Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 16, 2014
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Economic Liberty and the Constitution
Paul J. Larkin Jr., The Daily Signal

Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the question whether the Constitution protects individual economic activity without undue—some might say any—government regulation or interference.

The Catholic Church Explains Sexual Mores—With Economics
Emma Green, The Atlantic

A new report from the Vatican softens its rhetoric on homosexuality, divorce, and pre-marital sex, arguing that they are shaped by financial instability. What does this mean?

Freedom and Flourishing in Hong Kong
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Hong Kong has retained some institutions that set it apart from Communist China. Its inclination toward greater trade and free expression has generated a level of prosperity that the mainland cannot attain with its burdensome regulations.

We All Want Freedom. But What Is the Highest Form of Freedom?
Orion D. Jones, Big Think

With midterm elections drawing near, what differentiates our two main political parties? Both profess a love of freedom but understand the world differently.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
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ruralroadWhen it comes to reducing global poverty, the simplest solutions can often have an amazing impact. A prime example is the creation of travelable roads.

Kenneth M. Quinn, a former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, explains how creating a rural road in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam not only improved the economy but also reduced child mortality and increased regional security:
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Liggio

Liggio

The Acton Institute, and the free market movement, lost a great friend yesterday with the death of Leonard Liggio, the “Johnny Appleseed of Classical Liberalism.” Writing for Forbes, Acton board member Alejandro Chafuen described Liggio’s “deep and encyclopedic historical knowledge” and how he fruitfully brought that to bear on many projects and institutions. “His understanding of the evolution of legal institutions helped me and many others put our economic and policy arguments into a better perspective,” Chafuen wrote. He remembered how Liggio’s expertise and encouragement also played a crucial role in the formation of the Acton Institute.

In 1990, Manuel Ayau (1925-2010), the founder and late president of the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, asked Leonard and I to help him build the program of a regional [Mont Pelerin Society] meeting. Although the topic always led to major disagreements among classical liberals, we organized a panel on religion and liberty. We invited Father Robert Sirico to speak. That meeting led to conversations among us and eventually to the founding of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. The co-founders, Sirico and Kris Mauren asked us to become founding trustees.

Chafuen pointed to Liggio’s deep faith: (more…)

Daniel Hannan is an author, journalist, and – perhaps most famously – an outspoken member of the European Parliament. To paraphrase the great Troy McClure, you may remember him from such viral YouTube sensations as “Gordon Brown, The Devalued Prime Minister” and “How the EU wastes our money,” among many others. Last week, Hannan arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan to address the gathered attendees at the Acton Institute’s 24th Anniversary Dinner, and provided them with a cheerful and spirited defense of human liberty and the great charters of liberty produced by English-speaking peoples throughout history. You can view his entire presentation below.

Mako Fujimura

Mako Fujimura

ArtPrize, by any measure, is a successful venture. It allows artists to reach a huge audience, gives hundreds of thousands of people the chance to experience a variety of art, and gives the city of Grand Rapids a terrific financial boost. There are, though, thoughtful critiques of the ArtPrize experience.

Mako Fujimura, whose “Walking on Water – Azurite” was showcased at the Acton Building during ArtPrize 2014, is concerned about some aspects of ArtPrize. He wrote about his experience on his website, in a piece entitled, “Toward Culture Care: Why the ArtPrize helps artists…and why it does not.” While his overall experience with ArtPrize was positive, Fujimura is particularly concerned that artists, who he says are by nature introverts, need care during what can be an overwhelming event. (more…)

The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political LifeHunter Baker’s latest book, The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life, is now available from Christian’s Library Press, and has received praise from the likes of Robert George, Russell Moore, and David Dockery, among others.

Now, in his Book of the Month review for October, the inimitable Douglas Wilson adds his voice to the chorus, noting that, amid the chaos of secularism and its counterparts, “Baker reminds us that Christians in a society must learn to embrace their high calling”:

Secularism is completely bankrupt, and the more people we can get to talk regularly about this useful fact in public, the better I like it. People used to believe that secularization was part of the inevitable march of evolution. Now the ground has shifted, and people are just acquiescing to certain practical realities brought about by the mere fact of pluralism. But, as Baker points out, “There is nothing about that situation that guarantees a secular future” (p. 54). What the future will look like is always an idea, and unless there is divine inspiration for your eschatology, you need to be a little bit careful about your pronouncements. There is no historical inevitability to secularism at all. Baker is one of the few writers today who is willing to point that fact out.

The subtitle of this book is Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life, and his work ranges between a number of related themes. He talks about the crisis that higher education faces, he addresses whether social conservatives and libertarians can find any common ground, and what relevance the resurrection might have for political theory. Baker is an intelligent observer of the emperor’s parade, and he has the courage to comment on the emperor’s lack of suitable apparel.

Read the full review.

Purchase The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
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Your Tax Dollars At Work: Liberal religious organizations make amnesty pay
Capital Research Center

The federal government is spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year to underwrite private care for persons who have entered the country illegally. Much of the money flows into religious nonprofits. The nation’s laws receive less consideration than the appeal of “free” government subsidies, and the causes and harms of illegal immigration are brushed aside.

10 Prerequisites for Prosperity
Harry Veryser, Intercollegiate Review

The significance of this “spontaneous order” is easy to miss. But defenders of free enterprise must recognize that markets do not stand independent of the broader culture; they are inextricably linked to all the other organizations, associations, and political and legal systems that develop organically over time.

A Conversation with Roger Scruton on How to be a Conservative
Richard M. Reinsch, Library of Law and Liberty

This conversation explores Scruton’s argument that a free market depends not only on an Austrian understanding of the need for local knowledge but on traditions that encircle goods, practices, relationships, excepting these from the market itself.

Religious Liberty at a Crossroads?
Gerard V. Bradley, Public Discourse

US religious liberty law is not perfect, but it still deserves our support. Religious exemptions witness to the value of religion as a transcendent good. And nothing in the Supreme Court cases requesting religious liberty exemptions for Muslim citizens undermines that effort.

Would Thomas Jefferson have anything to say about Americans suing the government in order to defend their first amendment rights? Kathryn Hickok, of the Cascade Policy Institute in Portland, Ore., thinks so. She wondered what Jefferson may have said to the Little Sisters of the Poor’s about their ongoing legal battle with the Obama Administration. In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to cover contraceptives and abortifacients or pay costly fines. Although this mandate does have exemptions for some, that does not include the Little Sisters of the Poor. For more background, see PowerBlog articles on both the HHS Mandate and the Little Sisters’ lawsuit.

In 1804, a nun from New Orleans was concerned that, after the Louisiana purchase, the government may interfere with her religious community’s ministries or might even seize their property. Jefferson assured her:

I have received, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution….The principles of the constitution and government of the United States are a guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you, sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority.

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Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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small business ownerAs mid-term elections creep closer (aren’t we done with those tv ads yet?), one wonders which War on Women will be victorious.

First, there is the War on Women declared by the likes of Sandra Fluke and Senator Jeane Shaheen, who proclaim that women aren’t getting paid fairly and that while no one has the right to tell women what to do with their bodies, could you fork over the money for their birth control, please? This War on Women desires that all their needs legislated, from equal pay to paid family leave to government-subsidized child care and housing. This War on Women has Beyoncé as their spokeswoman, whose performance for this year’s Video Music Awards was proclaimed to be “fearless, feminist, flawless, family time,” complete with sexually-suggestive lyrics, scantily-clad dancers and stripper poles. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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TriangleIn a remarkable letter last week, noted by Joseph Sunde, Mike Rowe inveighed against the sloganeering that passes for vocational discernment in today’s popular culture.

Mike singled out Hollywood as a particularly egregious offender:

Every time I watch The Oscars, I cringe when some famous movie star – trophy in hand – starts to deconstruct the secret to happiness. It’s always the same thing, and I can never hit “mute” fast enough to escape the inevitable cliches. “Don’t give up on your dreams kids, no matter what.” “Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have what it takes.” And of course, “Always follow your passion!”

Today, we have millions looking for work, and millions of good jobs unfilled because people are simply not passionate about pursuing those particular opportunities. Do we really need Lady GaGa telling our kids that happiness and success can be theirs if only they follow their passion?

Mike’s a great breaker of idols, whether they’re “Follow your passion,” “Do what you love,” or “Work smarter, not harder.” And while I generally concur with the thrust of Mike’s commentary here, I have noted in the past a Hollywood exception that proves the rule. Ashton Kutcher’s acceptance speech at last year’s Teen Choice Awards was remarkable in this regard. In Get Your Hands Dirty, I explore the wisdom in Mike’s approach, and I’ve also written about the fundamental coherence of perspective shared by Mike Rowe and Chris Ashton Kutcher (a coherence Mike himself recognized).

Like most slogans, “Follow your passion!” can lead to extremes. As I’ve argued along these lines elsewhere, true vocational discernment requires a bit of triangulation. It’s not just about you and your passion, and it’s not just about others and their wants. It is also about God and his plans for you.

And although I missed the premiere, I’m looking forward to checking out Mike’s latest effort, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.”