Blog author: jcarter
Friday, August 30, 2013
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I.R.S. to Recognize All Gay Marriages, Regardless of State
Annie Lowrey, New York Times

All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes the marriage, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

Court Rules Obama Admin Can’t Force Family Law Firm to Obey HHS Mandate
Thomas More Law Center

For the Willis brothers, being forced by the government to fund, promote and assist others in obtaining services which destroy innocent life is tantamount to being a participant in a gravely immoral practice.

Public Ignorance About Crime Rates
Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy

Why is public opinion on crime rates so inaccurate?

Why Christians Can’t Disengage from the World
Taylor Barkley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

On June 29, 2013 in Starke, Florida, the first monument to atheism to be erected on government property was dedicated. It will sit alongside the Ten Commandments on the Bradford County courthouse grounds.

UntitledHowever misguided their aims, there was one a time when progressives worked to protect the welfare and improve the lot of the individual. Today, the goal of many progressives is to protect the welfare and improve the lot of public bureaucracies. A prime — and stunningly inane — example of this tendency is found Allison Benedikt’s “manifesto” in Slate titled, “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person“:

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)

Notice that she is willing to sacrifice the educations of children today — and generations of children for an indefinite time in the future — so that the public school system can be saved. Whereas public schools once existed to educate children, they now exist to justify their own existence (and the existence of teacher’s unions). Here’s how Benedikt thinks it should work:
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Culture-Wars-WebWe are told, over and over, we are in the midst of a “culture war” here in the U.S. It’s Right vs. Left, Republican vs. Democrat, Baby Boomers vs. Gen Xers, Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Abortion. You get labeled by the church you attend, the shoes you wear, the type of beer you drink. We want our culture to be “better,” but we can’t seem to agree on what that means.

David French, Senior Counsel at the American Center of Law and Justice, has some ideas about how the culture lies to us as to we try to go about change. I think he’s on to something.

First, he says we are told we “can rebel through conformity.” You can witness this quite easily. Want to see “rebellion?” Look at all the twenty-somethings with tattoos of Chinese characters on their wrists. Ooooh, take that, culture! Take a gander at the “cultural” offerings on college campuses. For pity’s sake, how many times do we have to sit through “The Vagina Monologues?” (more…)

noun_project_8671For this week’s Acton Commentary, ahead of Labor Day weekend, I write about “working harder and smarter,” lessons we can learn from Ashton Kutcher and Mike Rowe.

One of the implications of connecting hard work with smart work is that the difficulty of work on its own does not determine its value in the marketplace. It isn’t a question of how hard you are working, but how hard you are working in productive service. This is why Lester DeKoster writes,

The paycheck follows upon work. Often the harder we work, the larger the paycheck—though, as many workers know, this unfortunately is not an invariable law. That is because, as we shall see, work and wage are not related as cause and effect.

He refers to money as the “bait,” which induces us to work and which tends to direct our work in service to others. But the bait can become a “trap” if we conflate the meaning of work with the wage: “Work endows life with meaning because of what work is, not because of what it earns. Paychecks buy goods and services provided to us through the gift of selves by others, but money buys no meaning. Life’s meanings are not for sale!”
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Earlier this month, the Chicago Tribune ran a story by Cezary Podkul on concerns raised by the Missionary Oblates Catholic community regarding commodities trading. Titled “For Nuns and Analysts Alike, Bank Commodity Earnings Are a Mystery,” the story focuses on Rev. Seamus Finn, the Oblates’ top dog, and his fears that Goldman Sachs’ trading practices negatively impact energy and food prices.

Podkul reports:

Driven by a determination to invest in a socially conscious way, Finn’s group has been concerned about banks’ commodities activities since 2008, when a spike in energy and agricultural products caused food riots in Africa. The issue is whether banks’ trading activities artificially drive up food prices.

The Missionary Oblates are but one group affiliated with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which has dialed-up efforts to bring to heel any company run afoul of its decidedly progressive agenda – lack of spiritual underpinnings for these efforts notwithstanding. The Oblates and fellow ICCR members the Maryknoll Sisters and the Tri-State Coalition of Responsible Investing casually ignore all theology and doctrine as well as science and economics to further their efforts to promote what, for them, falls under the “social justice” rubric.

From the Summer 2012 issue of the ICCR’s The Corporate Examiner: The Company We Keep:

[F]ood commodities markets have surfaced as a potential red flag for responsible investors. ICCR members are concerned about reports that over-speculation or excessive hedging in food commodities markets may create global food price bubbles as these price spikes have been linked to malnutrition and famine in the world’s most economically vulnerable communities. (more…)

tied handsYesterday, as a nation, we spent time reflecting on the American landscape 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech. In it, Dr. King decried that our nation – while abolishing slavery legally – still had a long way to go “until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'”

We still have a long way to go.

According to the Polaris Project, there are hundreds of thousands of people trafficked in the United States every year. Some of them are U.S. citizens, moved state-to-state, others are brought into the country illegally and forced into either sexual or manual labor. (more…)

Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat (Library of Religious Biography Series)James D. Bratt recently released Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, the first full-scale English-language biography of the influential Dutch theologian, minister, politician, newspaper editor, etc. The book has spurred plenty of discussion across the web, and now, Calvin College is hosting a special event to celebrate its publication.

The event, “Abraham Kuyper for the 21st Century,” will explore the questions, challenges, and opportunities that Kuyper’s work raises today, as well as how Bratt’s biography helps us respond.

In addition to Bratt himself, speakers will include Yale University’s Nicholas Wolterstorff and Calvin College’s Tracy Kuperus. The event will take place on Wednesday, September 18, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Calvin College’s Covenant Fine Arts Center. You can find more details at the event’s web site or via the event flyer. (more…)