cleancoallead2Electric cars are not a new invention, nor are they as popular as they once were. (They debuted in 1890 and by 1900 electric cars accounted for around a third of all vehicles on the road.) But over the past decade, thanks to Elon Musk and Tesla Motors, electric cars have become much more interesting.

Tesla rolled out the first fully electric sports car in 2008 and a fully electric luxury sedan in 2012. And earlier this month they unveiled the Model 3, a premium sedan for $35,000.

The Model 3 won’t be produced until 2017 but it’s already something of a success. You can “reserve” a Model 3 for $1,000, and so far the company has over 325,000 reservations. As Tesla brags, this corresponds to about $14 billion in implied future sales, making this “the single biggest one-week launch of any product ever.”

I confess that if I had $35k I’d gladly trade in my 2004 Toyota Prius for a car that goes 0 To 60 MPH in under 4 seconds. But as a conservationist and a conservative the idea of driving a car powered by coal and subsidized by the government gives me pause.

What’s that? You didn’t realize electric cars were powered by coal? That’s not surprising since you won’t find it mentioned in Tesla’s brochures. But it’s true that they are “fueled” by electricity that is created by coal or other fossil fuels (at least mostly in some states, exclusively in others). And it’s also true the government will, in the name of protecting the environment, give you a tax break for buying a car that runs on coal.

Tesla’s electric cars are beautiful, but they aren’t necessarily better for the environment. As environmental economist Bjorn Lomborg explains in this video, electric cars aren’t necessarily greener than conventional gasoline cars.

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, April 14, 2016
By

Minimum Wage: Is Job Loss Acceptable?
Ryan Young, RealClearPolicy

Finally, some minimum-wage advocates are acknowledging the policy’s tradeoffs. New School economics professor David Howell recently asked the Washington Post, “Why shouldn’t we in fact accept job loss?” He calls for a “living wage” mandate for some, even if it hurts others.

Sanders ties advocacy for a ‘moral economy’ to Pope Francis
Crux

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders invoked the name of Pope Francis Saturday during a campaign appearance at which he touted his own advocacy of a “moral economy” and challenged Hillary Clinton to endorse his plan to expand Social Security benefits by raising taxes on the wealthy.

Why More States Are Requiring Work Requirements for Food Stamps
Elisabeth Zenger, The Daily Signal

Since 2009, nearly all states have been able to waive the modest food stamp work requirement. But these waivers have gradually been expiring, and as of April 1, more states are once again required to enforce the modest food stamp work requirement.

EITC Expansion Backed By Obama and Ryan Could Penalize Marriage For Many Low-Income Workers
C. Eugene Steuerle, The Government We Deserve

President Barack Obama and Speaker Paul Ryan have proposed similar expansions of the earned income tax credit (EITC) for low-income workers without children. Their goal is laudable: to provide some modest additional income support for low-income workers currently excluded from the EITC. But as designed, their proposals would penalize many low-income workers who choose to marry or are married. Taking that step would not only provide a disincentive to marriage, it would be unfair to many married couples and erode support for the credit itself and for wage subsidies more broadly.

Allergan_LogoOn its website, Trinity Health trumpets its shareholder activism. Based in Livonia, Mich., the Catholic health care provider boasts operations in 21 states, which includes 90 hospitals and 120 long-term care facilities. For this last, Trinity should be lauded.

For the first, however, your writer is left shaking his head.

Among Trinity’s list of five shareholder advocacy priorities, two stand out:

• uphold the dignity of the human person.
• enable access to health care.

In other words, issues any reasonable Catholic could get behind. However, Trinity is the lead filer on a proxy resolution that will be voted on next month at the Allergan, Inc., annual shareholders meeting. The cause? Read for yourself:

*RESOLVED*, the stockholders of Allergan request the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing:

1. Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.

2. Payments by Allergan used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.

3. Allergan’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.

Your writer fails to understand how any of the above reconciles with Trinity’s five priorities listed above, and Trinity’s rationale doesn’t get any less murky: (more…)

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.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
By

acton-commentary-blogimageIn medieval Europe merchants would often write Deus enim et proficuum (“For God and Profit”) in the upper corners of their accounting ledgers or A nome di Dio e guadangnio (“In the Name of God and Profit”) on partnership contracts. These words reflected their authors’ conviction that banking and finance were economically useful endeavors, says Samuel Gregg in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Luis Molina and the many other Christians who explored these areas throughout history were not searching for greater marketplace effi­ciencies. Their concern was moral. They analyzed the decisions that people made in finance to see which actions were morally upright and which fell short of the demands of Christian truth.

As important side effects, such studies helped to identify key fea­tures of money, clarified how interest worked as a means of calibrating risk, and increased knowledge of the true nature of capital, exploring how it could be used to generate wealth. Nonetheless, Christians were — and must continue to be — primarily concerned with the morality of dif­ferent choices in finance.

The full text of the essay can be found here. This is an excerpt from Gregg’s latest book, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good.

Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Pope Francis blesses a child in St. Peter's Square after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (March 25, 2013) See POPE-PALM March 25, 2013.

“What the pope has brought forth is honest, timely and sensitive,” writes Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute. “Amoris Laetitia explores some complicated pastoral situations that any confessor will know all too well: challenges of how weak and fallen people can authentically live the faith.”

In the Detroit News, Rev. Sirico discusses Pope Francis’s love letter to the family:

The pope’s reflections are aimed at how to make a solid moral discernment in the midst of life’s complexities, guided by the objective moral teaching of the Church. There are some points of ambiguity, but its compassion is evident.

The document is drenched in mercy and urges pastors to lead their flock by maintaining a sense of welcome to those undergoing the sometimes arduous process of discerning and doing God’s will. It urges us to encourage — and include in parish life — those working toward living in accord with the Church’s teaching.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
By

Meet The Most Influential Poverty Fighter You’ve Never Heard Of
NPR

He was an accountant for Big Oil. Then came the cyclone of 1970. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed found a new calling — and came up with an idea that could be key to ending extreme poverty.

Canada Won’t Take Some Immigrants with Disabled Children, because of Single Payer
Jason Kuznicki, FEE

It remains for Canadians to decide what Canadians can afford, but it does somewhat beggar belief that that the Canadian system of single-payer healthcare will sink or swim on this particular margin.

The Crony Capitalists of Craft Beer
Jacob Grier, Reason.com

How independent breweries are mooching off state subsidies.

The Christian militia fighting IS
BBC

The anti-IS militia who say Jesus is their inspiration.