had a major impact on the rise of free market capitalism. But according to Gene Edward Veith, Weber misunderstood what it was about the Reformation that caused that impact. On February 26th, Veith came to Grand Rapids to talk about what Weber missed in his classic analysis – primarily Martin Luther’s doctrine of vocation, which taught that God is present and active in ordinary economic activity, which becomes a sphere in which Christians can love and serve their neighbors.
Gene Edward Veith is Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College. He is the author of 18 books on topics involving Christianity and culture, classical education, literature, and the arts. They include Postmodern Times, The State of the Arts, The Spirituality of the Cross, God at Work, Modern Fascism, Classical Education, and Loving God With All Your Mind.
If you prefer, you can stream the audio from the player below, or head over to the Acton Institute digital download store and pick up an mp3 of your very own – you can do that at this link.