Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
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The Happy Meal Fallacy
Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution

If firms are required to provide benefits to contractors they will lower the contractor wage. But how do we know the extra benefits aren’t worth the reduction in wages?

Africa, Capitalism, and the “Elimination of Poverty”: Leon Louw on Africa’s Incredible Growth
Zach Weissmueller, Reason.com

“Thank goodness people are ‘exploiting’ Africa by buying things from it, by investing in it, by employing people in it,” says Leon Louw, author, policy analyst, and executive director the South Africa-based think tank The Free Market Foundation. “The worst thing that would happen is if people decide to stop exploiting Africa.”

Neither Falwell nor Benedict, But a New Creation
Greg Forster, Patheos

This is yet another article claiming that we stand at a unique crossroads, and now face choices unlike those in the recent past. Here are my six predictions for evangelicalism in America in the next five years.

​Why Is Religious Freedom At Risk?
Ryan T. Anderson, First Things

Three historical developments explain our current predicament: a change in the scope of our government, a change in our sexual values, and a change in our political leaders’ vision of religious liberty. An adequate response will need to address each of these changes.

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben

The minute it was announced – months in advance of its official release –Laudato Si was instantly “highly anticipated” by nearly every opinion and news source. Finally a Christian document the masses could support because … why, exactly? Oh, yeah, global warming and a call for global government control of energy and, therefore, the world’s economies.

So, it comes as no surprise climate-change activist would weigh-in on Laudato Si, a document released in mid-June and one he identifies, naturally, as “eagerly awaited.” In his New York Review of Books essay (behind a pay wall) on the encyclical, McKibben comes up short on theology and economics but long on repeating dire predictions our planet will succumb to any number of catastrophes wrought by human activity.

The Pope is a rock star, in today’s parlance, and McKibben shouts from the mosh pit in breathless fanboy hyperbole:

The pope’s contribution to the climate debate builds on the words of his predecessors—in the first few pages he quotes from John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI—but clearly for those prelates ecological questions were secondary. (more…)

look-hereOn an average day, a person is subjected to more than 5,000 advertisements and exposures to brands. Out of that number about 362 are “ads only.” That means that during your waking hours you are exposed to an average of 23 ads per hour, or about one advertisement every two and a half minutes.

A lot of people along the advertising chain—from creation to display of ads—are getting paid. If everyone else is getting paid to distribute the ads, why shouldn’t you get paid to see them? After all, as Benjamin Franklin said, time is money. Isn’t your time and attention worthy of compensation?

Philosopher Thomas Wells thinks so. He makes an intriguing market-based argument that we need an effective property-rights regime that gives individuals the right to control where we direct our attention. “Advertisers should pay us,” says Wells, “not third parties.”

“Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery,” adds Wells. “Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted.”
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Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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‘I only saw it for three minutes': Ron Boswell criticises the Pope’s statement on climate change without even reading it and then misjudges population of India by 950 million
Lucy Mae Beers, Daily Mail Australia

Former National Party Senator Ron Boswell was greeted with laughter after making controversial and ill-informed statements about climate change and renewable energy.Appearing on the ABC’s program Q&A on Monday night in Brisbane, Mr Boswell had a particular issue with Pope Francis’ encyclical on environmental degradation and climate change – even though he had not read it. The discussion then moved to how environmental changes would help the likes of India.

EPA Chief: Climate Change Is Fact Because Bad Weather Leads the News
Nick Ballasy, PJ Media

“He can reach to communities that we can’t. I think it’s very difficult to say the pope is saying it for political reasons. He’s, I think, able to make the case that this is really a factual occurrence that humans are impacting the climate, that’s it’s really important, that it’s most important for the poor, the low-income minority communities that can’t get out of the way of the climate impacts,” McCarthy said.

The Francis Factor: How Will The Pope Influence The 2016 Election
John Gehring, Talking Points Memo

When Pope Francis visits the United States in two months and becomes the first pontiff to address Congress, his speech will be a seminal moment in American history. A pope who pumps fresh energy into the world’s most influential religious institution and humanizes the papacy will likely find his toughest audience in this country. Several polls released last week show both the challenges and opportunities that await a pope who denounces an “economy of exclusion” and in bracing language prods political leaders to wake up to the reality of climate change.

Francis ‘climate and capitalism’ views may be pruning his US popularity
Peter Kenny, Ecumenical News

Pope Francis’ favorability rating among the general public in the United States has returned to where it was when he was elected to the papacy and some believe his strong comments and capitalism and climate may be fueling that change.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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Rebuilding a Detroit neighborhood, with faith and vines
Ingrid Jacques, The Detroit News

This priest is on a mission to beautify the neighborhood that surrounds his church on Detroit’s east side, where he has worked for 20 years.

Liberals abandon religious liberty
Ramesh Ponnuru, AEI Ideas

The American tradition of religious freedom has long included exemptions from laws that impose a burden on the exercise of faith. The Volstead Act implementing Prohibition, for example, made an exception for the sacramental use of alcohol. In recent years, though, liberals have started to turn away from that tradition — and come up with ever more inventive ways to justify doing so.

NC Supreme Court upholds school voucher program
Anne Blythe and T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer

The N.C. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that North Carolina can use public tax dollars to help children attend private and religious schools. The 4-3 decision reverses a ruling last summer by Judge Robert Hobgood in N.C. Superior Court.

How Christianity Redeems Consumer Entitlement
Daniel Davis, Values & Capitalism

Does capitalism encourage this mentality of consumer entitlement, and thereby discourage human virtue? And is capitalism fundamentally dependent upon this consumer-entitlement mentality?

tip 2015Since 2001, the U.S. Department of State has released a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. This report examines trafficking country-by-country, ranks each country and gives suggestions to each country’s government to improve the fight against modern slavery.

The 2015 report begins with, among others items, a list of all situations that are now considered forms of human trafficking.

  • Sex trafficking
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Forced labor
  • Bonded labor or debt bondage
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced child labor
  • Unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers

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Blog author: bwalker
Monday, July 27, 2015
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Apocalyptic and Utopian: On Pope Francis’ Bolivian Manifesto
James V. Schall, S.J., The Catholic World Reporter

The Holy Father is certainly against abortion, euthanasia, and population control. What seems unclear to many is how advisers who hold these practices necessary in view of theories of ecology are at all helpful to what the Pope is really after. We all should be on the side of growth and virtue, not death and control.

Pope Francis’s Plan to Impoverish New York . . .and the Gotham mayor who embraces it
Oren Cass, City Journal

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s performance Tuesday at a Vatican climate-change conference called to mind the college sophomore who arrives late to a seminar, clearly hasn’t done the reading, but monopolizes the discussion nonetheless.

Pope Francis is not a feminist: Why Catholicism’s liberal icon falls far short on women’s issues
Kathleen Geier, Salon

Wait—what? Pope Francis, feminist? In what sense is Francis—a man who presides over one of the most deeply patriarchal institutions in human history, which bans women from positions of authority and restricts them to subservient roles; who preaches a doctrine of “separate spheres” for women that reads like a musty Victorian-era relic; and whose unwavering support of Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control is responsible for the death and suffering of countless women across the globe—a feminist? To label Francis a “feminist” is downright Orwellian. It twists the meaning of the word beyond all recognition.

Cupich says Chicago archdiocese will act on climate change
Crux

Archbishop Blase Cupich joined US Environmental Protection Agency officials Friday to mark the Church’s stewardship initiative, an answer to Pope Francis’ entreaty to preserve the earth. Archdiocese officials plan to benchmark each of the 2,700 buildings — churches, schools, offices and multiple-family housing. They will track energy consumption and consider each building’s structure using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager to rank them from 1 to 100.

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tattoo-momIf you’re on welfare in New Hampshire you might want to rush out and get that new tattoo and tongue piercing, and load up on cigars and weed. In 60 days you’ll no longer be able to use your welfare payment cards on marijuana, cigars, piercings, or tattoos:

Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a law that bans welfare “electronic benefit transfer” cards from being used on marijuana, among other vices.

More than 12,000 New Hampshire households receive benefits on EBT cards that essentially work as debit cards. The new law prohibits them from being used at marijuana dispensaries, cigar and smoke shops and tattoo and body piercing shops.

“We must always work to protect taxpayer dollars against public assistance fraud or abuse while also ensuring that those who need and qualify for financial support can purchase basic essential items,” Hassan said in a news release.

The cards have previously been banned by state and federal law from being used at liquor stores, gambling establishments and “adult entertainment venues.”

If you think that sounds harsh, in Illinois they are even prohibiting dead people from collecting welfare. As Mary Katharine Ham notes, “Even food stamps will no longer flow to those who until recently needed daily sustenance.”

Austin Berg of the Illinois Policy Institute explains the new, must-be-living policy:
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city lightsWhat’s the purpose of lighting in a large city? That may seem like the a fine example of a stupid question, but it’s not. While we could answer that question with suggestions like safety, allowing for extended commercial hours and ease of travel, lighting may now be used as a way to collect data on private citizens.

Using a combination of LEDs and big data technology, public lighting is the potential backbone of a system that could use billions of fixtures to collect data about traffic congestion at an intersection or a consumer walking down the cereal aisle, to name just a couple of applications.

What’s being called “intelligent environment” means lighting won’t simply be hardware but software, collecting data on everything from traffic congestion to gunshots to tracking a particular shopper in a grocery store. (more…)

Your writer has taken quite a bit of heat from some readers of a local newspaper column he writes for not “getting in-line” with the Pope on his identification of imminent climate catastrophe wrought by human activity. Even so, I cling to my Rosary on all matters actually Catholic. Aside from the brilliant minds at Acton and its scholars and supporters comprised of highly educated, amazingly spiritual individuals, I was beginning to feel as if I was an orphan in a universe of ideological zealots of the Gaia variety.

However, my days of orphandom were short-lived. Immediately prior to the release of Laudato Si there was delivered much succor from within the Church.

To wit: James V. Schall, SJ, wrote a brilliant piece this past April as the Gaia zealots were beginning to attain fever pitch. Titled “On Sustainability,” the essay questions the current wisdom of saving and preserving certain resources for future generations. To this, Schall responds:

 This thinking assumes that the present limited intellectual and technical base is thrust on future generations. Contemporary men evidently think that they know enough to decide what future generations will want, need, or be able to do. They must be content with what we have now. What if the only way that we can guarantee the well-being of future generations is for us not to impose our limited ideas of sustainability on them?

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