EA-Logo-redbgYou may have noticed over the past couple of years that effective altruism has become the hot new trend/buzzword in philanthropy. As the Centre for Effective Altruism explains,

Effective Altruism is a growing social movement that combines both the heart and the head: compassion guided by data and reason. It’s about dedicating a significant part of one’s life to improving the world and rigorously asking the question, “Of all the possible ways to make a difference, how can I make the greatest difference?”

As a broad concept, effective altruism is a refreshing change from the all-too-common strand of charity that puts more emphasis on good intentions than effectiveness. Rather than a consumer-driven, feelings-based approach to philanthropic activity (think: TOMS Shoes’ “buy one, give one” model), effective altruism (EA) tends to rely on evidence to maximize individual impact on solving problems.

For example, some EA advocates choose to use their skills to get a high-paying job rather than work directly for a non-proift or charity. The thinking is that instead of earning $25,000 a year working for Oxfam you can earn $100,000 on Wall Street, live on $25K a year, and donate $75,000 to hire other workers. Doing that allows an individual to triple their contribution to the solution.

In general, this is likely to be a much better angle than pure do-goodism (though as Anne Bradley and Jay W. Richards explain, enterprise is the most effective altruism). But this approach can become less effective and even hindered by a person’s worldview beliefs, such as what a person believes about the “end times.”
(more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Monday, August 10, 2015
By

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew receives interfaith environmental honor
Ecumenical Patriarchate

Bartholomew said he was “pleased to learn of the very recent Clean Power Plan of President Obama, which is a significant step in the right direction for the United States of America and which is already approved by the U. N.”

Pope designates Sept. 1 as World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation
Cindy Wooden, National Catholic Reporter

Like their Orthodox brothers and sisters, Catholics formally will mark Sept. 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis has decided.The day of prayer, the pope said, will give individuals and communities an opportunity to implore God’s help in protecting creation and an opportunity to ask God’s forgiveness “for sins committed against the world in which we live.”

Should we heed the pope’s climate change message? Yes
Michael E. Kraft, Arizona Daily Sun

Pope Francis argues that markets often fail to bring out the best in us, and he is right about that. Yet moral injunctions alone cannot move societies toward a low-carbon future.

Should we heed the pope’s climate change message? No
Catherine Snow, Arizona Daily Sun

These are challenging times for some faithful Catholics such as me. Because, while I have utmost respect and love for our popular, approachable pontiff, I believe he has been sadly misinformed about climate change, as evidenced in his encyclical on the environment released in June.

(more…)

foster childGenerally speaking, social services do not remove children from their homes as a first choice. Most have family programs that work with parents to resolve issues with parenting skills, nutrition, education, addiction issues and so on. A child has to be in imminent danger for them to be removed from their parents’ care.

A lot of kids are in imminent danger.

Not only that: the social workers who must work with these families are overwhelmed. Joseph Turner reports:

In my home state of Indiana, an employee of Child Protective Services (CPS) recently sued the state over the fact that CPS workers’ caseloads are in overwhelming excess of the legal requirements. State law mandates that employees should serve no more than 17 families at one time. In some counties, the average is closer to 50.

This stems from a massive increase in reports of abuse and neglect in recent years, up 81 percent from 2009. Caseload limits seem reasonable enough, except you can’t legislate supply and demand. The state can’t keep up with its child-abuse problem, so caseworkers are dangerously overloaded. Morale is low, turnover is high, and kids are suffering.

(more…)

dollarbillcryingActon’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, is looking ahead to a post-Obama economy. He notes that every presidency has problems it leaves behind upon exiting the White House, but we have some major economic and moral obstacles to overcome.

Gregg outlines the challenges: mounting debt, entitlement programs that keep growing, crony capitalism, unemployment. What to do?

Doing nothing isn’t an option for American conservatives. I’d suggest, however, that the incremental approach generally followed by conservatives—which often amounts to trying to adjust, rather than override or completely dispense with, policies enacted by progressives—isn’t going to be enough either. Conservatives are instinctively wary of major upheavals. Yet if they really believe that progressive economic policies are seriously damaging the common good, they should perhaps do what progressives do: implement fundamental changes.

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, August 10, 2015
By

Houston Churches Sue City for Trying to Take Their Private Property
Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

The Houston Housing Authority found itself in the middle of a sticky lawsuit this week when the agency tried to use eminent domain to “steal” two historic churches’ property as part of an urban renewal project.

Islamic State militants ‘abduct Christians’ in Syrian town
BBC

Islamic State militants have abducted dozens of people, many Christian, from a Syrian town captured on Thursday from pro-regime forces, reports say.

Why raising the minimum wage could actually make more employees quit
Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

Wal-Mart’s $9 minimum wage has been in place for a little while now, and not everybody is happy about it.

Rule of Law in the Regulatory State
John H. Cochrane, The Grumpy Economist

The United States’ regulatory bureaucracy has vast power. Regulators can ruin your life, and your business, very quickly, and you have very little recourse. That this power is damaging the economy is a commonplace complaint. Less recognized, but perhaps even more important, the burgeoning regulatory state poses a new threat to our political freedom.

priceAn article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on the just price of cancer drugs in the United States contains an odd reference to a nonexistent book by Aristotle, notes John B. Shannon. Unraveling the origins of this error reveals an almost farcical series of misinterpretations.

Arguments from authority are generally a good thing. If claims come from people with a few letters after their names, it’s often safe to bet that those claims are backed up by years of invested study and expertise, especially when they’re published in peer-reviewed journals. Scholars want to protect the integrity and reputation of their discipline, which in theory should filter out any faulty arguments or unfounded claims long before they reach the public eye. But when scholars speak outside their sphere of proper authority, that system can fail spectacularly—hilariously, even.

Read more . . .

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, August 7, 2015
By

Conference will address climate change, other messages from Pope Francis
Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register

During a conference hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange on Saturday at the Christ Cathedral, McGuinness will shed light on these topics while explaining them in the context of Pope Francis’ 184-page encyclical in which he called for “a bold cultural revolution.”

The Religion of Climate Change
Nicholas G. Hahn III, The Wall Street Journal

Pope Francis should avoid making any imprudent statements during his visit to the U.S. in September, lest he get further entangled in the president’s agenda. The Clean Power Plan doesn’t put humans at the center of the environment, as Laudato Si’ recommends. Mr. Obama’s regulations aim to reduce power-plant carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. Thus he implicitly renews his January 2008 pledge to “bankrupt” the coal industry. The Heritage Foundation predicts that by 2030 the plan would result in an “average annual employment shortfall of nearly 300,000 jobs.”

What motivates CEOs to solve the world’s big social and environmental problems?
Marc Gunther, The Guardian

What turns a person into a sustainability crusader? Author and professor Steve Schein wanted to know, so he interviewed corporate sustainability executives – people who have dedicated their careers to doing business better – to find out what makes them tick.

His words add morality to a strong scientific consensus for quick action
Michael E. Kraft, Tribune News Service

The unique contribution that Pope Francis made to this debate was to add a strong moral dimension to the prevailing scientific and economic discussions of climate change and the environment. He highlighted humanity’s pursuit of continued growth in material consumption at the cost of planetary health and human well-being, which he found to be morally reprehensible.

(more…)

they-pull-me-back-in-image“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” I’m no Michael Corleone, nor am I much of a businessman, but Al Pacino’s Godfather III quote came to mind this morning after reading an email I received from Ceres’ President Mindy Lubber. Ms. Lubber is quite happy with the Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama’s latest boondoggle to raise energy prices in the interest of saving Mother Earth.

It seems no matter how many gallons of ink spilled in protest of the religious left’s complicity with schemes that undoubtedly will reverse the past few decades’ gains in eradicating poverty throughout the world, I’m always pulled back in.

Ceres is a nonprofit group “advocating for sustainability leadership. We mobilize a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy.” Ceres’ Coalition members include As You Sow and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility as well as a plethora of other so-called faith-based investors. A quick look at the entire list of members reveals a veritable who’s who of leftist and progressive shareholder activists, lobbyists, unions and renewable-energy crony capitalists. (more…)

Unemployment-0306Series Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).
(more…)

Photo by Raymond van Mil

Photo by Raymond van Mil

Five adults (three men, two women) in the Netherlands are having a child together, and plan to raise said child together. I know this is a little tricky so let me explain. Jaco and Sjoerd (those are the guys) and Daantje and Dewi (the women) are all homosexual. They’ve known each other for 10 years. Then there is Sean, who is the third person in Jaco and Sjoerd’s relationship. They would marry him, but cannot legally.

The five folks want a child. So (and if you want to read exactly how they did it, you can, but for now let’s just leave it at this) Daantje is now carrying “their” baby.

Five parents with equal rights and responsibilities, divided across two households—those are the terms of the agreement that we all signed and had notarized,” says Dewi. They had to do this because, legally speaking, the Netherlands isn’t quite ready for multi-parenthood just yet. A child can still only have a maximum of two legal parents and, in a marriage, those parents are usually the biological mother and her husband or wife. However, the biological mother is also allowed to appoint someone else as the second legal parent.

The laws surrounding parental rights have improved significantly for gay parents in the Netherlands over the past few years, but the issue of multi-parenthood is still a complicated one. In the case of this particular five-parent family, Jaco has taken on the role of legal parent number two—replacing Dewi, who initially held the position because of her marriage to Daantje.

“We wanted to make sure that there was one legal parent in both households, because we’re splitting the upbringing equally,” explains Dewi.

(more…)