Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
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Freedom Under Attack
National Catholic Register

The recent assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the blasphemy trial of a 14-year-old Christian girl with Down syndrome in Pakistan shine a spotlight on the increasing threat to religious freedom around the globe.

God, Democrats, and the Europeanization of America
Paul Kengor, Crisis Magazine

The battle at the Democratic convention to exclude God from the party’s platform is no minor moment. Do not underestimate what transpired there.

Illinois cannot make pharmacists give ‘morning after’ pill: court
Mary Wisniewski, Reuters

An Illinois appellate court Friday affirmed a lower court finding that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell emergency contraceptives – also known as “morning after pills” – if they have religious objections.

Eminent Domain on Mortgages: An Idea To Be Condemned
Dana Berliner, AFF Doublethink Online

Local governments are proposing to play favorites and to wield their enormous power to secure benefits for some at the expense of others.

A recent survey contains one of the most disheartening statistics I’ve ever read: In eastern Germany the survey was unable to find a single person under the age of 28 who claimed they were “certain God exists.”

The survey was taken in 2008, which means that not a single person born after the fall of the Berlin Wall could be found who expressed no doubt about the reality of their Creator. In contrast, 17.8 of young people in western Germany are certain about God (which is still low compared to the U.S. (53.8 percent) or even Russia (28.2 percent).

In the Guardian, Peter Thompson says that some observers believe East German atheism is a form of continuing political and regional identification:

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As noted already at the PowerBlog today, Sam Gregg has a fine piece on the complex relationship between law and morality, or constitutions and culture, over at Public Discourse.

As a follow-up (read the piece first), I’d like to point to an interesting aspect of James Buchanan’s advocacy of a balanced-budget amendment. As Gregg notes, Buchanan is an example of someone who thought that “America’s constitution required amending to bestow genuine independence upon a monetary authority,” or advocated for the “constitutionalization” of money. A related effort would be Buchanan’s efforts in support of a balanced-budget amendment to the American Constitution, as explored by James Alvey in his piece, “James M. Buchanan on the Ethics of Public Debt and Default.”
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Blog author: Mindy Hirst
Monday, September 24, 2012
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Today’s post is by Jenica Lee, part of the On Call in Culture team. She shares about where God has her working and why she is privileged to share His love with others on the job.

For the past few months, I have been working as a Chiropractic and Physical Therapist Aid. For various reasons, I absolutely love my job. One of those reasons is that I get to work with people; more specifically, people like me.

About 6 months ago I was hit by a car while riding my bike and suffered a spinal fracture. Because of this injury and the hardships that have come with it, I am able to relate with many of our patients in a way that others cannot.
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A review of Rev. Robert Sirico’s Defending the Free Market is featured in the National Catholic Register, written by Fr. C. J. McCloskey. The National Catholic Register is reviewing a number of books, in an effort to help readers discern issues pertinent to the upcoming election.

In Fr. McCloskey’s review of Defending the Free Market, he notes:

Father Robert Sirico could not have written a timelier book than his latest, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy….Why do I say his book is timely? Because we are mired in the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, one that is all the worse for being global and that shows indications of worsening in the years ahead. All of this follows by a mere couple of decades the almost total collapse of Marxism throughout the world, with the fall of the Soviet Empire and its dependents.

Fr. McCloskey cites the warm anecdotes and biographical aspects of the book, drawing the reader into Fr. Sirico’s own journey to understanding the free market and the hope it presents to the world’s struggling economies. He goes on to say that, while the book certainly has global application, it is deeply rooted in American values.

Father Sirico quotes Alexis de Tocqueville — perhaps the greatest observer of the unique character of America — who observed, “Freedom is, in truth, a sacred thing; there is only one thing else that better deserves the name,” and that is virtue. And then he asks, “What is virtue if not the free choice of what is good?” Both Father Sirico’s masterful endeavors at the Acton Institute and this book contribute needed guidance to help our country reclaim its status as “exceptional and virtuous.”

Read the entire review of Defending the Free Market and the Register‘s other reviews here.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, September 24, 2012
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Do Social Programs Intrude on ‘Moral Space’?
Benjamin Wiker, National Catholic Register

It is primarily the Church’s moral duty to care for the poor, not the state’s. Thinking it’s the state’s duty has led many well-intentioned Catholics to believe that their moral responsibility to the poor is fulfilled by lobbying for state social welfare programs.

What does it take to feed the hungry?
Jason King, Catholic Moral Theology

How can we as Christians do this? What does it take to meet the needs of the neighbor and strangers during this time?

The Founders’ Free Speech/Press Clause
Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy

Some saw the freedom of the press as broader and some as narrower. Some saw the freedom of the press as including the freedom to publish what had been earlier seen as “seditious libel” and some saw it as not including this.

Food Stamp Participation Doubled Among Able-Bodied Adults After Obama Suspended Work Requirement
Rachel Sheffield, The Foundry

A new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirms that food stamp participation doubled among able-bodied adults after the Obama Administration suspended the program’s work requirements.

Writing in Public Discourse, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg notes that while Constitutional law has often been used to shape economies, there are limits to the law’s ability to influence economic culture:

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare sharply reminds us of constitutional law’s significance for economic life. NFIB v. Sebelius, however, is not the first or even the most controversial effort to use constitutional law to shape economies. Both America and European countries have a decades-long history of doing so.

Throughout America, for instance, amendments to state constitutions have been used to cement right-to-work laws in place. Across the Atlantic, European nations such as Germany and Spain have written public debt limits into their constitutions. In 2010, the Nobel Prize economist James Buchanan called for what he described as the “constitutionalization” of money. Ongoing failures to prevent the politicization of monetary policy meant, Buchanan argued, that America’s constitution required amending to bestow genuine independence upon a monetary authority. In Buchanan’s words: “Something analogous to the independent judiciary, under the Supreme Court, seems required—a monetary authority that is independent of politics, but which remains itself bound by the parameters set out in the constitution itself.”

Read more . . .

Blog author: mhornak
Friday, September 21, 2012
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The deadline to apply for a scholarship through the Calihan Academic Fellowship program is one month away!

If you or anyone you know are looking for financial aid opportunities for next semester, I invite you to visit the Calihan Academic Fellowship page on Acton’s website for details about this competitive scholarship program. This page is where you can: download the application form and obtain additional information about eligibility, conditions, the selection process, application requirements, and deadlines. To qualify for the upcoming deadline for the 2013 Spring Term, all application materials must be postmarked by October 15.

Bill Gates, easily one of the richest men in the world, recently talked about his wealth and his children’s inheritance, philanthropy and taxes in an article in the the UK’s The Telegraph.

He acknowledged that “[c]apitalism has worked phenomenally” and one need only look at North Korea vs. South Korea to see evidence of that. He also noted, “Capitalism has shortfalls. It doesn’t necessarily take care of the poor, and it underfunds innovation.”

Gates made several remarks to the British audience about the American tax system:

Just raising taxes on the rich won’t solve the crisis, but it seems reasonable to people – and there’s plenty of room to do that without creating disincentives or distortions.”

The news that the mega-rich Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, pays 15 per cent tax “wasn’t shocking at all. That’s the US system. If people want capital gains taxed more like the highest rate on income, that’s a good discussion. Maybe that’s the way to help close the deficit.”

What Gates failed to note is that the American government’s deficit problem is largely due to government over-spending, not under-taxing its citizens.

He announced at the time the article appeared that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was making a $750 million donation to fight AIDS, malaria and TB in Africa, and was also focusing on helping subsistence farmers on that continent. (In July of this year, Melinda Gates announced a “family planning summit”, hoping to raise $4 billion to give more women access to artificial birth control, largely focusing on Africa and Asia.)

Interestingly, Gates said he didn’t expect the Foundation to continue very long after he and his wife were dead.

“Our foundation won’t last long beyond Melinda’s and my lifetime. The resources will last about 20 years after whichever is the last of us to go. There is no family business, and my kids will make their own careers.”

While Gates doesn’t downplay his role in technological innovation, he says the personal passion he once spent on entrepreneurship is now focused on ending disease and starvation for the world’s poor. The Telegraph article also focuses on some fascinating aspects of Gates’ relationship with long-time business rival Steve Jobs, especially in the months leading up to Jobs’ death.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, September 21, 2012
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Trends in Voter Preferences Among Religious Groups
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

A new interactive graphic tracks voting preferences for the upcoming presidential election among several major religious groups.

Welfare Reform as We Knew It
Wall Street Journal

This new standard didn’t appear out of thin air, but is part of a liberal critique of welfare reform that has made its way into the Administration.

‘Doing God’
British Religion in Numbers

The majority of Britons are keen to keep religion apart from politics, according to a study published on 13 September 2012. 81% affirmed that religious practice is a private matter, which should be separated from British politico-economic life.

Why Christian Pacifism Is Inconsequential to Real World
Keith Pavlischek, Institute on Religion & Democracy

So, what does a pacifist do if he wants to get a serious hearing in the “halls of power?” Over the past several decades Christian pacifists have tried to come to grips with this problem.