sen.scottLast week Senator Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) proposed an amendment to the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind bill that would allow Title I funds–the funds the federal government allocates to districts with high-poverty populations–to follow students out of their assigned district schools to schools of choice.

Democrats in the Senate (joined by six Republicans) successfully fought to keep the portability amendment as well as school vouchers out of the legislation. As Think Progress explains, the White House and Senate Democrats opposed the amendment because some school districts with high concentrations of poverty would lose federal funds.

This certainly seems like a plausible reason to oppose the measure. After all, who wants to harm poor school districts? But as Sen. Scott notes in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, we must ensure our focus is in the right place—on the children, not school bureaucracies.

“Education is not about protecting a bureaucracy,” says Scott, “it should not be about empowering Washington, and cannot be about an endless, fruitless push for some one-size-fits-all type of system.”

Scott encouraged the Senate to allow portability and return some measure of power to the states in education, saying “Local and state leaders are figuring out that when parents have a choice, kids have a chance.”

You can hear his entire speech in the video below:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 20, 2015
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What Did Pope Francis Really Think of the “Communist Crucifix”?
John Zmirak, The Stream

Press accounts have been muddled by misreporting and wishful thinking.

State subsidies take from the poor to give to the rich
M. Steven Fish and Neil A. Abrams, Washington Post

In one area, however, government spending almost always redistributes income from the poor to the rich, encourages inefficiency and fuels corruption: state subsides.

Conservatives warn IRS could target gay marriage opponents
Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press

A brief exchange during Supreme Court arguments in the same-sex marriage case has exploded into a full-blown crisis for some conservatives who warn that the IRS could start revoking the tax-exempt status of religious groups that oppose gay marriage.

Do-gooders, do no harm: What are the best–and worst–ways to help those mired in international conflicts?
Laura Seay and Alex de Waal, Washington Post

Since the end of the Cold War, numerous international advocacy efforts concerning global conflict sprung out of these good intentions. Yet the results of these movements are often, at best, mixed, and in some cases actually made a crisis or the plight of innocent civilians worse.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 17, 2015
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graffiti_litter“Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact,” said G. K. Chesterton. “The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes.”

Recognizing the fact of sin should be the beginning of all inquiries in how we should arrange public policy. This is especially true for those of us who champion liberty. Because order is a necessary precondition of liberty, we need to maintain order by limiting and impeding certain types of sinful behavior.

Throughout human history, sin has been restrained through norm, rules, customs, and laws, and traditions. Inevitably, certain individuals push back against these restrictions and complain that they hinder their own personal liberty. Sometimes this is true, of course, but more often than not it is merely an individual wanting to put their own self-centered actions and behaviors ahead of the reasonable needs of society.

Some have argued that as long as only a relatively few people break the norms and rules that it would have little to no affect on society. But this misses, as Chesterton might say, the fact of sin, especially the fact of sin as a social contagion.

Take, for example, the victimless crimes of prostitution, vagrancy, or public drunkenness. Theoretically, we could justify the decriminalization of all these acts since they do not necessarily harm other people or their property. I’m not likely to become a vagrant because I see one on the streets, so what harm does it do?

As it turns out, such actions do lead to harmful affects on society. As the renowned criminologist James Wilson notes:
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Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Istituto Acton in Rome, talked to Voa News yesterday about the flaws in Pope Francis’s pronouncements on free markets and globalization, as articulated in the recent encyclical Laudato Si’.

“When the pope says that this economy kills, that this economy destroys the environment, I’m not quite sure what economy he’s talking about,” said Jayabalan.

Read the full article here.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 17, 2015
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Can capitalism keep people out of prisons?
Steven Godeke and William Burckart, Quartz

The Rikers Island Prison SIB is one example of fast-emerging interest and activity around these kinds of strategies, which are also known as pay-for-success financings.

After Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling, How We Can Protect Freedom for Everyone
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

Respecting religious liberty in the marketplace is particularly important. After all, as the first lady, Michelle Obama, put it, religion “isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well.”

Remove work requirements and food stamp enrollment explodes in a SNAP
Matt Vespa, Hot Air

In all, there are 48 million Americans on food stamps, up from 17 million since 2000. Additionally, millions more are being added to their states’ respective food stamp rolls than they are finding full-time work; for every one person who found a job, two people are given SNAP benefits. In terms of cost, we were spending $17 billion on food stamps. It’s now ballooned to an $80 billion program.

Gay Marriage and the Future of Evangelical Colleges
David R. Wheeler, The Atlantic

Now that same-sex couples have the right to wed, will higher-ed institutions that condemn LGBT students still be eligible for federal funding?

Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, July 16, 2015
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Vatican and the UN Organize Event With Leftist Mayors on Climate Change — Rapprochement Continues
The Eponymous Flower

(Rome) on the 21st and 22nd of July, mayors from around the world meet at the Vatican to discuss the global climate and modern slavery. What sounds so politically correct, should be through and through. Initiator of the Mayor Meeting is the Argentine, Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Curial Archbishop, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences . He was the organizer behind the eco-Encyclical Laudato Si who besides creating the contacts next to the dead letter, especially at the United Nations and the “high politics”.

Bishop: Vatican is free to work with everyone, UN is not the ‘devil’
Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

The United Nations is not “the devil,” so a papal think tank is free to collaborate with the international body as well as people of any political persuasion, said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The church will continue to collaborate with the United Nations on any joint project that “does not go against the doctrine of the church,” he said at a news conference July 15.

Indian children spread pope’s message on climate change
Ritu Sharma, UCA News

Supporting Pope Francis’ global call for urgent action on climate change, children in New Delhi took to the streets to create awareness for the environment. “People tend to ignore the need to preserve the environment and carry on with their lives. I hope they will take into consideration what the pope has said on the issue,” Kalpana Singh told ucanews.com. Singh was among the 7-15 year-olds taking part in a dance event on New Delhi streets July 12 using colorful umbrellas, unicycles and holding banners, despite the heavy downpour.

Donald Trump, Pope Francis — When Fathers Embarrass Their Children
John Zmirak, National Review

Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth to say something brash and provocative, whose sharp edges distract from whatever grains of truth he might have grasped, I imagine how his children must feel. Do they wince and read every word — or blink and look away? Do they spin the quotes to their friends, say that they were taken out of context, or probably misreported? I need no leap of empathy here, because I feel exactly the same whenever Pope Francis speaks on economics or politics. My friends here will jump in and say that I’m being unfair here — either to Francis or to Trump, depending on which friend — but the analogy is exact.

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jeb

During a recent interview, presidential candidate Jeb Bush outlined his economic plan, which included a goal of achieving 4 percent economic growth.

As for how we might achieve that growth, Bush went on to commit a grave and sinful error, daring imply that Americans might need to work a bit harder:

My aspiration for the country — and I believe we can achieve it — is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see,” he told the newspaper. “Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.

The pundits descended, the trolls ignited, and the competing politicians proceeded to pounce, including his chief rival, Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: “Anyone who believes Americans aren’t working hard enough hasn’t met enough American workers.” The media followed in turn, running numerous stories on the “real” barriers to economic growth: economic inequality, low wages, and — my personal least-favorite — a lack of “good jobs.” (more…)

9780544373174_custom-65b05d09242abdf9624b6c53d7e29e6309aae9d9-s400-c85North Korea has been cut off from the rest of the world for nearly 70 years and few people outside of its borders – especially in the West – have a realistic picture of how life really goes on. Yes, we know it’s a horrible place, essentially a giant concentration camp, but how do North Koreans live their lives? Joseph Kim’s memoir, with contributions from Stephan Talty, Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015) helps to paint a picture of the closed off nation and remind us what we should know – that North Koreans are all too human with real hopes, dreams, and struggles. Most importantly, the book paints a vivid picture of life inside North Korea that, despite the accounts of suffering, by turns surprises and enlightens.

Under the Same Sky could easily be broken into three parts: Joseph Kim’s life before the famine that ravaged North Korea in the 1990s; how Kim survived during the famine; and his life after escaping from North Korea. The book is episodic, with each chapter telling one particular story from Kim’s life. Within this format, at just short of 300 pages, and given the compelling themes in many chapters, it’s a quick read and is often hard to put down. The narrative spans little more than a decade, starting when Kim is four or so, and ending when he’s an older teenager. He does talk about his new life in America, but it’s not the focus. The majority of the action takes place during the North Korean famine, but an early section in the book paints the idyllic picture that life wasn’t always so bad in this nation, at least not when seen through the eyes of a young child. (more…)

more-moneyA perennial complaint by the political left is that the CEOs of American companies earn too much money. The implication is not, however, that the “excess” money should be distributed to the shareholders (who actually own the company). Instead, the idea is that “fairness” requires that much of the profit that normally goes toward the CEO’s pay should be redistributed to the rest of the company’s employees.

But what if we took it a step further: What if we redistributed all corporate profits to workers? What if the profits of every American company were not given to the shareholders but divided equally among every worker in America?How much do you think it would raise the average worker’s pay?

Take a moment to do a rough guestimation of how much the hourly wage would be raised if all profits were redistributed. Have a number in mind?

The answer to the question is that the average worker’s hourly wage would increase by . . .

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JMM_18.1 front cropOur most recent issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality has now been published online and print issues are in the mail.

Volume 18, no. 1 is a special issue. Guest editor Shirley Roels details the origins of the contributions in her (open access) editorial:

To highlight the 2013–2014 English publication of the first volume of [Abraham] Kuyper’s theological commentary on common grace, the Calvin College Business Department organized an October 2014 symposium, which was co-sponsored by the Acton Institute. Faculty, business practitioners, and students gathered to think about the meaning of Kuyper’s common grace theology for twenty-first-century business. Over an exceptional day of discourse, presentations and panels were woven into a robust discussion about the light of faith for business when that life is shared together by Christians and those who follow other paths. Leaders from banking, manufacturing, natural resources, film, food, and floral industries, among others, joined with business educators to shape the current intertwining of common grace and business.

The symposium was framed around three themes that emerge from Kuyper’s writings about common grace. Its planners described these as the protective, constructive, and imaginative functions of common grace. Through such grace, God protects remnants and echoes of his good created order as gifts for all people despite continuing human perversity. God designs the expectation and possibility that together humans will construct institutions to respond to needs and support social order. God provides continuity between the values and virtues of all people so that Christians as well as those in other faith traditions can work together imaginatively.

The article contributions to this journal issue originated in that October 2014 symposium. Peter Heslam’s opening article provides some of Kuyper’s less-known commentary about business life. Then eight articles, all authored by Christian business educators, articulate the implications of Kuyper’s common grace theology for business ethics, strategic planning, global debt markets, entrepreneurship, market pricing, the accounting profession, operations management, and human resource frameworks. Richard Mouw’s closing article enjoins us to bring robust Christian faith to the business spaces where God’s light can readily flood. (A separate review essay unrelated to the symposium also appears as part of the journal’s regular publication schedule.) Finally, integrated into the journal’s book review section are four reviews of recent books about faith and business that highlight resources to deepen this intersection of faith and business.

In addition to Dr. Roels’ editorial, I have made my review of The Common Good: An Introduction to Personalism by Jonas Norgaard Mortensen open access as well. You can read it free here.

If you are interested in a subscription to the Journal of Markets & Morality, subscription directions and prices can be found here.

Once you’ve purchased a subscription, you can read our most recent issue, volume 18, no. 1, here.