This morning, Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico took some time away from his preparations for Acton University to speak with Jim Engster, host of The Jim Engster Show on WRKF radio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, discussing how to address the issue of poverty in society, and the approach taken by Pope Francis and the church in general to that and other issues. They also discussed the problems with the ObamaCare model of health-care reform, among other issues. You can listen to the interview using the audio player below.
It’s called the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” but how fair is it and who does it really benefit? The legislation, which is expected to pass the Senate, is heralded by supporters as instituting market equity to the brick and mortar retailers. Supporters also proclaim it will help to alleviate state budget shortfalls. The Marketplace Fairness Act gives new authority to states to directly collect sales taxes from online retailers. Jia Lynn Lang at The Washington Post explains:
National Public Radio did a roundup of views on what to expect from Pope Francis on economic issues. Reporter Jim Zarroli interviewed Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg and several commentators on the Catholic left. NPR host Audie Cornish introduced Zarroli’s report by observing that the new pope “comes from Argentina, where poverty and debt have long posed serious challenges. In the past, when thrust into debates about the country’s economic future, Francis had made strident comments about wealth, inequality and the markets. Now, some Catholics are hoping their new pope will play a similar role, giving voice to the poor and exerting influence on a global scale.” But Cornish cautioned that if “some say the idea that Pope Francis is some kind of economic liberal is to misread him and the church.”
Here’s the exchange between Gregg and Zarroli that wrapped up the report.
ZARROLI: But anyone who expects Francis to take an active role as a critic of capitalism is sure to be disappointed, says Samuel Gregg, research director of the Acton Institute. Gregg says even as the new pope was criticizing the IMF, he was also taking a stand against liberation theology, the leftist movement that swept some parts of the church in the 1970s and ’80s. Gregg says Francis saw the movement as tainted by Marxist ideas that were at odds with church teaching and he didn’t want the church in Argentina to become politicized.
SAMUEL GREGG: Liberation theology, at least certain strands of liberation theology, insisted that the church had to become involved in more or less revolutionary movements for justice. And his response was no, that is not the responsibility of priests. Priests are supposed to be pastors. They’re supposed to be guides. They’re supposed to offer the sacraments. They’re not politicians. They’re not revolutionaries. (more…)
Fresh out of college and full of ideals, young Americans are finding that, in this economy, the American Dream comes at a steep cost. Just ask Michelle Holshue:
At 30 years old, Holshue exemplifies a key tenet of the American dream: exceeding one’s parents’ education and income.
“My dad never finished high school,” she says. “So in that sense, I am doing better than my parents did.”
Holshue’s father is a school bus driver, and her mother, a teacher. At this early stage in her career, Holshue is already making more money than her parents make after decades of working.
Even so, all her credentials came at a cost. Holshue’s student loans for her bachelor’s and nursing degrees total $140,000.
“I think at last count there was something like 20 different loans,” she says, paging through a thick binder of loan statements.
Holshue says she’s in debt more than her parents ever were when they bought their house. In fact, her monthly student loan payment of $1,100 is nearly as much as her rent.
“The first of the month, I might have $100 to live on for two weeks. Which doesn’t even pay my transportation cost,” Holshue says.
Holshue’s story, broadcast by NPR and linked to at Instapundit, is unfortunately far from the exception for many Americans, especially those leaving college to enter the workforce. Recent graduates needn’t wait long before their idealism is saddled by debt and their career aspirations, once the exemplar of the much-lauded American Dream, become something more nightmarish.
The question remains: How can we solve the debt problem for future generations? Thus far, the Obama administration’s answer has been an enormous increase of the national debt and the passing of health care legislation that will raise taxes on 3 million middle class Americans. This amounts to a widespread suffocation of economic opportunity. Continued policies along this lines will force coming generations to confront the debt of their forebears and strain not to build a better future but to recompense the mistakes of the past.
I’m blogging a recent piece I did for NRO on National Public Radio funding but first a quick note on the net neutrality debate. House Speaker John Boehner told a meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters association, meeting in Nashville over the weekend, that “the last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller, and potentially running roughshod over local broadcasters who have been serving their communities with free content for decades.” Amen. See my recent response to the Catholic bishops conference statement on net neutrality here.
Back to you, Corey.
‘Free’ Public Radio Is Anything But
By Bruce Edward Walker
National Public Radio listeners are being inundated with warnings that they soon may have to drive to work every morning without the sonorous intonations of Morning Edition’s Corey Flintoff, Steve Inskeep, and Renée Montagne, and may be forced to drive home without the narrative drone of All Things Considered’s Robert Siegel, Michele Norris, and Melissa Block.
Just this morning, I received a panicked e-mail from the director of broadcasting at an NPR affiliate in my home state, Michigan. You know, one of those state-based public-radio operations that just last October received a portion of George Soros’s $1.8 million Open Society Foundation gift to hire two government reporters in each of the 50 states; one of the same group of radio stations benefiting from the Joan Kroc Foundation’s $200 million endowment in 2003; one of the same stations that host interminable on-air fundraisers at least twice a year.
They are warning that Congress may eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity that heaps money on 900 NPR affiliates across the country.
The warnings reek of disingenuousness.
After all, crying poverty is public broadcasting’s modus operandi. If it didn’t do it extremely well, no one would donate during those radiothons, corporations wouldn’t spend huge sums of money to sponsor programming, and “people just like you” wouldn’t forgo paying the cable bill so they could help meet a challenge grant from their neighbors and co-workers.
As an example of how much begging public radio does, Wisconsin Public Radio — a network of 32 stations programmed by seven regional stations – reported that 13 percent of its total budget in 2009 was used for fundraising. Additionally, the network’s website reveals that 25 percent ($1.94 million) of the revenues garnered from listener and corporate donations ($6.25 million and $1.58 million, respectively) are directly allocated to fundraising.
So it came as no surprise when I received the director’s e-mail, which warns, “I believe this is one of the most serious challenges to public broadcasting that we have ever faced.”
Not mentioned in his emotional appeal are the substantial costs American taxpayers are stuck with.
Read more here.
Heads up: Acton Research Fellow Anthony Bradley will be making an appearance today on NPR’s News and Notes program. Braodcast times may vary, so check your local NPR affiliate’s schedule to see if you can catch the show. If you miss it, you can check the show archives right here.
Update: Here’s the audio (3 mb mp3 file).
Update II: Rome office director Kishore Jayabalan commented on the S-CHIP issue for Vatican Radio today; listen by clicking here (230 kb mp3 file).