UnemploymentSeries Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).

Overview: While most of the metrics were positive, few jobs were added and a large number of Americans dropped out of the labor for, making this one of the worst jobs report in years.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, June 3, 2016

On What Econ 101 Actually Is (And Says)
Josh Hendrickson, The Everyday Economist

There has been much recent discussion within the econo-blogosphere about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of “Econ 101.”

Stocks, Bonds and Mutual Funds: An Interview with Tim Weinhold
Jeff Haanen, Faith, Work & Culture

What kind of a mutual fund, I wondered, hires a guy to think about and write articles on Christianity and business?

One form of school choice remains undefeated in court
Nat Malkus, AEI Ideas

One thing all approaches to school choice share, aside from offering alternatives to residentially assigned public schools, are predictable judicial challenges.

Payday Borrowing’s Debt Spiral to Be Curtailed
Stacy Cowley, New York Times

The payday loan industry, which is vilified for charging exorbitant interest rates on short-term loans that many Americans depend on, could soon be gutted by a set of rules that federal regulators plan to unveil on Thursday.

Do no harmAll Christian ethics can be summed up in one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). And within that command is the provision, as the Apostle Paul said, “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10). This is why the Christian approach to public policy should begin with a simple standard: Because we love our neighbors, we should not support policies that we suspect will cause them harm.

Unfortunately, while the rule is simple to state it can be difficult to apply. We don’t always know or agree on what policies will cause harm. Still, any type of policy that is presumed or known to cause harm should be carefully scrutinized. A prime example is government regulations.

As economist Scott Sumner says, “One of the most basic ideas in economics is that the vast majority of regulations are harmful.”* He gives the example of a regulation on banks than forbids them from charging fees for the use of ATMs. This regulation appears to be “pro-consumer,” but as Sumner explains, the actual effect is likely to harm bank customers:

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Generous Poor
David Lapp, Family Studies

Poor givers donate a higher fraction of their income to others than middle-class and rich ones.

Is this the dawn of bake-me-a-cake libertarianism?
Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

The message was clear: We don’t need those backward Christian Right bozos as much we need as you MSNBCers.

The Truth About Growth
John F. Gaski, City Journal

Statistics refute Hillary Clinton’s claim that the economy does better under Democrats.

Pope Francis set to visit UN agency to push fight against hunger
Ines San Martin, Crux

Pope Francis is set to visit Rome’s World Food Program on June 13, the United Nations’ frontline agency that works to end world hunger.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

large-animalThis past weekend a child fell into pit with a gorilla. To protect the child, the animal had to be killed, a tragic but necessary outcome. The reaction to the news, though, has been unbalanced and excessive. While no one (that I’ve seen) thinks it would be better for the child to have died than the ape be killed, hundreds of thousands of people have expressed their outrage on social media.

In many ways, this likely reflects the distorted values of our society. But the grief and anger also reveal a natural, in some cases Biblical, concern for the welfare of animals.

Although Christians are, according to God, more valuable than animals (Matthew 10:31), we do have a responsibility to care other creatures. Philosopher Douglas Groothuis even argues that “ordinary Christians can be pastors to animals.” He offers several “principles for how Christians can show pastoral concern to animals, whether or not they interact with them regularly and directly.”

Federalism may be out of fashion (at least when it comes to state’s rights), but the effect of individual state policies on the lives of individual citizens remains as relevant as ever.

Consider, for example, the case of Puerto Rico (which is technically a territory, but has many of the functions of a U.S. state). Financial mismanagement by the territorial government has led to a humanitarian crisis. Those who can afford to leave — such as doctors and scientists — are fleeing the island for the U.S. mainland. Not surprisingly, Puerto Rico ranks dead last on the Mercatus Center’s ranking of states by fiscal condition.

The new study ranks each U.S. state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, such as unfunded pensions and healthcare benefits. “Growing long-term obligations for pensions and healthcare benefits continue to strain the finances of state governments,” notes the report, “highlighting the fact that state policymakers must be vigilant to consider both the short-term and the long-term consequences of their decisions.”

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

An interview with a Haitian peanut butter entrepreneur
Mark R. Weber, Poverty Inc

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when a U.S. food aid shipment of 500 metric tons of peanuts to feed 140,000 Haitian children would be celebrated without question. Times are changing.

US official warns ‘door for Christians in Iraq is closing’
Ines San Martin, Crux

A U.S. government official visiting Rome on Monday said that as a result of Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS, the “door for Christians in Iraq is closing” and the window of time to prevent their eradication is narrowing.

Are We Still A Nation of Laws?
Nicholas Senz, Crisis Magazine

The root of republican democracy is the consent of the governed. Citizens elect representatives to make laws, and if laws are passed that are opposed to public sentiment, the citizens can respond by removing the legislators.

Federal Regulations Work Overtime To Kill American Prosperity
J.D. Tuccille, Reason.com

Overtime rules that reduce worker and employer flexibility will ensure that there are few jobs and less money to go around in the years to come.