Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Census Bureau retreats from report showing stagnant rural incomes
Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Post

When a Census Bureau report last week announced a record increase in the typical American household’s annual income last year, the good news came with a caveat. The growth had been limited to towns and cities, the data showed, and there was no statistically detectable change in rural areas.

Edmund Burke on Constitutions & Natural Law
Bradley J. Birzer, The Imaginative Conservative

The real goal of political society, Edmund Burke claimed in his arguments against the French Revolutionaries, is not to create new laws or new rules, but “to secure the religion, laws, and liberties, that had been long possessed.”

Pope Francis’s praise of capitalism a surprise on US trip
Thomas D. Williams, Crux

Looking back at Pope Francis’s visit to the United States one year ago this week, one of the surprises along the way was the pontiff’s unexpected praise for the free market economy of his host country.

Does a Universal Basic Income Conflict with the Biblical View of Work?
Andrew Spencer, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Automation is coming to a workplace near you. The result may be the displacement of about 1.4 million workers in Tennessee alone, according to a report from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. That number represents about half of the state’s current workforce.

“I have a simple hypothesis,” writes economist Tyler Cowen. “No matter what the media tells you their job is, the feature of media that actually draws viewer interest is how media stories either raise or lower particular individuals in status.”

Cowen believes this explains why people “get so teed off” at the media:

The status ranking of individuals implied by a particular media source is never the same as yours, and often not even close. You hold more of a grudge from the status slights than you get a positive and memorable charge from the status agreements.

In essence, (some) media is insulting your own personal status rankings all the time. You might even say the media is insulting you. Indeed that is why other people enjoy those media sources, because they take pleasure in your status, and the status of your allies, being lowered. It’s like they get to throw a media pie in your face.

In return you resent the media.

Cowen’s friend and fellow economist Arnold Kling made a similar claim earlier this summer about politics: “a major role of political ideology is to attempt to adjust the relative status of various groups.” One outcome of this is that,

Blog author: KHanby
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Samuel Gregg enthusiastically makes a point

Samuel Gregg lecturing at Acton University.

Samuel Gregg’s most recent book For God and Profit continues to receive great reviews.  The most recent comes from author and speaker John Horvat, II at The Stream.  Horvat begins his review by highlighting the way Gregg reconciles the pursuit of profits with Christianity. He says this:

Early in the book, Gregg establishes that profit through finance can be realized “provided that God comes first and that the profit is (1) understood as a means to an end, (2) never seen as an end in itself, and (3) used to serve rather than diminish, what Christians understand as human flourishing.” If these criteria are met (and that is a big “if” in today’s frenetically intemperate economic climate), then finance is a needed social good.

Gregg’s big “if” is the foundation of his theory of sound Christian economics, which must always be seen in a moral context. Inside this framework, economy would certainly be a lot different and more temperate than it is today. However, it would also be much the same.


school-deskThe current problems with the school-to-prison pipeline often start with poor school discipline policies. Various school discipline policies and tactics have recently come under criticism for being overly harsh—often causing students to drop out of school. The frequent use of suspension and expulsion for minor offenses has become commonplace in many schools across the country.

Over the summer Gina Raimondo, the Democratic governor of Rhode Island, signed a bill into law making it harder for schools to suspend students for minor infractions. The law creates stricter guidelines for when students can be sent home from school in order to lower the number of suspensions. High suspension rates are just one of the contributing factors to the school-to-prison pipeline. A Febuary 2015 study by The Center for Civil Rights Remedies looked at some of the contributing factors to the problem and how the policies affect different parts of the population.

Data cited in the report found that most suspensions occur in secondary school and are rarely used in younger grades. Students who had a disability were suspended twice as much as non-disabled students in the 2009-10 school year. One out of 3 students with an emotional disturbance were suspended.

On this edition of Radio Free Acton, we speak with Karl Zinsmeister, Vice President at Philanthropy Roundtable and former chief domestic policy advisor to President George W. Bush, about efforts to improve public education outcomes over the years, why charter schools are succeeding where past reform efforts have failed, and the role of private philanthropy in fostering that success.

Karl will be kicking off our Evenings at Acton series this fall on Monday, October 3rd with a lecture entitled Indispensable: How Philanthropy Fuels American Success. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

You can listen to the podcast via the audio player below.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Are American Christians Really ‘Persecuted’?
K.A. Ellis, Christianity Today

If our overseas brothers and sisters say we are, then we probably are.

Child Poverty Has Plummeted in the Last 20 Years—Here’s Why
Daniel Huizinga, Opportunity Lives

A new report by the Manhattan Institute’s Scott Winship shows child poverty has actually declined substantially over 20 years. In fact, the 1996 welfare reform law has been deemed by many (including the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution) to be a resounding success, especially for never-married mothers.

Religious freedom issues loom large in 2016 election
Tom Tracy, Crux

As recent years have brought a wave of religious liberty court battles and the federal contraceptive mandate infringing on an array of operations by church entities — along with a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy to be filled — 2016 might be a seminal electoral cycle.

US Economic Liberty Has Been Sinking for Sixteen Years
Daniel J. Mitchell, FEE

When Economic Freedom of the World is released every September, it’s like an early Christmas present. This comprehensive yearly publication is a great summary of whether nations have policies that allow people economic liberty.

freeexerciseIs the ultimate repository of authority and control human or divine?

While that is a religious question, how we answer has profound ramifications on policy and law. In fact, as Marc Degirolami notes, the answer may determine whether free exercise of religion can survive as a legal concept: