IMG_7821Guatemala is not known for freedom and stability, with a history colored by authoritarianism, political corruption, civil war, segregation, colonialism, post-colonial interventionism, and so on.

Dire poverty and street violence remain endemic, and yet hope remains: for political and economic liberty, yes, but also for freedom of spirit.

In a beautiful long-form essay for the new PovertyCure Magazine, J. Caleb Stewart explores the promise of Guatemala, highlighting the story of Antonio Cali, “a one-time socialist who began his drift from the left when he realized that entrepreneurship held more promise for the proletariat than redistribution.”

After stumbling upon a radio broadcast by an outspoken professor from Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM) — a Guatemalan university founded on principles of economic liberty — Antonio realized that he needn’t wait on others to transform his situation and surroundings. (more…)

Photo from the Centre for Research on Globalization

Photo from the Centre for Research on Globalization

Samuel Gregg appeared on the recent episode of the podcast The Catholic Cave, “Britain, the EU and You,” to discuss Britain’s recent referendum vote to leave the EU. The show considers factors that potentially led to the Brexit other than trade and immigration issues, including dissatisfaction with international bureaucracy, cultural and philosophical differences between Britain and other European countries, and problems of subsidiarity.

Gregg sees Brexit as a “reassertion of national sovereignty,” “reaffirmation of the importance of the nation state,” and a “revolt…against bureaucracy.”  The event presents warning signs, he says, for all transnational and supranational institutions who seek to rule in a “top-down, centralized, administrative” manner, including the European Union, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. (more…)

africa-clothesI don’t like to be wrong. But I also like to think that I’m open-minded enough to change my opinion when I am wrong (although I could be wrong about how open-minded I am).

I try to carefully consider the arguments other people make (at least most of the time), but on occasion, I’m convinced I’m wrong by the person I listen to most: myself.

Here, for example, is the gist of a conversation I had with myself last week:
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suspensionIn Dothan, Alabama, school officials are meeting to make changes to the Dothan City Schools suspension policies because of disparities between the rates of suspensions between black and white students. Across the American South, these suspension disparities are among the greatest. The terms for how students are punished are largely subjective, and this punishment increasingly falls harder on minority students compared to their white counterparts. An August 2015 report published by the University of Pennsylvania highlighted some of the disparities in punishment and brought to light some of the disproportionate impact these harsh discipline policies have on black students in the Southern states in particular.

The report found that across the country in one academic year there were 1.2 million black students suspended from K-12 schools. More than half of these suspensions occurred in Southern states (55 percent). Southern school districts also accounted for half of the expulsions of black students in the nation. Overall black students were punished at disproportionately high levels across Southern school districts. In 84 school districts black students accounted for 100 percent of all suspensions, and in 181 districts black students accounted for 100 percent of expulsions. Those numbers only represent the districts where all of the harsh discipline was entirely directed at black students — in hundreds of other districts punishment was directed towards black students 50 or 75 percent of the time.
(more…)

cover_oneFrom today until Sunday (July 14 – 17), the Acton Institute’s book One and Indivisible: The Relationship between Religious and Economic Freedom will be available to download for free. The book is a collection of essays, which is, according to editor Kevin Schmiesing, organized around the central theme: “What is the relationship between economic freedom and religious freedom?” As Schmiesing writes:

In light of the urgent need both to understand the relationship between religious and economic liberty and to bolster it, it is imperative that the essays here both explore the theoretical basis of the relationship and offer practical guidance for how to nurture it. They must show us how to engage in the building of societies that are at once hospitable to the worship of God and also conducive to the material abundance that permits human flourishing in all its dimensions. They do not disappoint on this score.

In the twenty-first century, increasing persecution of religious believers across the world has brought renewed attention to the importance and foundations of genuine religious liberty. Too often, however, advocates of religious freedom fail to recognize the ways in which other aspects of freedom—including the rights to property and economic initiative—are intertwined with the freedom to act in accord with religious belief. In this wide-ranging volume, an interfaith, international group of prominent scholars and religious leaders explore the relationship between economic and religious liberty. A sound understanding of this relationship, rooted in the natural law and the truth about the human person, is indispensable if our future is to be characterized not by civil and religious strife but instead by peaceful religious practice and prosperous commerce among the diverse peoples of the world.

You can download the eBook from Amazon.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, July 14, 2016
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Is Homelessness Only a Housing Problem?
Stephen Eide, Family Studies

Is homelessness purely a housing problem, or do norms and family structure play a role?

The Double Standard on Low-Wage Work
A. Barton Hinkle, Reason.com

Democrats love unpaid interns. Republicans more likely to pay them.

The Capitalist’s Imagination
Brooke Harrington, The Atlantic

The German sociologist Jens Beckert argues that literary theory can help explain what economics fails to.

What to Know About the History of the Fed’s Beige Book
Merrill Fabry, Time

On Wednesday, as it does every six weeks, the U.S. Federal Reserve will release what’s called the Beige Book, so-called for the color of its cover.

John Calhoun (1782 - 1850)

John Calhoun (1782 – 1850)

Proponents of protectionism often ground their support in a quasi-nationalism; trade should be restricted for the benefit of the nation. Economically, the argument holds little weight. The benefits of more trade, like more and cheaper goods, outweigh the costs, like some temporary unemployment that results from the closing of a factory that couldn’t compete with foreign companies.

Some protectionists may accept this, and still urge tariffs, quotas, and other restrictions. They argue that a nation can still benefit, even with economic disadvantages. Sure, consumers might pay in higher prices if there’s a tariff on steel, but think of all the jobs! The consequences of protectionism, however, are not simply economic. Rather than developing national and political unity, tariffs often lead to national discord.

Take the United States in the early nineteenth century. Its still developing economy was primarily agricultural, with a growing commercial and manufacturing sector. Many early American politicians advocated a tariff in order to protect, foster, and develop American manufacturing.

Ignoring the economic flaws of such a plan, the policy sowed the seeds for national disunion, culminating in the United States Civil War. How?

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