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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
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human-rights-weekLast week President Obama proclaimed December 10, 2016, as Human Rights Day and the week beginning December 10, 2016, as Human Rights Week, an annual observance to commemorate the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Here are five facts you should know about international human rights:

1. Prior to the 1940s there were a number of documents, such as the the British Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of Rights, that advanced the recognition of human rights. But few documents were recognized internationally as applying to all people at all times in all nations. During World War II the push for universal recognition of inalienable human rights was aided by the Atlantic Charter and by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech before the United States Congress in 1941. These ideals were also transmitted in a pamphlet called, “The United Nations fight for the Four Freedoms: The Rights of All Men — Everywhere.”

2. The atrocities of the Nazis caused the international community to recognize a need for human rights to be established as an international legal status. More than 1,300 American non-governmental organizations joined together in placing newspaper ads calling for human rights to be an integral part of any future international organization, and called for the United Nations Charter to include a clear and substantive commitment to human rights. On April 25, 1945, representatives from forty-six nations gathered in San Francisco to form the United Nations. They responded to the demand by mentioning human rights five times in the UN Charter. The charter also established a commission “for the promotion of human rights.” This newly created “Commission on Human Rights” spent three years drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
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Last week, President-elect Donald Trump along with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is the current governor of Indiana, struck a deal with United Technologies, the parent company of Carrier, in order to save over 1,000 jobs from being sent from Indiana to Mexico.  This deal will supposedly give Carrier over $7 million in tax break incentives and it has everyone across the political spectrum reacting in different ways.

People on the far-left such as the self-described democratic-socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders say “It is not good enough to save some of these jobs.”  According to Sanders, the President-elect should be doing more to intervene with the private market in order to save more jobs.

Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan overlooked the fact that the government is meddling in private business in order to defend Trump’s actions by saying “I think it’s pretty darn good that people are keeping their jobs in Indiana instead of going to Mexico.”

On one hand you have a democratic socialist advocating for more intervention on the private market and on the other hand you have prominent leaders within the Republican Party (the party that many perceive as championing the principle of free enterprise) defending actions that resemble crony capitalism.  Even the VP-elect, someone who many thought of as a smart fiscal conservative, is giving up on the ideas of free enterprise.  He said this in a statement shortly after the Carrier deal “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing.” (more…)

The following graph, in various forms, is making the rounds:

2016 Voter Turnout

The suggestion of the graph (and usually of commentary by those who share it) is that Sec. Hillary Clinton lost to President-elect Donald Trump because Democrats didn’t turn out to vote for her like they did for President Obama.

The idea is that Hillary Clinton was a historically unpopular candidate. This is true. Second only to Donald Trump, she was the least liked candidate of all time, at least since anyone has been keeping track. Her career, though long and accomplished, has been plagued by scandal, much of which surfaced in the final weeks of her campaign. It makes sense that maybe Clinton just didn’t get enough Obama voters to show up at the polls.

I’m unsure the source of the data. It may be completely accurate, but even if so it is misleading. As Carl Bialik wrote last week for FiveThirtyEight, “On average, turnout was unchanged in states that voted for Trump, while it fell by an average of 2.3 percentage points in states that voted for Clinton. Relatedly, turnout was higher in competitive states — most of which Trump won.” (more…)

Rev. Robert A. Sirico, President of the Acton Institute, joined host Neil Cavuto on Fox News Channel’s The Cost of Freedom this morning to discuss the controversial comments about conservative Catholics and Evangelicals by Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and other campaign staffers in a recently released batch of hacked emails from Wikileaks. You can watch the interview below.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, May 19, 2016
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Researchers Just Solved One of the Biggest Problems for World Hunger
Ria Misra, io9

Biologists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have come up with a new agricultural technique which they say increases their crop yields by an incredible 50 percent.

Going to church could help you live longer, study says
Carina Storrs, CNN

Many Americans say they attend church because it helps them stay grounded and gives them spiritual guidance. A new study suggests that regular attendance may also help increase their lifespan.

What’s the Church say on unemployment? A lot, actually
Father Leonardo Salutati, Crux

Beginning with the encyclical Rerum Novarum, whose 125th anniversary falls on May 15, the Church has offered society countless teachings and suggestions about work, expressly recalling the rights and duties of people, and many times taking up the defense of workers who are unjustly exploited or not adequately put at the heart of the economy.

Why We’re Falling Behind in World Trade
Tori Whiting, The Daily Signal

Despite the success claimed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United States actually lags behind the world in the use of trade.

littlesister-scotusWhat just happened?

The Supreme Court avoided issuing a major ruling today in a combined religious liberty case, Zubik v. Burwell. In a unanimous decision, the justices wrote that the Court “expresses no view on the merits of the cases” but were instead sending the case back down to the lower courts for opposing parties to work out a compromise.

What is this case, and what’s it about?

The case, Zubik v. Burwell, combines seven challenges to the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) contraceptive/abortifacient mandate.

To fulfill the requirements of the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka ObamaCare) the federal government passed a regulation (often called the “HHS Mandate”) that attempts to force groups into providing insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients. Some religious groups, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, objected on the ground that the requirement violates their religious liberty as protected by the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). HHS offered an accommodation that the Little Sisters found to be insufficient.

The Supreme Court was asked to decide, as SCOTUS Blog explains, whether the government has offered nonprofit religious employers a means to comply and whether the whether HHS satisfies RFRA’s test for overriding sincerely held religious objections in circumstances where HHS itself insists that overriding the religious objection will not fulfill HHS’s regulatory objective—namely, the provision of no-cost contraceptives to the objector’s employees.

Who are Zubik and Burwell?
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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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