Contrary to current policy, this is not reality.

Last Saturday The Imaginative Conservative published my essay, “Let’s Get Back to Robbing Peter: The Welfare State and Demographic Decline.”

To add to what I say there, it should be a far more pressing concern to conscientious citizens that the US national debt has risen from $13 trillion in 2010 to nearly $18 trillion today. That is an increase of $5 trillion in just four years, or a nearly 40 percent increase. It is becoming more and more clear that, at our current rate, our nation’s entitlement programs represent the injustice that people today feel entitled to spend the tax dollars of tomorrow on benefits that we cannot realistically continue to afford. John Barnes wrote in 2010 that “the total value of all debt and unfunded promises made by the U.S. government is $61.9 trillion over the next 75 years.” I don’t know how much that figure has changed in the last four years, but I doubt it has shrunk, to put it lightly.

As any student of the Old Testament should know, God is very concerned about each generation leaving a proper inheritance to the next (cf. Numbers 27:8-11). No doubt many readers in their private lives have made provisions for their children after they pass. But as a nation, we are doing the reverse: paying for our provision today with the resources of tomorrow.

I write,

The German economist Wilhelm Röpke, commenting on the expansion of European welfare states in 1958, wrote, “To let someone else foot the bill is, in fact, the general characteristic of the welfare state and, on closer inspection, its very essence.” While he did not argue that, therefore, such state assistance should in all cases be stopped, he put the question in sober terms: “[T]he welfare state is an evil the same as each and every restriction of freedom. The only question on which opinions may still differ is whether and to what extent it is a necessary evil.”

In the interest of carrying on that same sobriety of analysis, I believe the picture is far bleaker today. Röpke, in the title to the essay quoted, characterized the welfare state as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” But Sts. Peter and Paul were contemporaries. If only we would simply rob our peers! Then we could have a lively discussion regarding “whether and to what extent” such robbery is “a necessary evil.” Instead, it is our children and grandchildren who must “foot the bill.” Yet on our current course, when the time comes to pay up there will be much less welfare available to them.

Read more . . . .

Michael Matheson Miller

Michael Matheson Miller

Acton’s Michael Miller, director of the documentary Poverty.Inc, spoke with Bill Frezza at RealClearPolitics. Miller asks listeners to rethink the foreign aid model, which has not been successful in alleviating poverty in the developing world. Rather, Miller makes the case for supporting entrepreneurship and supporting the social and political framework that enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.

Listen to the interview here.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 20, 2014
By

Latest Oxford Economics Research Debunks Five Millennial Myths
Susan Galer, Forbes

More so than any other type of workers, millennials want to make a difference in society through their work, are willing to toil beyond the exhaustion point, and always have one foot out the door—or not.

Nigeria Says Boko Haram to Release Kidnapped Girls
Polly Mosendz, The Atlantic

Government aides say they are “cautiously optimistic” about this new ceasefire agreement

In Alabama, the religiously ‘unaffiliated’ now surpasses this major religious group
Carol McPhail, AL.com

The percentage of Alabamians not affiliated with a specific religion surpasses the percentage of white mainline Protestants, ranking it third among “religious” groups, according to new research.

Who and where America’s poor people are, in charts
Sonali Kohli, Quartz

There are 48.67 million people living in poverty in the US, according to the new Census Bureau Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). That’s 15.5% of the country’s population.

socialist_unity_poster_by_party9999999-d4bphbmThere’s something almost charming about people in American who champion socialism. Yes, their economic views are naive and destructive. And yes most people (though especially the poor) would be much worse off if their vision for “progress” was actually implemented. But it’s hard to be too concerned when they are, at heart, really just capitalists who like to play political dress up.

Consider one of their favorite causes, a $20 minimum wage. In their most recent party platform, the Freedom Socialist Party advocated for raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour. Naturally, you might assume that the Freedom Socialist Party would be a great place to work for since the minimum pay you’d received is $20 an hour, an annual salary of $40,000 per year. But that assumption would be based on their applying their socialist principles to themselves. In reality, of course, their wages are based on the tenets of free enterprise.

Last week the party posted a notice on Craigslist that they were looking for a web developer. The pay: $13 an hour.

web-600x253

Like all good capitalists running a business or organization, I’m sure they have a good reason for offering the wages they do. But as good socialists, how do they justify such “slave wages”?

(Via: AEI Ideas)

Writing on September 22 in the Wall Street Journal, Devlin Barret and Danny Yadron reported,

Last week, Apple announced that its new operating system for phones would prevent law enforcement from retrieving data stored on a locked phone, such as photos, videos and contacts. A day later, Google reiterated that the next version of its Android mobile-operating system this fall would make it similarly difficult for police or Google to extract such data from suspects’ phones.

It’s not just a feature — it’s also a marketing pitch. “It’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data,” Apple’s website says.

This would not protect all data, however:

Apple acknowledged it could still hand such data over to law enforcement that users back up on the company’s iCloud servers. And police can access some iPhone data without Apple’s help, because phone firms keep call logs and Apple doesn’t control data from third-party apps.

The FBI has not taken this news well, in more ways than one. Amy Schatz reports for re/code,

New encryption technologies on smartphones will make it harder for law enforcement to solve crimes or stop terrorists, Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey said Thursday in a speech asking companies including Google and Apple to reverse course. (more…)

Liggio

Liggio

Almost 20 years ago I was invited to speak at the celebratory banquet for the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (now Atlas Network) and the Institute for Humane Studies, then celebrating their 15th and 35th anniversaries respectively. I was an alumnus of both and six years into the launch of the Acton Institute (founded in 1990). Both organizations considered me “successful enough” to reflect at the banquet on how each had influenced my life.

It was an undeserved honor, of course, but such was my gratitude to these institutions, that I accepted. The room was full of luminaries of the free market movement, and I was very conscious that Acton’s work was launched from the shoulders of intellectual giants.

One such giant there in the room that night, was Leonard Liggio, who died this past Tuesday at the age of 81. In reflecting on my sadness at his passing this week, I thought I would share my public comments I made about Leonard that evening 19 years ago:

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it was none other than the great connector himself, Leonard Liggio, who really brought me into the free market fold. He wasn’t the first to introduce me to classical liberalism—that was Robert Sirico, who at the time was not yet ordained and was only an expectant father. But it was Sirico who introduced me to Leonard and the rest is history. If I’m not mistaken, we first met the night of January 16, 1986. That date wasn’t coincidental, Leonard and I were introduced at a private showing of an uncut, unedited 3.5 hour Italian version of Ayn Rand’s We the Living which had just surfaced more than forty years after Mussolini had ordered it destroyed. (more…)

Subpoena1After hearing the news that the city of Houston had ordered several pastors to submit their sermons for legal review, many people had the same reaction as Brian Lee: “My response? So what? Sermons are public proclamation, aren’t they?”

Sermons are indeed proclamations intended for the public, and most pastors would be eager for anyone — including public officials — to hear them. So what is the reason for the current objection?

Mollie Hemingway explains that the true “governing authorities” in America aren’t people, but laws:
(more…)

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Rev. Robert A. Sirico clears away the media hype surrounding the Vatican Synod on the Family and offers an analysis of its early work. He observes that nothing about the synod “challenges the dogma of the church related to the indissolubility of sacramental marriage, the use of artificial contraception, cohabitation and homosexual acts. What it did was soften the tone of these teachings.” But things got interesting.

An early report led critics to say that it “reflected the opinion of Archbishop Bruno Forte, a special secretary to the synod and a progressive, who prepared the final document and presented it to the media.” But Rev. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, notes that one of the more powerful, conservative cardinals, George Pell, called the report “tendentious and incomplete.”

What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.

The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words—a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model—finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension—weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.

Read “Beyond the Hype About a Vatican Upheaval” in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

market4In his new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, Edward E. Baptist “offers a radical new interpretation of American history,” through which slavery laid the foundation for and “drove the evolution and modernization of the United States.”

In a review of the book for the Wall Street Journal, Fergus M. Bordewich concurs with this central point, noting that “Mississippi…does not have to look like Manchester, England, or Lowell, Mass., to make it an engine of capitalism.”

Responding to Bordewich in a letter to the Journal, John Addison Teevan, author of the newly released Integrated Justice and Equality and past Acton University lecturer, offers some compelling counterpoint, asking, “Was Roman slavery capitalist as well?” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 17, 2014
By

Malala Is What The Real War On Women Looks Like
Amber Barno, The Federalist

Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Prize was well earned, and it presents a moment to discuss genuine oppression of women worldwide.

Obama Authorizes National Guard To Help Fight Ebola
Lauren F. Friedman, Reuters

President Barack Obama authorized the use of American military reservists on Thursday to support humanitarian aid efforts against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

How Boko Haram’s Murders and Kidnappings Are Changing Nigeria’s Churches
Interview by Timothy C. Morgan, Christianity Today

Leading Nigerian evangelical says Christians won’t abandon the North.

Poor Kids Are Starving for Words
Jessica Lahey, The Atlantic

According to a new initiative, launched at the White House on Thursday, the “word gap” that afflicts low-income children needs to be addressed with the same passion as child hunger.