foodbank“I am a socialist. That’s why I run a food bank. I don’t believe in markets. I’m not saying I won’t listen, but I am against this.”

That was the reaction to one food bank director to the news that four market-friendly economists were going to help Feeding America, the largest network of food banks in the United States, allocate their resources. So what happened when America’s Soviet-style food banks began to embrace free-market economics?

51If4pLhXLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_It’s always a pleasure when Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, comes to town; he’s an engaging speaker, a thoughtful leader, and really an all around fantastic guy. That’s why it was such a privilege to sit down with him last week in the Acton Studios after he delivered his latest Acton Lecture Series Address last Thursday to record this week’s edition of Radio Free Acton. We talked about the message of conservatism, how it often gets bogged down in facts and statistics, and how conservatives can better communicate their core principles to a public that is often quite skeptical of our motivations.

You can listen to the podcast via the audio player below, and stay tuned to the PowerBlog for video of Brooks’ ALS address, which will be posted a bit later this week.

Excellent Credit ScoreA few days ago a young friend asked me if I could recommend reading material on what a person should look for when dating. Being a serious-minded Christian gentleman he’d consider any serious dating partner to be a serious candidate for his future spouse. So what should someone read to get an idea of who to date/marry?

Having given it some thought, there are two things I’d recommend reading: Proverbs 31:10-31 and the dating partner’s credit score.

Let’s start with the last chapter of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs ends with a heroic poem, a type of Hebrew poetry that recounts a hero’s mighty deeds. Rather than recounting great battles or courageous military exploits, though, the poem describes the domestic and economic work of a woman in heroic terms. “A heroic poem for someone engaged in domestic labor is remarkable in the ancient world,” says Peter Leithart, “and shows something of how God regards the work of women.”

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Funding growth, expanding opportunity: Novel funding mechanisms for schools of choice
Michael Q. McShane, AEI Ideas

Private school choice programs and the organizations that support them could do a much better job deferring the capital, infrastructure, and other fixed costs of participating private schools.

This is the simplest solution to help Africans live longer
Samuel Oti, Quartz

For many African countries and especially among poorer communities, when people die there is no trace in any official legal record or statistic.

How Do You Improve Worker Pay? Licensing Reforms, Not Unions.
James Sherk and Astrid Gonzalez, The Daily Signal

What do today’s workers need? The White House appears to believe the answer is “a union.” At a summit Wednesday the administration plans to showcase workers unions have helped. That is fair enough, but most workers don’t find unions relevant to their working lives. A much greater problem is the barriers the government itself erects.

The Military Isn’t A Low-Wage Option For Stupid People
Emily Domenech, The Federalist

Active-duty military troops far out-earn their civilian counterparts when compared to civilians with similar education.

Whether derided as a devil of modern industry or hailed as a saint of modern philanthropy, oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller remains a controversial figure.

Although the reality of the man is surely complex, those who attack his legacy tend to indulge in more than a few historical errors and economic myths, painting him as a supreme symbol of all that is wrong with industrialization and capitalism. And yet, despite some troubling tactics and cronyist maneuvering, the man himself is a symbol of much that is good.

As historian Burt Folsom explains, the real picture has a bit more color and brightness. Contrary to his critics, Rockefeller’s empire prioritized ingenuity above indulgence, gift-giving above greed, and economic transformation above static consumerism.

Rockefeller’s special gift to the world? “Cheap kerosene,” says Folsom, and “cheap enough that anyone could buy it.” (more…)

51If4pLhXLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Leaving behind the dreams of socialism was a painful yet exciting journey for me. More than anything, I rediscovered myself in the process. Instead of a faithful drop within the wave of revolution, I was a unique and unrepeatable individual made in the very image of my Creator. Reading this book reminds me of the many things I discovered about what makes this country great: freedom, chief among them.

Arthur Brook’s book successfully remind us of certain first principles placing the human person at the center of action, as protagonist of a great story of human progress instead of keeping individuals as mere scenery in the drama of our good intentions. In a way, a good portion of the book seems more a defense of certain aspects of the philosophy of Christian natural law—as the author sees it—expressed in conservative principles. That is why we read about the primacy of the person over things or over the acquisition of wealth, the various ways to catalyze human flourishing through economic initiative, the intrinsic goodness of human action, and an insistence on a right order of things toward integral human fulfillment. Tied to that summary of ideas is a call to refine conservative language by finding new ways of communicating these ideas to build a new civilization. (more…)

cellphone-africaFor the first time in world history, less than 10 percent of the global population will be living in extreme poverty.

According to World Bank projections, at the end of 2015 only about 702 million people, or 9.6 per cent of the global population, will still be living in extreme poverty. Over the past three years, an additional 200 million people have climbed above the international poverty line.

What makes this feat even more remarkable is that it’s based on a new definition of extreme poverty. The World Bank, which sets the benchmark for the global extreme poverty line, is shifting the line from $1.25 a day to $1.90 a day. Valerie Kozel, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains the reason for the shift:

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 5, 2015

What this new experiment in Chicago can teach us about combating poverty
Joel Dodge, The Week

In an age of rising inequality and stagnating incomes, we must look for ways to get smarter about fighting economic insecurity. This means adapting successful anti-poverty interventions to meet the needs of low-income Americans.

Why raising taxes on the rich doesn’t reduce inequality
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

The progressive/left-wing response to the new Brookings study on inequality is obvious, right? From “Would a significant increase in the top income tax rate substantially alter income inequality?”

God’s Purpose in Creation: A Study in Genesis 1
Greg Ayers, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The first chapter of Genesis is more than the introduction to the first book of the Bible. It’s the opening chapter in the grand story of God’s redemptive plan for his creation.

Criminal justice reformers just secured a major victory: a bill that could pass the Senate
Dara Lind, Vox

On Thursday, a group of senators introduced a bill they called “the biggest criminal justice reform in a generation” — an effort that, unlike other bills, actually has a shot at moving through the chamber.

Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg, writing for The American Spectator, looks at the telltale signs of a great civilization in decline.

Many of us think of civilizational failure in terms of a society’s inability to withstand sudden external encounters. The sun-worshiping human-sacrificing slave-owning Aztec world, for instance, quickly crumbled before Hernán Cortés, a handful of Spanish conquistadors, and his native allies, and, perhaps above all, European-borne diseases. Given enough violence, superior technology, and the will to use it, an entire culture can be seriously destabilized, if not swept aside. Yet ever since Edward Gibbon’s multi-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, it’s been impossible to downplay the role of internal vicissitudes in facilitating civilizational degeneration.

More than one person, I suspect, has been wondering lately about this issue of civilizational decline with regard to the West. Whether it’s Planned Parenthood’s diabolical activities, America’s de facto capitulation to Iran, Western governments’ failure to eradicate the cancer that is ISIS, or the same governments’ general unwillingness to overhaul their dysfunctional welfare systems, it’s harder and harder to deny that something deeper is seriously awry.

Read “Fear and Loathing Stalk the West” in The American Spectator by Samuel Gregg.

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, October 2, 2015

At Boston College, Turkson maps ‘Laudato Si’’ path to Paris climate agreement
Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

If Laudato Si’ offered a light on the path to a Paris climate agreement, the U.S. ought to be the one carrying the lantern, said the pope’s chief encyclical envoy Monday at Boston College.

Why a Popular Pope Is Willing to Be Unpopular
John Izzo, Huffington Post Canada

What most Americans and Canadians really should do is read the Pope’s encyclical. Rather than a political tirade, what they would discover is a thoughtful, measured and powerful homily on the dysfunctional and unsustainable relationship human beings have with the very planet that gave us life. From loss of biodiversity to the dire state of the oceans, the gross inequality that permeates the planet and yes, climate change, he calls us to consider the place we play in the creation whether or not we believe it be God created or a cosmic shot of good luck.

Levin: Pope Francis and Obama ‘Speak Down To Us’
Dispatch Times

“Despite Pope Francis’ progressive stance on climate change and economic equity, he has taken a back seat when it comes to reproductive health and women’s rights”, said Alexander Sanger, board member of the worldwide Planned Parenthood Federation for the Western Hemisphere Region, in a statement Friday. Timing, as they say, is everything.