Blog author: jcarter
Monday, September 28, 2015

Spicy-Chicken-Sandwich-Vibrant-1024x768In 1958, Leonard Read published his brilliant essay, “I, Pencil.” Read’s original essay was written from the point of view of the pencil and the humble writing implement explains why it is as much a creation of God as a tree.

Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

For Christians the idea that God creates trees is uncontroversial since that claim is made directly in Genesis 1:12. But where do we get the idea that God creates pencils? I believe it comes from a few verses later, in Genesis 1:28, when God blesses mankind . . . and then puts us to work.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (ESV)

In the Reformed tradition, this command is often referred to as the “cultural mandate.” As Nancy Pearcey explains in her book Total Truth:

kickstarter1Several years ago, as a music student in college, I remember hearing constant complaints about “lack of funding for the arts.” Hardly a day would go by without a classmate or professor bemoaning the thin and fickle pockets of the bourgeoisie or Uncle Sam’s lack of artistic initiative.

Little did we know, a shake-up was already taking place, driven by a mysterious mix of newfound prosperity, entrepreneurial innovation, and the market forces behind it. The digital revolution was beginning to level the playing field and drain power from tanks and banks of all kinds, from the Hollywood execs with dollar signs in their eyes to the aesthetically enlightened cronies at the National Endowment for the Arts. Despite the many prophecies of a creative apocalypse, a bottom-up revolution was taking place.

Amid the sea of new technologies and tools that were soon to emerge — streaming music, streaming movies, ebook publishing — crowdfunding rose as a powerful path to creative independence: artistic, economic, and otherwise. Leading the pack is Kickstarter, with success stories abounding, from inventors to thespians to foodies to photographers, and with routine funding results that actually surpass the NEA. (more…)

Pope Francis talks aboard the papal plane while en route to ItalyWhen Pope Francis gave addresses at the White House, Congress, and the UN, he mentioned the importance of religious freedom. But many people (including me) were rather disappointed that he didn’t speak more specifically about what sorts of religious liberties are under threat.

Once aboard the papal plane, though, it appears the pontiff provided more clarity on the issue. According to Reuters, the pope said government officials have a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, September 28, 2015

The 4 Types of Poverty, and How to Cure Them
Robert L. Woodson Sr., The Daily Signal

Over the past 10 years, in spite of massive and growing funding of America’s anti-poverty agenda, the percentage of individuals able to support themselves free of government welfare has declined. The fundamental reason the nation has failed to effectively reduce dependency and promote self-sufficiency is that we’ve been misdiagnosing poverty.

Obama Welcomes the Pope but Not the Pope’s Core Beliefs about Life and Liberty
Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

President Obama’s remarks upon greeting the Pope at the White House generally were lovely. There was also, within them, a great deal of moral irony.

Pope Francis challenges us to include the poor in society
Timothy P. Carney, AEI Ideas

Pope Francis never stops talking about the poor — and that’s good. The question is whether we Americans can understand what he’s saying.

Do public goods have to be public? Not in some African countries.
Danielle Carter Kushner, Lauren M. MacLean and Jeffrey W. Paller , Washington Post

Private schools are part of a larger trend across the world, in which more and more intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based organizations, multinational corporations, for-profit businesses, and community-based organizations deliver a range of services that we’re used to getting from the government.

1035x1035-UntitledDuring his visit to the U.S. Pope Francis has been treated like a rock star. So it’s probably not surprising that he’ll soon be doing what real rock start do: releasing an actual rock album. A prog-rock album.

According to Rolling Stone magazine,

The Vatican-approved LP, a collaboration with Believe Digital, features the Pontiff delivering sacred hymns and excerpts of his most moving speeches in multiple languages paired with uplifting musical accompaniment ranging from pop-rock to Gregorian chant. Wake Up! arrives November 27th, with the iTunes pre-order now available with an instant download of “Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!” . . .

“Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!” finds Pope Francis addressing a South Korean audience in English last year amid atmospheric synths, trumpeting horns and skyscraping electric guitars reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “Wake up / Wake up,” Pope Francis says on the track. “The Lord speaks of a responsibility that the Lord gives you / It is a duty to be vigilant / Not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins to dull our sensibility of the beauty of holiness.” Later on the moving track, the Pope tells his audience, “No one who sleeps can sing, dance and rejoice,” as he urges them to wake up and go.

For those of you who were fortunate enough to be too young to have lived through the prog-rock era of the 1960s and 1970s, Wikipedia helpfully explains prog-rock as having “developed from psychedelic rock, and originated as an attempt to give greater artistic weight and credibility to rock music. Bands abandoned the short pop single in favor of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz or classical music in an effort to give rock music the same level of musical sophistication and critical respect.” (Think of bands such as Yes, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, and (pre-1980s) Genesis).

Click here to listen to Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!.

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis tells Congress: Be Courageous, Do Something about Climate Change
Zoe Schlanger, Newsweek

In his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress Thursday morning, Pope Francis minced no words when it came to climate change. Referencing his recent influential encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, the pope called on the United States to make a “courageous and responsible effort” to “avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”

Pope’s climate push hits wall in Congress
Andrew Restuccia and Darren Goode, Politico

“There is no doubt that all of us are called to be good stewards of the environment,” said presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “The dispute is what the science and evidence demonstrate. That ultimately is a debate that should be had in the halls of Congress based on facts and based on evidence.”

As a scientist, is the pope dodging the biggest contributor to climate change?
Nsikan Akpan, PBS

Yet the Pope’s policy stops short of addressing a major contributor to man-made climate change: population control. “Every person that we add to the planet increases the greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere, so population growth is one of the great drivers of climate change, said Stanford University conservation biologist Paul Ehrlich. “If we keep the population growing, it seems highly likely that the climate problem will get totally out of control.”

A Social Scientist, a Climate Change Physicist, and Pope Francis Walk Into a Bar…
Francie Diep, Pacific Standard

The journal, which normally publishes physics and geology studies on global warming, is doing something unusual this week: It’s released a series of essays by social scientists analyzing and critiquing Pope Francis’ so-called “climate change encyclical.” The encyclical, formally titled “Laudato Si,” was released in June. In the text, Francis urges Catholics to act quickly on climate change out of a moral obligation to care for the Earth and the world’s poor, who are expected to bear the brunt of a warmer world’s ill effects. During his visit to the United States this week, Francis has re-iterated many of the encyclical’s points, saying things like, “It seems clear to me, also, that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation.”

Pope Francis Starts U.S. Visit Addressing Climate Change
Brian Kahn, Climate Central

The remarks kick off a six-day visit to the U.S. — Pope Francis’s first time here — that includes speeches in front of a joint session of Congress and the United Nations General Assembly and highlight a continuing commitment to make climate change a central issue of his papacy.


pope-francis-unThis morning Pope Francis gave an address to the UN General Assembly. As the pontiff mentions in his speech, this is the fifth time since 1965 that a pope has visited the United Nations.

In the lengthy address Pope Francis covers a wide range of topics, from the rule of law to nuclear weapons to the drug trade. Here are 15 key quotes from the speech:

Usury and Oppressive Lending Systems

[The equitable influence on decision-making processes by all countries] will help limit every kind of abuse or usury, especially where developing countries are concerned. The International Financial Agencies should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.

Rule of Law

The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realization that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity. In this context, it is helpful to recall that the limitation of power is an idea implicit in the concept of law itself.

Limits of Power

I have a friend who owns a vacation home that he rents out by the week and on weekends. It’s a cozy place surrounded by forest with access to one of the Great Lakes. It’s a perfect place to get away from it all, replenish the spirit and relax. The rent also helps my friend financially. Lately, however, he feels less inclined to offer his house to vacationers. It seems some of his renters take it upon themselves to move the furniture in his house in a fashion more to their liking. In one instance, a renter totally reconfigured all the cooking utensils, pots and pans in the kitchen cabinets and drawers.

Why would anyone spend precious vacation time and money only to rearrange someone else’s furniture and cookware? By the same token, why would anyone invest in a company only to introduce proxy resolutions that would negatively impact the company’s bottom line and decrease shareholder value? Wouldn’t that trip things up?


Blog author: jcarter
Friday, September 25, 2015

What Pope Francis Told Obama About Religious Liberty
Leah Jessen, The Daily Signal

In his speech, the pope made clear that religious liberty is an important freedom in the United States.

Los Angeles to declare ‘state of emergency’ on homelessness
Catherine Garcia, The Week

The city of Los Angeles plans to declare a “state of emergency” on homelessness and will dedicate $100 million to use toward housing and other services for the homeless.

Religious Liberty, the Founders, and Us
Rob Schwarzwalder, Christian Headlines

Religious liberty is more than the right to sanctify in one’s mind the beliefs he holds dear. It involves the right to live in accordance with these beliefs, not only in the privacy of his home or the confines of his house of worship.

The Myth That Links Poor Families to Fast Food
Adam Chandler, The Atlantic

A new CDC study further debunks the misconception that low-income Americans are the biggest consumers of quick-chain fare.

Blog author: dpahman
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Today at the Library of Law and Liberty, I take a cue from probablist Nassim Nicholas Taleb and call for the commemoration of a National Entrepreneurs Day:

One has been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and probabilist Nassim Taleb has given us a fully developed argument as to why we should have one. I second the motion. In Antifragile, his 2012 book, Taleb confesses that he is “an ingrate toward the man whose overconfidence caused him to open a restaurant and fail, enjoying my nice meal while he is probably eating canned tuna.”

This lack of gratitude is a moral failing of all of us in modern society, says Taleb. Hence his idea:

In order to progress, modern society should be treating ruined entrepreneurs in the same way we honor dead soldiers, perhaps not with as much honor, but using the exact same logic. . . . For there is no such thing as a failed soldier, dead or alive (unless he acted in a cowardly manner)—likewise, there is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur or failed scientific researcher.