Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) took to the Senate floor yesterday and quoted Lord Acton’s well known dictum, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” There’s a partisan bite to his words, but he mostly warns against the grave dangers and tyranny under concentrated and centralized power.

Cornyn of course, is addressing the multitude of scandals blowing up in Washington, many of them linked to the White House. He also admits corruption has been a problem under both political parties. Cornyn says that we need “to restore faith in Washington.” It’s a worthy goal, but perhaps part of the problem is Americans already have too much faith and trust in federal power. The Texas senator concludes by saying we need to “respect the wisdom of the ages when it comes to concentrated power and its impact on individual liberty.”

His remarks, which runs 15 minutes, is worth your attention.

After the recent admission by the IRS that employees targeted conservative groups, two prominent Christians have come forward claiming they too were harassed for their political views. Franklin Graham, son of the famed evangelist, and Dr. Anne Hendershott, a Catholic professor and author, say they were audited by the IRS after making political statements that criticized liberal political groups.

Franklin Graham recently sent a letter to President Obama saying that he believes his organization was also unfairly targeted for extra scrutiny because the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association urged voters to back “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel” during last year’s presidential race.

The newspaper ads the group ran concluded with the words: “Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me (Billy Graham) that America will remain one nation under God.” Graham says the ads were purchased with designated funds given by friends of the ministry for that purpose.

Three months prior to the election, both Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association received notification from the IRS that a review would be conducted for the tax year ending 2010. Graham says that in light of the subsequent revelations, “I do not believe that the IRS audit of our two organizations last year is a coincidence—or justifiable.”

Similarly, Hendershott says the IRS audited her in 2010 and demanded to know who was paying her and “what their politics were.” The professor says she was surprised she was being audited on business grounds since her freelance activity primarily consists of writing for Catholic outlets for which she receives no pay. Her husband was not included in the audit even though he brings in most of the family’s income and the couple filed a joint tax return.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, May 16, 2013

Liberty Without Virtue: A Nation Without Its Heart
Tyler Castle, Values & Capitalism

Having witnessed the same act of kindness twice in only two or three days, my first thought was that people apparently have a very hard time holding on to their clothing accessories. But I also thought the acts of kindness were out of place in Brooklyn and D.C.—locations not known for their hospitality and civic virtue.

America Needs More Free-Range Kids
John Stossel, Reason

Grit made America great.

The Impact of School Vouchers on College Enrollment
Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson, Education Next

Only 9 percent of the African American students in the control group attended a private four-year college. The offer of a voucher raised that proportion by 5 percentage points, an increase of 58 percent. That extraordinary increment may reflect the tight connections between private elementary and secondary schools and private institutions of higher education.

Life, Work, & The Ten Commandments
Art Lindsley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Let’s examine the Ten Commandments and then touch on their application to public life. This framework is important in order to make wise decisions in our work and in economics.

We are about a month away from Acton University, and another keynote speaker is William B. Allen. He is an expert in the American founding and U.S. Constitution; the American founders; the influence of various political philosophers on the American founding. He is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and Emeritus Dean, James Madison College, at Michigan State University. Currently he serves as Visiting Senior Professor in the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University.

Allen’s keynote address is entitled, “To Preserve, Protect and Defend: The Emancipation Proclamation.” In this 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Allen focuses on who were the true beneficiaries of that statesmanlike act. This presentation will look at Lincoln’s intentions in the emancipation proclamation. Although this proclamation was later called a “war measure,” it was inspired by a comprehensive understand of how susceptible free institutions are to neglect and rejection. In a 1989 Imprimis article, Allen says this:

Following the war and Emancipation there was a fairly vigorous effort in this country to realize the promises of the Declaration of Independence as those promises were restated through the 14th Amendment. Many things occurred about which Americans were justifiably proud and particularly in the lives of the ex-slaves. There was a spontaneous flowering of entrepreneurial activity and indigenous development of educational mechanisms—schools, teachers, and even the onset of university education to a significant degree. Communities had formed structured expectations built upon recognized moral practices and certainly congruent with the hopes and ambitions encouraged thereby. (more…)

Private schools are for the privileged and those willing to pay high costs for education; everyone else attends public school or seeks alternate options: this is the accepted wisdom. In the United States, the vast majority of students at the primary and secondary level attend public school, funded by the government.

When considering education in the developing world, we may hold fast to this thinking, believing that for those in severely impoverished areas, private education is an unrealistic and scarce option, leaving the poor with public school or no education at all.

Indeed, this was the opinion held by James Tooley, a Professor of Education Policy at Newcastle University, until he experienced the landscape firsthand, traveling throughout the developing world, conducting research on educational systems in poor and prosperous areas, documenting numerous case studies, and reporting findings that prove the prevalence of low-cost private schools in poor areas.

In an Education Next article, Tooley discusses his observations and unmasks two common myths associated with education for the poor.

Myth #1: Private Education for the Poor Does Not Exist

We sometimes treat “the poor” as if they were somehow uniquely incapable of rising out of poverty without our assistance. We often assume, if we don’t provide them with everything they need, including education, that no one will. Yet if we look closely (and with a bit more humility), we see indigenous solutions everywhere. (more…)

economic growthValues & Capitalism, a project of the American Enterprise Institute, has published a primer of sorts entitled, Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing. The text is just over 100 pages, and gives the reader a thoughtful, concise and essential source on free market economics and its correlation to human flourishing and economic growth.

Authors Edd S. Noell, Stephen L. S. Smith and Bruce G. Webb say this about their work:

[T]he core proposition of this book is that growth is a moral issue because of its impact on the flourishing – or shriveling – of human society. The neglect of growth has moral consequences just as surely as the encouragement of growth has. At its best, sustained growth raises the poor out of poverty, improves the lives of the rich, and helps nations avoid intergenerational conflicts and the deprivations of fiscal crises. Even more basically, growth provides nations with the means and interest to protect the environment and to cultivate a vibrant and humane civilization.

Let’s examine just one of these topics: poverty. The authors note that the growth of a nation’s per capita income positively correlates to the income of its citizens, even the poorest. When a country’s economy grows, a series of events is set in motion, if you will. The example is given of the growth of India’s call-center industry, which required literate English-speakers, presumably fairly well-educated. The call-centers did not directly help less-educated citizens, but the growth of that industry caused the growth of areas requiring lesser-skilled workers: construction, food-service and the like. Of course, the authors are quick to point out that economic growth in any nation requires strong democratic governance, civil rights, rule of law and perhaps most importantly, a citizenship that values a culture of dignity, responsibility, trust and other virtues.

Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing is a terrific addition to the casual economist’s library, and offers a solid grounding in why economic growth and morality are necessarily intertwined.

Rooted & Grounded, Abraham KuyperIn Abraham Kuyper’s recently translated sermon, “Rooted & Grounded,” he explains that the church is both “organism” and “institution,” drawing from both nature and the work of human hands. Pointing to Ephesians 3:17, he writes that, “the church of the Lord is one loaf, dough that rise according to its nature but nevertheless kneaded with human hands, and baked like bread.”

Yet, as he goes on to note, this two-fold requirement is not limited to the church, but also applies “to every kind of life that comes into contact with human consciousness.” Further, it is a “fundamental law of creation.”

What follows is a stunningly poetic portrait of God’s created order and the call to human stewardship and cultivation therein:

Creation was fashioned by God, fashioned with life that surges and scintillates in its bosom, fashioned with the powers that lie dormant in its womb. Yet, lying there, it displayed but half its beauty. Now, however, God crowns it with humanity, who awakens its life, arouses its powers, and with human hands brings to light the glory that once lay locked in its depths but had not yet shone on its countenance. (more…)