Blog author: KHanby
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
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Pope Francis visits congressSince 2013 when the Argentine prelate Jorge Bergoglio officially became the head of the Catholic Church, he has emerged as a key figure in the progressive movement.  Even though Pope Francis does not claim to be a part of any political movement, it is clear that he is representative of the views that many leftists hold.  With his emergence has come much criticism from Catholics who hold opposing views on issues such as environmentalism and the market economy. Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg has penned op-eds and blog posts for a number of publications that take Francis to task on his economic pronouncements and even the way he presents the Catholic faith.

This past week in the Wall Street Journal Francis X. Rocca described how Pope Francis became so popular among progressives in a piece titled “How Pope Francis Became the Leader of the Global Left.”  He describes Francis’ influence on different grass root activists and even the time when Sen. Bernie Sanders — a self-described socialist — left the campaign trail to visit the Vatican for a meeting with Francis. Toward the end of his article Rocca quotes Gregg:

Critics warn that, by aligning himself too closely with one end of the political spectrum, the pope could alienate more conservative Catholics. In the recent U.S. presidential election, according to exit polls, more than half of Catholic voters chose Mr. Trump. “The global left clearly see an opportunity to appropriate the prestige of the papacy for their causes,” said Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, a Michigan-based think tank with a religious, free-market approach. “That introduces polarization in the church about issues that Catholics are free to disagree about.”

You can read the full article where Gregg is quoted here in the Wall Street Journal.

Thomas-Sowell-Escaping-Socialism-900Earlier today I mentioned that economist Thomas Sowell was retiring from writing his syndicated column. For decades Sowell, age 86, has been one of the leading thinkers in the libertarian and conservative circles. But what is less known is the intellectual journey he took from being an advocate of socialism to a champion of free markets.

This past summer I wrote an article for The Stream examining on how Sowell thought his way into Marxism, then back out again into a vision of freedom:
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sowellOver the past few decades, economist Thomas Sowell, age 86, has been one of the most effective, yet under-appreciated, proponents of conservative and libertarian economic thought. He is also one of our most powerful critics of the often destructive and harmful effects of liberal economic policies. Today he announced he’s retiring from writing his syndicated column.

In honor of his retirement, here are six quotes by Sowell:

On government spending: “Elections should be held on April 16th—the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.”

On healthcare: “It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.” (Source)
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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
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Is scarcity as much about psychology as it is economics?
Dan Nixon, Bank Underground

“Unlimited wants, scarce resources”. This is the economic problem. But once basic needs are met, how much should scarcity – having “enough” – be understood as a psychological problem? Is it possible to cultivate an “abundance mindset”? And what does all of this mean for how economics is taught?

Combining Creativity, Purpose, and Freedom to Help the Poor
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

We want for the poorest among us to experience the long-term dignity which comes from their ability to showcase each of their gifts to the world.

How Unions Used Licensing to Crush Ethnic Barbershops
Ryan McMaken, Mises Wire

For far too long, historians who wrote on inter-racial and inter-ethnic relations focused almost exclusively on the victimization of various groups while ignoring the entrepreneurship and mutual aid that took place within those same ethnic groups.

Orange Rocks and the Minimum Wage
Bryan Caplan, EconLog

I’ve long been deeply suspicious of contrarian research that purports to show that the minimum wage doesn’t decrease low-skilled employment.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, December 26, 2016
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The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern Economy
Victor Tan Chen, The Atlantic

The main source of meaning in American life is a meritocratic competition that makes those who struggle feel inferior.

Aleppo presents a moral dilemma for Christian leaders
The Economist

Syria’s Christians see Bashar al-Assad as their protector.

USCIRF Appoints Singshinsuk As Executive Director
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom announced yesterday that Erin D. Singshinsuk, who has served since September as the Commission’s Acting Executive Director has now been named Executive Director.

Your sneakers are a case study in why Trump’s America-first trade policy is nonsense
Marc Bain, Quartz

A combination of protectionist policies and lobbying by US trade groups has kept these tariffs high since the Great Depression, despite import duties for other products being reduced.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, December 23, 2016
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savior-of-the-world_t_ntChristmas is the most widely observed cultural holiday in the world. Here are five facts you should know about the annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus:

1. No one knows what day or month Jesus was born (though some scholars speculate that it was in September). The earliest evidence for the observance of December 25 as the birthday of Christ appears in the Philocalian Calendar, composed in Rome in 336.

2. Despite the impression given by many nativity plays and Christmas carols, the Bible doesn’t specify: that Mary rode a donkey; that an innkeeper turned away Mary and Joseph (only that there was no room at the inn); that Mary gave birth to Jesus the day she arrived in Bethlehem (only that it happened “while they were there”); that angels sang (only that the “heavenly host” spoke and praised God); that there were three wise men (no number is specified); or that the Magi arrived the day/night of Jesus’ birth. Rather than being born in a stable, Jesus was likely born in a cave or a shelter built into a hillside. As Sarah E. Dahl explains, the hills around Bethlehem were dotted with small caves for feeding and boarding livestock. The exact site of Jesus’ birth is unknown, but by the third century, tradition had established a probable cavern. Constantine’s mother, Helena, erected the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem over the small space.
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, December 23, 2016
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The Six Mysterious Elves of the Commercial Marketplace
Jeffrey Tucker, FEE

We were born into a world of amazing prosperity that our generation did not create.

A 2-country, 2-transaction example to understand trade, trade deficits, capital flows, and the balance of payments
Mark J. Perry, AEI

To help understand international trade, suppose that there are only two international transaction that take place in a given period, but let’s assume that those two transactions are representative of the thousands or millions of other transactions that might have taken place.

Religion and Education Around the World
Pew Research

Large gaps in education levels persist, but all faiths are making gains – particularly among women.

A drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business
Denny Burk

In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge has a startling conversation with the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley.