Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
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Catholic Hospitals Win an Important Decision in California
Jim McDermott, America

On Thursday the Catholic Church in California scored a significant legal victory regarding the right of Catholic hospitals to refuse certain medical procedures.

Detroit’s Teacher Union Meltdown
The American Interest

Last week, Detroit’s teachers called a “sick-out”—a coordinated action wherein the unionized teachers call in sick simultaneously in what is best characterized as a strike—for at least the fifth time in the last few weeks.

Budget Deficit Slips as Public Priority
Pew Research

As Barack Obama begins his final year in office, the goal of reducing the budget deficit, which the public once ranked among the most pressing objectives for his administration, has continued its recent decline in perceived importance.

School Choice Interest Skyrocketing as Public Schools Disappoint
Josh Kaib, The Daily Signal

This is shaping up to be the best year yet for National School Choice Week. The annual January event, which began in 2011, will feature 16,140 events, up from roughly 11,000 last year. The festivities officially kicked off across the country on Sunday and run through Jan. 30.

trump-cover-finalI was recently asked by Time Magazine for my general opinion on Donald Trump, his relation to Catholic ideas and White Evangelicals and any other thoughts I might have. I was briefly quoted in Time. But I thought I would include here the parts of my remarks that were not used in the article as well.

Trump’s moral positions on life and sexual morality stray widely from Catholic moral and social teaching in many respects. I would also think that conservative Catholics would have problems with him especially on abortion.

He certainly did not endear himself to Catholics when he said the pope needed to be scared into action against ISIS especially the way he said it.

I cannot address the issue of Catholic-Republican organizing because I am not a Republican or for that matter, a member of any political party.

The more pertinent question regarding Trump and the experience of Catholics is that of populism and here Catholics have been on all sides of the question, in Argentina (Peron), and Italy (both Berlusconi and Mussolini) – so I suspect that today this would be the same.

Frankly, I cannot figure out the alleged white-evangelical attraction to Trump. To my ear, he simply is not one of them. He is obviously unfamiliar with the Bible and he does not speak in any evangelical dialect with which I am conversant. I would think that in the end, religious conservatives who haven’t aligned themselves with Trump will find themselves allied behind the alternative Republican option. (more…)

CharlieHebdo

Pens are piled up as people hold a vigil at the Place de la Republique for victims of the terrorist attack on January 7, 2015 in Paris. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

“Dramatic events often focus our minds on the dilemmas we would prefer to ignore,” begins Samuel Gregg in a recent article for the Library of Law and Liberty. He discuses France and Situation de la France, a new book by professor of political philosophy at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Pierre Manent.

In a nation’s life, there are moments that decisively change its trajectory. One such event was the fall of France in June 1940—a humiliation from which, suggests Manent, it has never really recovered. There is no guarantee that a nation’s leaders will lead the people well in these moments: most of France followed Marshal Philippe Pétain rather than General Charles de Gaulle in that crisis. Nor are today’s leaders, Manent maintains, responding adequately to the problems violently thrust into public view by what he unabashedly describes as les actes de guerres committed by an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in early 2015.

The reaction of France’s leaders to the murder of cartoonists and Jews by three French-born Muslims in Paris, Manent observes, was to preside over mass street marches and outpourings of grief while repeating, mantra-like, the same easily disprovable bromides that follow every act of Islamist terrorism (“This has nothing to do with Islam”) and obstinately declining to consider what must be done politically if France is to defend itself against jihadism. Yet such a refusal, according to Manent, is logical because to act appropriately would mean admitting that France’s present political arrangements cannot address the new realities. The point of the book is to identify the nature of the danger, explain why France’s present political regime cannot address it, and then sketch a reasonable way forward.

(more…)

This image from the Flint Water Study shows water samples from a Flint, Mich. home. The bottles were collected, from left, on Jan. 15, Jan. 16, and Jan. 21, 2015.

This image from the Flint Water Study shows water samples from a Flint, Mich. home. The bottles were collected, from left, on Jan. 15 (bottles 1 and 2), Jan. 16, and Jan. 21, 2015.

What is the Flint water crisis?

Earlier this month Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, declared a state of emergency in the County of Genesee and the City of Flint because of elevated levels of lead found in its general water supply. The governor declared the emergency because the contaminated drinking water poses a serious health risk to the residents of that area. The adverse health effects of lead exposure in children and adults are well documented, notes the Centers for Disease Control, and no safe blood lead threshold in children has been identified.

The crisis has been blamed on a failure of government at all levels. As Washington Post reporters Lenny Bernstein and Brady Dennis wrote, “Local, state and federal officials — including the top Environmental Protection Agency administrator in the Midwest and Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder — are accused of ignoring, denying or covering up problems that left thousands of children exposed to toxic lead in their drinking water for about 18 months.”

To date, four government officials—one from the City of Flint, two from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and one from the Environmental Protection Agency—have resigned over the mishandling of the crisis.

What caused the water crisis?

According to the U.S. Census, 40.1 percent of the population of Flint, Michigan is living in poverty, making it the second most poverty-stricken city in the nation for its size. The poverty of its residents combined with mandatory spending on former city workers (retirees from the city government are taking 20 percent of all city spending) has led to a financial crisis that has put the city into emergency receivership.

In an attempt to save money, the city council voted in 2013 to purchase water from the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) rather than from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). KWA was not expected to be completed until the end of 2016, so the city decided to rely on its backup, the Flint River.

The Flint River, though, contains high levels of chlorine, which is highly corrosive to iron and lead—materials used widely in the pipes carrying water in Flint.

How did the lead get into the drinking water?
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, January 25, 2016
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N. Korea tops persecution list for 14th year
Baptist Press

As North Korea once again held its spot for the 14th consecutive year as the most dangerous country for Christians, religious persecution on every continent has appeared to increase, according to a new report.

Who’d a-thunk it? Retailers like Wal-Mart make location decisions based on labor costs?
Mark J. Perry, AEI Ideas

To help better understand how “Wal-Mart’s scalpel targeted stores that have the highest minimum wages in the country,” consider the map above showing three Walmart stores along a 5-mile stretch of Interstate 880.

Adam Smith on Society’s Exploitation of the Rich
James R. Rogers, First Things

Donald Trump ascribing responsibility for his first two failed marriages to working “like, twenty-two hours a day” brought to mind Adam Smith’s invocation of the “invisible hand” in his 1759 work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Attention Bernie Sanders: Europe gave up on its socialist paradise years ago
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

The thing that Bernie Sanders, and many of his supporters miss, is that European socialism isn’t what it used to be. It’s a lot less socialist than it used to be.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 22, 2016
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If the goal is to improve the economic fortunes of the least-advantaged workers and families, says economist Don Boudreaux in this short animated video, then the minimum wage is a terrible idea. On his blog, Boudreaux adds:

The minimum wage yields unfair advantages to families, such as mine, with teenagers who hail from middle- and high-income households, who are well-educated, whose parents and other relatives have social and business connections, and who have their own personal means of transportation. These advantages come at the expense – cruelly so – of minority and inner-city teens, of low-skilled immigrants, and of other workers who are poorly advantaged yet who, in most cases, need employment more than do those advantaged workers who manage to find jobs at the higher, minimum wage.

Blog author: jsunde
Friday, January 22, 2016
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OneNationUnderGod_CVRChristians continually struggle to find the right approach, balance, and tone in their political witness, either co-opting the Gospel for the sake of political ends or retreating altogether out of fear of the same.

In their new book, One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics, Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo pave a fresh way forward. Though I haven’t quite finished it, thus far the book offers a refreshingly rich assessment of political ideology as it relates (or doesn’t) to the Gospel and Christian mission.

In a piece for Canon and Culture, Ashford whets our appetites on this same topic, providing a clear overview of how Christianity differs from conservatism and progressivism, as well as where and how we might engage or abandon each.

From my own experience, Christians seem to have an easier time discerning these distinctions with progressivism, most likely due to its overt rejection of or disregard for permanent truths. With conservatism, however, we tend to forget that without a particular focus on transcendence, conservatism languishes in its own shortsightedness and folly. (more…)