The Poverty, Inc. documentary continues to make waves around the world, including the land down under. Acton Institute Research Fellow and director of Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller was featured last week on Radio Adelaide in Adelaide, Austrailia in advance of a showing of the film there. You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.
The Venezuelan economy is buckling under the weight of its severe socialist policies, and even as its president admits to a nationwide economic emergency, the government continues to affirm the drivers behind the collapse, blaming low oil prices and global capitalism instead.
This was supposed to be the dawn of “21st-century socialism,” as the late President Hugo Chavez proclaimed over 10 years ago, complete with the right tweaks and upgrades to its materialistic, mechanistic approach to the human person. “We have assumed the commitment to direct the Bolivarian Revolution towards socialism,” he said, “and to contribute to the socialist path, with a new socialism…which is based in solidarity, in fraternity, in love, in justice, in liberty, and in equality.”
Alas, with a shrinking economy, booming inflation, violent outbreaks, and empty food shelves, “21st-century socialism” is feeling mighty nostalgic in all the wrong ways.
In the years before Chavez, the country was in better shape than much of the continent. Now, thanks to the temptations of centralized power, the arrogance of centralized planners, and a series of faux upgrades to age-old bad ideas, the nation is crumbling. The oil prices simply served as the messenger. (more…)
Acton Institute Research Fellow and Director of Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller made an appearance on Fox Business Channel last week to discuss how his documentary addresses the issue of celebrity efforts at poverty alleviation, noting that often, such campaigns can do more harm than good. You can watch the interview below.
Andrew Biggs of AEI has a piece up today at Forbes addressing the gender pay gap and provides a neat solution: “forbid women from staying at home with their children.” As Biggs points out, such a policy would address perhaps the greatest root cause of gender pay inequality: varied work experience attributable to choices women make. “Most mothers who stay at home or work only part-time are doing what they wish to do and what they view as best for their kids,” writes Biggs. This results in gaps in pay when those women re-enter the work force or increase their labor participation.
Biggs’ proposal to “make staying at home with kids illegal, just like child labor is illegal” would have another benefit favored by many: it would be a boon to GDP. As I point out in a review essay in the latest issue of Christian Scholar’s Review, the work that stay-at-home parents do is not counted toward GDP. When those parents pay someone to take care of their children as part of a business transaction, however, as in the case of day care centers, then that exchange does count towards GDP.
My piece, “Affluence Agonistes–A Review Essay,” takes a look at the book The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus, in addition to a couple of other recent publications. The CSR essay expands upon a review of the Grudem/Asmus book I wrote for Public Discourse, “Life to the Full: The Dangers of Material Wealth and Spiritual Poverty.” As Grudem and Asmus put it simply, to combat poverty “the goal must be to increase a nation’s GDP.”
So not only are stay-at-home moms a major source of wage inequality, they are also “a drag on GDP.” As one press report put it, “With female participation stagnating, potential growth isn’t rising as quickly.”
Biggs’ proposal to ban stay-at-home mothers should logically be embraced by both anti-gender inequality progressives as well as GDP growth fundamentalists. As I argue in the essay, “If a nation were to pursue GDP growth as its highest goal, it would probably institute policies and incentives to induce women to work outside the home and professionalize child care. GDP incentivizes specialization and the division of labor, since such transactions are the only things taken into account.”
But the Grove City College economist Shawn Ritenour rightly concludes, “We ought not give into the temptation that all of human welfare is encapsulated in GDP.” Another way of putting it is that men, women, and children do not “live on GDP per capita alone.”
Update: For those readers who might not bother to read Biggs’ piece, he does not (and neither do I, for that matter) actually advocate for this policy.
No one questions the sincerity of Pope Francis when it comes to his demonstrated concern for the poor and downtrodden of the world. Many, however, have questioned whether the solutions that he has suggested will actually alleviate the poverty that afflicts too many around the world, or whether those solutions will actually exacerbate the problems of the poor.
Samuel Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research, addressed this topic in his March 30th Acton Lecture Series address in which he lays out some of the potential problems with the Pope’s approach to poverty, and suggests some modifications to the way that the Catholic Church applies its timeless moral principles to prudential matters of the current day.
Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg was a guest on Thursday’s edition of Kresta in the Afternoon on the Ave Maria Radio Network; his conversation with host Al Kresta touched on Europe’s current struggles with Islamic terrorism, with a focus on this week’s attacks in Brussels, Belgium, and then shifted to a preview of Sam’s upcoming Acton Lecture Series address on Pope Francis, Poverty, and the Economy. If you’d like to attend that lecture here at the Acton Building on March 30, click here to register.
You can listen to the full interview via the audio player below.
One of the popular targets of foreign aid is education, and understandably so. Yet as with most solutions sprouting from Western planners and do-gooders, the reality on the ground is a bit different than we typically imagine. Likewise, the solutions are often closer than we’re led to believe.
In his book, The Beautiful Tree, James Tooley chronicles his own investigative journey throughout the developing world, seeking to uncover the local realities of educational opportunity. Originally commissioned by the World Bank to investigate private schools in a dozen developing countries, Tooley began with the assumption that such schools were designed for and confined to the middle classes and elite.
What he found, however, was a situation far more rich and varied.
Beginning in the city of Hyderabad, India, Tooley’s targets initially appeared as expected: private schools designed for the prosperous and privileged. One day, however, on a holiday off from his usual research, he ventured into the city’s slums, spontaneously stumbling on a private school created by and for the local community. He soon met the school’s headmaster, who explained the widespread dissatisfaction with public schooling, from over-crowded classrooms to chronically absent teachers to the severe lack of accountability or parental control. (more…)