Barack_Obama_signature_and_pen (1)Rather than just responding to the advances of modern liberalism, conservatives should consider how they would transform the United States. Over at Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg discusses President Obama’s final years in office and how conservatives should react.

A major challenge facing conservatives after Obama will be the breadth and depth of modern liberalism’s impact since 2008. This includes the relentless promotion of lifestyle liberalism at the level of social policy; the easy-money, top-down approach to the economy; and a foreign policy that’s alienating firm allies ranging from Israel to Australia, and which even many liberals have given up defending. This list doesn’t even include the cavalier approach to the rule of law that’s characterized the past six years.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, December 12, 2014
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7 Books You Need to Read to Craft a Damn Compelling Case for Liberty
Joseph Cunningham, Intercollegiate Review

Want to advance liberty and Western civilization effectively? Here’s how to do it: Go find a giant, and scramble up onto his shoulders. In other words, bring some good books along for the ride, and wear their pages out.

IMF study: ‘No evidence’ high-end income inequality hurts economic growth
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

“In contrast, no evidence is found that those with high incomes pulling away from the rest of the population harms growth.” Don’t be surprised if this finding — which syncs with previous literature — tends to get overlooked.

Seeking to Make a Profit Is an Act of Citizenship. Here’s Why.
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

If you paid attention in eighth grade civics class, you can rattle off the standard list of a citizen’s duties, including voting, obeying laws, becoming informed on pertinent issues, investing in your community, paying taxes, serving a jury panel, or perhaps even defending your country.

Is the Number of States with Right-to-Work Laws About to Grow?
James Sherk, The Daily Signal

Eighteen-year-old Saira Blair recently made history as the youngest person elected to the West Virginia legislature. She may make history again as a lawmaker by securing passage of a right-to-work law.

mural_stretchMost of us would say we don’t like “reality” television, yet many of us have been sucked into some show that purports to show the real lives of rich people, poor people, large families, little people or drunk college kids. In all these cases, the people featured sign on for the privilege of broadcasting their lives in excruciating detail.

Now, A&E (which used to mean “arts and entertainment” but it lost the “arts” at some point) is planning a show called 8 Minutes. A pastor by the name of Kevin Brown (who is a former police officer) will attempt to evangelize and “save” a prostitute in an 8 minute time frame. Really. (more…)

Summer-JobsGiving disadvantaged youth a summer job reduces violent crime, according to a new study published to the journal Science.

In a randomized controlled trial among 1,634 high school youth in Chicago, assignment to a summer jobs program decreases violence by 43 percent over 16 months (3.95 fewer violent-crime arrests per 100 youth). The decline occurs largely after the 8-week intervention ends.
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gift-of-magi-ohenry-della-jimAmid the wide array of quaint and compelling Christmas tales, O. Henry’s classic short story, “The Gift of the Magi,” continues to stand out as a uniquely captivating portrait of the power of sacrificial exchange.

On the day before Christmas, Della longs to buy a present for her husband, Jim, restlessly counting and recounting her measly $1.87 before eventually surrendering to her poverty and bursting into tears. “Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim,” the narrator laments. “Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.”

Wishing to buy him a new fob chain for his gold watch — his most valuable and treasured possession — Della decides to sell her beautiful brunette hair — her most valuable and treasured possession. “Rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters,” Della’s hair was so long “it made itself almost a garment for her.” And yet, shedding but a “tear or two,” she goes through with it, trading her lovely hair to secure the $20 needed to buy a present for Jim. (more…)

govt_workersprotest100413Americans obsession with positive “rights” has a significant influence on the country’s economy. Over at the American Spectator, Samuel Gregg argues that despite the portrayal of the United States as a “dog-eat-dog” society where the most vulnerable are left to fend for themselves, the country actually spends an enormous amount on various forms of welfare. In fact, the U.S. is the second biggest “social spender,” following only France. Gregg explains how the country reached this:

On the one hand, there is what the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] calls “public social spending.” This includes things like old-age assistance, unemployment insurance, disability payments, government-provided healthcare, etc. What, however, needs to be added to this, the OECD states, is what’s called “private social expenditure.” This is defined as “social benefits delivered through the private sector… which involve an element of compulsion and/or inter-personal redistribution.” One example would be government subsidies to employer-provided healthcare.

By these measures, almost 30 percent of America’s annual GDP is devoted to welfare-spending of one form or another. Let me say that number again: 30 percent. How much more, we might ask, could possibly be spent, especially given the sub-optimal results? One suspects that, for most liberals and the left more generally, the sky’s the limit. But they should at least concede that America is hardly tight-fisted in such matters. Alas, I, for one, am not holding my breath.

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Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, December 11, 2014
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The Moral Triumph of Fossil Fuels
Bruce Edward Walker, The Morning Sun

Arguing “cheap, plentiful, reliable energy for the vast majority of people” is a moral good should be a no-brainer. In fact, it should be completely unnecessary – except it’s not.

‘Eye of Sauron’ on Moscow skyscraper to end up badly for city, Orthodox Church says
Russian Today

Russian Orthodox Church has slammed plans to erect a real-life ‘Eye of Sauron’ in Moscow, saying that the art project dedicated to the premiere of the final part of the “Hobbit” movie trilogy may have bad consequences for the Russian capital.

Conscience and Abortion Funding Concerns in the CRomnibus
Sarah Torre, The Daily Signal

The CRomnibus released late last night is fraught with the same bloated spending that has propelled the nation further into debt. In addition to serious fiscal concerns with the massive spending bill—not to mention the problems inherent in dropping a 1000-plus-page bill at the eleventh hour—the CRomnibus has some concerning provisions on life and conscience.

How (And Why) Cronyism Works
Yuval Levin, The Corner

Wherever you ultimately come down on the massive omnibus budget bill Congress is considering this week (the text of which was just released last night), it is certainly full of lessons about how Congress works.

To provide a synthesis of Pope Francis’s thinking on the economy is both difficult and easy, says Oskari Juurikkala in this week’s Acton Commentary. “It is difficult, because he has never offered extensive and systematic reflections on such questions; his pronouncements are found here and there, inseparable from a broader moral and spiritual message.”

At the same time, he has said quite a few things about economic questions, and he is deeply interested in economic values and outcomes. Of course, he views them not as isolated technical questions, but as something that also touches upon a Christian pastor of souls. That is what makes my task relatively easy.

Francis’s thinking can only be understood within the context of his moral and spiritual principles. These, in turn, are inseparable from his simple and straightforward personality. I will leave it to others to study specific texts in detail; I will simply summarize the Pope’s message around the notion of Christian poverty. Perhaps we could almost say that Francis is a prophet of Christian poverty, and his papal name is no accident in this respect.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Good Seed, Good Soil, Abundant HarvestThe faith-work movement has risen in prominence across evangelicalism, with more and more pastors and congregations grabbing hold of the depth and breadth of Christian vocation and expanding their ministry focuses in turn.

In an article at Missio Alliance, Charlie Self offers a helpful snapshot this trend, explaining where we’ve come from and why this shift in arc and emphasis is a welcome development for the church. To demonstrate its power and promise, Self begins with the story of Scotty, a mechanic and member of Self’s church, who after 40 years in the business finally came to understand the fuller meaning and purpose of his work.

“Pastor Charlie, I just realized I am as much a minister as you are!” Scotty told him one day. “I meet people in crisis, have as much knowledge as some doctors, solve problems quickly and continually update my information and technology…not to mention keep up with all the regulations and taxes. People share their lives with me. What an awesome responsibility.” In addition to providing these basic services, Scotty lives a life of active generosity and evangelism, constantly reaching out and connecting the day-to-day material to the day-to-day spiritual in other people’s lives. “Scotty is helping an entire community flourish and he is part of God’s reign, bringing hope and justice for many,” he writes. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
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Today over at Think Christian I explore how Christmas relates to material goods, and specifically how we are to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33).

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