On Jan. 27, Acton’s Rome office sponsored a presentation of The International Property Rights Index at the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. The private seminar was a premier event in Rome for the index’s publisher, introducing data and case studies sampled from 129 industrialized and developing nations. It was attended by some 40 leveraged opinion makers from the ranks of legal, political, academic and religious sectors.

coverSpeakers included the university’s dean of social sciences, Fr. Alejandro Crosthwaite, who gave an excellent exposition of St. Thomas Aquinas’s treatise on property, including the medieval philosopher’s explanation of incentives for personal responsibility by way of individual as opposed to collective ownership. He also took time to explain what the Catholic Church teaches on the universal destination of goods, which is often misinterpreted as a contradiction to individual ownership. In referencing the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (quoted in part from No. 177), leaders in attendance were reminded:

“Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute…The principle of the universal destination of goods is an affirmation both of God’s full and perennial lordship over every reality and of the requirement that the goods of creation remain ever destined to the development of the whole person and of all humanity. This principle is not opposed to the right to private property but indicates the need to regulate it. Private property… is in its essence only an instrument for respecting the principle of the universal destination of goods; in the final analysis, therefore, it is not an end but a means.” (more…)

umpFor many evangelicals, 2 Chronicles 7:14 has become a predictable refrain for run-of-the-mill civil religion, supposedly offering the promise of national blessing in exchange for political purity.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

If the nation returns to golden days of godliness, we are told, blessings shall abound and the land shall be restored. If policy follies are fixed and rampant rulers remedied, the garden will once again grow. We are to “take our country back,” saith the Lord, if grace and mercy are to enter the scene.

Yet as Russell Moore reminds us, to apply the verse in such a way amounts to little more than “theological liberalism” – “whatever one’s political ideology”:

This verse is a word written to a specific people – the people of God – who were coming home from exile. They were coming home from a time in which they were dominated and enslaved by a foreign power. At a time when they needed to be reminded of who they were, who God was and what he had promised to do, this passage was given to them to point them back to Solomon’s reign, reminding them of what Solomon did when he built the temple, the house of the Lord, the place of the gathering of the worship of God…

… When God said to them, “If my people who are called by name,” he was specifically pointing them back to the covenant that he made with their forefather Abraham. At a specific point in their history, God had told Abraham about his descendants, saying “I will be their God” and “They will be my people.” That’s what “My people” means.

God reminded a people who had been exiled, enslaved and defeated that a rebuilt temple or a displaced nation cannot change who they were. They were God’s people and would see the future God has for them.

But what future does God promise us?

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, February 5, 2016
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Capitalism Promotes Equality
Barry Brownstein, The Freeman

In 1900, Americans spent approximately 50 percent of their household income on food and clothing; today, we spend closer to 20 percent. Today, fresh produce from all over the world, not even available to a king a century ago, awaits common consumers when they enter the supermarket.

The $20-billion hole in Africa’s largest economy
The Economist

Most Nigerians live in poverty. Millions would be spared if officials stopped pilfering from the public purse.

Pope’s opening to China skips over religious freedom
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

On Tuesday, an exclusive interview with Pope Francis about China was published by the Asia Times, in which the pope urges the world not to fear growing Chinese power. It’s likely to be hailed as a great opening, as well as another sign of keen Vatican interest in moving ever closer to normalized diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Federal healthcare spending tops Social Security for the first time
Sarah Ferris, The Hill

Spending on federal healthcare programs outpaced spending on Social Security for the first time in 2015, according to an expansive report from the congressional budget scorekeeper released Monday.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, February 4, 2016
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jesus_was_a_socialist_poster-ra50dbe5fff854b98ad170860c4976c88_wvg_8byvr_324The resurgence of socialism in America, especially among the young, seems to be based on a widespread form of wishful thinking and historical ignorance. Most people who support Bernie Sanders, for instance, do not realize that most of his ideas have been tried already—and discarded as unworkable.

Similarly, many Christians who support Sanders don’t realize that for centuries socialism has been considered incompatible with Christianity. Since the mid-1800s every Catholic pontiff—from Pius IX to Benedict XVI—has forthrightly condemned socialism. Protestants don’t have a single leader to make that judgment call, of course, but we too have determined that based on Scripture socialism is incompatible with biblical principles.

Yet despite the obvious disconnect between Christianity and socialism some people go even further and claim that Jesus himself was an advocate of socialism.

A solid, thorough rebuttal to this baffling notion can be found in Lawrence W. Reed’s essay, “Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus A Socialist?

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Blog author: sstanley
Thursday, February 4, 2016
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030620-N-7391W-007 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Jun. 20, 2003) -- Cashier Sue Amine assists a customer at the Pearl Harbor Commissary, run by Defense Commissary Agency's (DeCA), in the new Pearl Harbor mall complex, which opened earlier this year. The current commissary sales floor is 29 percent larger than previous commissaries, with wider aisles to maneuver shopping carts and numerous registers to speed up checkout. DeCA's $22.8 million share of the Pearl Harbor mall was funded with surcharge dollars. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Jim Williams. (RELEASED)

Trading $ for groceries > Murdering people and stealing their food

It’s been said before, but it’s certainly worth saying again. Not only does the free market lead to material wealth, but it reduces violence.

On a recent episode of the podcast “Question of the Day,” co-host Stephen Dubner reads a question from a listener: Why haven’t humans evolved as a species away from aggression? Dubner and James Altucher deal with the question in a rather roundabout way. Altucher points out that, really, aggression has dropped for as long as we’ve recorded the data. Specifically, the percentage of violent deaths keeps declining. “As a species, we have been evolving passed aggression and I think a lot of that has to do with trade,” He says. “All these methods of trade have actually limited aggression because I no longer need to invade your country to get your resources. We can trade resources instead. And then it benefits us to be nice to each other.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, February 4, 2016
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How GMOs Could Help Biodiversity
The American Interest

By modifying the genes of plants, scientists have discovered ways to make food crops more resilient to drought and pestilence, and to increase crop yields, to boot.

Koch brothers’ new group will take on poverty, educational quality
Fredreka Schouten, USA Today

The political and policy empire controlled by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch is building a non-profit wing its leaders say will work to address deep-seated social ills and “revitalize civil society.” Its initial efforts will focus on poverty and educational quality.

Theft-by-Government Continues Through Eminent Domain
A. Barton Hinkle, Reason.com

Governments ignoring the constitutional limitations to eminent domain.

How Ordinary People Are Giving Glimpses of God’s Restoration
James Clark, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

It’s easy to say that ordinary people can effect meaningful change. However, words alone are not proof. Without substantive evidence, any talk of our power to change the world may be nothing more than wishful thinking.

conversation-mark-interface-symbol-of-circular-speech-bubble-with-quotes-signs-inside_318-56572In the recent Iowa Caucus, young Democrats favored the socialist Bernie Sanders by a margin of six to one, while older voters went overwhelmingly for the more traditionally progressive Hillary Clinton.

The support of an old socialist by young voters and socialism should remind us of that old quote . . . you know the one, the one by . . . Churchill?

When it comes to citing famous quotations, a good rule of thumb is to attribute any unknown saying either to Anonymous or to Winston Churchill. Churchill’s eloquence and wit is second only to that great proverb maker Anon., so one is generally on safe ground by claiming him as the original source. Most people won’t know any better anyway.

Alas, one particular quote of relevance today that is often mistakenly attributed to the great Brit is,
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