Your writer has taken quite a bit of heat from some readers of a local newspaper column he writes for not “getting in-line” with the Pope on his identification of imminent climate catastrophe wrought by human activity. Even so, I cling to my Rosary on all matters actually Catholic. Aside from the brilliant minds at Acton and its scholars and supporters comprised of highly educated, amazingly spiritual individuals, I was beginning to feel as if I was an orphan in a universe of ideological zealots of the Gaia variety.

However, my days of orphandom were short-lived. Immediately prior to the release of Laudato Si there was delivered much succor from within the Church.

To wit: James V. Schall, SJ, wrote a brilliant piece this past April as the Gaia zealots were beginning to attain fever pitch. Titled “On Sustainability,” the essay questions the current wisdom of saving and preserving certain resources for future generations. To this, Schall responds:

 This thinking assumes that the present limited intellectual and technical base is thrust on future generations. Contemporary men evidently think that they know enough to decide what future generations will want, need, or be able to do. They must be content with what we have now. What if the only way that we can guarantee the well-being of future generations is for us not to impose our limited ideas of sustainability on them?

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 27, 2015
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The Minimum-Wage Muddle
David Brooks, New York Times

Once upon a time there was a near consensus among economists that raising the minimum wage was a bad idea. The market is really good at setting prices on things, whether it is apples or labor. If you raise the price on a worker, employers will hire fewer and you’ll end up hurting the people you meant to help.

How So-Called ‘Equality Act’ Threatens Religious Freedom
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

Politico is reporting that the so-called “Equality Act” will be introduced today in Congress. The bill is the brainchild of the Human Rights Campaign—an influential, sophisticated and lavishly funded LGBT activist organization.

Pope Francis’ Favorable Rating Drops in U.S.
Art Swift, Gallup

Pope Francis’ favorability rating in the U.S. has returned to where it was when he was elected pope. It is now at 59%, down from 76% in early 2014. The pontiff’s rating is similar to the 58% he received from Americans in April 2013, soon after he was elected pope.

A Bangladeshi Town in Human Trafficking’s Grip
Ellen Barry, New York Times

Fishermen, shopkeepers and policemen were all drawn in, as participants or observers, to a multimillion-dollar people smuggling business.

Many problems that require public policy solutions are complex and difficult to implement. But when it comes to improving the way we get food to hungry people in developing countries the fix can be summed up in four words: Send money, not food.

As AEI’s Vincent H. Smith shows in this helpful infographic, by locally and regionally sourcing food aid the us would save $400 million a year that could help feed at least four million more people in dire need.
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AOTActon offers a wide range of events and educational opportunities suited to a variety of different tastes and learning styles (and if you haven’t done so already, you should check out DiscoverActon.org, which helps you navigate all the different ways Acton can help you learn). But one of the coolest events we put on has to be Acton On Tap, which is an informal (and FREE) gathering of friends and supporters of the Institute, plus anyone else who wants to drop by for a cold drink and some good conversation.

We kicked off our summer Acton On Tap series for 2015 back on June 2 with a presentation by our institute Librarian, Dan Hugger, on the life and overarching ideas of Acton’s namesake, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, First Baron Acton of Aldenham. Acton was a defender of liberty, of free inquiry, freedom of religion, and the broad liberal tradition, and in his address Hugger suggests that Acton, both in his life and writings, serves as a model for thoughtful and passionate engagement with the modern world.

We’re pleased to present the audio of Dan’s remarks below, and invite you to join us at our next Acton On Tap with Jared Meyer, who will be speaking on July 29th on his latest book, Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young. Information and registration for that event are available at this link. We hope to see you there!

British-American-FlagBritish journalist Tim Montgomerie notes that Barack Obama gave some unsolicited advice to the U.K. recently (suggesting that they spend more on defense.) Montgomerie thought it only fair to return the favor.

1. Montgomerie says America should not invade other countries unless we plan to follow through.

George W Bush did at least stick with Iraq and his so-called “surge policy” delivered a reasonably stable nation by 2008. Obama than walked away and we know what happened soon afterwards: ISIS and Iran walked in.

2. Don’t be weak; it’s far too provocative to the Putins on the world. (more…)

chartFueled, in part, by the Pope’s passionate appeals, the campaign to reduce income inequality is growing rapidly around the globe.

The income equality movement argues that there is a growing gap between the incomes of top earners and everyone else. This claim is supported by a recent study conducted by the International Monetary Fund. In the United States, the income growth rate for the highest income earners has significantly surpassed the national average over the past 30 years.

Many politicians, including President Obama, have called for policy changes in order to slow the growing divide. However, this concern results from a distorted understanding of the word “income” and disregards the importance of aggregate income growth.

The term “income inequality” is deceptive. It is used to imply that income equality is the norm and anything else is abnormal and harmful to society. Income is payment for services provided. If all income was equal that would mean that all services were equal. Proponents of income equality ignore the definition of income and instead emphasize the word equality. They make the erroneous assumption that equality is always good for society. Inequality has come to imply injustice, but while justice is always good for society, the benefits from equality depend on the circumstances. (more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, July 24, 2015
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With Pope Francis at the Helm, World’s Mayors Pledge to Fight Climate Change
Nadia Prupis, EcoWatch

At the Vatican on Tuesday, mayors from around the globe pledged to fight climate change and help the world’s poor deal with the effects of a warming planet, an oath that came during a two-day conference with Pope Francis—himself a dedicated climate activist.

Vatican newspaper: ‘Red-hot Earth’
CatholicCulture.org

The front page of the July 24 edition of L’Osservatore Romano featured an article on “still more alarming data on the overheating of the Earth.” The article, entitled “Red-hot Earth,” cited a new report from the National Centers for Environmental Information of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report found that “the first six months of 2015 comprised the warmest such period on record across the world’s land and ocean surfaces.”

Catholics from the Phillippines could raise 10 million signatures for Pope’s climate petition
Cat DiStasio, inhabitat

The Philippines is the world’s third largest Catholic country and the largest in Asia, and it’s also been the site of numerous natural disasters in recent years. Church leaders there are on board with the conclusions Pope Francis laid out in his historic climate change encyclical last month, which pointed to human action as the root cause of global warming. Catholic leaders in the Philippines have promised to raise 10 million signatures—half of the goal—on a petition to be presented to global political leaders at their climate summit in Paris this fall.

Pope pushing hard on climate change
Timothy Spangler, The Orange County Register

Pope Francis made headlines this week at a Vatican conference for the world’s mayors and governors. He linked the challenges caused by climate change to the increase in human trafficking that has been plaguing Europe in recent years. The pontiff is showing little sign of allowing his campaign against environmental disaster to fizzle out. He explicitly placed his hopes on the United Nations to provide leadership on these important humanitarian issues.

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gmo-labeling-balint-radu-jpgYesterday the the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, known as the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.” The bill prevents states from requiring mandatory labeling for any products containing genetically modified food. Currently, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont all have such laws. Whether or not this might be a blow to states’ rights, it’s certainly a win for common sense. Fewer people are being fooled by the propaganda and downright bad science surrounding genetically modified food.

The House Committee on Agriculture released the following statement from Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX):

Advances in technology have allowed the U.S. to enjoy the safest, highest quality, most abundant, diverse and affordable supply of food and fiber mankind has ever known. With the world’s population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, biotechnology is an essential tool for our farmers to meet this demand in an environmentally sound, sustainable, and affordable way. Unfortunately, proposed Federal and State laws threaten this innovation by generating a patchwork of differing labeling requirements, which will result in inconsistent and confusing information for consumers and interfere with interstate commerce. H.R. 1599 establishes a voluntary nation-wide marketing program that gives consumers access to consistent, reliable information while protecting advancements in food production technology and innovation.

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small-actions-change-the-worldAt a point in time where the election cycle invites everyone and their brother to “throw their hat in the ring,” Americans constantly jabber about which candidates might have the biggest national impact. What is overlooked is that local leaders are the ones who make the greatest impact in our daily lives.

Cheryl Dorsey insists that local communities must pay attention to their own leaders in order to thrive:

It’s imperative that the investment community and others support these entrepreneurs in the communities where they work. Markets are places where value is created. These social entrepreneurs look at disadvantaged youth, dilapidated houses, low-income neighborhoods and under-performing educational systems, and they see how they can create more value. We must change the climate for these leaders so they can put solutions into practice and to build markets where others ignore them. We need to build the investment and support system to help them go further, faster.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 24, 2015
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Little Sisters of the Poor Appeal to the Supreme Court
The Becket Fund

Today, for the second time in two years, the Little Sisters of the Poor must ask the Supreme Court to protect them from the government.

What it means to be poor by global standards
Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Research

In the Pew Research study, anyone living on $2 or less daily is considered poor. Food a Much Greater Share of Family Budgets in India Than in U.S.But what exactly does it mean to live on $2 per day? And how does that compare with the notion of poverty in richer countries?

By 2021, all New York State fast food employees will make $15 an hour
Catherine Garcia, The Week

New York’s Fast Food Wage Board announced Wednesday that it is recommending fast food chains with 30 or more stores nationwide increase employee wages to $15 an hour.

Why Words Matter For Defending Freedom
Frank J. Rocca, The Federalist

We can’t talk to each other if the words we’re using mean different things. Corrupt language steals freedom, even just by the act of redefining it.