Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, June 30, 2016

Supreme Court rejects pharmacists’ appeal on contraception
Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal from Washington state pharmacists who said they have religious objections to dispensing Plan B or other emergency contraceptives.

After slamming trade deals, Trump tangles with business leaders
Ginger Gibson, Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump fired back at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, saying the nation’s largest business association needed to “fight harder” for American workers, after it issued a scathing criticism of his economic platform.

Free Ebooks: These Five Freedom Philosophers Will Liberate Your Mind
Dan Sanchez, FEE

We at FEE are happy to present the Essential series, five free ebooks collecting the key works of five great freedom philosophers: Leonard Read, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, F.A. Hayek, and Frédéric Bastiat. In each of these compact anthologies, you will find a powerful case for liberty.

What is the anthropological vision of work in a world in which work is unnecessary?
Rob Vischer, Mirror of Justice

I have always suspected that the movie “Wall-E” was a more accurate glimpse of the future than I care to admit — how do we get our minds around a world in which technology has made systemic underemployment a permanent and growing reality?

breach-entry-gwle-lead-600x384.1421390599“Law professors and lawyers instinctively shy away from considering the problem of law’s violence,” says Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter. “Every law is violent. We try not to think about this, but we should.”

Carter, one of the most astute legal minds in America, rightfully points out the inherent violence embedded in the law. But he draws some unfortunate conclusions from this fact:

On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.

This is by no means an argument against having laws.

It is an argument for a degree of humility as we choose which of the many things we may not like to make illegal. Behind every exercise of law stands the sheriff – or the SWAT team – or if necessary the National Guard. Is this an exaggeration? Ask the family of Eric Garner, who died as a result of a decision to crack down on the sale of untaxed cigarettes. That’s the crime for which he was being arrested. Yes, yes, the police were the proximate cause of his death, but the crackdown was a political decree.

The statute or regulation we like best carries the same risk that some violator will die at the hands of a law enforcement officer who will go too far. And whether that officer acts out of overzealousness, recklessness, or simply the need to make a fast choice to do the job right, the violence inherent in law will be on display. This seems to me the fundamental problem that none of us who do law for a living want to face.

But all of us should.

On my first reading of this passage I completely agreed with Professor Carter (who is, unfortunately, no relation). But after giving it some thought I realized it obscures more than it illuminates. To understand where he errs, we must first ask, “What is the law?”

C.S. Lewis is perhaps best known for his work in children’s literature and Christian apologetics. “Mere Christianity”, “The Problem of Pain and “The Abolition of Man are among his most popular works, and yet he has many more valuable essays regarding truth and Christianity which are not as widely read. A favorite lecture of mine, titled “The Poison of Subjectivism”, can be found in his collected essays, “Christian Reflections”.


C.S. Lewis broke new ground in 1950 with his fantasy series “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Getty Images

After leaving Malvern College in June 1913, Lewis (or Jack as he preferred to be called) traveled to Great Bookham Surrey where he studied under a former tutor of his father’s, W.T. Kirkpatrick (who later served as the inspiration for Professor Digory Kirke in “The Chronicles of Narnia”). Kirkpatrick was the former headmaster of Lurgan College and drilled into Lewis an understanding of and appreciation for the reasoning and logic which continued to serve Lewis throughout his career. Lewis was given a scholarship to attend University College, Oxford in 1916 and later went on to become an Oxford don where he gave other such lectures on philosophy and reasoning.

“The Poison of Subjectivism” addresses the root of humanist philosophies which have given way to encroachments in democracy-subjectivism. It is “out of this apparently innocent idea” that men propose to have developed a better and more modern morality, claiming to have paved the way to Utopia. Research Director for the Acton Institute, Samuel Gregg, explained succinctly in his course on Christian Anthropology at Acton University earlier this month the danger in believing man can shape perfect order on earth: “Human nature is flawed: there is a radical disorder that runs through the core of every person’s existence. This has immense implications for the social order. It rules out utopian-ism and produces the attitu (more…)


Day five of the Holy and Great Council. Photo: Dimitrios Panagos

Recently, The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church was held in Crete, culminating in a document titled “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World”.  In the most recent Acton Commentary, research fellow and managing editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality Dylan Pahman comments on the flaws in economic principles and guidelines espoused in the document.

In framing the criticism, Pahman argues that “the statement’s economic pronouncements range from ambiguous and questionable to both wrong and harmful.”  Says Pahman:

While claiming that the “Church cannot remain indifferent to the economic processes which have a negative impact on all humanity,” the mission document gives little indication that its authors are aware of any actual, basic economic processes like competition, the price system, business cycles, creative destruction, inflation, and so on. Instead, it ambiguously asserts the “need … of structuring the economy on moral principles.”


Women sort through clothes at the Texool factory January 6, 2016 in Kutch, Gujarat. Dozens of warehouses in the Special Economic zone in Gujarat handle the sorting and recycling of tons and tons of donated clothes from the west. Allison Joyce for the Wall Street Journal

Women sort through clothes at the Texool factory January 6, 2016 in Kutch, Gujarat. Allison Joyce for the Wall Street Journal

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal focuses on the market for the global clothing donation and recycling industry, centering on the trade from the United States to India. One of the most immediately striking elements of the piece are the photographs that accompany it, featuring piles and piles of used clothing on large trucks and people picking through the mountains of fabric taller than they are. The quantity of donated clothing is astounding.  These pictures show a fraction of the total exports of second-hand clothes each year, which measured an estimated 860,387 tons in 2015.

However, nobody in India will wear the donated clothing. Though India allows the processing and repackaging of such donations for resale, India has banned the resale of donated clothing within its own borders. India, like many other countries around the world, perceives the threat that the large influx of used clothing poses to local textile and clothing manufacturing industries.  In response, the country, like many other developing nations that receive clothing donations, has attempted to protect its textile and clothing manufacturers with such a ban.

This system has benefitted India – many people make a living processing and packaging the clothing, and the legal protections have protected the local textile and clothing manufacturing industries. The cost of buying second-hand clothing from American charities or distributers is relatively low, and there is demand for the goods in other countries. However, the system has severely harmed the clothing industries of many developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa, the eventual destination of most of the repackaged second-hand clothing.   (more…)

Blog author: abradley
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

juvenile_500x279In early June 2016, Matthew Bergman, 15, allegedly admitted to police that he killed his aunt and stabbed his mother in Davidson County, Tennessee near Nashville. When teens commit crimes in the suburbs or in urban areas, experts are ambivalent about what to with them because of the long-term consequences of youth incarceration. Low income communities get hit the hardest.

Since the 1980s juvenile incarceration rates have increased steadily creating a phenomenon often referred to as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” There are many reasons for the increased numbers of incarcerated youths and there are often implications for juvenile delinquents as they become adults. It is no secret that those imprisoned in their teens have a higher likelihood of spending time in prison at some later point in their lives. The Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University published an article titled “The Devastating, Long-Lasting Costs of Juvenile Incarceration” examined the long-lasting effects of juvenile imprisonment and the problems surrounding the current system.

Carl Menger 576x720

Carl Menger (1840-1921) | Wikimedia Commons

The central theme of the Austrian tradition, which might better be called the liberal tradition, is that society runs itself. This is strongly linked to the idea of freedom in the liberal sense, meaning the opportunity for the individual to advance and to create wealth. Jeffrey Tucker, Director of Content at FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) argues that the Austrian school started by Carl Menger revived an old method of thinking in the liberal tradition of economic order. He recently gave a lecture on the topic, “The Austrian Tradition on Social and Economic Order” at Acton University.

In the nineteenth century, many intellectuals began to abandon this tradition. They became enamored with the ideas of science, and of “rational” planning, rather than the market and spontaneous order. Tucker began his analysis with Frédéric Bastiat, a nineteenth century French political economist, who saw the economic order as naturally harmonious and the source of wealth creation. (more…)