crony-capitalismSometimes the current decisions we make today can affect the options that become available to us in the future time. For example, I may spend less money today in order to be able to spend more at a future point in time, such as during retirement. The name for this economic concept is “intertemporal choice.”

What we expect or desire to happen in the future can affect the choices we make now. While this concept may appear obvious, it can have significant implications when we apply it to certain groups, such as politicians.

Take, for instance, the problem of cronyism. Cronyism is a form of corruption that occurs when an individual or organization colludes with government officials to create legislation or regulations that give them forced benefits they could not have otherwise obtained voluntarily. But such cronyism doesn’t have to occur directly. Intertemporal choices, as economist Bryan Caplan explains, can lead to intertemporal corruption:
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are you my motherNovember 20 was established as Universal Children’s Day in 1954 by the United Nations. The UN has imagined this as a day of building fraternity between children and raising awareness for children’s welfare.

If we really care about children’s welfare, we need to stop pretending. We need to stop pretending that it’s not in the best interest of children to have a mom and a dad who are married and live together.  We need to stop pretending that children are not being daily abused in our own communities via human trafficking. We need to stop pretending that children are things we get because we want them, not human beings who are completely dependent on mature adults to help create the best environment for them. Purposefully and brazenly conceiving children apart from their biological parents is not in the best interest of children, no matter what we adults want. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, November 20, 2014
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What Tocqueville Can Teach Us About the Culture War
Richard Samuelson, Library of Law and Liberty

In America, civil associations are completely voluntary, and yet they have, or had, a very important civic role. Civil society was a space of liberty, with very few regulations. No one was required to cease drinking, and no one was required to monetarily support a temperance group, or a charity hospital, church, reading club, or fraternal or other charitable organization.

Is There a Link between Childhood Homelessness and Single Parenthood?
Leslie Ford, The Daily Signal

A new report from The National Center on Family Homelessness concludes that “the challenges of single parenting” is one of the serious causes of homelessness. This conclusion makes sense. Single-parenthood drastically increases the likelihood of poverty and the risks of negative outcomes for children.

In defense of sweatshops — they’re often the best and fastest way for the poor to escape poverty
Mark J. Perry, AEIdeas

Closing sweatshops and forcing Western labor and environmental standards down poor people’s throats in the third world does nothing to elevate them out of poverty.

Three Things a Tesla Teaches Us about Stewardship
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The Tesla is becoming an increasingly frequent sight in the area in which I live, as are many other kinds of electric vehicles. Commercially, this technology is relatively new, but despite the political undertones inevitable to any discussion involving environmental technology, it can teach us a lot about our call to stewardship.

What is the connection between private property and conscience rights? “If there is no private property,” says Michael Novak in this week’s Acton Commentary, “there is also no independent leg to stand on in speaking for one’s conscience — and not only one’s individual conscience.”

In Poland and elsewhere, religious communities had inspired and led the nations for hundreds of years. In such places, people were not imprisoned solely in their own individual power, which was little. Sometimes they acted through institutions and associations of their own choosing. Solidarity in Poland, for example, or People Against Violence in Slovakia.

Sometimes they acted through associations and institutions they had been born into, and long been become grateful for. They knew by family history the many ways in which these institutions had nourished, taught, and trained them in the habits of conscience, self-government, and personal responsibility. These institutions had for centuries stood outside the passing follies of the age, and had been the people’s source of independence from the self-centered, decadent, and at times even thuggish “wisdom” of their particular generation.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

doctor bagMy mother, a registered nurse, worked for years for our small town doctor. She would drive around the countryside, going to check on elderly folks or those who didn’t drive. We had a number of people who came to our house regularly for things like allergy shots. She kept their vials of medication, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls and syringes in our kitchen cupboard. The doctor (who was the sort to exchange his services for things like eggs and fresh meat) gave me my kindergarten physical in his living room.

While this might seem like Norman Rockwell, misty-eyed nostalgia, there’s one thing for sure: this doctor and my mom knew their patients really well. They knew their concerns, their histories: not just medical, but in all aspects of their life. Given a choice, isn’t this the kind of medical care most of us would choose for ourselves and our families? (more…)

For the fourth time in thirty years, well-intentioned but misguided musicians have recorded a new version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” a cheesy Christmas song intended to raise awareness and funds for Africa.

But why don’t Africans every raise awareness and aid for Westerners? Fortunately, one group of Africans has united to save Norwegians from dying of frostbite. By joining Radi-Aid, you too can donate your radiator and spread some warmth in the frozen wasteland of Norway.

Why Africa for Norway?
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Almost twenty years ago I learned an important lesson in Christian ethics from a Jewish writer. In his book, Think a Second Time, Dennis Prager explains a principle from the Talmud about consumer ethics. While I had read several book about business ethics, I don’t recall ever hearing much, if anything, about the ethical obligations of consumers.

Prager helped me see not only how the “shopkeeper’s law” should apply to my consumer choices, but also to many of the relationships in my life. This lesson helped me to understand a practical way of applying the most important principle in Christian ethics (Matthew 7:12).

In the video below, Prager explains the concept and how it shows “the customer isn’t always right.”

Christianity sets forth that humans are made in the image of God — that we have particular God-like characteristics when it comes to creation, cultivation, compassion, relationship, and so on. Such a remarkable truth tells us something deeply profound about the world we live in, as well as how we ought to respond in any number of situations.

In an excerpted video from the PovertyCure series, John Stonestreet explains how the Christian worldview transforms our approach to poverty:

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Roberty P. Murphy at the 2014 Acton Lecture Series

Roberty P. Murphy at the 2014 Acton Lecture Series

On this edition of Radio Free Acton, we talk about sound money with economist and author Robert P. Murphy. What is money? Why does it have value? What happens when a government detaches the value of money from gold or other commodities? We look at these questions, find out what our dollars are really worth, and look at ways to restore the value of our money.

You’ll recall that Murphy was a guest of Acton a few weeks ago and delivered an address as part of the 2014 Acton Lecture Series. You can check out the video of his talk at that link, and listen to the Radio Free Acton podcast via the audio player below.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
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Erdoğan: Disbelief in Muslim discovery of America lack of self-esteem
Today’s Zaman

“Islam had expanded to the American continent before Columbus arrived,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.

Clerical Freedom and Academic Freedom
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

It’s odd to think that all those boys died at Normandy and Iwo Jima so that men of God could have their sermons confiscated by the government, lest they dare to preach against ambiguous bathrooms.

How the War on Poverty Has Hurt American Marriage Rates
Robert Rector, The Daily Signal

It is no accident that the collapse of marriage in America largely began with the War on Poverty and the proliferation of means-tested welfare programs that it fostered.

Why Christianity and the Middle Class Are Both in Decline
Dave Albertson, OnFaith

As the middle class goes, so goes the church.