As an economic leader brought up in Argentina, Alejandro Chafuen, president of Atlas Network, gave his perspective on Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical at Acton University last week:

 

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, June 26, 2015
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Supreme Court upholds broad housing discrimination claims
Lawrence Hurley, Reuters

A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday embraced a broad interpretation of discrimination claims allowed under the landmark Fair Housing Act, handing a victory to civil rights activists who had feared the justices would rein in such lawsuits.

Religious Freedom Can’t Depend on a Whim
Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

It may be that even the Obama administration would not seek to lift the tax-exempt status of Catholic, Mormon, evangelical or even Orthodox Jewish institutions over their rules about gay relationships. But that is merely a momentary pause.

How John Roberts abandoned conservatives
Matt K. Lewis, The Week

If you believe that the purpose of the court is to rule on what the law actually says, not what it should have said, then Roberts has failed.

On Obamacare It’s the Supreme Court vs. Rule of Law
David Harsanyi, Reason.com

Roberts, abandoning law, laments that Obamacare was drafted in a haphazard and vague way, right before ruling that laws can be implemented in any way the executive branch sees fit, as long as judges deem its intentions righteous.

Supreme CourtIn a significant victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court voted in a 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal exchanges. Here is what you should know about the case and the ruling.

What was the case about?

At the core of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the Court noted, were three key reforms: (1) Guaranteed issue and community rating requirements, (2) Require individuals to maintain health insurance coverage or make a payment to the IRS, unless the cost of buying insurance would exceed eight percent of that individual’s income, and (3) Seek to make insurance more affordable by giving refundable tax credits to individuals with household incomes between 100 per cent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line

Additionally, Obamacare requires the creation of an “Exchange” in each State—basically, a marketplace that allows people to compare and purchase insurance plans. The law gives each State the opportunity to establish its own Exchange, but provides that the federal government will establish “such Exchange” if the State does not. This case hinged on what “an Exchange established by the State under [42 U. S. C. §18031]” could mean since several individual states refused to establish their own exchanges.

The Internal Revenue Service interpreted the wording broadly to authorize the subsidy also for insurance purchased on an Exchange established by the federal government. The four individuals who challenged the law argued that a federal Exchange is not an “Exchange established by the State,” and section 36B does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal Exchanges. Several district courts agreed with the government, but because one sided with the plaintiffs the case ended up at the Supreme Court.

Can you explain that without the legalese?
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Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, June 25, 2015
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Conservative Catholics Try to Domesticate Laudato Si
Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches

Meanwhile, the response from the US leadership of the church to Francis’ urgent plea for action has been noticeably muted. Mark Silk reports that at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ eagerly anticipated presser on the encyclical last week, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and other leaders seemed to go out of their way to tone down Francis’ message….

Pope Francis’s Poverty And Environment Ideas Will Worsen Both
Kathleen Hartnett White, The Federalist

As a lifelong Catholic with graduate degrees in religious studies and a long stint as the head of an environmental agency second in size only to the Environmental Protection Agency, I am deeply troubled by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Praise to You, Lord (Laudato, Si’): On Care of Our Common Home.” Long anticipated for revelation of the pope’s support for a global climate treaty, the encyclical is, and is not, focused on global warming.

Where Did Pope Francis’s Extravagant Rant Come From?
Maureen Mullarkey, The Federalist

Subversion of Christianity by the spirit of the age has been a hazard down the centuries. The significance of “Laudato Si” lies beyond its stated concern for the climate. Discount obfuscating religious language. The encyclical lays ground to legitimize global government and makes the church an instrument of propaganda—a herald for the upcoming United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The pope’s climate change message is really about rethinking what it means to be human
Stephen P. White, Vox

What makes this encyclical controversial is its reading of contested questions of science, economics, and politics. What makes it radical — in the sense of going to the root — is the pope’s reading of the profound human crisis that he sees underlying our modern world. Abuse of our environment isn’t the only problem facing humanity. In fact, Pope Francis sees the ecological crisis as a symptom of a deeper crisis — a human crisis. These two problems are related and interdependent. And the solution is not simply to eliminate fossil fuels or rethink carbon credits. The pope is calling on the world to rediscover what it means to be human — and as a result, to reject the cult of economic growth and material accumulation

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Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College, wrote an article published on Crisis Magazine‘s website today demonstrating that although the secular left has championed Laudato Si’, the text goes beyond environmental issues to show the pope’s deep commitment to family and marriage.

The secular left, of course, loves this encyclical. As I write, the farthest reaches of the left, People’s World, house organ of Communist Party USA, has two articles singing atheistic hosannas to the bishop of Rome. This has become common at People’s World. The successor to the Soviet-directed Daily Worker is a vigorous champion of this pope. There truly has never been a pope that communists have embraced like Pope Francis. Believe me, I research this, I know. …

That brings me to the reason I’m writing today. I write with encouragement to faithful Catholics who understand that the elephant in the global living room right now—especially in the West—is not carbon emissions or fossil fuels but family and marriage. And in that area, here’s the crucial point: this pope has been superb and seems to be growing steadily stronger. It is the main issue, the issue of our time, and it’s the main issue for this pope.

Read the full text of Kengor’s article here.

In The Morning Sun, a Central Michigan newspaper, frequent PowerBlog contributor Bruce Walker discusses the connection between the Charleston shootings and the recent papal encyclical:

The Charleston shooting rampage is a terrible reminder that very real evil manifests itself in this world, presumably performed in the name of all that is malevolent. The sickness that devalues innocent human lives over something as arbitrary as pigmentation to the point the violent taking of those lives somehow makes sense can be only credited to something demonic, a force that would’ve most likely wrought evil outcomes even without legally purchased firearms or Confederate flags.

The real tragedy of Charleston, of course, was the loss of lives, but a (far) smaller tragedy was the lost opportunity to fully discuss Laudato Si the following day. True, much ink had been spilled and pixels disbursed about the first papal encyclical to embrace human-caused climate change as fact from the moment a previous draft was leaked earlier in the week. Analysis of the final copy, however, had to wait until later – pushed back for many journalists and thought leaders because of the Charleston massacre, as well the slog of reading such a lengthy and often tedious encyclical.

Read the full post “On Charleston and Climate Change” at The Morning Sun.

Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, recently wrote for The Federalist that the overreach by the Pope into a wide range of environmental issues plagues the text of the encyclical:

Neither the pope nor the teaching authority he exercises is required to comment on every imaginable subject discussed in the public square, whether it is air-conditioning’s environmental impact, contemporary threats to plankton, the effect of synthetic agrotoxins on birds, or how dams affect animal migration (and, yes, all four are discussed in “Laudato Si”). The same goes for Catholic bishops. They’re under no obligation as bishops to articulate an opinion—let alone formal teachings—on every conceivable public policy issue.

One reason for this is that the Catholic Church itself teaches there is considerable room for legitimate disagreement among Catholics about the vast majority of political and economic questions (the legal treatment of matters like abortion and euthanasia being two of the better-known notable exceptions). But a second reason is that the primary responsibility for addressing most social, economic, and political matters belongs, as affirmed by Vatican II in its decree on the laity “Apostolicam Actuositatem,” to lay Catholics: not popes, bishops, priests, or members of religious orders.

Read the full post “A Roundtable on Laudato Si” at The Federalist.

Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton in Rome, appeared on EWTN News Nightly last week to talk about the environmental encyclical and the pope’s emphasis on personal virtue and Christian stewardship.

On Thursday, Jayabalan commented that the poor will actually be hurt if people consume less, highlighting the need to connect sound economics to poverty alleviation plans:

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Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, June 25, 2015
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Would You Ever Pay a Bribe?
Amy Medina

Would you ever pay a bribe? If you’re like most westerners, you’ve never really had to think about it. You’ve probably never been asked for one. The temptation has never been there. It’s a non-issue. Consider yourself blessed.

Business concerns stall minimum wage vote by L.A. County board
Abby Sewell, Jean Merl, and Sarah Parvini L.A. Times

The campaign to push Los Angeles County to significantly raise the minimum wage suffered an unexpected setback Tuesday, with a key county supervisor demanding a postponement to address complaints from small-business owners.

Schools Fear Impact of Gay Marriage Ruling on Tax Status
Laurie Goodstein and Adam Liptak , New York Times

Conservative religious schools all over the country forbid same-sex relationships, from dating to couples living in married-student housing, and they fear they will soon be forced to make a wrenching choice. If the Supreme Court this month finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the schools say they will either have to abandon their policies that prohibit gay relationships or eventually risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Conservatives Really Do Have a Heart: Arthur Brooks’ Solutions for America
Jamie Jackson, The Daily Signal

Arthur Brooks was a liberal bohemian musician studying economics when he embarked on a journey that led him to conservatism. He realized, for instance, conservatives had more sufficient answers to solving America’s poverty problem, one of the many issues he writes about in a new book, “The Conservative Heart.”

privateproperty_issue“The Fifth Amendment applies to personal property as well as real property,” wrote Justice Roberts in a Supreme Court ruling handed down earlier this week. “The Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.”

You might be thinking, “Was that ever in doubt?” The answer is apparently yes—at least it was by the federal government since the time of FDR’s New Deal.

During the New Deal era, Congress gave the USDA the authority to take raisins, along with many other crops, from farmers without compensation and keep them in a government-controlled “reserve” to prevent them from being sold in U.S. markets. But while many of the other reserves faded away, the government has continued to take raisins from farmers—and claims it’s allowed to do so for because the taking benefits the farmer.

The raisins are given to the Raisin Administrative Committee, a California-based organization made up of industry representatives, which is allowed to sell off some of those reserve raisins to pay its own expenses and to promote raisins overseas. Many raisin farmers were fine with this price-fixing cartel. But one farmer refused to go along.
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