Posts tagged with: politics

The Separation Of Church And State“What right do they have to do this, to take away our freedoms?” Mary Anne Yep, co-founder and vice president of Triune Health Group in Chicago, recently asked of the  Obama administration regarding the HHS Mandate. On Monday when the official comment period closed, thousands of individuals swamped the Department of Health and Human Services with concerns about the HHS Mandate and the effect it would have on religious liberty in the United States. The Heritage Foundation recently posted an update about HHS and the people against it:

After more than a year of public outrage, over 50 lawsuits against the anti-conscience mandate, and a federal judge’s demand that HHS fix its coercive mandate, the Administration published a “notice of proposed rule making” (NPRM) on February 6. That proposed rule neither changes the underlying mandate finalized in law and currently in effect nor provides any workable or adequate solutions to the mandate’s trampling on religious liberty.

Several organizations have published statements on the NPRM and HHS Mandate in general.  Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Catholic bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty released a statement on Monday regarding the mandate: (more…)

Obama’s new budget is in. The usual political wrangling is taking place, but there are some undeniable facts about the budget. Taxes are going up (is anyone surprised?), but some of those taxes are “sneaky” ones on senior citizens designed to fund things other than their health. In all, the president’s budget will raise taxes by $1.1 trillion dollars. (That number shouldn’t shock you: President Obama is the first president to ever spend $4 trillion in one year.)

One area of great concern in this budget is abortion funding. Despite the fact that a solid majority of Americans don’t want to pay for other people’s abortions, Obama’s new budget calls for $30 million more to do just that. In 2011, $542 million taxpayer dollars went to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortions. Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization, yet reported last year revenues in excess of $87 million, and assets over $1 billion.

In addition to heavily funding Planned Parenthood, the budget will fund abortions for Peace Corps volunteers, prison inmates, immigration detainees, and American military personnel.

On the Fund Abortion Now website, there is this:

President Obama unveiled his 2014 budget this morning. We commend the President for striking restrictions on D.C. funding of abortion for low-income women in his budget and for moving to lessen some of the restrictions on coverage for women in the Peace Corps. However, we join many other groups in the women’s health and rights community in our disappointment that he did not take a critical step toward lifting the current Medicaid coverage ban. President Obama could have taken this historic opportunity at the dawn of his second term in office to present a clean budget to Congress; he did not.

Every year politicians use the budget process to deny abortion coverage for women enrolled in any federal insurance plan. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A budget is a moral document: it reflects our values. [Emphasis added.]

Again, there are undeniable truths about this budget. It increases the amount of taxpayer money that will fund abortions, a move which most Americans disapprove of. It funds this is some “sneaky” ways. It increases the groups of women receiving abortion coverage as “health care”. And most undeniably, this budge makes a moral statement: President Obama doesn’t care that you don’t want your money to kill babies. He’s going to do it anyway. Just like the kid who steals the lunch money of the weaker classmate in the school bathroom, Obama’s going to take your taxpayer dollars and use it just the way he wants. That’s bullying.

photo courtesy of Atlantic Wire

photo courtesy of Atlantic Wire

In 1968, Margaret Thatcher, then a member of the Shadow Cabinet as a junior minister of Great Britain, gave a speech entitled, What’s Wrong With Politics? Despite that fact that the speech is now 45 years old, it is as relevant today as then – in some unfortunate ways. Here are some excerpts.

[T]he extensive and all-pervading development of the welfare state is also comparatively new, not only here but in other countries as well. You will recollect that one of the four great freedoms in President Roosevelt’s wartime declaration was ‘freedom from want.’ Since then in the Western world there has been a series of measures designed to give greater security. I think it would be true to say that there is no longer a struggle to achieve a basic security. Further, we have a complete new generation whose whole life has been lived against the background of the welfare state. These developments must have had a great effect on the outlook and approach of our people even if we cannot yet assess it properly.


Lady Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, has passed away from an apparent stroke at the age of 87.Margaret_Thatcher

In 2011, the Acton Institute presented Lady Thatcher with its “Faith and Freedom” award which “recognizes an individual who exemplifies commitment to faith and freedom through outstanding leadership in civic, business, or religious life.” Thatcher served as Prime Minister for eleven years, during which time she struggled to reform and stabilize Great Britain’s economy. However, she will likely best be remembered for the role she played, along with Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, in bringing down the Soviet Union’s Communist regime.

Acton will be providing more coverage of Lady Thatcher’s political and economic contributions here on the PowerBlog as the day continues.

Today at Ethika Politika, Fr. Gregory Jensen, a contributor to the PowerBlog as well as other Acton publications, explores the potential of the Orthodox Christian ascetic tradition as a response to the paradox of American individualism:

We come to know each other in our uniqueness “only within the framework of direct personal relationships and communion…. Love is the supreme road to knowledge of the person, because it is an acceptance of the other person as a whole.” Unlike the more theoretical approaches we alluded to above, to say nothing of our own neurotic strivings, love doesn’t “project on the other person” our own “preferences, demands or desires.” Rather love accepts the other as he or she is, “in the fullness of [his or her] uniqueness.” This is also why our highly individualistic culture struggles with a whole range of problems related to sexuality. It is “in the self-transcendence and offering of self that is sexual love” where husband and wife learn to live in mutual acceptance of each other’s uniqueness (Yannaras, p. 23).

For the theological anthropology of the Orthodox Church, “‘person’ and ‘individual’ are opposite in meaning. The individual is the denial or neglect of the distinctiveness of the person” (p. 22). Christian asceticism has as its goal the liberation of the truly personal from the merely individualistic. In the full and proper sense, moreover, the liberty that ascetical struggle offers is not simply an absence of constraints (a “freedom from” if you will) but a “[p]erfection and sanctification” that makes possible the person’s “restoration to the fullness of [his or her] existential possibilities” and so to be what he or she “is called to be — the image and glory of God” (p. 109).

Read more . . .

ForbesAlejandro Chafuen, president and chief executive officer of Atlas Economic Research Foundation and board member of the Acton Institute, recently wrote a piece for about crony capitalism.

Chafuen used to spend his summers in Argentina, so he begins his article with a story about a friend from Argentina. Enrique Piana, known to his friends as “Quique,” was heir to “Argentina’s oldest and most respected trophy and medals companies.”

During part of the ’90s, the government of President Carlos Menem, and then-Minister Domingo Cavallo, had a policy for the importation of gold and exports of gold fabrications that amounted to a major subsidy for exporters. Attracted by the incentives, Quique, who had become CEO of his company, became a key player in a scheme whereby exporting overvalued gold-plated products netted them 30 million in subsidies for fake transactions. As it seems that none of the medals were sold at artificial value to true customers, the only victims here ended up being the Argentine tax-payers.

The scheme involved a “business” in the United States. As there is still substantial respect for rule of law in the United States, Quique was indicted, captured, and—after some months in a U.S. jail—extradited to Argentina. In his book, he lists the government officials who he claims knew about the scheme and who received bribes for his fraudulent activities. I will not mention them here. None of them were sentenced to jail. (more…)

In the Wall Street Journal, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg turns to French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville to show how democratic systems can be used to strike a Faustian bargain. “Citizens use their votes to prop up the political class, in return for which the state uses its power to try and provide the citizens with perpetual economic security,” Gregg explains. This, of course, speaks to the current catastrophe that is the European welfare state. French workers, for example, “clearly expect the government to protect them from the economic consequences of their curious work habits,” he adds.

Some 180 years ago, Tocqueville predicted in his magnum opus “Democracy in America” that something similar would be one of democracy’s long-term challenges. Though Tocqueville never used the expression “welfare state,” he worried about the potentially corrosive effects of democratically elected governments that tried to use their powers to guarantee economic security for as many people as possible.

Democracy, Tocqueville argued, was capable of breeding its own form of despotism, albeit of the “soft” variety. He spoke of “an immense protective power” that took all responsibility for everyone’s happiness—just so long as this power remained “sole agent and judge of it.” This power, Tocqueville projected, would “resemble parental authority” but would try to keep people “in perpetual childhood” by relieving people “from all the trouble of thinking and all the cares of living.”

But here’s the catch. Many people today forget that Tocqueville wasn’t writing for an American audience. His book was for French readers and therefore, by extension, much of Europe’s 19th-century political elite. What would some of those elites today—such as a career-politician and confirmed statist like Arnaud Montebourg—make of his compatriot’s warnings?

Read “What Tocqueville Knew” in the Wall Street Journal.

And pick up a copy of Gregg’s new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future.