NUNReligious shareholder activists egging on a federal investigation of ExxonMobil include the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, which counts the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey, among its faith-based members. The narrative promulgated by the activists is that the energy giant conducted climate-change research and buried the results when the data inconveniently proved burning fossil fuels was a major contributor.

All this might be a tempest in a teapot if not for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) pressing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to prosecute ExxonMobil under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act following the so-called “revelations” reported by the Los Angeles Times and, to a more sensationalistic extreme, Inside Climate News. As noted in a previous post, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley also are on board, not to mention former Vice President and inconvenient truth teller Al Gore. Of course, this onslaught aimed at ExxonMobil is timed to coincide with the upcoming United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) in December.

The Tri-State Coalition’s website admits as much: (more…)

316853_288803591143707_552690558_nIn a recent episode of EconTalk, Russell Roberts chats with Acton Institute’s Michael Mattheson Miller about Poverty, Inc., the award-winning documentary on the challenges of poverty alleviation in the developing world.

The entire conversation is rich and varied, ranging from the ill effects of Western do-gooderism to the  dignity of work to the need for institutions of justice.

You can listen to the whole thing below:

Later in the episode, Miller discusses the need for us to reach beyond mere humanitarianism to a fuller expression of love, recognizing the dignity and capacity of every human person, as well as the full scope of human needs — material, social, spiritual, and otherwise: (more…)

covOver the past few decades, economist Thomas Sowell has been one of the most effective, yet under under-appreciated, proponents of conservative and libertarian economic thought. He is also one of our most powerful critics of the often destructive and harmful effects of liberal economic policies.

Sowell frames the differences between the left and the right as a “conflict of visions”, a political divide separated by “constrained” and “unconstrained” visions. As Wikipedia helpfully summarizes this view:

Writing for a special New York Times section on giving, Alina Tugend looks at the knotty problem of how best to help those in need. She digs into things like the economics behind food pantries and how relief donations to those devastated by natural disasters often wind up making things worse.

For her story, Tugend interviewed Michael Matheson Miller, Acton research fellow and producer of the new documentary Poverty Inc.

“Look seriously into yourself,” said Michael Matheson Miller, director and producer of the documentary “Poverty Inc.,” which will be released on iTunes in December. “People ask, ‘What can I do to help poverty?’ and that’s often the wrong question. The right one is, ‘What do people need to create prosperity in their families and community and what can I do to help?’ ”

Read “When Making Donations, Know an Agency’s Needs” by Alina Tugend in the New York Times.

While you’re at it, listen to Russ Roberts and Miller talk about the new Poverty Inc. documentary on the always interesting EconTalk podcast. Here’s Roberts on the film: (more…)



The recent “Vatileaks” scandal is almost entirely an Italian problem, according to Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton. In a recent article for The Stream, Jayabalan describes his own experience moving to Italy and dealing with some of the corruption and problems he immediately faced, and how this culture ultimately caused the Vatileaks controversy:

When I first moved [to Italy] to work for the Vatican, my boss told me the hardest part of the transfer would be finding a place to live. “How could that possibly be in a European capital?” I thought. Well, it turns out that Vatican salaries, while tax-free and much sought after in Italy, are not very high and not enough to pay for an apartment on one’s own. The Vatican does own many apartments and rents them at affordable prices, but I was told they are nearly impossible to get. Not only must you be “raccamandato” but have a very influential Italian “protettore,” which mine was not. (He was merely a saintly man who survived 13 years in a communist prison.)

So I was left to fend for myself and, thanks be to God, I was able to find something affordable and centrally-located. But the fact that the Vatican apartments are not available to its foreign employees ought to be a scandal on its own. The Italians look after their own, even in the Vatican. (more…)

Green AmericaEnvironmental activists representing some 50 seemingly disparate groups are calling on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a criminal investigation of ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading the public on climate change. Boy howdy, when a representative from The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop aligns her agenda with Green America, the Natural Resources Defense Council and a whole bunch of clergy and religious you can bet the farm there’s an open-and-shut federal case against any company foolish enough to stand in their way.

Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

As leaders of some of the nation’s environmental, indigenous peoples and civil rights groups, we’re writing to ask that you initiate a federal probe into the conduct of ExxonMobil. New revelations in the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News strongly suggest that the corporation knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts at climate denial and systematically misled the public.

Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change—particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet—and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent—though potentially much greater in scale—than similar revelations about the tobacco industry. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, November 12, 2015

Christian Belief Cost Kelvin Cochran His Job
Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal

Atlanta says it terminated its fire chief because he published a book without permission. The real reason is because of what’s in it.

Freedom to Care for the Poor
John Ashmen, RealClearReligion

While news reports regarding the pontiff over the past few weeks have focused on doctrinal disputes among some Catholic bishops, Americans should not forget the vital — and unifying — themes regarding civil society and service to our neighbors that Pope Francis stressed during his U.S. visit just one month ago.

Cuomo to Create $15 Minimum Wage for New York State Workers
Jesse McKinley, New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to unilaterally create a $15 minimum wage for all state workers, making New York the first state to set such a high wage for a large group of public employees.

Obamacare: Big Brother vs. the Little Sisters
John Zmirak, The Stream

Our new battle is not with overt Marxist tyranny, but with something more subtle — an irreligious government that wants to agglomerate ever more power over our lives in the name of making things fairer and keeping people happier, of smoothing over our differences and soothing our fragile egos.