We know that some countries around the world are rich (e.g., the United State) and others are, relatively speaking, poor (such as Mexico). But not all poor countries are equally poor. Mexico, for instance, is wealthy compared to some African countries.
Knowing how to measure such differences can help us better grasp the relative well-being of people around the globe. In this video by Marginal Revolution University, economist Alex Tabarrok provides a simple tool for comparing relative wealth between nations.
It’s never easy becoming a billionaire, but the path to achieving a 10-figure level of wealth is smoother when you have the government as a business partner.
Crony capitalism is a general term for the range of activities in which particular individuals or businesses in a market economy receive government-granted privileges over their customers or competitors. Certain industries (like casinos and real estate) and some nations (Russia, the Philippines) are more prone to cronyism than others. So if you want to become get ultra-rich it helps to be an business and country (e.g., an energy company in Mexico) where the government will you gain an advantage in the market.
The Economist has put together an interesting interactive infographic showing where crony capitalist billionaires live around the world. As they explain: (more…)
The summer of 2014 saw an overwhelming amount of children making their way, illegally, across the southern U.S. border. Thousands of children and adolescents overwhelmed the Border Patrol and social service agencies. Are we gearing up to see the same type of event this summer? It’s beginning to look that way.
We are not nearly at the numbers we were last year, but it looks like we are in the opening stages. We had two groups equal a little over 70 in one hour today. These were women and children,” said Agent Cabrera. “We’ve also seen a lot of children traveling alone.” (more…)
The New York Times has a poignant piece about Cecilia, a young Guatemalan girl who sought a better life in the U.S. and was unfortunately caught up in the machinations of human smuggling. The smugglers were bold, advertising on the radio with promises of a better life. They required a $7,000 loan, with her family’s home as collateral. Her trip ended in a gas station parking lot in Florida, with Cecilia being robbed of another $1,000. Then there is this:
Behind the surge of young migrants showing up for a shot at the American dream is a system of cruel and unregulated capitalism with a proven ability to adapt. The human export industry in the region is now worth billions of dollars, experts say, and it has become more ruthless and sophisticated than ever, employing a growing array of opportunists who trap, rape and rob from the point of departure to the end of the road. [emphasis added]
Here is what appears to be happening: a parent pays a “coyote” or smuggler in Mexico to bring the parent’s child from Mexico to the United States, illegally. Typically, these coyotes are smuggling drugs as well. When DHS captures the coyotes, they will then often “deliver” the smuggled child to the parent, despite the illegality of the situation. However, many children are held held for ransom by coyotes that are not arrested by DHS, or are subjected to sex trafficking.
Megyn Kelly of Fox News, discusses the situation with documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch.
(March is Women’s History Month. Acton will be highlighting a number of women who have contributed significantly to the issue of liberty during this month.)
According to the religious liberties established under article 24, educational services shall be secular and, therefore, free of any religious orientation.
The educational services shall be based on scientific progress and shall fight against ignorance, ignorance’s effects, servitudes, fanaticism and prejudice.
All religious associations organized according to article 130 and its derived legislation, shall be authorized to acquire, possess or manage just the necessary assets to achieve their objectives.
The rules established at this article are guided by the historical principle according to which the State and the churches are separated entities from each other. Churches and religious congregations shall be organized under the law.
Mexico, 1917. The government under Benito Juarez constitutionalized an increasingly secular way of life, in order to “reform” Mexico and create a more modern state. A largely Catholic country, Mexico’s population found itself officially devoid of religion. The new constitution was used to criminalize religious gatherings, close churches and religious schools, arrest priests and religious for performing their duties, and essentially drove religion underground. Undeniably, the government set out to destroy the Catholic Church. (more…)
A few days prior to Benedict’s XVI’s apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba, producers of the epic film Cristiada (For Greater Glory in English) arranged a private screening in the Vatican City State. I was among the many avid defenders of religious liberty who scurried over to the Augustinianum venue next to St. Peter’s Square at last-minute notice.
No doubt the film’s all-star Hollywood cast (Andy Garcia, Peter O’Toole, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Verastegui) was enough to draw us away from other competing events that evening (including dinner!).
Truth be told, many of us had not heard much about the Cristeros War, the civil rebellion led by priests and laity to resist the total elimination of religious liberty in Mexico in the 1920s under marxist President Plutarco Calles.
Our small sacrifice to come over to the Vatican that night in support of a little known war in defense of religious freedom was embarassingly miniscule compared to the super heroic sacrifices the film’s protagonists made to keep the Christian faith alive in their country.
In a Zenit interview, the film’s producer Pablo Barroso said that the planning for the $20 million production had been going on for three years and the timing for its early April release in Mexico was providentially perfect. “Who would have thought back then that the pope would be going to Mexico, much less to Cubilete (home to the national Cristo Rey monument and patron of the Cristero War heroes) to say his first Mass there. This (timing) really came from heaven”.
Cristiada was directed by the Titanic and Lord of the Rings special effects genius, Dean Wright. The film, therefore, has no shortage of spectacular action and breathtaking scenery. But it is the story of heroic martyrdom that will draw crowds to theaters.
The film begins in 1926 when Mexican Catholic rebels spontaneously organize bloody standoffs to President Plutarco Calles’s federales who ruthlessly and systematically shutdown all forms of Catholic worship in the state of Jalisco. At the time Mass, preaching the Gospel, catechesis, and administering the sacraments were all made illegal throughout Mexico.
President Calles’s plan to completely secularize Mexico had no patience for Church resistance and echoed what had happened in Bolshevik Russia following the October Revolution of 1917.
Calles, therefore, wasted no time in eliminating religious leadership that spoke out against loyalty to his government’s commands and in defense of God’s. Moreover, Calles was deeply weary of Rome’s indirect influence over the populace’s thirst for fervent religious expression, while Pope Pius XI continued to forcefully denounce the secularization of education in Europe and the Americas.
In 3 years of Calles’s presidency the total priestly population was reduced to some 350 among Mexico’s 15 million Catholics. Several hundred priests were brought to the federales’s firing squad, hung from their church towers and thousands of religious leaders were expelled from Mexico to the United States and abroad.
Calles’s anticlerical regime was so cruel that is “simply amazing not even many Mexicans know about the Cristeros rebellion”, Barroso told to the screening’s attendees and remarked on how the revolt is not mentioned in Mexican school curricula.
Not a few martyrs lost their lives to keep the Church alive, including Mexico’s most famous twentieth century general, Enrique Gorostieta (Andy Garcia) who, despite his atheism, eventually values religious freedom higher than state-enforced secularism. Gorostieta, inspired by a tortured little boy’s unbending faith and martyrdom, undergoes a conversion of heart and charismatically leads the rag-tag Cristeros soldiers to impassioned underdog victories.
When the film hits US theaters this June, I highly recommend seeing it, especially those Catholics who see their liberty under carefully organized attack by the Obama administration and other forms of hostile government. What happened in Mexico nearly 100 years ago is an extreme example of what governments can do, yet should serve as a powerful reminder of their dangerous potential to wipe out liberty altogether.