Blog author: ehilton
Thursday, August 2, 2012
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The Obamacare HHS provision went into effect yesterday. Here is a round-up of posts with reaction to that.

The Day After the HHS Mandate Kicked In
Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online

Kolesar is a part owner of this family business established in 1961. The family is Catholic and considers the HHS contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing-drug “Preventative Services” mandate — which the White House has introduced as part of its health-care law — a clash with conscience. “We only ask that the government uphold freedom and not bully us into purchasing insurance for ourselves and our employees that would force us to abandon essential tenets of our faith,” Kolesar tells National Review.

Priests For Life Announces It Will Defy HHS Mandate
Ben Johnson, LifeSiteNews.com

The pro-life Catholic group had long signaled its impending defiance of what it considers an unjust and unconstitutional law.“We don’t need a year, nor do we need a moment, to determine what we are going to do, or to ‘adapt’ to the rule,” Fr. Pavone said early this year. “You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it.”

HHS Mandate Loses First Test in Federal Court
Ed Morrisssey, Hot Air

The injunction only applies to Hercules Industries, not the mandate as a whole, and it’s only temporary, as William Jacobson points out at Legal Insurrection.  However, the usual paradigms for issuing temporary injunctions are that the judge believes the plaintiffs have a substantial chance of winning the case, and that the regulation or action being halted does significant damage to the plaintiff.  That hints at a favorable ruling at the district court level for Hercules, which is definitely good news…

Fighting the Good Fight For Religious Freedom
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archdiocese of New York

Over the course of the coming year, the effort to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience will continue.  In the end, this is not about bishops, it is not about Catholics, it is not about contraceptives.  It is about the ideals our nation was founded upon: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  You can’t do much better than the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The founding fathers got it right.  The HHS mandate gets it wrong.  We are fighting to correct that wrong, in order to make sure that religious freedom continues for the generations to come after us.

RealClearReligion’s Nicholas G. Hahn III recently talked to Acton President Fr. Robert Sirico about Obama, Marx, and Jane Fonda:

RCR: Why didn’t Jane Fonda and others in your generation follow you to the Right?

Robert Sirico: There are a lot of them that are not Leftist anymore. I know a lot of people in my generation who were at those things and are much more conservative today — not quite philosophically, but certainly wouldn’t identify with the Left. Now, why are some of them still stuck? When you’re in that ethos and the whole culture moves and if you didn’t have a fixed point, you move with it. When you’re formed in your ideas, it’s a whole hermeneutic. It’s a whole way that you approach the world. And when, for instance, you approach the world with a zero-sum presumption, I think it’s very explanatory. Marx gives you a view of the world that is plausible. It’s not completely absurd to think that the person who owns the means of production is wealthy because of another’s poverty. It’s plausible. It sounds right. It’s only when you understand the broader context, then it becomes more complex. Traditional, classical, free market ideas are far more complex — and counterintuitive.

Read more . . .

Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg is featured on the July 29 episode of Liberty Law Talk. The conversation, which focuses on the too-often forgotten free-market economics of Wilhelm Röpke, can be downloaded online at the Library of Law and Liberty website. Gregg has written extensively on Röpke in the past and the conversation meets expectations as enlightening and thought-provoking. Be sure to check it out.

In today’s Acton Commentary (published August 1) Samuel Gregg writes that “one shouldn’t forget just how central the endless pursuit of ever-greater economic equality is to the modern Left’s very identity. In fact, without it, the modern Left would have little to its agenda other than the promotion of lifestyle libertarianism and other socially destructive ends.” The full text of his essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
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In yesterday’s Grand Rapids Press (and appearing at mlive.com on Monday), Monica Scott reports on the tenure reform bill signed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last year and set to take effect in the 2013-2014 school year:

Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a tenure reform bill that completely overhauled teacher performance evaluations, tying teachers’ grades to student achievement. But teachers and union leaders locally and across the state have said they think it’s unfair to be held accountable for the performance of students who don’t show up to class.

In response, the Grand Rapids school board policy committee discussed enacting an attendance policy comparable to other districts in the county. Scott notes that, according to Ron Gorman, executive director of high schools for Grand Rapids schools, “school districts around Kent County include a set number of absences students cannot exceed, but Grand Rapids does not include a specific number, rather the district has procedures for addressing absences.” Instead, the “committee discussed a policy that states students can only have a total of 12 absences per semester and if students are 15 or more minutes tardy for class, it would be viewed as an absence.”

As a graduate of a Kent county district that had a comparable attendance policy, I was a little surprised to learn that GR Public did not. This is certainly an improvement. Indeed, with their new policy, it sounds like it will be a large step in a good direction: (more…)

Former governor, pastor, and presidential candidate (and current radio host) Mike Huckabee has been a primary driving force in turning today, August 1, into an ad hoc appreciation day for the fast food company Chick-fil-A.

Huckabee’s activism in support of the “Eat Mor Chikin” establishments was occasioned by criticism leveled against the company’s support for traditional “family values,” including promotion of traditional marriage. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy said, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.” That, apparently, was enough to galvanize many opponents of “the biblical definition of the family unit” and the rights of a company to be supportive of such. These opponents include, notably, a Chicago alderman and the mayor of Boston.

In addition to Huckabee’s response, others have argued that there should not be a religious, or even political, test of sorts for determining our partners in free exchange. Jonathan Merritt, a Southern Baptist pastor and author, wrote a piece for The Atlantic, “In Defense of Eating a Chick-fil-A,” in which he writes, “in a society that desperately needs healthy public dialogue, we must resist creating a culture where consumers sort through all their purchases (fast food and otherwise) for an underlying politics not even expressed in the nature of the product itself.” Likewise Branson Parler, a professor at Kuyper College here in Grand Rapids, contends that “Christians need to disconnect the cultural goods and services provided by numerous institutions (including Chick-fil-A) from the gods of politicization and partisanship.”
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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Milton Friedman: An Economics of Love
Kevin D. Williamson, National Review Online

The libertarianism of Rand (and she hated the word “libertarian”) was based on an economics of resentment of the “moochers” and “loafers,” the sort of thing that leads one to call a book The Virtue of Selfishness. Friedman’s libertarianism was based on an economics of love: for real human beings leading real human lives with real human needs and real human challenges.

Burke’s Wise Counsel on Religious Liberty and Freedom
William F. Byrne, The Imaginative Conservative

One thing which made religion a key to virtue was the humility which Christianity promoted. Most of our political and social problems, Burke believed, stemmed ultimately from vanity, the chief of the vices.

Wilhelm Roepke and the Limits of Markets
Scott Galupo, The American Conservative

For Roepke, the market economy depended for its proper function on moral goods outside of itself: the bourgeois virtues, for example, inculcated by families, churches, and communities; and public-spirited elites capable of adjudicating disputes with an eye toward the long run.

How Welfare’s Work Requirements Make a Difference in Lives
Collette Caprara, The Foundry

On July 12, the Obama Administration issued a directive to gut welfare reform of its work requirements. But those who work closely with individuals in need understand the critical principles of personal responsibility and self-reliance.

In addition to my post yesterday and other education related posts on the Powerblog (here, here, here, here, and here), I highly recommend this analysis of the higher ed bubble from educationviews.org if anyone is interested in learning more.

I would emphasize that this is not simply an economic problem but a moral one. We cannot in good conscience continue to promote higher education to our youth while its quality continues to diminish and its price continues to rise. To do so is to fail to fulfill our moral duty to leave an inheritance to the next generation from the good that previous generations have passed on to us. The bar needs to be raised as a matter of human dignity. On the whole, people will rise (or fall) to the level of the expectations that we have for them. The level of expectations placed upon a person sends a message about their perceived ability and value. In addition, needless spending needs to be cut, and our government and banks need to stop handing out loans like candy to pursue degrees that will not realistically secure the income needed to pay them back. This is a present moral failing that is leading us to a future economic collapse.

From the article:

As George Will describes it, the bubble is what happens “when parents and the children they send to college are paying rapidly rising prices for something of declining quality.” The point at which parents cease to be willing to pay those rising prices is when the bubble bursts. When that happens, the financial assumptions on which American higher education has been based for many decades will come crashing down.

There are, however, two highly unpredictable elements in the current situation. One is the willingness of the Obama administration to sustain the bubble by encouraging more and more students to attend college and by using student loans to support this expansion. The other is the bubble-deflating power of online education.

Read more . . .

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is beginning to take his self-appointed role as Nanny-in-Chief of New York a bit too literally:

Mayor Bloomberg is pushing hospitals to hide their baby formula behind locked doors so more new mothers will breast-feed.

Starting Sept. 3, the city will keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use — the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.

Under the city Health Department’s voluntary Latch On NYC initiative, 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals have also agreed to give up swag bags sporting formula-company logos, toss out formula-branded tchotchkes like lanyards and mugs, and document a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives.

[…]

Under Latch On NYC, new mothers who want formula won’t be denied it, but hospitals will keep infant formula in out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications. With each bottle a mother requests and receives, she’ll also get a talking-to. Staffers will explain why she should offer the breast instead.

How many mothers decide to breastfeed their children because someone hid the baby formula? I suspect it’s around the same number as husbands who stop eating sweets because their wife hides the Oreos. Someone should tell Mayor Bloomberg (and my wife) that those sorts of change-the-behavior tactics aren’t all that effective.

Blog author: Mindy Hirst
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
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“The darkening of sin obstructs the acquisition not of the knowledge of the details but knowledge in its more exalted and nobler sense.” (Abraham Kuyper, Wisdom & Wonder Pg. 56)

Each of us is detail-oriented in our own way. Some remember dates and numbers with amazing accuracy. Others remember relational information from conversations they had two weeks ago. Still others have a knack for remembering trivia of all sorts.

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