Posts tagged with: Social Issues

The Pilot, a South Pines, N.C. newspaper, recently featured a review of Samuel Gregg’s Becoming Europe by Don Delauter. He says:

This is a scholarly work in which the author presents a review of the historical path which led relentlessly to the social and economic cultures of modern day Western Europe. He discusses how America diverged from the European course in important ways which until recently fostered the free enterprise Americans have enjoyed.

However, the future of this phenomenal record of achievement is at risk. Gregg believes that “Europe is the canary in the coal mine” for America.

Gregg notes that America joined the welfare state community somewhat late. The New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society from the Johnson administration were the giant leaps forward. With few interruptions America has maintained a course toward becoming a deficit-spending welfare state, in short, “becoming Europe.”

Gregg concludes that “it would be a grave error for America to go down the European economic path, and not simply because it would result in less economic prosperity. The moral and political cost, in terms of reduced freedom, is simply not worth it.”

The review ends with this sobering thought: “A very worthwhile read, but it may be too late.”

You can read his entire review here and you can find more information about Becoming Europe here.

Questions about poverty and social teaching are on the forefront of Pope Francis’ mind, as he’s made convincingly clear in his young papacy. This calls for cogent thinking on the topic, according to Fr. John Flynn, LC in “Francis and Catholic Social Teaching: Debates About Economy, Equality and Poverty Sure to Continue.”

Flynn cites Jerry Z. Muller, professor of History at the Catholic University of America, who gives credit to the astonishing “leap in human progress” that capitalism has brought about, but cautions that some find the disparity between rich and poor, the powerful and the dispossessed, to be grounds for anti-capitalist sentiment. Muller points out that this type of inequality seems to be growing internationally. (more…)

President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has released its recommendations to the president on Building Partnership to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery. Here are some things you need to know.

  1. The Council recommends that the Department of Health and Human Services oversee the Administration’s work against human trafficking. This is the same agency that brought you the HHS Mandate.
  2. They would like to use religious organizations to raise awareness regarding human trafficking, support survivors and curb demand for products produced by slave labor. This comes after the Obama Administration cut over $5 million dollars from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to help human trafficking victims.
  3. The Council includes Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Also serving is Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, president of the Leadership Conference of Catholic Women. The Council’s make-up leans heavily towards liberal religious leaders whose ideas regarding morality run afoul of traditional Biblical values.
  4. It is estimated that human traffickers make a profit of at least $32 billion annually.
  5. Those who are trafficked can be from any nation or ethnicity. Women and children are most at risk. The greatest indicator that one will be trafficked: living in poverty.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, April 10, 2013

“Crime has been in decline,” says Acton Research Fellow Jonathan Witt, in an article for The American Spectator, “but current government policies are bound to reverse this trend.”

Against the backdrop of sluggish growth and high unemployment, one bright spot has been declining crime rates, with levels in the United States now about half what they were 20 years ago. This gradual decline holds true even in the perennially high-risk demographic of young men, suggesting it isn’t merely a knock-on effect of an aging population. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that current government policies may reverse this downward trend.

Witt’s article will also be featured in today’s Acton Commentary.  Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Monday, April 1, 2013

In the current Acton Commentary, I take a look at what I call a “modern-day Robinson Crusoe,” the survivalist Richard Proenneke of “Alone in the Wilderness” fame.

But as I also note in the piece, there are some other instances of this classic shipwrecked literary device, including the TV show Lost. The basic point of these reflections on community and the human person is that no man is an island, even when they are on an island.

Consider this speech with the conclusion “if we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone,” from Jack Shephard, in Lost episode 1.5, “White Rabbit.”

As the tagline of the “Hang Together” blog reminds us, the dynamic between human sociality and community is at the heart of the American experiment in ordered liberty. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Blog author: jsunde
posted by on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

factory workers, monotonyDiscussions about faith-work integration are on the rise, with an ever-increasing number of related books, sermons, and blog posts (ahem) appearing with every passing day.

Over at Faith, Work & Culture, Jeff Haanen poses a challenging question to the movement, asking, “Is the faith and work movement just for white guys?” (HT):

Just a cursory glance around the faith and work landscape, and you’ll find a bunch of middle class white men (with the occasional woman or Asian). So what’s going on here? Does integrating your faith and work only matter for white professionals and not African-Americans or Latinos? (For the sake of this post, you’ll have to excuse some generalizations.)

After offering a brief history of 20th-century American prosperity and the widespread self-actualization that followed, Haanen offers his hypothesis:

Twentieth century America did not bless all ethnic groups evenly with wealth and comfort. African Americans lived under the thumb of institutionalized racism even years after the civil rights movement, and struggled for years to acquire the kind of jobs, and thus material comfort, that their white counterparts did. Today, it’s mostly Latinos who occupy the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder; they make even less than blacks per capita across age groups.

All that to say this: while white guys were wondering about their purpose in life, blacks and Latinos were just trying to survive. When I was a pastor of a Latino congregation, it wasn’t terribly surprising that questions of existential despair or vocational fit never arose. Dignity and providing for the family trumped “fulfilling the cultural mandate.” Getting a job and paying rent was a bit higher on the hierarchy of needs.

Haanen’s point about disparate shifts in the makeup and distribution of work is an important one. The minimum-wage McDonald’s worker will likely face a host of spiritual challenges distinct from those faced by the white-collar executive. Likewise, the differences in time and comfort outside of that work will play no small part in defining that struggle. As Haanen also indicates, “intangible” factors like racism are bound to transform these struggles further, even among workers in the same job type and industry.

But having recognized all of this, it’s also important to recognize that just because a worker hasn’t the time, resources, or energy for armchair theologizing on “vocational fit,” it doesn’t mean that meaning, purpose, and transcendent activity isn’t taking place amid the strenuous circumstances. Whether or not we are actively thinking and talking about “cultural mandate,” the basic dignity of our work and the basic activity of serving society and providing for one’s family is an integral part of fulfilling that mandate. At a certain level, “needs-based” work has a forceful way of tempering our individualistic inclinations, and at that level, I think we need to seriously reconsider how closely we’re aligning “vocation” with our own personal preferences or our end-game goals. Does God not also call us to that initial job or task that begins a longer trajectory filled with other more “fulfilling” things? (more…)

Pope Francis has already made it clear that he has a heart and mind for the poor. We’ve seen images of him washing the feet of AIDS patients, stopping traffic to bless a severely handicapped man in St. Peter’s Square, and reminding us from the first moments of his papacy to remember the poor.

Beyond that, there is a certain population of the poor that Francis wants us to remember: those caught in human trafficking and slavery. The White House conservatively estimates that 20 million men, women and children are trafficked globally. According to Charled Reid, University of St. Thomas School of Law, Pope Francis’ home is an epicenter for slavery: (more…)

Last month I wrote about the Romeike family, a German family of homeschoolers that was given the choice to abandon their religious convictions or lose custody of their children. Although the family is seeking asylum in the U.S., President Obama’s Justice Department has argued that the family should be denied refugee status based on their contention that governments may legitimately use its authority to force parents to send their kids to government-sanctioned schools.

Nick Gillespie of Reason.tv talked to Mike Donnelly, a lawyer for the Home School Legal Defense Association and a representative for the Romeike family, about the case and the history of anti-homeschooling laws in Germany.

Samuel Gregg recently spoke with Marie Stroughter from African-American Conservatives. They discuss Gregg’s new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future. 

Stroughter asked Gregg about the dichotomy between “cuddle capitalism” (the European social model) and a dynamic market economy.  Gregg says that Americans are more and more choosing a ‘Europeanized’ economy favoring security over economic liberty.

Listen to the full audio here:

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You can purchase the hardcover or eBook version of Becoming Europe here.

When future historians attempt to narrow down the exact point at which the concept of free speech died in Canada, they’ll likely point to Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, specifically this sentence:

censoredTruthful statements can be presented in a manner that would meet the definition of hate speech, and not all truthful statements must be free from restriction.

Jesus might have claimed that “the truth will set you free” but in Canada speaking the same truths proclaimed in God’s Word could potentially land you in jail.

“The ruling and the reasoning [behind it] is terrible,” defendant Bill Whatcott told LifeSiteNews.com. “They actually used the concept that truth is not a defense.”

The court ruled that making claims which could be construed as “detesting or vilifying” homosexual behavior is enough to classify speech as “hate speech”:
(more…)