Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 22, 2016
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GOP Field Bereft Of Free-Traders
Bill Watson, The Federalist

At no point is restricting trade through taxes or promoting it through subsidies a good economic policy. That’s not what Republican presidential candidates say.

Oldest Christian monastery in Iraq razed
Martha Mendoza, Maya Alleruzzo, and Bram Janssen, Associated Press

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group’s relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

History and the Limits of the Climate Consensus
Philip Jenkins, The American Conservative

Acknowledging the science of global warming does not require accepting that it is immune to criticism.

The Economic Concept in Church Leadership No One Ever Thinks About
Kathryn Feliciano, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

What we find is not that the apostles have a higher calling, but rather that the early church was facing a problem—the apostles could not do everything by themselves.

Poverty-Inc-300x300Poverty Inc.an award-winning documentary that grew out of the Acton Institute’s PovertyCure initiative, tackles the question: Fighting poverty is big business, but who profits the most?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently interviewed Mark Weber, a co-producer of the film, and asked about how the documentary was being received:

Have you noticed different reactions from different audiences?

There’s one scene in particular that is perfectly indicative of the disconnect between the West and the rest. The physician and former aid consultant Theodore Dalrymple says, “I bought my first house on the proceeds of foreign aid. Aid has been very good to me. It’s aided me immensely. It’s allowed me to have an interesting life, to travel, no tax. It couldn’t be better.”

At most screenings — I’ll give the Minneapolis-St. Paul film festival as an example — a mostly white, liberal audience. You could just cut the tension in the room with a knife. That’s the norm; most people react that way.

But at predominantly African audiences — I’ll give the Africa Business Club at Harvard as an example — they played the film the opening night of the Africa Business Conference. When that scene comes up, the whole room was just uproarious, laughing and clapping and hooting and hollering and whistling. It wasn’t shocking to them. They all knew, and they were all thankful and appreciative of this guy for saying it out loud. Those different reactions are very revealing of different assumptions.

The film is not doing a whole lot more than trying to bridge that gap.

Read more of the interview here.

Enter at your discretion ... The 'Dark Money Zone'

Enter at your discretion … The ‘Dark Money Zone’

Poor Rod Serling. Had the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery host lived it’s assured he’d provide the voice talent for the audio book version of Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the Rise of the Radical Right. He’d also have a steady gig lending his portentous phrasings to such addle-brained prose as the following from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility [readers may insert Serling’s “Submitted for your approval” at their discretion]:

Unchecked corporate cash in the form of political donations and lobbying expenditures has the power to exert undue influence over public policy and regulatory systems and threaten our democracy. Yet in spite of this power, most S&P 500 companies lack a formal system of lobbying oversight and don’t fully disclose how monies are being spent, particularly through third-party organizations like trade associations. Investors are concerned that lobbying expenditures may inadvertently be diverted to groups advancing agendas contrary to the stated missions of companies, setting up potential conflicts of interest and exposing companies to reputational risk.

Sigh. Mayer and ICCR are working both sides of their levitating, shaking bed of anti-First Amendment, anti-Citizens United paranoia with Mayer seeking political intervention on one side and ICCR haranguing corporate shareholders with proxy resolutions on the other. In the meantime, the Republic remains a bastion of the freedoms that conjure 24-hour night terrors for the author and the so-called “religiously motivated” shareholder activists.

The “dark money” bogeymen searched for under those quivering bedsprings share the last name Koch, and we just can’t have libertarian billionaires expressing free speech in the U.S. political system, according to Mayer, ICCR and a raft of other opponents that are hypocritically funded by progressive billionaires bearing names like George Soros, Bill Gates, Tom Steyer, Warren Buffett and Eric Schmidt – all noted by George Melloan in his review of Mayer’s book in the Wall Street Journal: (more…)

detroit-neighborhood“The Bible has a rich desert theology…He will cause rivers to flow, even in desert conditions.” –Christopher Brooks

Pastor Christopher Brooks and Evangel Ministries have demonstrated a unique model of urban ministry in Detroit, focusing not just on meeting immediate needs through traditional channels, but on fostering a vision of long-term, whole-life discipleship.

In a talk for the Oikonomia Network, Brooks offers invaluable perspective from his years of ministry, concluding that the gospel has the power to bring economic flourishing to impoverished communities. Poor communities are very similar to deserts, Brooks explains, where people feel trapped by the elements and desperate from the thirst. “These feelings of fear and vulnerability, and feeling overwhelmed, is exactly what the poor feel on a daily basis,” he says.

The good news is that Christ brings life and liberty to all people and in all places. “We preach a gospel that tells people they don’t have to relocate in order to experience the blessing and flourishing that comes from being in Christ,” Brooks says. “In other words, you shouldn’t have to change zip codes for the gospel to work for you.”

Thus, Brooks and his church have sought not only to meet temporal needs, but to help communities see the gifts and resources they already have, harnessing and connecting them accordingly. This isn’t to say that it’s as easy as strolling into these communities and peeling open a Bible. It begins and continues with close and attentive relationships. (more…)

billionaires-lgExtreme poverty—defined as living on less than $1.25 a day—has declined by half since 1990, and could theoretically be eliminated across the globe in the next few decades. But there are three countries—Colombia, Georgia, and Swaziland—where a single resident billionaire could eliminate extreme poverty altogether, for at least 15 years. In six other nations, that goal could be achieved by having all the countries billionaires pool their resources.

That’s the finding in an intriguing article by Laurence Chandy, Lorenz Noe, and Christine Zhang. They note that several countries are home to billionaires with enough wealth to lift the poor above the poverty line:

Let’s assume that the richest billionaire in each country agrees to give away half of his or her current wealth among his or her fellow citizens, disbursed evenly over the next 15 years, roughly in accordance with the Giving Pledge promoted by Bill Gates. That money would be used exclusively to finance transfers to poor people based on their current distance from the poverty line. Transfers would be sustained at the same level for the full 15-year period with the aim of providing a modicum of income security that might allow beneficiaries to sustainably escape from poverty by 2030.

They provide this chart that shows which countries and which resident billionaire could close the poverty gap.
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Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, January 21, 2016
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Six Challenges Facing Africa in 2016
Gideon Strauss, Providence

While I am an optimist with regard to global poverty alleviation, my optimism is sorely tested when it comes to my beloved birth continent, Africa.

Some people just shouldn’t save for retirement
Andrew G. Biggs, AEI

To expect that very low-income households should have substantial personal savings for retirement is nutty. These are precisely the households Social Security was created for.

The decline of Bitcoin shows you can’t engineer past government
Ryan Cooper, The Week

Try to engineer around politics, and it will flood back in the most atavistic and unscrupulous forms.

Shouldn’t Bernie Sanders Want to Underpay Teachers?
Jason Richwine, The Corner

There is essentially a “single payer” for education within school districts. The teachers, principals, custodians, textbooks, and school buildings are all paid for by the government. Yet Bernie Sanders would never argue that the government should use its near-monopoly to push teacher salaries below market levels.

money-abstractWhen it comes to economic stewardship, Christians are called to a frame of mind distinct from the world around us.

Though we, like anyone, will sow and bear fruit, ours is an approach driven less by ownership than by partnership, a collaboration with a source of provision before and beyond ourselves. This alters how we create, manage, and invest as individuals. But it mustn’t end there, transforming our churches, businesses, and institutions, from the bottom up and down again.

In some helpful reflections from the inner workings of his own organization, Chris Horst, vice president of development for HOPE International (a Christian microfinance non-profit), opens up about the types of questions they wrestle with as a non-profit. Through it, he demonstrates the type of attentiveness we were meant to wield across all spheres of society.
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