Today, Professor Helen Alvaré of George Mason University, testified before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice regarding taxpayer-funded abortions under Obamacare. Alvaré, who teaches family law, law and religion, and property law, states that Americans have never understood abortion as a “good,” and that abortion cannot be labeled health care. The video below is her testimony.
Putting ourselves and our children further in debt, notes Timothy Dalrymple, is not the way to help the poor:
One of the great difficulties of this issue, for Christians, is that the morality of spending and debt has been so thoroughly demagogued that it’s impossible to advocate cuts in government spending without being accused of hatred for the poor and needy. A group calling itself the “Circle of Protection” recently promoted a statement on “Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor.” But we don’t need to protect the programs. We need to protect the poor. Indeed, sometimes we need to protect the poor from the programs. Too many anti-poverty programs are beneficial for the politicians that pass them, and veritable boondoggles for the government bureaucracy that administers them, but they actually serve to rob the poor of their dignity and their initiative, they undermine the family structures that help the poor build prosperous lives, and ultimately mire the poor in poverty for generations. Does anyone actually believe that the welfare state has served the poor well?
The Washington Examiner has published a chart that clearly lays out the difference between Obamacare versus private sector health care. Using Walmart as an example (despite the employer’s much-disparaged employee benefits), Elliot Smilowitz at the Examiner shows that the private sector is able to offer comparable health care at much less expense than Obamacare. (more…)
The War on Poverty at 50
Various, National Review Online
Experts reflect on what went right and what went wrong with LBJ’s initiative.
The Islamization of France in 2013
Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute
Although no official data exist, more than half of the inmates in French prisons are believed to be Muslim, rising to 70% in some urban areas. This disproportionate ratio, coupled with overcrowding and overtaxed guards, makes young Muslims in French prisons easy prey for jihadist recruiters, according to guards, prison directors, ex-inmates, chaplains and crime experts interviewed by Reuters.
If You Really Care About Ending Poverty, Stop Talking About Inequality
W. Bradford Wilcox, The Atlantic
Don’t mind the rich-poor gap. Statistical analysis shows three factors—overall income growth, marriages, and local government spending—matter most for poorer children chasing the American Dream.
The War on Poverty at Fifty: How to Craft Policy to Help America’s Poor
Rachel Sheffield, Public Discourse
Government may be able to provide material assistance, but it has failed to address the deeper causes of poverty. Worse, it has discouraged the most important defenses against poverty in America—work and marriage.
Even when we agree on what Biblical principles should guide our political choices, evangelicals from the left and right rarely agree on policy solutions. But there is one area where there appears to be an increasingly significant level of agreement: the immorality of our national debt.
At Christianity Today, David P. Gushee — an ethicist and politically progressive evangelical — explains why the $17 trillion national debt is both immoral and unwise:
Most progressive evangelicals who address government spending focus on compassion issues. They connect God’s care for the poor to U.S. government spending priorities. This often seems to mean by default that all cuts to social welfare spending are bad, and that all increases are good.
I agree with my progressive evangelical allies that our government—which projects spending $3.77 trillion in fiscal 2014—seems to have sufficient resources to provide for the sick, the aged, the poor, and the uninsured. I agree with an overall reading of the Bible that prioritizes physical human needs over most other priorities. But I protest a too-easy move from “God cares for the poor and calls Christians to do the same” to “God wants the secular government of the United States to spend x on social welfare.” Translating a sacred text into a political ethic is not that easy.
Still, we have a moral problem on our hands: While our nation budgets $3.77 trillion for spending in fiscal 2014, it forecasts revenue of $744 billion less than that. If a nation does that for long enough, it ends up with a debt of $17 trillion—and rising.
A government that develops a pattern of spending considerably more than it raises behaves immorally. But its immorality is not simply the immorality-as-immediate-hardheartedness-to-the-poor, so often decried by my friends.
In addition to reading Joe Carter’s striking by-the-numbers piece on the War on Poverty, and in keeping with Sam Gregg’s reflections on the deeper social and cultural forces at work, I heartily recommend taking in Josh Good’s excellent retrospective in AEI’s The American.
Leveraging a lengthy quote from Herman Bavinck’s The Christian Family, one I’ve put to use myself, Good notes the “inverse impact of changing family structure on productive work and a flourishing economy”:
The fact is, poverty is not merely a material problem. A half-century after the dawn of the War on Poverty, we would be well-served if President Obama addressed the American public on the cultural aspects of poverty…Americans truly interested in serving the poor more effectively will do well to recall this insight, from the late theologian Herman Bavinck:
“For children are the glory of marriage, the treasure of parents, the wealth of family life. They develop within their parents an entire cluster of virtues, such as … devotion and self-denial, care for the future, involvement in society, the art of nurturing. With their parents, children place restraints upon ambition [and] as with living mirrors they show their parents their own virtues and faults, force them to reform themselves, mitigating their criticisms and teaching them how hard it is to govern a person. The family exerts a reforming power upon the parents … [transforming] ambition into service, miserliness into munificence, the weak into strong, cowards into heroes, coarse fathers into mild lambs, tenderhearted mothers into ferocious lionesses.” (more…)
In today’s National Review Online, leading economists are asked to comment on the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Acton’s Director of Research, Sam Gregg, weighs in:
As we know now, Johnson’s offensive against poverty did not have the impact envisaged by its progenitors. By the early 1970s, the failure was stark. Even today, this failure remains Exhibit A for the ineffectiveness of government intervention when confronting many economic problems. Not that this has led to any major rethinking on the part of most modern leftists when it comes to their conviction that you really cannot have enough state intervention or spend enough taxpayers’ money when you’re addressing an issue like poverty. Their approach remains unchanged: Pass more laws and throw more dollars at the problem. (more…)