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“Why can’t sane energy policies be developed and effectively implemented without a $30 billion bureaucracy to oversee it?” asks Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico in a recent article for The Hill.  Sirico notes that under President-elect Donald Trump some overreaching government bureaucracies could be rolled back or even abolished. Most significantly, Sirico calls for an end of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives:

This well-intentioned subsidy obfuscates the nature of religious charities by incentivizing them to draw a stark line between their faith and their works. What animates believers to care for the poor is precisely their religious belief — not to serve the interests of the state, politicians and their bureaucracies.

Where believers see the human person as a living icon of God, bureaucracies tend to count numbers and see clients. Religious charities often shine best exactly when material help has failed. Believers seek to peer into the disordered soul and bring healing. The government is clueless here.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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Note: This is post #17 in a weekly video series on basic microeconomics.

How does the price of oil affect the price of candy bars? When the price of oil increases, it is of course more expensive to transport goods, like candy bars. But there are other, more subtle ways these two markets are connected says economist Alex Tabarrok.

(If you find the pace of the videos too slow, I’d recommend watching them at 1.5 to 2 times the speed. You can adjust the speed at which the video plays by clicking on “Settings” (the gear symbol) and changing “Speed” from normal to 1.25, 1.5 or 2.)

Previous in series: How markets link the world

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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What is the “Invisible Hand”?
Art Carden, The Imaginative Conservative

Observers who disapprove of others’ exchanges too often want to substitute the visible fist of the state for the invisible hand of the market.

Men’s Breadwinning Still Matters for Marriage
Christos Makridis, Family Studies

Men’s breadwinning is perhaps more important in better-educated communities than the nation as a whole.

Religious freedom sees signs of hope
Charles C. Haynes, Green Bay Press-Gazette

Beyond the numbing headlines of despair in the past year were signs of hope — small, but profound stories about the capacity of the human spirit to counter hate with compassion, destruction with healing, violence with peaceful coexistence.

It’s Time for America to Take Vocational Training More Seriously
Reut R. Cohen, Opportunity Lives

What those hailing income-driven repayment programs fail to acknowledge is the number of students graduating who don’t end up in their professions of choice. Wages are lower for college grads today than they were 15 years ago, when college was considerably more affordable.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, January 16, 2017
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Freedom-of-ReligionThomas Jefferson wanted what he considered to be his three greatest achievements to be listed on his tombstone. The inscription, as he stipulated, reads “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.”

Today we celebrate the 231th anniversary of one of those great creations: the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.

Each year, the President declares January 16th to be Religious Freedom Day, and calls upon Americans to “observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship.” One way to honor the day is to reflect on these ten quotes about religious liberty that were expressed by some of our country’s greatest leaders:

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mlkToday Americans observe a U.S. federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15.

Here are five facts you should know about MLK:

1. King’s literary and rhetorical masterpiece was his 1963 open letter “The Negro Is Your Brother,” better known as the “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” The letter, written while King was being held for a protest in the city, was a response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen titled “A Call for Unity.” An editor at the New York Times Magazine, Harvey Shapiro, asked King to write his letter for publication in the Magazine, though the Times chose not to publish it.

2. In 1964, King became the second African American — and the third black man — to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, January 16, 2017
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Residents Are Already Rejecting Attempt To ‘Nickle And Dime’ Working Class With Soda Tax
Steve Birr, The Daily Caller

Lawmakers in Illinois are considering following the example of Philadelphia by imposing a large beverage tax on sugary products in the name of improving public health.

Catholics like the European Union more than Protestants do. This is why.
Nikita Lalwani and Sam Winter-Levy, Washington Post

In a recent interview, Nelsen and Guth explained why Catholics are more sympathetic toward the E.U., why this may not last, and what this might mean for the future of the European project.

The Gifts and Challenges of Wealth: Seeing Wealth as a Divine Blessing
Scott Redd, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The use and investment of personal property cannot be divorced from the disposition of the heart.

Liberty Depicted As Black Woman on $100 Gold Coin
Associated Press

The U.S. Mint has unveiled a commemorative $100 gold coin that features an image of Liberty as a black woman.

open-doors-mapFor the sixteenth consecutive year, North Korea is ranked as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians, according to the international non-profit ministry Open Doors.

Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. The list represents believers “who are arrested, harassed, tortured—even killed—for their faith.” The list measures the degree of freedom a Christian has to live out their faith in five spheres of life (private, family, community, national, and church) plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence.

Here are the top five countries listed by Open Doors as being the most dangerous for Christians:
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