discourseYou’ve heard of that mythical place where elephants go to die? Apparently, these giants “know” they are going to die, and they head off to a place known only to them.

Free speech in the United States goes off to die as well, but there is no myth surrounding this. Free speech dies in our colleges and universities. Just ask American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Sommers. Sommers is a former philosophy professor and AEI scholar who recently spoke at Oberlin College. Her speech was excellent, but it apparently frightened the pants off a bunch of students (oh, I probably can’t say that. It likely makes someone feel violated.) They paraded outside the room where Sommers spoke, holding signs invoking “trigger warnings” and announcing a “safe room” where those who found Sommers’ talk too much to handle. Her topic? “What’s Right (And Wrong) With Feminism.” She was harassed and harangued both in-person and online for daring to speak such words. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
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Cuba’s President Castro: ‘If Pope Keeps Going Way He’s Going, I’ll Come Back to Catholic Church’
Deborah Castellano Lubov, Zenit

Following meeting with Pope Francis, Raul Castro shares he’ll attend papal Masses in Cuba.

Why raising minimum wages is riskier than expanding the EITC
Aparna Mathur, AEI Ideas

The reason minimum wages may not boost incomes at the bottom is because there is a significant probability that higher minimum wages could result in fewer jobs. Increases in the minimum wage mean an increase in costs for employers.

5 takeaways from the US religious freedom panel’s report
Brian Pellot, Religion News Service

The independent watchdog panel created by Congress to monitor religious freedom conditions worldwide issued its 16th annual report last week. Here’s a roundup of the report’s key recommendations.

Russia Threatens Veto of EU Anti-Trafficking Efforts
The American Interest

In recent years, Russia has become hellbent on using every opportunity to put obstacles in the way of EU—and U.S.—policy. That’s not necessarily because Moscow has any substantial objection to or even interest in any particular question, but simply because it wants to be as much of a factor in geopolitics as it can.

walmart-lowwagesAs Elise pointed out earlier today, economist Donald Boudreaux completely eviscerates former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s call to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. As Boudreaux says, “Reich’s video is infected, from start to finish, with too many other errors to count.”

But Boudreaux also wrote a letter to Reich countering the economically ignorant (though increasingly popular!) claim that “we subsidize low wage employers” like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and almost every mom-and-pop business in America through government welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance. As Boudreaux says to Reich:
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fight forRobert Reich seems to be a smart man. He served under three presidents, and now is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. His video (below) says raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, he gets it all wrong.

Donald Boudreaux of the Cato Institute notes a couple of errors in Reich’s thinking. First,

Ignoring supply-and-demand analysis (which depicts the correct common-sense understanding that the higher the minimum wage, the lower is the quantity of unskilled workers that firms can profitably employ), Reich asserts that a higher minimum wage enables workers to spend more money on consumer goods which, in turn, prompts employers to hire more workers.  Reich apparently believes that his ability to describe and draw such a “virtuous circle” of increased spending and hiring is reason enough to dismiss the concerns of “scare-mongers” (his term) who worry that raising the price of unskilled labor makes such labor less attractive to employers.

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Rent is Too HighSince the 1950s, the modern conservative movement has been marked by “fusionism”—a mix of various groups, most notably traditional conservatives and libertarians. For the next fifty years a conservative Christian and a secular libertarian (or vice versa) could often find common ground by considering how liberty lead to human flourishing.

But for the past decade a different fusionist arrangement has been tried (or at least desired) which includes progressives and libertarians. Brink Lindsey coined the term “liberaltarians” in 2006 to describe this uneasy alliance. Ten years into the experiment, the results have been less than impressive.

There were many reasons why the alliance was doomed to fail, but the most important was that libertarians tend to desire intellectually and political consistency in promoting a freedom agenda while progressives tend to be highly selective in their love of liberty.

Not to be too uncharitable, but urban progressives, for instance, tend to favor liberty only when it benefits urban progressives. This is especially true when it comes to government regulations. As Aaron M. Renn explains,
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As You Sow (AYS), a shareholder activist group, was rebuffed last month in a move to curtail the use of Abbott Laboratories’ genetically modified organisms in its Similac Soy Isomil infant formulas. The defeat of the resolution marks the third year Abbott shareholders voted down an AYS effort to limit and/or label GMO ingredients by significant margins. This year’s resolution reportedly garnered only 3 percent of the shareholder vote.

Such nuisance resolutions fly in the face of the facts: GMOs have been found to be completely safe and, further, benefit the environment by increasing crop yields, thereby reducing the land area required for farming, as well as significantly reducing the need for pesticides. Try telling that to the AYS activists, whose 2015 Abbott resolution states:

 Shareholders request the Board of Directors publish within six months, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, a report on genetically engineered ingredients contained in nutritional products sold by Abbott. This report should list Abbott product categories that contain GMOs and estimated portion of products in each category that contain GMOs, and discuss any actions management is taking to reduce or eliminate GMOs from its products, until and unless long-term studies show that the genetically engineered crops and associated farming practices are not harmful to the environment, the agriculture industry, or human or animal health.

“The full story is that GMOs are having a significant environmental impact and no agency is monitoring for health effects,” fretted Margaret Weber, corporate responsibility director at the Congregation of St. Basil of Toronto, an AYS member, one year ago. “In fact, monitoring for health impacts is nearly impossible because in the US, where the vast majority of GMOs are grown and consumed, there is no labeling.” (more…)

Blog author: ehilton
Monday, May 11, 2015
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200271918-001For many of us ladies, getting our nails done is a regular bit of pampering. We stop off at the local nail salon, grab a magazine and relax while someone paints our nails. We pay our $25 and off we go.

We never, for one moment, consider the person doing our nails could be a slave.

For those who study human trafficking, nail salons have long been held as a hotspot for trafficking victims. But for the average client, the idea that the person hunched over their nails is literally a slave never crosses their mind. Last week’s New York Times followed women in four urban settings in the U.S., exploring the deplorable world they work in. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, May 11, 2015
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Two Premises on Poverty and Culture
Ross Douthat, New York Times

These two realities, taken together, do not necessarily point toward either a left-wing or a right-wing diagnosis of our situation.

How would we know if we won the War on Poverty?
Scott Sumner, EconLog

There’s a tendency to assume that the effect of anti-poverty spending can be measured by looking at the difference between market income and market income plus government aid. I’m going to argue that this is a very serious conceptual error, even if their conclusions end up being correct in the end.

The three keys to school choice success
Michael Q. McShane, AEI Ideas

For the class of 2014, only 26 percent of those who took the ACT scored college-ready in all four subjects. If we want to turn around these depressing statistics, we need serious change in the American education system.

The Left Frets: What If the Supreme Court Recognizes the Dignity of Christians?
Seth Mandel, Commentary

A nagging question I’ve had while watching local businesses sued into oblivion for the Christian thoughtcrimes of their proprietors is: What will it take for liberals to finally have second thoughts about the way in which gay marriage is being legalized?

motherhoodHappy Mother’s Day weekend from Herman Bavinck, who poetically summarizes the work, beauty, and glory of motherhood in The Christian Family:

[The wife and mother] organizes the household, arranges and decorates the home, and supplies the tone and texture of home life; with unequaled talent she magically transforms a cold room into a cozy place, transforms modest income into sizable capital, and despite all kinds of statistical predictions, she uses limited means to generate great things.

Within the family she preserves order and peace, because she knows the character of each person and knows how to supply the needs of each. She protects the weak, tends the sick, comforts the sorrowing, sobers the proud, and restrains the strong. Far more than the husband, she lives along with all her children, and for the children she is the source of comfort amid suffering, the source of counsel amid need, the refuge and fortress by day and by night. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and her children call her blessed [Prov. 31:10–28]…

For husband and wife marriage is meaningful and is for them a means for fulfilling their earthly and spiritual calling. But just as marriage is to be recommended in general, so too a marriage blessed with children is what may generally be described as a customary, normal marriage. By father, mother, and child the family is built according to the aesthetic principle of beautiful symmetry.

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MOTHERS-DAY11. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation that officially established the first national Mother’s Day holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. Many individual states celebrated Mother’s Day before then, but it was not until Wilson lobbied Congress in 1914 that Mother’s Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May.

2. President Wilson established Mother’s Day after years of lobbying by the mother of the holiday, Anna Marie Jarvis and the World’s Sunday School Association. Anna Jarvis’ mother, Ann Jarvis, had attempted to establish a version of Mother’s Day during the Civil War as a time for remembrance. By the 1920s, though, Anna Jarvis became disgusted by the commercialization of the holiday. She incorporated herself as the Mother’s Day International Association, trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and was once arrested for disturbing the peace at a Mother’s Day carnation sale. According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. As she said, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

3. Mother’s Day was the most important Sunday on the organized crime calendar. According to Joe Pistone, an FBI undercover agent, the mafia often closed for business when Mother’s Day arrived each May.
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