Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
By

When business corporations are created, the community does not give something away, says Robert G. Kennedy in this week’s Acton Commentary. Instead, in order to pursue the economic benefits offered by the corporate structure, the community offers something in exchange.

The full text of his essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
(more…)

In the most recent issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality (16.1), I review The Mystical as Political by Aristotle Papanikolaou. I write,

In The Mystical as Political, Aristotle Papanikolaou seeks to construct a political theology rooted in the Orthodox Christian conviction that all of creation, and humanity in particular, was created for communion with God. He begins by offering a helpful survey of political theory in the Orthodox tradition, focusing especially on Eusebius of Caesarea, Saint John Chrysostom, the Emperor Justinian, Vladimir Soloviev, and Sergius Bulgakov, inter alia (chapter 1). In the following chapters, he addresses the relationship between church and state (chapter 2); personhood and human rights (chapter 3); divine-human communion and the common good (chapter 4); and honesty, forgiveness, and free speech (chapter 5). In the process, and refreshingly for an Orthodox writer, he also engages Western theologians and philosophers — including William Cavanaugh, Jacques Maritain, Stanley Hauerwas, and Nicholas Wolterstorff, to highlight only some of the more prominently featured — acknowledging their genuine insights while, nevertheless, criticizing what he sees to be various shortcomings. The Mystical as Political represents a careful and irenic, though not uncritical, Orthodox Christian approach to political theology, ultimately offering a positive appraisal of liberal democracy and human rights. Although essential reading on the subject with much to commend it, it has several shortcomings of its own.

In particular, I hone in on “an overemphasis on the particular over against the general, the dynamic and the uniqueness of persons over against the static and the common nature of humanity.” As this is a continuing interest of mine and a subject I have explored in the past here on the PowerBlog, as well as elsewhere, my review is offered as open access to anyone who may be interested in the subject here.

I previously explored the subject of Orthodoxy and natural law here.

And Fr. Michael Butler lectured on the subject of “Orthodoxy and Natural Law” and “Orthodoxy, Church, and State” at Acton University this summer, my summaries of which can be found here and here.

american-tax-policyYesterday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) gave a speech on tax reform at the American Enterprise Institute that has been praised by many conservatives. Here’s what you should know about Lee’s proposal.

What exactly did Sen. Lee propose?

The “Family Fairness and Opportunity Tax Reform Act” is a proposal by Sen. Lee to deal with the individual income side of the tax code (not the corporate side) by making it more “family-friendly” and eliminating what Sen. Hill calls the “parent tax penalty.”

What is the parent tax penalty?

While Social Security and Medicare are often referred to as “insurance” programs, they are really generational transfer payments. Younger workers pay for the elderly and retired. The FICA and Medicare taxes taken out of a worker paychecks today are used today to directly pay for these benefits to seniors.

Sen. Lee notes that this structure requires that parents contribute twice — by paying FICA and Medicare taxes and by bearing the economic costs of raising children. According to Lee, this is essentially a “capital gains” tax on children (who will later provide the human capital for the generational transfer payment system).

Can you give an overview of Lee’s plan?
(more…)

JMM_16 1 FRONTThe newest issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality has been published. The issue is available in digital format online and should be arriving in print in the next few weeks for subscribers. Volume 16, no. 1 is a theme issue on the topic of “Integral Human Development,” which was the focus of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate. He writes,

The development We speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man.

In this light, this most recent issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality focuses on the goal of development with the broadest possible conceptions, combining insights from the disciplines of theology, philosophy, ethics, economics, and law, in order to explore the complex goal of lifting people out of all forms of poverty — whether material, spiritual, or otherwise — so that they can better fulfill their God-given potential and vocations. (more…)

Popular Mexican food chain Chipotle has made waves with its new animated short, in which a modest scarecrow flees the hustle and bustle of an over-industrialized dystopia in search of a slower, greener, earthier existence.

“Dreaming of something better,” Chipotle explains, “a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory.”

The whole thing is quite well done, with stunning visuals and effective storyboarding, all propelled by a soundtrack of Fiona Apple, meandering about at her spooky-crooning best. Check, check, check.

Unfortunately, the caricatured villain is most typically a caricature, and just so happens to be feeding hungry mouths across the globe, not to mention employing swaths of scarecrows in the process. One man’s dystopia is another man’s employer, who’s yet another man’s cheap-yet-juicy cheeseburger supplier (that’d be me). (more…)

houstonWhenever there is a mass shooting, inevitably there is a rush by public officials, celebrities, and media talking heads to demand further restrictions on gun ownership. Truthfully, both sides of the firearm debate are guilty of politicizing these tragedies, as people race to media outlets to declare that their side played no role or responsibility for the action of the assailant. Many gun owners and their supporters reflexively react to the accusations. Despite the media’s relentless focus on violent shootings, Second Amendment support is surging. Americans are purchasing more guns than ever before. Concealed permit holders and applicants across the country are on the rise too. Most states outside of the Northeast are relaxing their restrictions on firearms not tightening them. When it comes to self-government, no issue is succeeding in America like firearm ownership and the right to carry.

Why is the argument to restrict firearms so ineffective? With each tragedy many pundits and politicians try to link the millions of law abiding gun owners to the violence and tragedy. If citizens didn’t have access to firearms, there would be no tragedy, so the argument goes. But they are not linked at all. They are unrelated. The moral deficiency in the argument is glaring. Most Americans realize it’s too far of a leap to connect the millions and millions of lawful and safe firearm owners to people with severe mental illnesses and psychological problems. The attempt by so many to link these two groups of people together is ineffective, rings hollow, and comes off as offensive. They are not and never will be morally equivalent agents in our society.

It’s actually the morality of millions of law abiding citizens who choose to exercise their Constitutional gun rights that are undoing and crippling the arguments of those calling for restrictions and gun bans. That’s why morality is so effective and essential for self-government. And when it comes to morality and exercising rights, those who want to limit government intrusion and promote self-government can learn learn a lot from gun owners.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
By

EFW-Map-300x217The Canada-based Fraser Institute has released the ninth edition of its annual report, Economic Freedom of North America 2013, in which the respective economic situation and government regulatory factors present in the states and provinces of North America were gauged.

After ranking 2nd in 2000, the U.S. falls to 17th in this year’s report. As the authors explain:

Unfortunately for the United States, we’ve seen overspending, weakening rule of law, and regulatory overkill on the part of the U.S. government, causing its economic freedom score to plummet in recent years. This is a stark contrast from 2000, when the U.S. was considered a bastion of economic freedom and ranked second globally.

A PDF version of the report is available here.