Blog author: ehilton
Thursday, July 23, 2015
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benevolence farmsIn today’s American, nearly a quarter million women are incarcerated, primarily for drug-related or non-violent crimes. That’s roughly an 800 percent increase in the past 30 years. And female felons don’t have any easier a time finding work than their male counterparts. Typically, about half of those released from prison have no stable home, no transportation … and few legal job skills. Many of these people struggle with addiction and/or mental health issues as well.

One woman, a social worker-turned-entrepreneur in North Carolina, has found a way to join her passion for fresh food with her passion for helping these women. Tanya Jisa now oversees Benevolence Farm,

nestled in pastoral lands west of Durham, N.C., which will serve as a transitional living program for just released female ex-convicts. For a period of six months to two years, these women will learn about how to operate the farm, growing their own food along with produce to be sold at farm stands, farmers markets, and local grocery stores.

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Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, July 23, 2015
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Meet the 40 Companies That Donate Directly to Planned Parenthood
Melissa Quinn, The Daily Signal

In the wake of two videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal body parts, Republicans in Congress are working to ensure that Planned Parenthood is stripped of its federal funding.

A Marine Veteran Offers 13 Reasons Why We Should NOT Arm Military Recruiters
Joe Carter, The Stream

They told us in recruiter’s school that recruiting duty was, outside of combat, the most stressful job in the Marine Corps. Yet I believe, and have absolutely no doubt, that having recruiters carry sidearms would simply make the job even more difficult.

Can Obama Really Raise Wages for Millions of People So Easily
David Henderson, EconLog

The regulations don’t magically make employees more productive. So what would employers do? One or more of three things. I list them in order of what I think is increasing probability.

How Free Markets Lead to Higher Life Expectancy in One Chart
Opportunity Lives

Advances in medicine as the chart below from Max Roser shows. Not coincidentally, the spike in life expectancy occurred as the world began to embrace the ideas of capitalism and free markets at the beginning of the 19th century.

ssn-gunsThe Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own financial affairs.

When I first heard this claim, I assumed it must be a false rumor circulating on social media and less-than-reputable websites. Instead, it turns out, if the L.A. Times can be trusted, to be true account of the White House’s intentions.

The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.”

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

According to the LAT, the policy change would affect about 4.2 million adults who receive monthly benefits that are managed by “representative payees.”

The first question the Obama administration should have asked before implementing the “solution” was “Is there a problem?” Are there currently a lot of Social Security recipients who pose a threat to themselves and others by owing a firearm?” The second question they needed to ask was if incompetency in financial matters is the standard, must they also take guns away from everyone in Congress?
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Public money is used for a multitude of things that many Americans find objectionable,” says Zack Pruitt in this week’s Acton Commentary. “When standards for congressional spending become virtually obsolete, the financial door swings wide-open for potential abuse.”

Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million each year from American taxpayers, which comprises over 40 percent of its budget. It was recently shown on video ostensibly seeking to profit from the sale of aborted baby parts (as opposed to being reimbursed for tissue donation), perhaps in violation of federal law. Make no mistake, the big picture story here is not congressional overspending; it is the Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood graphically describing her efforts to “not crush” vital organs when performing abortions in an effort to preserve them and recoup “between $30 and $100 per specimen.” In another video, the President of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors Council indicates a profit-motive for aborted parts by negotiating for higher prices and haggling over the cost of “intact tissue.” When a system allows for unfettered spending, taxpayers can wind up paying not only for unnecessary services, but ones that straddle the line between genocide and the commercialization of human body parts.

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

Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
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Pope Francis Asked for Help on Economics
Michael Novak, Patheos

The great possibility for our generation is to lift out of poverty every poor man and woman on this globe. In the future, the poor ought to enjoy ever-higher standards of living. Malthusian pessimists have been proven wrong, while those like St. John Paul II, moved by hope and respect for human and divine creativity, have so far been correct.

Pope laments ‘meaningless lives’ in tying human trafficking to climate change
Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

Pope Francis said he had “great hopes” that a fundamental agreement to tackle climate change would be reached in Paris later this year and he believed the United Nations needed to play a central role in the fight against global warming. “The UN really needs to take a very strong position on this issue, particularly the trafficking of human beings … [a problem] that has been created by climate change,” the pope said.

World mayors at Vatican seek ‘bold climate agreement’
Joe Torres, WABC-TV

“Climate change has an effect on creation and creation, from the church perspective, was made by God. And we need to respect what God gave us. So that’s where he’s coming from,” said Ines San Martin, a Boston Globe Correspondent. Mayor Bill de Blasio is one of 65 mayors from across the globe who attended the conference. He gave a 10-minute speech urging his colleagues to enact legislation that protects the environment and in turn benefits the poor.

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child traffickingAt first blush, the issues of same-sex marriage and surrogacy don’t seem to have too great a connection. However, in Ireland, a public debate illustrates how closely these issues are related, and it isn’t good.

In May, same-sex marriage became legal in Ireland by public vote. In the days before the vote, major news sources noted that “fears” of surrogacy would sink the vote for same-sex marriage, even though surrogacy is not legal in Ireland. The question raised is: Do people have a right to procreate or, more importantly, have children? Christopher White explains:

The confusion can be traced back to a 1991 case, Murray v. Ireland, in which the high court effectively held that there is a constitutional right to procreate. While many on both sides of the referendum argued that this decision was referring to natural procreation, the decision has already been used to promote donor conception. It’s understandable, then, that many were fearful that a “yes” vote would open the floodgates to a practice that many Irish voters do not support. Mothers and Fathers Matter—the leading civic group opposing the same-sex marriage referendum—launched a campaign that papered the country with ads and posters of a young, concerned toddler with the following slogan: “Surrogacy?: She Needs Her Mother For Life, Not Just For Nine Months. Vote No.”

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Much has been written about the plight of the young in America today, many of whom are leaving college and entering a phase of long term underemployment or outright unemployment. The phenomenon of Millennials stuck living in their parents’ basements is a real thing, and it’s troubling. On this week’s edition of Radio Free Acton, Acton Communications Associate Sarah Stanley talks with Jared Meyer of the Manhattan Institute about his new book, Disinherited: How Washington is Betraying Amerca’s Young, which details some of the policy choices and bad economics from the government that underlie the woes of Millennials.

Jared Meyer will also be in town to talk about his book at the next Acton On Tap event – which is totally free, by the way – so be sure to register today ini order to reserve your spot at Jared’s talk!

Not the Only “Option”

This is the question I ask in response to Rod Dreher et al. at Ethika Politika today. By liberalism, of course, I mean the (classical) liberal tradition as a whole, not just progressive forms of it common on the social and political left.

I write,

So in one sense Benedict Option enthusiasts are not all wrong. Liberalism is the problem the same way “culture” is the problem, or “society,” or “religion,” or “secularism,” or any other general noun that mutually admits of several concrete forms with varying degrees of moral worth. And it’s everywhere.

… Even our anti-liberals are liberals. Long ago, most gave up on their respective utopias and decided that reform from within liberal societies was a more prudent path than violent revolution or quietist withdrawal. So [Jeff] Guhin is right when he says, “We are all liberals now.”

Why, again, is that a bad thing?

Read my full essay, “The Liberal Option’s Answer to the Benedict Option,” at Ethika Politika here.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
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After Obergefell: The Effects on Law, Culture, and Religion
Sherif Girgis, Crisis Magazine

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court didn’t just confect a new right to same-sex civil marriage. In some ways, it inaugurated a new phase in American law, culture, and religion.

What Many Americans Get Wrong About States’ Rights
Jared Meyer and Randal Meyer, The Federalist

When it came to slavery, the Union, not the Confederacy, was the true guardian of states’ rights in the antebellum era.

It’s Time We Learned from Sin Taxes’ Impressive History of Failure
J.D. Tuccille, Reason.com

The Tax Foundation helpfully reveals that excise taxes range across the country from zilch in Wyoming to $35 per gallon of liquor in Washington. That range of rates is an open invitation to fill the backs of trucks and haul loads of booze across borders, which is exactly what happens.

Entrepreneurs Are Better Than Government, Even When Building Infrastructure
James M. Roberts, The Daily Signal

American entrepreneurs built the greatest and freest country the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, the conditions that allowed the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish have deteriorated in recent years, according to the annual Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. The main culprits? Too much government spending, too many taxes and a growing sense that the rule of law in our country is unraveling.

Back in April I wrote about the Baltimore riots and noted the long term impact riots have historically had on cities. At the time I wrote, “Within a few weeks the riots in Baltimore will subside and the country’s attention will shift to other problems. But the economic damage caused by the violence and looting will affect the community for decades to come.”

Most of us who weren’t directly affected have indeed moved on to other problems. But in the wake of the devastation, it is worth taking the time to consider the causes and consequences of rioting and whether they can be predicted or prevented in the future. As Jon Russo of Areavibes writes,

The misinformation that often accompanies rioting only makes these questions more difficult to answer. The rapid spread of information through social media can make prosecution and identification of offending parties easier, but can also intensify public debate and distort the truth. With rioting making more and more news across the United States, we decided to find some hard data on the subject. In this infographic, you’ll find the crimes that characterize typical riots, the impact on lives and property, and the boiling point that turned each incident into a national headline.

His infographic provides a useful overview of the riots in American in the past two decades:
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