Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
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ca-civilwarThe new Marvel film Captain America: Civil War examines the conflict between conscience and coercion, says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The latest superhero blockbuster Captain America: Civil War opened to a huge box office as well as to critical acclaim last weekend. The basic dynamic of the film focuses on conflict between authority and responsibility. The film could well be understood as an extended reflection on Edmund Burke’s observation: “Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.”

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

redistribution[Note: This is the second in an occasional series evaluating the remaining presidential candidates and their views on economics and liberty. You can find the first article here.]

In the previous article in this series I explained that the key to understanding Donald Trump’s economic policies is the recognition that, for him, policy and principle are secondary to process. The overriding concern for Trump is not money or wealth but deal-making.

“I don’t do it for the money . . . I do it to do it,” wrote Trump in The Art of the Deal. “I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”

This flippant disregard for money is the type of thing that is only said by saints and trust fund kids. And Trump is no saint.

Trump started out in business with a loan from his father worth almost $7 million in 2016 dollars. He also inherited between $40 and $200 million when his father died in 1999. As a rich kid, he’d be fabulously wealthy even if he never worked a day in his life.

Because he has never had to be concerned about earning money, he has always treated it as a measuring stick. For Trump, dollars are the main way that “deals” are measured. The more dollars you can extract from someone else, the more you “win.”

This may sound like the normal process of capitalism, but it’s not. In a free enterprise system (at least in an ideal one) “deals” are mutually beneficial to both parties. The deal may not be equally beneficial to both parties or even beneficial in the same way, but each side must believe they are better off for having entered into an economic exchange. If they did not, they would not have agreed to the deal.

There is a way, however, to “win” at a deal without everyone involved agreeing that it was mutually beneficial: get the government to redistribute someone else’s property to you.
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PowerBlog regular Joseph Sunde joined guest host Bill Arnold on Faith Radio’s Dr. Bill Maier Live to discuss the importance of generosity in society, as well as God’s blessing of work – and how it is a blessing even in those times where it doesn’t feel like a blessing.

You can listen to the full interview via the audio player below.

cracked-flag-fragment-america-dividedThe fabric of American society is tearing at the seams. Whether witnessed through the disruptive insurgencies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders or the more mundane fissures of pop culture and daily consumerism, Americans are increasingly divided and diverse.

Yet even in our rash attempts to dismantle Establishment X and Power Center Y, we do so with a peculiar nostalgia of the golden days of yore. You know, those days when institutions mattered?

This is particularly evident in the appeal of Mr. Trump, whose calls to burn down the houses of power come pre-packaged with a simultaneous disdain for the power of bottom-up diversity and the liberty it requires. Once the tattered castle on the hill is torched to the ground, we’re told, we will receive a greater castle on a higher hill with a far more deserving king. The scepter will be yuge, and with power restored to the hands of a man shrewd enough to exploit it, surely we will “win” again. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
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forgodandprofitIf we forget finance’s indispensable role in modern economies, says Samuel Gregg, research director for the Acton Institute, in an op-ed for The Detroit News, it’s guaranteed that everyone will be worse off.

Finance establishes links between the economic present and economic future of individuals and communities. It helps us manage risk and develops methods for continually enhancing the management of risk over the short, medium and long term. And it creates economic value by enabling money to assume the characteristics of capital.

Note that none of these functions are exercises in radical individualism. Finance can certainly help make us independent, but it also increases and is a sign of our interdependence.

Read more here. The op-ed is adapted from Gregg’s For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
By

The Evangelical Roots of American Economics
Bradley W. Bateman, The Atlantic

As the discipline began to emerge, a group of passionately religious academics wanted it to become a tool for limiting child labor and fighting poverty.

Six Ways the Recession Inflicted Scars on Millions of Unemployed Americans
Ben Leubsdorf, Wall Street Journal

Damage from a layoff can include smaller paychecks for decades, lower rates of homeownership, psychological issues and perhaps even shorter lifespans.

Can Biblical Stewardship Save the Nation?
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

What can Christians do, then, about the situation unfolding in our country?

Admiration for Pope Francis in sharp decline, study shows
Crux

Three years into his papacy, a recent study shows global admiration for Pope Francis is in sharp decline.

always-be-positive-quote-1Does your boss require you to be pleasant and cheerful? Do they expect you to maintain a positive workplace environment? Are you being asked to conduct yourself in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships?

If so, your company may be violating your rights.

In their employee handbook its employee on “Workplace Conduct”, the wireless carrier T-Mobile included the clause:

Employees are expected to maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships with internal and external customers, clients, co-workers, and management.

In a lawsuit against the company, a group of employees included the claim that the undefined phrases “positive work environment” and “communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships” are ambiguous and vague, and would “reasonably chill employees in the exercise” of their right to unionize.
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