islamic-state_350_210_90On Sunday, an American-born terrorist named Omar Mir Seddique Mateen killed 49 and wounded 53 in Orlando. In a 911 call during the attack Mateen pledged his allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS. Although the group also claimed responsibility for the attack, U.S. officials said they haven’t seen a direct link between the gunman and the terrorist group.

Here are five facts you should know about ISIS:

1. ISIS (aka ISIL, Islamic State, IS, Daesh) is the name of an Islamic militant group that was established in Iraq in 2004 and pledged allegiance to “Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” They later broke away from Al-Qaeda because of differences in doctrine and objectives and formed a distinct organization. From late 2006 to mid 2013, the group called itself the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). From 2013 to mid 2014, when they expanded into Syria, they called themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). (Most Western media translate “Levant” as “Syria,” hence ISIS.) Since 2014, they have expanded their ambitions to be a global organization and today simply refer to themselves as “Islamic State.” Enemies of ISIS sometimes refer to it as Daesh, a loose acronym of the Arabic for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham).

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, June 13, 2016

actonuThis is the week for the annual Acton University, a unique educational experience focused on the intersection of liberty and morality. Here are five facts you should know about Acton U.

1. Acton University is a four day annual conference on liberty, faith and free-market economics held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

2. Each even includes nine sessions in which attendees can create a customized learning path from 100+ courses taught by 55+ international, world class experts.

3. The conference is open to undergraduate and graduate students, professors, non-profit professionals, pastors, seminarians, entrepreneurs, business people, and anyone interested in deepening their understanding of the integration of sound economics, rigorous philosophy, and the Judeo-Christian faith.

4. New attendees at Acton U are required to take the four foundational lectures, courses that offer participants a framework and context rooted in Judeo-Christian anthropology. The courses are: Christian Anthropology, Christian Vision of Government, Economic Way of Thinking, and Biblical Foundations of Freedom.

5. Out of all the conferences offered in the U.S. every year, Acton U is by far the one where you will learn the most about freedom and economics and meet the most intriguing people from around the world. It is also the greatest recurring event in the history of Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Note: Point #5 may stretch the meaning of the term “fact.”)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, June 13, 2016

20 Quotes from Baptists on Religious Liberty
Joe Carter, ERLC

“Freedom of conscience, unlimited freedom of mind,” said the American historian George Bancroft, “was from the first the trophy of the Baptists.” Since the 1600s Baptists have been the forefront of defending religious freedom, not only for themselves and other Christians, but for Jews, Muslims, and other religions groups.

Poverty Hits Boys Hardest
The American Interest

The results of the study remind us that some of our 20th century styles of thinking about gender and privilege are in need of an update.

Restaurant CEO reveals unexpected effect of minimum wage hikes
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

The CEO of national food chain Dave & Busters has weighed in on the current trend of massive increases to the minimum wage following the latest such hike in the District of Columbia.

How one college built an innovative degree program… in innovation
Julie Kliegman, The Week

Connor McCormick began his freshman year of college with a specific goal for himself: Start a business by the end of first semester.

Note: Later today at the Faith & Freedom conference I’ll be speaking on a panel titled, “A Cronyism Crisis: How Corporate Welfare Undermines Markets and Human Flourishing.” If you’re at the conference please stop by this session.

crony-capitalismThe Term: Crony capitalism (sometimes referred to as cronyism or corporatism)

What it means: Crony capitalism is a general term for the range of activities in which particular individuals or businesses in a market economy receive government-granted privileges over their customers and/or competitors.

Why it Matters:  For as long as there have been government officials, there have been economic cronies—friends, family, and associates who use their connections for their own financial gain.

In ancient Israel, for example, when the prophet Samuel appointed his own sons as leaders, they began to engage in cronyism: “[Samuel’s] sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3).

Unsatisfied with these corrupt leaders, the elders of Israel asked Samuel to appoint a king over them. God told Samuel to warn the people of the consequences, which included even worse forms of economic cronyism: “[The king] will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants” (1 Samuel 8:14-15).

We read passages like that and instantly recognize this as unfair and unjust, a corrupting influence on both the people and the government. Yet we tend note to even notice the cronyism that occurs in our own economic system. Because the “dishonest gain” is often more subtle than the examples found in the Bible, we often do not recognize cronyism because we don’t know what to look for.

public+defenderSince the landmark Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) every state has developed a system of public defense. The decision guaranteed that those accused of felony offenses are entitled to a lawyer under the rights outlined in the 6th Amendment, which include, the right to a jury trial, a public trial, and pertaining to Gideon, “to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” In the wake of the Gideon decision each state was required to develop a system of public defenders to represent those who did not have a legal counsel, and especially those who could not afford a lawyer. Because of low funding for public defense, and the increasing number of cases filling courtrooms, more states are requiring defendants to pay a fee for their assigned defender—whether they are found guilty or not.

An April 2016 New York Times article Fordham University Law professor John Pfaff, highlights more weaknesses in the public defense world and in the odd funding mechanism. Forty-three states now require defendants to pay for a public defender, even though the only reason they have a public defender in the first place is because they cannot afford a lawyer. The Times article highlights the current policy in South Dakota where a defendant is required to pay $92 dollars an hour regardless of the verdict. The result of this policy is that the defendant might have to pay hundreds of dollars a day to be proven innocent for a crime for which he or she was mistakenly arrested.

The presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders is about to come to an end. Unfortunately, though, the Democratic Socialism espoused by Sanders will live on long after his presidential ambitions have faded.

This type of socialism is nothing new, of course. For more than a century free market economists have been warning of the dangers of succumbing to the economic fallacies of democratic socialism. A prime example is the late, great Milton Friedman. Although he’s been gone for a decade, Friedman is still able to provide a solid rebuttal to Sander’s economic ignorance.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, June 10, 2016

Is Religious Freedom For Non-Christians Too?
Russell Moore

Does religious liberty apply to non-Christian religions? Someone told me this week that he had seen a Baptist writer question whether Muslim Americans qualify for religious liberty “benefits.”

Poll: Over Half of Unemployed Workers are Giving Up Looking for Jobs
Opportunity Lives

A recent study conducted by Harris Poll determined that 59 percent of workers who have been unemployed more than two years have already left the workforce completely. In total, 43 percent of jobless Americans say they’ve given up looking for employment, no matter how long they’ve been without work.

Majority of Americans Support Congressional Earmark Ban, Poll Shows
Andrew Egger, The Daily Signal

A majority of Americans continue to support the congressional ban on earmarks instituted by former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a new Economist Group/YouGov poll shows.

Capitalism Is Good for the Poor
Steven Horwitz, FEE

Critics frequently accuse markets and capitalism of making life worse for the poor. This refrain is certainly common in the halls of left-leaning academia as well as in broader intellectual circles. But like so many other criticisms of capitalism, this one ignores the very real, and very available, facts of history.