robot 2When arguing about the merits of a free economy, its defenders often give way to a peculiar line of reasoning that goes something like this:

“Socialism would be wonderful if it actually worked, and it could actually work if only men were angels.”

Such claims are meant to frame socialists as foolish idealists obsessed with their silly utopias. But for those of us who believe there’s a certain idealism to the free society, it’s a rather appalling concession. Indeed, the fundamental problem with socialism isn’t so much that its aims are unrealistic — though they most certainly are — but rather that its basic assumptions rely on a view of humanity that is, in so many ways, unreal.

If we let the lofty levelers have their way, we shall inherit a world where humanity is robbed of its dignity and originality, discouraged from creativity and innovation, and restrained from the collaboration and relationship found in free exchange. Even if such a system were to be filled with morally superior know-it-alls and somehow achieve material prosperity, it would still be a society of serfs, submissive to their overlords’ enlightened plans for social “equity,” and thus, servile in all the areas where God intended ownership.

Is a land wherein humans are guided by mere robotic efficiency really something that’s all that wonderful, even if it actually “works”? In whose mind and through what sort of contorted imagination is this considered an “ideal” or “utopia”? (more…)

Terezinha Silva and her water purifying system

Terezinha Silva and her water purifying system

It’s no secret that much of the world has a hard time accessing clean drinking water. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, it is estimated that 36 million people have no regular access to clean water. This doesn’t just mean people are thirsty; unclean water leads to a host of health problems. Water.org states that somewhere in the world, a child dies every minute because of a water-borne illness.

In São Paulo, Brazil, about 12 million people have a difficult time accessing clean water. Terezinha Silva wanted to do something about that. And she did it with four simple steps. (more…)

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

If I were to publicly announce a Bible study meeting at the local public library, one can imagine the hue and cry from secularists fretting about a looming right-wing theocratic takeover of America. Change the subject to Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on climate change, however, and all you hear are crickets chirping from the separation of church and state crowd. (See comments on the encyclical here from Acton’s Kishore Jayabalan)

It’s interesting to note that – when not attempting to eliminate religious considerations altogether from the public square – progressive groups leap at the opportunity to embrace a religious leader when he or she shows sympathy for their pet causes. Already one can anticipate the swoon of secularists in anticipation of Pope Francis weighing in on climate change, a document they’ll more than likely never read in full but will selectively quote to buttress their liberal interpretations.

The fact remains that no one – outside the Vatican at least – yet knows what Pope Francis will say about climate change in his upcoming encyclical. But that hasn’t stopped the Citizens Climate Lobby, a national astro-turfing outfit with local “grassroots” chapters throughout the United States, including one in your writer’s own backyard in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Last weekend, CCL local chapters gathered to listen to national broadcast presentations by Lonnie Ellis, associate director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, and Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt, the book upon which the recently released film documentary is based. The CCL chapter in my hometown congregated in the local public library annex to listen to the podcast recorded earlier that afternoon. I’m pleased to report our Republic has yet to establish a religion, but I’m not of the sort who worries about such things. (more…)

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The Schiebel CamCopter S-100 Drone

Drones can be used for great evil, but they can also save lives. In the past decade, more than 20,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Desperate people work with smugglers and board overcrowded and hazardous boats, attempting to escape war-torn and dangerous countries in the Middle East. Christopher Catrambone, an American living in Malta has decided to use one of the most controversial tools of the 21st century to try and save these people.

Forget the politics for a second, these are hundreds of thousands of men, women and children taking to the sea aboard what are often unsafe, overcrowded vessels that catch fire and sink and on which they may have inadequate access to food, drinking water and medical supplies.

Catrambone and his wife, Regina, purchased a ship, inflatable boats, and drones and put them in the hands of former government and military officials and medical experts, creating the operation: Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). They believe that “no one deserves to die at sea.” The drones scan the common routes of smugglers, going up to 150 mph and searching for 6 hours before needing to re-charge. If the drones find vessels that need help either the main ship, the Phoenix I, responds or the Italian Coast Guard is called. From the MOAS homepage: “It is dedicated to preventing loss of life at sea by providing assistance to migrants who find themselves in distress while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels.”

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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The Mobility Crisis
Yuval Levin, Commentary

We Americans have always prided ourselves on the extraordinary degree of mobility this country has long made possible for its citizens—the idea that, with hard work and a little luck, an immigrant or a child of poor parents can start out with nothing and end up successful and rich.

Hope International Fights Poverty With Entrepreneurship
Danny Huizinga, Opportunity Lives

HOPE International isn’t just another nonprofit. Instead of handouts, the organization focuses on encouraging saving and entrepreneurship in countries around the world – helping people build their own success rather than simply trying to give it to them.

Being Charitable for the Right Reasons
Dusty Gates, Crisis Magazine

Despite the recent upward trend in charitable giving, history suggests giving over the next several months will be comparatively low. According to the Blackbaud Index, almost one-fifth of all charitable giving is done during the month of December.

How Sex Trafficking Became a Christian Cause Célèbre
Ruth Graham, Slate

Human trafficking—and sex trafficking in particular—has become something of a Christian cause célèbre. There are prayer weekends, movies, magazine covers, Sunday school curricula, and countless church-based ministries.

Psalms I, Frans van DeursenChristian’s Library Press has now released Psalms I, the fourth primer in its Opening the Scriptures series, and the first in a two-part release on the book of Psalms.

Written by Dutch Reformed minister Frans van Deursen, and newly translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman, the volume provides an introduction to Psalms, a book which serves as “the oldest songbook that God’s people possess,” as well as the “oldest breviary or prayer book,” the author writes.

Like other volumes in the series, Psalms I is neither a technical commentary nor a collection of sermons, but rather an accessible primer for the average churchgoer. In this case, the author hopes we learn lessons on both theory on practice when it comes to the great tasks of honor and worship, prayer and praise.

The book includes a good deal of theological and historical set-up on how we are to understand the Psalms as a whole, proceeding to provide more detailed summaries and analyses on the deeper meaning and Biblical context of the individual psalms themselves. (more…)

Today Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation making Wisconsin the nation’s 25th right-to-work state. Here is what you should know about right-to-work laws:

What is a right-to-work law?

right-to-work laws are state laws that guarantee a person cannot be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union as a condition of employment.

righttoworkWhy are right-to-work laws considered a matter of economic freedom?

Economic freedom exists when people have the liberty to produce, trade, and consume legitimate goods and services that are acquired without the use of force, fraud, or theft. Mandatory unionism violates a person’s economic freedom since it forces them to pay a portion of their income, as a condition of employment, to a third-party representative—even if they disagree with the aims, goals, or principles of the representative group.

What’s wrong with being forced to pay for union representation?
In many countries that have a state religion citizens are forced to pay a portion of their income to support the activities of the state-approved church. Most Americans recognize that being required to directly finance the sectarian and dogmatic activities of a religious organization they may not wish to be associated with is a violation of their freedom of association.

Similarly, Americans should not be forced to financially support unions that claim to their economic interest if they believe such organizations are engaging in activities (such as political campaigning) they disapprove of.

Aren’t right-to-work law anti-union?
(more…)

Notre_Dame_signEarlier today the Supreme Court threw out an appeals court decision that went against the University of Notre Dame over its religious objections to the Obamacare health law’s contraception requirement.

Last summer the high court ruled that Hobby Lobby Stores Ltd could, on religious grounds, seek exemptions from the contraception provision. Because this case, Notre Dame v. Burwell, was the only appeals court decision on the issue that pre-dated that ruling, the Supreme Court sent it back to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision ruling in light of the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Until now, Notre Dame was the only nonprofit religious ministry in the nation without protection from the HHS mandate. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the federal government has relied heavily on the decision against Notre Dame in courts around the country, arguing that it should be able to impose similar burdens on religious ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate. For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government’s effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the IRS,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty. The government fought hard to prevent this GVR, but the Supreme Court rejected their arguments.”

 

 

chinese-baby-girlIt’s no secret that the Chinese “one-child policy” has been brutal. Forced abortion and forced sterilizations have been common for decades. The policy has also left China will a dearth of females, causing issues with men finding suitable spouses and an uptick in human trafficking.

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, says that while many women around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day, it is not cause for celebration in China. Littlejohn:

I find it impossible to celebrate any advancement of women’s rights anywhere on earth, when one out of five women in the world is subject to a regime that will strap them down to tables, thrust its hands into their wombs and rip their little ones out, as these women scream and plead for the lives of babies they desperately want. The women’s movement can claim no real victory so long as this scourge against women continues to blight the face of the earth. Chinese women cannot stand up against forced abortion without risking detention, for themselves and for their families. It is time for all women to rise up for our sisters in China and be a voice for the voiceless.

Read “International Women’s Day a Travesty for Chinese Women and Baby Girls” at Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

HTFinal CoverPlease note update on free ebook giveaway.

Acton’s latest monograph, A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking, will be available as a free ebook download beginning Wednesday, March 11 through Friday, March 13. To access the free download, click on this link during the two-day time period.

Today, human trafficking impacts entire industries and job sectors—both legitimate and illegitimate. Monetarily, it is the second largest criminal activity in the world. Only the illegal drug trade is more profitable—and trafficking and drug smuggling are often linked. The profits generated from human trafficking play an enormous role in national and global economies. There is also the untold human cost. It is, as Pope Francis said, an open wound on humanity.

Experts believe that in the next ten years human trafficking (if left unchecked) will become more profitable to criminals than drugs and arms trafficking and will continue to grow in both developed and developing countries. The purpose of this monograph is to outline both the economic dimension and the moral fallout of modern slavery and to suggest ways that the business of trading in human beings can be severely curtailed.