poverty_2226036b1Over at the New York Times, economist Jeffrey Sachs opines about the need for greater measures to “end poverty” in countries across the world where people are truly suffering. Using data from the World Bank, Sachs reports that the proportion of households in developing countries below the extreme-poverty line has declined sharply from 52 percent in 1980, to 43 percent in 1990, 34 percent in 1999, and 21 percent in 2010. Sachs then explains what is needed in order for this to continue:

Here are the basics: economic growth, and hence a market economy, is vital. Africa’s poverty is declining in part because its growth rate picked up from 2.3 percent per year during the lackluster years of 1990-2000 to 5.7 percent during 2000-10. Without economic growth, there cannot be sustained gains in income, health and other areas. Continued progress depends on heavy investments in major infrastructure — water, electricity, waste management — and these in turn depend on large-scale private financing, hence a suitable market framework.

So anti-market sentiment is no friend of poverty reduction. But neither is free-market fundamentalism. Economic growth and poverty reduction can’t be achieved by free markets alone. Disease control, public education, the promotion of new science and technology, and protection of the natural environment are public functions that must align with private market forces.

At this point we can begin to see the lack of social imagination in the goal of simply “ending poverty.” The Christian tradition, instead of focusing on only two spheres of society — government and the economy — pushes the conversation forward toward human flourishing and sustainable economies because people are made for more than simply living in a less-bad world. Christian teaching places emphasis on the moral, social, political, and economic contexts that contribute to societies where humans can flourish in morally excellent ways consistent with their creational design. Sachs completely misses, then, the importance of mediating institutions.
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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The Real Paradox of Individualism
Brandon McGinley, Fare Forward

In contemporary American political discourse, there are two poles of authority and power: the individual and the state. Their relationship is inverse and antagonistic; as one waxes, the other wanes.

Thomas Aquinas on Helping the Poor
Wesley Coopersmith, Values & Capitalism

Because of the magnitude and specificity of each individual’s needs, the government cannot adequately provide for every one of its citizens. As Christians, we must work to provide for our neighbors in accordance with the command in Scripture to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The HHS Mandate, Hosanna-Tabor, and the Question of Religious Organizations
Brian Murray, Public Discourse

The Supreme Court’s decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC shows that we need a workable legal framework for self-proclaimed religious organizations to claim protection under the Free Exercise Clause.

Seven Movies You Didn’t Know Were Pro-Enterprise
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Here are seven films that—below the surface—embrace a positive message of entrepreneurship and economic freedom that Christians can proudly stand behind.

poverty-and-womenThe latest census figures show that in the U.S. women are more likely to live in poverty than men, particularly if they’re raising families alone. In total, 14.5 percent of American women lived in poverty in 2012, compared to 11 percent of men. At every age women are more likely to be poor than men. Even girls under age 18 are slightly more likely to live in poverty than boys are. What could be causing this disparity?

As James Taranto explains, the difference can partially be explained by the advantages — biological, cultural, and legal — women have over men. For example, the reason why there are more girls than boys living in poverty is because girls are less likely to die than boys:
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Acton On The AirSamuel Gregg made yet another radio appearance this morning in support of his latest book, Tea Party Catholic, this time on 570 WBKN in Youngstown, Ohio with host Dan Rivers. It was another fine discussion, and even included time for Sam to take a few calls from listeners. You can listen to the interview using the audio player below.

Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
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greek foodGreece is, economically, a mess. With a youth unemployment rate exceeding 65 percent, leaving two-thirds of the nation’s young people unable to find a job, there is not much to celebrate in a country where family life – like many cultures – revolves around meals. Greece is also facing a sharp decline in population. Here is a story of what happens when people who love to cook, but have no one to cook for, meet people who love to eat, but have little money for food. (more…)

Are you seeking scholarships to offset graduate school costs? Have you become acquainted with an emerging scholar and would like to recognize this individual by nominating him/her for a prestigious award? If you are involved in academia and have a passion for work that values rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and freedom in economic life, we recommend you look into the Acton Institute’s scholarship programs. And we encourage you to do so quickly, for important deadlines are rapidly approaching!

Ranging from $500 to $1,000, Acton’s Calihan Academic Fellowships provide scholarships and research grants to seminarians and graduate students demonstrating outstanding academic work in theology, philosophy, economics, or related fields. The application deadline for the 2014 Spring Term is October 15, 2013. For more information on eligibility and to apply visit the Calihan Academic Fellowship page of the Acton website.

The Novak Award, named after distinguished American theologian Michael Novak, awards those scholars early in their academic career who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit and new scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society. Professors, university faculty members, and other scholars may nominate qualified individuals for this $10,000 Award. Nominations for the 2014 Award must be submitted by November 15, 2013, and nominated individuals have until December 15, 2013 to submit applications. For nomination and eligibility information visit the Novak Award webpage.

For a complete list of Acton Institute scholarship programs visit the Student Awards and Scholarships page.

poorActon’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, offers some fresh thoughts on Pope Francis today at Crisis Magazine. Gregg points out that there has been much talk about “poverty” and the “poor” since the election of Pope Francis, but that this is nothing new in the Catholic Church.

…Francis isn’t the first to have used the phrase “a poor church of the poor.” It’s also been employed in a positive fashion by figures ranging from the father of liberation theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez, to critics of Marxist-versions of the same theology. In a 2011 meeting with German Catholic lay associations, for instance, Benedict XVI challenged the very wealthy—and notoriously bureaucratized—German Church to embrace poverty. By this, Benedict meant the Church detaching itself from “worldliness” in order to achieve “liberation from material and political burdens and privileges,” thereby breaking free of the institutional-maintenance mindset that plagues contemporary German Catholicism and opening itself “in a truly Christian way to the whole world.”

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