We’re still working on finishing production on the audio and video captured last week at Acton University 2013. Here’s William McGurn, Editorial Page Editor at the New York Post and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, addressing Acton U participants last Thursday night:
If the PowerBlog has a favorite atheist libertarian economist, it’s probably George Mason professor Don Boudreaux. Although he isn’t a believer, he sometimes stumbles upon what I would consider to be Christian insights. Consider, for instance, his take on the term “natural resources”:
In nearly all contexts, words and phrases inevitably convey not only information (such as, as Deirdre would say, “telephone numbers”), but also ideas – notions – interpretations – perspectives – biases – prejudices – spins -approval or disapproval – informal theories – attitudes and judgments – unconscious conclusions. And much of all this that is conveyed by our words and phrases goes unnoticed. This fact is neither good nor bad; it’s simply part of the human condition.
Take the term “natural resources” … This phrase suggests that some things of value to human beings occur naturally – without any human effort or creativity. But that suggestion is wrong. Nothing is naturally a resource; nature alone invests nothing with resourcefulness; ultimately, resources – all resources – are created by human beings. Nature creates raw materials, but never creates resources. Raw materials and human artifacts are made into resources only if, and only when, and only insofar as, human creativity figures out a way (or ways) to employ those materials and artifacts in ways that satisfy genuine human desires.
The point, here, is that the term “natural resources” can be misleading about the role of nature in creating human bounty. Nature exists, to be sure; but human bounty is created by human creativity; nature in matters economic is not the prime mover. Nature’s role in determining who is and who isn’t materially wealthy is much smaller than we are sometimes led to believe when focusing on “natural resources.”
Here’s why I think this is a biblical insight.
Last Friday at Acton University, Fr. Gregory Jensen gave an engaging lecture on the dual subject of asceticism and consumerism. The “East Meets West” part might not be what many would expect. Rather than contrast a consumerist West with an ascetic East, Fr. Gregory insists that both consumerism and asceticism transcend cultures and traditions. Inasmuch as all people take part in consumption, an ascetic answer to the challenge of consumerism is (or ought to be) where East meets West. The audio of Fr. Gregory’s lecture will be available on Ancient Faith Radio in the near future, but as a teaser I would like to explore some of the themes briefly here. (more…)
The quality of children and our future society, depends directly on the quality of the marriage of their parents, says Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council speaking at the recent World Congress of Families:
Fagan notes that society is made up of five facets: the family, church, school, the marketplace and government. The first three mentioned are the places that “grow the people” so to speak, and are closely interrelated. The last two areas of society are those into which people are set loose, once they’ve grown up: but the role that they play in these spheres of economy and government really depends on what happened in their experience of family, church and school.
The statistics which Fagan shares are both interesting and revealing. When men marry, their productivity increases by over 20%, and the highest rates of productivity in society come from men who are married with three kids. Married people also make up the demographic that shows the lowest level of unemployment. And while sadly only 45% of children in America reach the age of 17 with their parents’ marriage still intact, those who do achieve better education results.
Samuel Gregg gives three responses to infringements on religious liberty
Christopher B. Warner, The Catholic World Report
Gregg says Christians must unite against the “real enemy” of “social engineering”
Why Religious Liberty Became Controversial: The Left and Jean-Jacques Rousseau
William Haun, Public Discourse
The Left is adopting a Rousseauian view of religion’s role in public life: the state is to determine where, when, and how religious instruction should be permissible for citizens.
True Religion and the Fatherhood of God
Dylan Pahman, Ethika Politika
Christians, who ought to call upon God as “Our Father” on a daily basis, should naturally be fathers to the growing number of fatherless in our society today.
Five Christian Traits Every Entrepreneur Needs
Brian Baugus, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics
Successful entrepreneurship turns chaos into order. It creates value where others see nothing. However, beyond the creative impulse, successful entrepreneurs need other traits that Christians should find familiar.
In Foreign Policy, Daniel Altman argues that over the long-term for-profit companies are often better for society than so-called socially responsible business initiatives:
As Jonathan Berman and I have written in the past, for-profit companies that take a long time horizon in their decision-making are likely to make more social and environmental investments. Things like training workers, bolstering communities, and protecting ecosystems can take a long time to pay off for private companies. When they do, the return — including a stronger labor pool, a wealthier consumer base, fewer working days lost to strikes and protests, and greater employee loyalty — can be comparable to other for-profit investments.
In fact, strictly for-profit companies can be among the best social investors because they apply the same discipline to these investments that they would to other parts of their core business. Energy and mining companies, for example, have some of the longest time horizons in the private sector, and they tend to be big social investors as well. Some European companies have actually stopped issuing quarterly reports to shift the attention of analysts to the long term. And because they are still targeting a single bottom line, profit, there’s no loss of clarity about their mission or erosion of transparency for shareholders.
The U.S. State Department has released its annual “Trafficking in Persons” (Tip) report, used to not only further educate people about global human trafficking, but to identify countries where trafficking is most problematic. The report gives each nation a “tiered” rating. Tier 1 countries are those that fully comply with international laws and standards of the the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Tier 2 nations are on a watch list as they are making efforts to comply with the Act, but are still struggling with full compliance. Tier 3 countries make no effort to comply with this international standard. (more…)