Americans are growing in their distrust of the U.S. government and its leaders, with polls typically showing approval of Congress somewhere around 11%. As Senator Ben Sasse put it in his first remarks to the U.S. Senate, “The people despise us all.”

“No one in this body thinks the Senate is laser-focused on the most pressing issues facing the nation,” he said, “No one. Some of us lament this; some are angered by it; many are resigned to it; some try to dispassionately explain how they think it came to be. But no one disputes it.”

In a recent interview with Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge, Sasse expounds on this further, noting that the problems in Congress have less to do with nefariousness (though that surely exists) than with efficacy. “There is a gigantic deficit of vision,” he says. “We have generational challenges, just at the level of federal policy.”

Sasse traces the decline of American government from Teddy Roosevelt onward, highlighting the 1960s as the eventual tipping point away from constrained constitutional governance. The federal government has now expanded into far too many areas, he argues, and the culture has responded in turn. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, April 22, 2016
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Americans average 35 hours a year filling out government forms
Bonnie Kristian, The Week

The federal government interacts with citizens by means of about 23,000 separate forms, finds an analysis of Washington’s paperwork situation by the American Action Forum.

Four Conservative Ways to Better Support the Homeless
Tom Rogan, Opportunity Lives

Washington, D.C. is a city of power and wealth and all the trappings thereof. With many high-end bars and restaurants, affluent Millennials, and a buzzing art and music scene, it’s a good place to live. But like many American cities, Washington is also home to thousands who live on the streets.

Payday Lending: Will Anything Better Replace It?
The Atlantic

The practice is slowly being regulated out of existence. But it’s unclear where low-income Americans will find short-term loans instead.

What the history of England’s clockmakers tells us about free enterprise and prosperity
James Pethokoukis, The American

Early in the book, Boorstin presents the history of early scientific instrument making — such as clocks and watches — and how England had the edge over France in the 17th and 18th centuries.

C630x400_4ce9d1625fdf2092261a462fea2de0b9-1418824744Over the years, many of us here at Acton have been engaged in long-running (and mostly congenial) feud with distributists.

Family squabbles can often be the most heated, and that is true of this rivalry between the Christian champions of distributism and the Christian champions of free markets here at  the Acton Institute. We fight among ourselves because we have an awful lot in common.

For example, we share the a focus on encouraging subsidiarity, self-sufficiency, and entrepreneurship. We also share a respect for rule of law, private property, and the essential nature of the family. The key difference — at least as viewed from this side of the feud — can be summed up in one word: distributism is mostly unrealistic.
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BCAM-logo2Boston Common Asset Management bills itself as “a leader in global sustainability initiatives.” Why would an investment portfolio management company label itself with the appellation “Common” when it carries such negative baggage? As it turns out, BCAM embraces “common” as something positive.

From the BCAM website:

Beginning in 1634, the Boston Common served as a common pasture for cattle grazing. As a public good, the Common was a space owned by no one but essential to all. We chose the name Boston Common because, like the Common of old, our work stands at the intersection of the economic and social lives of the community.

Never mind all that John Locke hootie-hoot about private property being the cornerstone of a free society. Please ignore all the papal encyclicals from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum onward that champion private property. Oh, yes, and completely disregard the U.S. Constitution, which codifies private-property rights, and pay no attention to the “tragedy of the commons” which inexplicably is ignored here.

One has to give BCAM credit, however, for consistency. They really, really despise privacy whether it’s property, political donations or corporate lobbying (although it’s also assumed they have no issue with the “penumbra of privacy” suddenly discovered in the U.S. Constitution by members of the Supreme Court after somehow every other legal mind overlooked it for nearly two centuries). Privacy for everything else apparently is subject to eradication in BCAM’s book. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, April 21, 2016
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The Downside of the Tax Credit That Keeps Millions Out of Poverty
David Lapp, Family Studies

The tax credit that keeps millions of Americans out of poverty also sends many into a boom-and-bust financial cycle.

Congressman Dave Brat On Why Theologians Should Understand Free Markets
The Federalist

Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia talks about the national debt, the non-existent war between the right and the left, and the decline of religion on Federalist Radio.

Why You’re Already a Conservative Even if You Don’t Realize It
Joseph Williams, Gradient

So what is conservatism, and why are you already a conservative even if that word makes you cringe?

3 charged with several crimes in Flint water crisis
Associated Press

Two state regulators and a Flint employee were charged Wednesday with evidence tampering and several other felony and misdemeanor counts related to the Michigan city’s lead-tainted water crisis.

tubman-on-tenLast Summer I predicted that Harriet Tubman would be replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. I was almost right. She’ll be replacing Andrew Jackson.

The U.S. Treasury announced last year that the $10 bill is the next paper currency scheduled for a major redesign — a process that takes years because of the anti-counterfeiting technology involved — and will feature a “notable woman.”

The new ten will be unveiled in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment, which gave women the right to vote. As the Treasury explained, “The passage of the nineteenth amendment granted women their right to fully participate in the system our country was founded on—a government by the people, a democracy.”

In a post last June I wrote: “I’m almost certain they already know who Treasury is going to choose: It’s going to be Harriet Tubman.” Instead, it was Jackson who got demoted to the back of the currency while Tubman will take his place on the front.

I think the Treasury made the right decision. As the first Treasury secretary, Hamilton deserved to stick around on the $10 (leaders of the women’s suffrage movement will be featured on the other side). But it was time for a woman to join the men on our money and, based on the criteria used for consideration, Tubman is a solid choice. She was not only an abolitionist, she served in the Civil War as a Union spy and became the only woman during that conflict to lead men into a battle.

Unfortunately, fans of Tubman will have to wait awhile longer to see her new portrait: the $20 isn’t scheduled for a redesign until 2030.

In the meantime, here was my reasoning from last year on why Tubman was all but inevitable based on the Treasury’s criteria for a “noble woman” candidate:
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1600px-Tulip_00126-27“The temporal achievements of science, technology, inventions and the like also have a divine significance,” writes Abraham Kuyper in this week’s Acton Commentary, an excerpt from Common Grace: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World.

With the destruction of this present form of the world, will the fruit of common grace be destroyed forever, or will that rich and multiform development for which common grace has equipped and will yet equip our human race also bear fruit for the kingdom of glory as that will one day exist as the new earth, under the new heaven, overflowing with righteousness?

As everyone immediately realizes, this question is not without importance. If nothing of all that developed in this temporal life passes over into eternity, then this temporal existence leaves us cold and indifferent. Everyone without an appetite for eternal life will then advance in terms of that existence, but everyone seeking a better fatherland will be unable to feel any affinity for it. After all, one day everything will be gone, unlike the caterpillar that is wrapped like a chrysalis in order later to appear in more exquisite form as a butterfly, but instead like a stage on which a series of performances were exhibited but after which nothing remains but an empty floor and unsightly walls.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.