daraprim-price-hike-892x600In the early 1950s, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Gertrude Elion developed the drug Daraprim to combat malaria. Daraprim is now also used to fight toxoplasmosis, which infects people whose immune systems have been weakened by AIDS, chemotherapy and pregnancy. It’s such an important drug that it’s on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, among the most important medications needed in a basic health system.

A single pill used to sell for $1, but the price was raised around 2010 to $13.50. Last week the price jumped 5,000 percent to $750 a tablet.

There was no shortage or other supply and demand factors that would justify the rapid price increase. Turing Pharmaceuticals had bought the drug from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million and raised the price to cover their costs. Turing’s CEO Martin Shkreli said, “This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association disagree, saying “this cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication.”

Some people believe this incident is an example of the failures of free market capitalism, and claim this is why we need more government intervention. But the exact opposite is true: This is an example of government failure which the free market could solve.

Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico joined host Laura Ingraham on The Laura Ingraham Show while stuck in Washington, D.C. traffic resulting from the arrival of Pope Francis in the city. They discussed the the optics of the Pope’s arrival at the White House, his comments there, and what to expect as the Pope addresses Congress tomorrow morning.

We’ve posted the audio of the interview below; our thanks to The Laura Ingraham Show for the kind permission to share this audio with you.

Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Toward a better understanding of religion and global affairs
John Kerry, The National Catholic Review

In June, Pope Francis’ historic encyclical “Laudato Si’” helped advocate for global measures to combat climate change. Religious advocacy groups have long raised awareness about famine and human rights violations abroad; Buddhist nuns in Nepal play a crucial role in natural disaster recovery efforts; and religious organizations have been essential to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees.

Pope Francis’ Arrival in the U.S. Is a Low-Key Prelude to Pageantry
Peter Baker, Azam Ahmed and Jim Yardley, The New York Times

Even as Newsweek asked on its cover, “Is the Pope Catholic?” Francis rejected the notion that he is an anticapitalist leftist not committed enough to church teachings. “I have never said anything that is not in the social doctrine of the church,” he said, alluding to provocative speeches on the excesses of capitalism. “Maybe some things sounded slightly leftish, but that would be the wrong interpretation.”

House Democrats Ask Pope Francis To Address Ways To Combat Climate Change

“Pope Francis, we hope you will address climate chante, and talk about how it especially hurts lower-income communities andthe most vulnerable among us:” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, IL 9th District.


The Fall 2015 Acton Lecture Series kicked off on September 17 with an address from Donald Devine, Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies, and formerly – and most famously – Ronald Reagan’s Director of the Office of Personnel Management, where he earned the nickname “Reagan’s Terrible Swift Sword of the Bureaucracy” from the Washington Post. These days, he spends his time traveling around the country teaching Constitutional Leadership Seminars, and working hard to save the marriage between libertarianism and traditionalism, which he argues is the basis for America’s greatness.

You can view Devine’s presentation below, and be sure to register for upcoming Acton Lecture Series events. They’ll be filling up fast!

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Poll: More Americans, majority of Christian Millennials believe religious freedom is worse than 10 years ago
Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF-commissioned Barna study shows many believe religious freedom has gotten worse in past decade

In clash with pope’s climate call, U.S. Church leases drilling rights
Richard Valdmanis, Reuters

On Francis’ first visit to the United States this week, the business dealings suggest that some leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church are practicing a different approach to the environment than the pontiff is preaching.

The many ways to measure economic inequality
Drew DeSilver, Pew Research

As Federal Reserve economist Arthur Kennickell wrote in a 2009 paper, “‘Inequality’ may seem a simple term, but operationally it may mean many different things, depending on the point of view.”

Entrepreneurship: An Opportunity for Personal, Individual Flourishing
Tim Hoerr, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Just what is it about entrepreneurial environments that make them such fertile soil for personal flourishing? There are at least three reasons.

pope-oreoBased on their latest headline, it looks like someone from the Acton Institute is writing for the The Onion:

Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos

As the article says:

Admitting the startling discovery had compelled him to reexamine his long-held beliefs, His Holiness Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he had reversed his critical stance toward capitalism after seeing the immense variety of Oreos available in the United States. “Oh, my goodness, look at all these! Golden Oreos, Cookie Dough Oreos, Mega Stuff Oreos, Birthday Cake Oreos—perhaps the system of free enterprise is not as terrible as I once feared,” said the visibly awed bishop of Rome while visiting a Washington, D.C. supermarket, adding that the sheer diversity of flavors, various colors and quantities of creme filling, and presence or absence of an outer fudge layer had led to a profound philosophical shift in his feelings toward the global economy and opened his eyes to the remarkable capabilities of the free market.

Sadly, the article is only satire. But buried underneath the humor is a serious question worth considering: What does our abundance of choice say about our economic system? As I wrote in my post on “3 Things I Wish Pope Francis Knew About a Free Economy“:

DeKoster-3-dimensions-of-workLester DeKoster’s short book, Work: The Meaning of Your Life, sets forth a profound thesis and solid theological framework for how we think about work.

Although the faith and work movement has delivered a host of books and resources on the topic, DeKoster’s book stands out for its bite and balance. It is remarkably concise, and yet sets forth a holistic vision that considers the multiple implications of the Christian life.

The book was recently re-issued, along with the new afterword by Greg Forster. In it, Forster outlines DeKoster’s underlying framework, which “invites us to view work as a complex, three-dimensional reality.” Each of these dimensions is summarized as follows (quoted directly from Forster).

1. Objective-Subjective

One dimension of our work is defined by the distinction between objective and subjective. No matter how pious your feelings about it are, it still matters to God whether your work is actually having a beneficial effect on other people. At the same time, human dignity and the shaping of the self for God can only be lived out if we do our work with the right sense of identity and motives. We see this dimension most clearly in DeKoster’s twofold understanding of God’s presence in our work—that we love God in our work by serving our neighbor (objectively) and shaping ourselves (subjectively).


Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

what-is-a-class-6-felony-670x442After years of working for a tech company, you decide to start your own business designing websites. One of your first clients is a charity that focuses on teaching traditional religious customs and practices. While building the website, you link to other organizations that share some, but not all, of your charity’s views.

You’ve just committed an arguable federal felony: Because information on the websites to which you link contained advocacy of religious extremism, you have broken the federal Patriot Act provision of Providing Material Support to Terrorists.

Now imagine you decide to have a picnic in a national park with your family. After finishing your meal you throw away your trash. Your son, however, isn’t so careful – he leaves behind a few leftover items. As you leave your picnic area, a park ranger asks if you or your family has left trash in the area. You tell him that you’ve cleaned up after yourself.

You’ve just committed an arguable federal felony: False Statements to a Federal Official. Any false statement made to a government official – even when it is made in conversation and not under oath nor in writing – can leave a citizen vulnerable to a “false statement” charge.

Those may seem like absurd examples but as civil rights lawyer Harvey A. Silvergate notes, these hypothetical examples have real-life parallels. Overcriminalization and an increase in vague regulations have made most of us unknowing and unintentional felons.

Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

America Exclusive: Vice President Biden on Pope Francis, Faith and Public Life

He made it clear, it is not the papacy’s role to be the scientist-­in­-chief and/or the political arbiter. But what he talked about are basic fundamental assertions. Look, the way I read it, and I read it, is it was an invitation, almost a demand, that a dialogue begin internationally, to deal with what is the single most consequential problem and issue facing humanity right now. And so the fact that he talked about — I mean even our department of defense has written long papers several years ago talking about what a danger to national security failing to deal with this is. Sea levels rise another foot, you’ve got tens of millions of people being displaced. You think there is a migration problem in Syria, watch what happens when hundreds of millions of people in South Asia are displaced trying to find new territory to live. Look what’s happened with Darfur. Darfur is all about climate change. It’s about arable land being evaporated, figuratively and literally, and warring over land. So I think it’s a total misrepresentation of the pope’s encyclical tosay it’s a political document. It’s a human document.

The left has its pope
Thomas Sowell, WND

In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets and other amenities.A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left. Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.

On visit to U.S., pope will find a church in transition
Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

The Roman Catholic Church that Pope Francis will encounter on his first visit to the United States is being buffeted by immense change, and it is struggling — with integrating a new generation of immigrants, with conflicts over buildings and resources, with recruiting priests and with retaining congregants. The denomination is still the largest in the United States, but its power base is shifting.

Reconstructionists Set Yom Kippur Climate Change Service for Pope’s Visit

The services Tuesday night and Wednesday “will follow the traditional rituals with a focus on atonement for damage to the environment,” Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s director of social justice organizing program and one of the leaders of the Yom Kippur services, said in a statement.


Acton Institute External Relations Officer Peter Johnson wrote recently at The Federalist that “If Francis can imagine a way to affirm my generation’s devotion to the marginalized while delivering a stern warning against the sort of degenerate sentimentality and paternalism that advocating for the poor can engender, then I think Francis could have an astounding impact here.” He’s been called upon a number of times now to share his thoughts on this topic on a variety of podcasts, and we’d like to highlight a couple of interviews here.

First of all, Peter appeared on the Larry Conners USA program to discuss his article; the interview is available in full below.

Peter also made an appearance on the Cam & Co. podcast on NRA News, which you can listen to below.