Archive - July, 2012

Defining Religious Liberty Down

Ross Douthat has an excellent article explaining how governmental entities seem to be narrowly interpreting “religious liberty”:

THE words “freedom of belief” do not appear in the First Amendment. Nor do the words “freedom of worship.” Instead, the Bill of Rights guarantees Americans something that its authors called “the free exercise” of religion.

It’s a significant choice of words, because it suggests a recognition that religious faith cannot be reduced to a purely private or individual affair.

Yet that’s exactly what some want, as evidenced in the Chick-fil-A imbroglio, the HHS contraception mandate, and another case that Douthat addresses.  His conclusion:

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The Value of Manual Labor

Great post from Karen Swallow Prior:

I’m married to a building trades teacher who works every day with students who might chafe at studying the liberal arts but have skills that can meet the needs of the current workforce and produce satisfaction and dignity as those gifts are used. Indeed the latest research shows that jobs requiring an associate’s degree, vocational training, and on-the-job training are among the greatest current workforce needs. As the poet W. H. Auden put it, “You owe it to all of us to get on with what you’re good at.”

Read the whole thing.

Capitalism has an image problem

Last December a Pew Research survey found that 18-29 year olds had a more negative perception of capitalism (47-46) and a more positive perception of socialism (49-43). That’s consistent with what Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute describes in this WSJ article:

“Capitalist” has become an accusation. The creative destruction that is at the heart of a growing economy is now seen as evil. Americans increasingly appear to accept the mind-set that kept the world in poverty for millennia: If you’ve gotten rich, it is because you made someone else poorer.

He goes on to explain how this has come to be, and to give the beginnings of a new, pro-capitalism articulation:

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Jonathan Merritt, Integrity, and Sexual Purity

If you don’t know him, Jonathan Merritt is a nationally respected writer and news personality. He’s written two books, Green Like God and A Faith of Our Own, and has written for USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionBeliefNet, Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, and CNN.com.  As Ed Stetzer reported:

Recently, after Jonathan, in a piece written for The Atlantic, defended Chick-fil-A against a potential boycott by gay activists, a “gay evangelical” blogger claimed he had evidence Jonathan himself was gay. In the parlance the effort was to “out him.” Merritt’s defense of Chick-fil-A had already exploded in the LGBT blogosphere, but this enflamed the issue as many sought to discredit Jonathan after he dared to defend Chick-fil-A.

Stetzer then posted a great interview with Mr. Merritt, discussing this accusation and related matters.  Stetzer asks:

1.  A blogger alleges that you have not been transparent, honest or authentic about who you are because of your religious affiliation. Tell us about the situation.

2. What happened after this?

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Chick-fil-A, Free Speech, and Public Office

There’s an angle to this beyond whether or not to eat at Chick-fil-A.  The mayor of Boston, Thomas M. Menino, has vowed to block Chick-fil-A’s effort to open an outlet in his city because the restaurant chain supposedly “discriminates against a population.” Likewise in Chicago, Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno told the Chicago Tribune, “If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the 1st Ward.” Chick-fil-A wants to open a new restaurant in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue. Moreno has the support of Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who told the Tribune in a statement that “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.”

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In Defense of Eating at Chick-fil-A

Jonathan Merritt, author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars, a book (for the record) that I have not examined, and which received significant push-back, has written an article for The Atlantic with which I fully resonate.  He asks the question: Do we really want a country where people won’t do commerce with those who have beliefs different than their own? 

I think most of us would say no, we don’t. We’re happy to buy things from people who disagree with us on any number of issues, provided their products and services are good and/or reasonably priced.  Merritt writes:

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Are we sending too many to college, or too few?

Continuing our discussion from yesterday with Dr. Archibald, a few follow-up questions:

There’s been discussion in the media recently (from Robert Samuelson and Richard Vedder, among others) that a “college for all” agenda is being pushed, and that such an agenda is unwarranted. They observe that thousands of janitors and parking lot attendants hold college degrees, and that such training is both expensive and unnecessary for these professions. What do you think? Are we sending too many to college, or too few?

This is a difficult question. I do not believe in “college for all.” There are lots of people who lack the maturity and/or the aptitude required to take advantage of college. This does not mean that there are too many people going to college. In fact the data showing that the return to a higher education has grown and the data showing that the unemployment rate for college graduates is much lower than the unemployment rate of high school graduates suggest that we are far from having an over-educated population. Also, the fact that other countries have passed us in terms of the Continue Reading…

Why does College Cost So Much?

While acknowledging that tuition and fees at colleges and universities have been rising faster than the rate of inflation, authors Robert Archibald and David Feldman (Professors of Economics at William and Mary College) oppose the view, increasingly espoused by economists such as Richard Vedder, that higher education is increasingly dysfunctional. Instead, their argument is that costs for colleges have risen as a natural byproduct of a growing economy.

I recently read their interesting book Why Does College Cost So Much? and was grateful that Dr. Archibald was willing to answer a few questions for us.

On pages 84-85, you give a three-part summary of your argument as to why college costs are rising faster than inflation. Ultimately, you write that the cause is economic growth itself. What do you mean?

Economic growth is fueled by productivity change. To have growing income per person a country needs to have growing income per worker. As we explain, the productivity growth that fuels economic growth is not shared evenly by various industries. Some industries, most in manufacturing and agriculture, have had rapid productivity growth, and other industries, most services, have had little if any productivity growth. The productivity growth in manufacturing and agriculture holds down the prices in these industries. This does not happen in service industries such as higher education. The result is that Continue Reading…

Marriage and Income Inequality

Glenn Stanton makes some interesting observations about marriage and income inequality:

Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute makes important observations of how marital status is related to poverty in his important new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, 1960–2010. In 1960, the poorly and moderately educated were only 10 percent less likely to be married than the 94 percent of college-educated Americans who were married. The comparison between the two groups largely held until 1978. Today, these two groups are separated by a 35 percent margin. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institute, the strong rate of marriage among the highly-educated, top-earning Americans has largely held constant and even seems to be increasing. But the bad news is that marriage is sinking dramatically among low and middle-class Americans, down from 84 percent to a minority of 48 percent today—a dramatic decline over the last 40 years, and no indicators hint at a slowing pace. The stark trend line leads Murray to lament, “Marriage has become the fault line dividing America’s classes.”

Read the whole thing. Stanton is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family and the author of The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage (Moody, 2011).

Piper and Keller on Dynamics of Justification and Sanctification

Part 1:

HT: Justin Taylor

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