Reading through Scalia Dissents: Writings of the Supreme Court’s Wittiest, Most Outspoken Justice, I came across this gem: “No government official is ‘tempted’ to place restraints upon his own freedom of action, which is why Lord Acton did not say ‘Power tends to purify.'”

The comments from Justice Scalia emerged from Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992). A fuller context to his words gives added meaning to the threat to liberty and the rule of law from activist courts:

The Court’s statement that it is “tempting” to acknowledge the authoritativeness of tradition in order to “cur[b] the discretion of federal judges” is, of course, rhetoric rather than reality; no government official is tempted” to place restraints upon his own freedom of action, which is why Lord Acton did not say “Power tends to purify.” The Court’s temptation is in the quite opposite and more natural direction – towards systematically eliminating checks upon its power; and it succumbs.

Jordan Ballor reminded me of a similar Lord Acton quote: “Everybody likes to get as much power as circumstances allow, and nobody will vote for a self-denying ordinance.”

“Retirement as a cultural concept needs to go away.” So says Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in a thought-provoking piece today over at Forbes.

I agree with the sentiment, in large part because good work never ends.

But as Gobry also illustrates, we need to rethink our conceptions of work as well as retirement, which for many is just another way of talking about the end of work.

The Fund for American Studies produced a video, narrated by economist Michael Cox, that shows how one nation rose from poverty to unprecedented wealth in just a few generations.

If anyone tells you that people have been moving to the suburbs in the past ten years or so to pursue a life of comfort, ease, and safety you can know for a fact that they are stuck in a 1980s vision of American life.

What has been trending in America in the past 10 years or so is that people are moving to major cities for a life of comfort, ease, convenience, excitement, and the pursuit of the “New Urbanism American Dream” that displaces minorities and the poor to the suburbs as urban market conditions change to meet demand. In fact, according to a Brookings Institute report, by 2008 large suburbs became home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities and housed almost one-third of the nation’s poor overall. According to the report, “between 2000 and 2008, suburbs in the country’s metro areas in cities of all sizes saw their poor population grow by 25 percent—almost five times faster than primary cities and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities.”

This change is making the suburbs home to a more diverse population in terms of age, ethnicity, household size, and poverty status. Today there is very little difference between racial and cultural diversity in major cities versus the suburbs. We are living in a new era where blacks and Latinos make up a disproportionate share of the poor in both cities and suburbs. To preach against living in the suburbs in 2013 is to preach against opportunities to be in solidarity with those who are suffering.

The suburbanization of racial diversity and poverty cuts across the country. In San Francisco, for example, a UC-Berkeley report explains, “the number of people living in poverty in the Bay Area rose 16 percent in the suburbs, compared with 7 percent in urban areas, this analysis finds. And the greatest percentage of growth in suburban poverty was among blacks and Latinos. The percentage of the poor living in the suburbs has increased across all racial groups, but the change is highest among blacks, increasing by more than 7 percentage points from 2000 to 2009.”

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 3, 2013

Fruitfulness Outweighs Productivity
Wilmer Villacorta, Fieldnotes Magazine

Fruitfulness outweighs productivity because it reflects our capacity to steward God’s creation.

The Case Against Cronies: Libertarians Must Stand Up to Corporate Greed
Timothy P. Carney, The Atlantic

It’s time for a free-market corporate social responsibility. Conservatives who rail against government hand-outs should also blast companies who seek shelter from Washington.

The World’s Worst Places To Be A Christian (Or Another Religious Minority)
Melissa Steffan, Christianity Today

USCIRF’s new list of religious freedom violators has familiar names, but contrasts with other lists.

Prices, Income, and Education
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Why aren’t teachers paid more if training our children is such an important job to society?

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s Annual Report has been published. The commission places countries in three “tiers”, with tier one being nations that are designated “countries of particular concern” in terms of religious freedom. In this year’s report, these nations include China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia, among twelve others.saudi-arabia2

In China for instance, the report notes the following:

The Chinese government continues to perpetrate particularly severe violations of the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief. Religious groups and individuals considered to threaten national security or social harmony, or whose practices are deemed beyond the vague legal definition of “normal religious activities,” are illegal and face severe restrictions, harassment, detention, imprisonment, and other abuses. Religious freedom conditions for Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims remain particularly acute, as the government broadened its efforts to discredit and imprison religious leaders, control the selection of clergy, ban certain religious gatherings, and control the distribution of religious literature by members of these groups. The government also detained over a thousand unregistered Protestants in the past year, closed “illegal” meeting points, and prohibited public worship activities. Unregistered Catholic clergy remain in detention or disappeared.


U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished to stave off a “tidal wave of fundamentalists.” That’s what Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told Fox News. Weinstein and his group met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23 to try to convince them to punish military officers who engage in such devious evangelistic tactics as having a Christian bumper sticker on their car or a Bible on their desk. Weinstein says such activities can can amount to “pushing this fundamentalist version of Christianity on helpless subordinates.”

military“If a member of the military is proselytizing in a manner that violates the law, well then of course they can be prosecuted,” he said. “We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution.”

“[Proselytizing] is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,” Weinstein told Fox News.

The Pentagon confirmed to Fox News that Christian proselytization is against regulations. “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense, LCDR Nate Christensen said in a written statement.