Blog author: jsunde
Monday, October 13, 2014
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capterrorismThe Middle East is enduring yet another wave of terror and political change, spurring countless Western analysts and elites to offer their preferred strategies and solutions, most of which involve military force, foreign aid, or some mixture of the two.

In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto sets forth a less predictable path, arguing for “an aggressive agenda for economic empowerment,” similar to that which was promoted in Peru during the 1990s.

I know something about this. A generation ago, much of Latin America was in turmoil. By 1990, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization called Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, had seized control of most of my home country, Peru, where I served as the president’s principal adviser. Fashionable opinion held that the people rebelling were the impoverished or underemployed wage slaves of Latin America, that capitalism couldn’t work outside the West and that Latin cultures didn’t really understand market economics.

The conventional wisdom proved to be wrong, however. Reforms in Peru gave indigenous entrepreneurs and farmers control over their assets and a new, more accessible legal framework in which to run businesses, make contracts and borrow—spurring an unprecedented rise in living standards… Over the next two decades, Peru’s gross national product per capita grew twice as fast as the average in the rest of Latin America, with its middle class growing four times faster.

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7figuresInformation on mortality — when we die, how we die, causes of death — is a key to understanding changes in the health and well-being of nation. The National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report on mortality in the United States based on the latest annual data (2012) that reveals the (mostly) positive changes in America’s health.

Here are seven figures you should know from the report:
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monastic signChurch of England Archbishop Justin Welby thinks young bankers would be well served if they spent time as “quasi-monks” before entering the marketplace. In The Telegraph, Welby says that ambitious young people should

…quit work temporarily so they can pray and serve the poor.

He said he believed their natural ambition would encourage them to join his Godly community.

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 13, 2014
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John Locke and the Dark Side of Toleration
Bruce Frohnen, Crisis Magazine

It seems likely that most Americans would find John Locke’s definition of a church non-controversial, perhaps even obvious. This shows both how relevant the seventeenth century philosopher remains to our public life, and how detrimental it has been on many levels.

Africans to Westerners at synod: We’ve got our own problems
Inés San Martín, Crux

During the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family, many of the biggest surprises are coming from the African continent, where the challenges vary greatly from those of Europe and the US.

How to teach self-control and reduce economic inequality
Walter Mischel, PBS Newshour

Teaching self-control, or the ability to delay gratification, says Columbia psychologist Walter Mischel, author of “The Marshmallow Test,” has enormous philosophical and policy implications, not the least of which is teaching kids how to save.

Education Savings Accounts Are the Next Generation of School Choice
Lindsey Burke, The Daily Signal

“A blind student in Arizona gets about $21,000 a year,” says Marc Ashton, whose son, Max, is legally blind. That $21,000 represents what Arizona spends to educate a student such as Max in the public-school system.

Maslow_plus_wifiWhen you think about basic human rights, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The right to life? The right to liberty? The right to WiFi?

If that last one wasn’t on your list it may be a sign that you’re old. As Maryland governor Martin O’Malley recently told CNN, young people today believe that “WiFi is a human right.” O’Malley apparently agrees, adding that, “There is an opportunity there for us as a nation to embrace that new perspective.”

While I’ll concede that WiFi may be a basic human need (it’s certainly on the list of my own hierarchy of needs), it’s hard to see why it would be a human right. A human right is generally considered a right that is inalienable and fundamental and to which a person is inherently entitled simply because they are a human being. Are we really entitled to WiFi simply because we’re human?

While it’s easy to mock O’Malley’s claim, it does raise the question of just what exactly does qualify as a human right.

In a world where few people can agree on anything, it’s not surprising that there is no clear consensus on what constitutes a human right. About the closest the world has ever come to unanimity on the issue is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

Below I’ve individually broken out each of the rights listed by the UN as fundamental to all humanity. Before looking at the list, though, take a guess at how many of rights you expect to see on the list.

According to the UDHR, all humans have the right,
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Rome Office director Kishore Jayabalan presents PoveryCure at the Sorrento "Liberty Camp"

Rome Office director Kishore Jayabalan presents PoveryCure at the Sorrento “Liberty Camp”

On October 8-9, the director of Acton’s Rome office, Kishore Jayabalan, and its operations manager, Michael Severance, traveled to southern Italy to present PovertyCure and The Call of the Entrepreneur, the original and latest of the Institute’s popular educational  DVD films.

About thirty university students and young business professionals gathered near the resort town of Sorrento to attend a week-long “Liberty Camp”, organized by Glenn Cripe of the Phoenix-based Language of Liberty Institute and co-sponsored by the Freedom and Entrepreneurship Foundation whose founder, Jacek Spendel, is a two-time Acton University alumnus. Liberty Camp is a traveling educational course, recruiting participants mainly from Eastern and Central European youth. The classical liberal curriculum in conducted entirely in English and focuses seminars on the foundations of economic and political liberty.

Countries represented at the Liberty Camp in Sorrento included the Ukraine, Albania, Poland, Georgia, Russia, Armenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
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Blog author: jsunde
Friday, October 10, 2014
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The oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay has severely dwindled, amounting to less than 1% of historic levels, according to the NOAA. In turn, from a consumer’s perspective, Virginia oysters have been increasingly replaced by other varieties from around the globe.

Yet if Rappahannock Oyster Co. has anything to say about it, the Bay oyster will once again reign supreme. Their mission? “To put the Chesapeake Bay oyster back on the map” and give consumers a chance to once again enjoy “what is arguably the greatest tasting oyster in the world.”

Their story is an inspiring one, to be sure. But as filmmaker Nathan Clarke portrays in a marvelous short film on the subject, the routine work of oyster farming has a beauty and grandeur all of its own.

The film moves slowly and steadily, accompanied by no narration other than the raw rumble of boats and machinery and the quiet clatter of oysters jostling in cages and nets. Clarke lets the work sing for itself, and my, how the song sticks. Man cultivates nature, and nature responds by cultivating man.  (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 10, 2014
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Catholics Revisit ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’
Michael M. Uhlmann, The Federalist

Two thinkers refresh the debate on Catholic social teaching, explaining that it does not necessarily support the welfare state.

Taxes Make People Care
Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic

Citizens are more eager to stamp out corruption when their own money is on the line.

Supreme court to rule on Abercrombie & Fitch ‘religious bias’ over hijab
Jessica Glenza, The Guardian

The US supreme court has agreed to hear a case accusing the American clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch of refusing to hire a Muslim woman who wore a headscarf.

How to Engage Culture as a Christian
Peter Armstrong, On Faith

If we are to live out the “Christ transforming culture” model that Niebuhr espouses, we have to be fully engaged. We have to reflect deeply. We have to ask hard questions, even of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

exile-supply-pack-how-god-makes-(2)The Acton Institute’s new film series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, was released earlier this year, and in the months since, has garnered heaps of praise from a variety of corners, most recently in Christianity Today, where Andy Crouch described it as “Christian popular culture that embodies theological and spiritual maturity—and childlike humility.”

Now, in addition to the DVD and Blu-Ray combo pack (which is on sale for only $35), you can expand your FLOW experience with a new Exile Supply Pack, which includes a host of additional resources, books, and tools for hosting or exploring the series with your friends, church, or organization.

The series itself does a fine job of setting up and kicking off a discussion about our role as Christians in the “the now and not yet,” but with these resources, you’ll be equipped with discussion and study guides, additional books on the topic of stewardship and discipleship, and other tools that will serve to promote and enrich that discussion on into the future.

You can order your Exile Supply Pack here. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 9, 2014
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bread“The ability to earn a profit thus results in multiplying our resources while helping other people,” says Wayne Grudem. “It is a wonderful ability that God gave us, and it is not evil or morally neutral, but is fundamentally good.”

Some people will object that earning a profit is “exploiting” other people. Why should I charge you $2 for a loaf of bread if it only cost me $1 to produce? One reason is that you are paying not only for my raw materials but also for my work as an “entrepreneur”—my time in baking the bread, my baking skill that I learned at the cost of more of my time, my skill in finding and organizing the materials and equipment to bake bread, and (significantly) for the risks I take in baking 100 loaves of bread each day before any buyers have even entered my shop.

In any society, some people are too cautious by nature to assume the risks involved in starting and running a business, but others are willing to take that risk, and it is right to give them some profit as a reward for taking those risks that benefit the rest of us. It is the hope of such reward that motivates people to start businesses and assume such risks. If profit were not allowed in a society, then people would not take such risks, and we would have few goods available to buy. Allowing profit, therefore, is a good thing that brings benefits to everybody in the society.

Read more . . .