Posts tagged with: Samuel Gregg

sandersgrinAt The Stream, Acton Institute Research Director Samuel Gregg does a crime scene investigation of Bernie Sanders’ take on Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus encyclical. You might never guess, by listening to the Democrat presidential candidate, that John Paul actually had some positive things to say about the market economy. Gregg says that Sanders’ recent appearance at a Vatican conference “will be seen for what it is: grandstanding by a left-wing populist candidate for the American presidency.” Aside from that, there are Sanders’ “contestable” economic assertions:

In the first place, Sanders didn’t acknowledge just how much the encyclical being discussed by the conference, Saint John Paul II’s 1991 Centesimus Annus, underscored the positive role of free markets as well as limits on what the government can and should do in the economy. To be sure, Centesimus Annus is not a Catholic version of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose. But as I observed prior to the speech, Centesimus Annus contains some of the papacy’s strongest endorsements of the market economy and some of Catholicism’s most powerful critiques of not just socialism but also welfare states. None of these commendations or criticisms were referenced in Sanders’ address.

More generally, some of the claims made by Sanders about inequality are very contestable. His address referred, for instance, to “the widening gaps between the rich and poor.” This, however, doesn’t reflect the evidence of what’s happening to global economic inequality. In terms of global income, for instance, the most widely utilized assessment of income distribution, the Gini coefficient, went from 0.69 in 1988 to 0.63 in 2011. That matters, because a lower Gini coefficient indicates falling inequality.

Nor does Sanders seem aware of the sheer numbers of people who have escaped absolute poverty in Asia, especially India and China, over the past forty years. In 2010, for example, the Asian Development Bank stated that per capita GDP increased 6 percent each year in developing Asian nations between 1990 and 2009. According to the same report, about 850 million people escaped absolute poverty between 1990 and 2005.

Read “Bernie Visits the Vatican, and Misrepresents Pope John Paul II” by Samuel Gregg at The Stream.

New articles from the indefatigable Samuel Gregg, research director of the Acton Insitute:

Amoris Laetitia: Another Nail in the “Overpopulation” Coffin, The Catholic World Report

Here the pope signals his awareness of the efforts of various organizations—the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, the EU, particular US administrations—to push anti-natalist policies upon developing nations.

A Revolutionary Pope for Revolutionary Times, Crisis Magazine

Between 1878 and 1903, Leo issued an astonishing 85 encyclicals. Many dealt squarely with the political, social, and economic challenges associated with the “new things” that, having started in Western Europe and North America, were engulfing the globe. In this regard, Leo arguably showed himself to be a revolutionary pope made for revolutionary times

Constitutional Conservatism: Its Meaning and Its Future, Public Discourse

The project of constitutional conservatism must be about more than restoring limits on government. It must also invoke the ends of the American experiment in ordered liberty if the United States is to resist the siren-calls of egalitarianism and populism.

Samuel Gregg

Samuel Gregg

On Monday evening, Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg joined host Sheila Liaugminas on Relevant Radio’s A Closer Look to examine Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address as we approach the tenth anniversary of its delivery. Gregg emphasizes the fact that our understanding of who God is and what his nature is has important implications for how we understand human liberty and rationality, and argues that as western nations have gradually abandoned the Christian religious principles that formerly undergirded their societies, they have diminished their ability to respond to the various crises they face using reason.

You can listen to the interview using the audio player below.

As news of the Panama Papers scandal continues to break, Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg has been making the media rounds to help people understand what appears to have happened and why. Sam made two appearances on radio yesterday, first on Relevant Radio’s The Drew Mariani Show, speaking with guest host Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com; later in the afternoon he spoke with Al Kresta on Ave Maria Radio’s Kresta in the Afternoon. The audio of both interviews is posted below.

Blog author: sstanley
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
By

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

A lack of reason may lead to violence and an inability to respond to crises, but that didn’t stop the West from abandoning it. In a new article for the Catholic World Report, Acton’s Samuel Gregg reflects on Pope Benedict XVI and his 2006 address near Regensburg, Germany. “Ten years later,” Gregg laments, the West is “still in denial.”

On September 12, 2006 Benedict made global news with his lecture–his words enraged, gained support, and were analyzed countless times. The speech was concerned with the “deep problems of faith and reason that characterize the West and Christianity today,” particularly in relation to Islam. Despite causing great controversy, this speech is considered to be one of the most important papal addresses on world affairs. Benedict argued that our understanding of the divine ultimately creates the foundation for how we view and “can judge particular human choices and actions to be unreasonable.” Gregg continues:

Most commentators on the Regensburg Address did not, however, observe that the Pope declined to proceed to engage in a detailed analysis of why and how such a conception of God may have affected Islamic theology and Islamic practice. Nor did he explore the mindset of those Muslims who invoke Allah to justify jihadist violence. Instead, Benedict immediately pivoted to discussing the place of reason in Christianity and Western culture more generally. In fact, in the speech’s very last paragraph, Benedict called upon his audience “to rediscover” the “great logos”: “this breadth of reason” which, he maintained, orthodox Christianity has always regarded as a prominent feature of God’s nature. The pope’s use of the word “rediscover” indicated that something had been lost and that much of the West and the Christian world had themselves fallen into the grip of other forms of un-reason. Irrationality can, after all, manifest itself in expressions other than mindless violence.

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Lehner_CatholicActon Research Director Samuel Gregg reviews a new book at the Library of Law and Liberty that demolishes the canard that religious figure were “somehow opposed holus bolus to Enlightenment ideas is one that has been steadily discredited over the last 50 years.” In his review of The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement by by Ulrich L. Lehner, Gregg points out that the new book shows how “the Enlightenment argument for freedom was embraced by many Catholic Enlighteners.”

One of Lehner’s central themes is that the roots of Catholic Enlightenment thought are to be found in that most reforming of Church councils: the Council of Trent (1545-1563). Trent’s impact in terms of clarifying church dogmas and doctrines, curbing laxity among the clergy, implementing an extensive seminary and university reform program, and propelling the rise of dynamic religious orders (to name just a few changes) is hard to underestimate. Trent facilitated the development of a thoroughly orthodox, intellectually rigorous, and disciplined clergy; a renewed emphasis upon addressing social and economic problems; a repudiation of superstitious customs; and, perhaps most significantly, an emphasis that lay people were also called to holiness. This idea pervades, for instance, Saint Francis de Sales’ immensely influential Introduction to the Devout Life (1609).

Trent was therefore about improvement. And comprehensive efforts to better the human condition was a central leitmotif of the various Enlightenments and one to which, Lehner shows, many Catholics were naturally well-disposed. In some areas, such as enhancing women’s legal status and education, it turns out that Catholic reformers were well ahead of their Protestant and more secular-minded counterparts. (more…)

Too bad there isn't a "Hamilton" song titled, "Sovereign Debt Solutions."

Too bad there isn’t a “Hamilton” song titled, “Sovereign Debt Solutions.”

Despite Greece being the current poster child for sovereign debt, national debt crises are nothing new and won’t be going away anytime soon. Governments habitually solicit capital loans only to default. In a new article for Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg discusses not only Greece, but also some of the deeper issues surrounding sovereign debt crises. He asks:

What is the most reasonable framework through which governments should try to address such matters? Should they try to resolve them through appeals to necessity and pragmatism? Or should they seek more principled approaches that take justice seriously? If so, where may such methods be found?

When facing these financial woes, governments often turn to–what some would consider–justifiable, but unethical solutions:

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