downloadIt’s illegal for undercover cops to entrap a prostitute by offering her money for sex, but apparently it’s just fine for our government to entrap people with massive interest-accumulating student loans they never asked for or inquired about.

Last week I wrote about the growing problem of gargantuan federal student loan debt ($1.2 trillion and rising), with a headline alluding to the federal government’s complicity in drawing college students and their families into debt slavery. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to experience the come-on firsthand, in a letter from a university my son was accepted into.

Keep in mind, as I relate the details of this, that we’re generally very pleased with this university and know a lot of good people who work there.

The university earlier had informed us that we had to fill out the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FASFA) to be eligible for academic scholarships since, as one web page explains, its “the foundation” they use to determine eligibility for university, state and federal programs. Now, my dad always warned me to be suspicious anytime a stranger offers you something for free; but since we wanted to be eligible for merit-based scholarships, and since we knew that the requirement was fairly common among universities, we went ahead and filled out the Free Application, giving them all manner of personal financial information—the particulars of which, we were assured, would have no bearing whatsoever on how much merit aid our son received.

We completed the slightly Orwellian exercise, and (more…)

dolphin-rescueOne of the primary duties for Christians is to recognize the dignity of all of God’s creatures and to exercise our dominion over them in ways that are humane, responsible, and God-honoring. It is literally the first set of instructions given to humanity (Gen. 1:28). Yet when think of our roles as stewards of creation, we often focus exclusively on our collective responsibilities at the macro level rather than on what we can do at the micro level of individual effort. In our focus on fixing global problems we tend to forgot our responsibility to “tend the garden” in our personal interactions with nature.

Such small-scale cultivation of nature is not as exciting as proposing legislation for an environmental agenda or as attention-getting as raising money to save an entire species. But the very simplicity of the actions can help us clearly see the beauty in exercising dominion – a term that has developed ugly connotations – and lead us to a more worshipful posture toward our Creator.

An wonderful example is an interaction between scuba instructor and underwater videographer Keller Laros and a bottlenose dolphin in need of the type of help only a human can provide. After noticing a fishing hook and line stuck in the dolphin’s fin, Laros, an experienced rescuer of dolphins, works to free the animal.
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Matthew 25When discussing the Christian call to service, we often hear references to Matthew 25, where Jesus speaks of a King who separates “sheep” from “goats” – those who are willing from those who refuse.

To the sheep, the King offers the following:

Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

To the goats, the King says, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

It’s all very hearty, but the final line is what seems to stick in popular discourse: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”  (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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Natural Law: Basic Principles, Objections, and Responses
Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition

A basic summary from Greg Forster’s very helpful book, The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics (IVP, 2008).

Free Markets, Democracy Are Nothing Without Moral, Religious People, Eric Metaxas Says
Tyler O’Neil, Christian Post

“The free market and democracy by themselves, unmoored by a religious population or a moral population, are nothing,” Metaxas said Friday. “The free hand of the market will provide cheaper, better pornography and drugs, if that’s what the population wants.”

What Does Public Schooling Teach Us About Predatory Pricing?
Bryan Caplan, EconLog

Predatory pricing is one of the simplest business practices to explain: Sell at a loss until you bankrupt your competitors. When you think about it, public schools apply this predatory strategy to an extreme degree. They don’t just sell education at a loss. They “sell” education for free!

An Unexpected Source of Human Flourishing
Shawn Ritenour, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The division of labor contributes to prosperity because people are more productive when they specialize in doing those tasks at which they are relatively most efficient. Instead of every person producing every good that he consumes himself, all of us are more productive if we specialize in producing those goods for which we are the low-cost producer.

Radio Free ActonThe latest edition of Radio Free Acton takes a look at the awful practice of human trafficking in advance of Acton’s upcoming moderated panel discussion on the issue, Hidden No More: Exposing Human Trafficking in West Michigan. Acton Director of Communications John Couretas speaks with Elise Hilton, whose name you’ll recognize from our blog, and who has authored a great many posts drawing attention to just this topic.

Give the podcast a listen via the audio player below, and be sure to register for the March 28th panel discussion as well

College-Fund-by-Tax-CreditsSenator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a potential 2016 presidential candidate, recently argued that Congress should hike taxes on families and small businesses making more than $1 million, then use the tax revenue to let debt-ridden students refinance their college loans.

As a progressive redistribution scheme it’s rather ingenious: It allows the government to take money from private individuals and businesses and give it to other businesses (i.e., college and universities), all while giving the impression of helping another group of private individuals (i.e., students who take indebt themselves by taking out college loans). Warren’s proposal is an brilliant blend of cronyism, special interest pandering, and “soak the rich” class envy – which is why it has a high likelihood of becoming law.

But if we look past the proposal we discovers something else that is fueling the student loan debt “crisis.” Whenever a nanny state solution like this is proposed, we should ask why the government is needed to serve as a governess. In this case, it appears the government is being asked to be a surrogate parent because of the failings of actual parents.

According to a study by sociologists at Rice University, college students whose parents are not married to each other face significantly heavier financial burdens for the simple reason that married parents, relative to other parents, contribute significantly more to their children’s college education:
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calvin

Calvin Sr. and Calvin Jr.

In reading Amity Shlaes’ marvelous biography of Calvin Coolidge, I was struck by a brief poem written by Coolidge’s son, Calvin Jr., during his father’s stint as vice president to Warren Harding.

Coolidge was having a hard time adapting to life in Washington, ridiculed for a variety of things, and struggling to remain supportive of an administration which, as Shlaes puts it, boasted “a temperament wilder than his own.” As one glimpse into these matters, Coolidge’s close friend, Frank Stearns, had sent him a letter expressing his sympathies. “It makes me a little sick at heart that you should not get more comfort out of your success,” Stearns wrote. A sample of Coolidge’s reply: “I do not think you have any comprehension of what people do to me.”

“The price of their status, having it or lacking it, was becoming clear to all the Coolidges,” Shlaes explains. (more…)