Monthly Archives: March 2009

Capitalism is 3rd World's Safety Net

While Americans weather layoffs and watch their 401ks dwindle, the developing nations in which many of our products originate are being hit even harder by the global downturn. Many of these developing nations have virtually no social safety net, and job loss can be crippling. However, as jobs manufacturing good to be sold to the West dry up, many are turning to the “informal economy” the open air markets, street vendors, and in-home manufacturers which make up more than half the economy in countries ranging from India and Mexico to much of sub-Saharan Africa.

The informal economy consists of cash and in-kind transactions and its practitioners do not pay taxes, hold licenses, or obey regulations. Pay is simply however much money is made, and there are no benefits. Because informal businessmen pay no taxes and work on a cash only basis (they seldom capitalize through loans, nor do they put savings into banks) economists have generally seen them as a drag on the economy. But as export-based jobs dry up, it provides a fallback safety net for many workers:

pilaporn_jaksuratUntil late December, Pilaporn Jaksurat, 33, was working full-time on a cotton spinning machine in a textile mill in Bangkok. She made about $7 a day and her benefits included bonuses of $30 a month for good attendance and a severance package worth about $800.

Then she was laid off when her factory, which sells fabric to clothing manufacturers in Europe, said it had to cut costs to cope with the global economic crisis.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-16-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. The Indian Catholic is reporting that Pope Benedict’s next encyclical will be on the global meltdown.

The Pope’s message fundamentally will be one of hope… …it will be filled also with truth about how false economic principles and moral ideals can lead mankind toward the abyss…”

For the link click here.

2. Communion in the hand, this recent innovation, is dissected by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on his blog.  Fr. Z wants us to consider the following:

Consider the lack of care with which many receive, how they move the Host around and handle it.

Consider that often there is a more or less properly prepared EMHC also handling the Host.

Consider the condition of the skin of the palm.

Consider the few seconds after a person transfers the Host from palm to mouth.

Consider that the Host has been in contact not only with the palm, but the fingers of the other hand.

For the link click here.

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Religion, Culture, & Politics

R.R. Reno reflecting on Fr. Neuhaus:

I have many fond memories of him, but many important and influential ones, as well. During the fall of 2006, I was in his office, expressing my anxious agitation about the upcoming congressional elections. I worried over the loss of  a Republican majority, linking my political concerns to the future of the pro-life cause, the dangers of unfettered bioengineering, and so forth. He sat back in his chair, puffing on his cigar while I prattled on. Then, with a wave of his hand, he dismissed my anxieties with a simple observation:

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Easy on the Ears, Easy on the Eyes

While we’re discussing classical music and objective beauty, it is perhaps time to address the phenomenon of the “babe violinist”. No, I’m not talking about some kind of Vanessa Mae type with an electric violin and a wet t-shirt. I’m talking about women with real God-given gifts, musical and otherwise.

My own personal favorite is Hilary Hahn, here playing Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkonig:

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This is a perfect show-off piece, which allows you to hear just how good Ms. Hahn is. Her albums with Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending and her various Bach performances are all worth hearing.

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Jupiter and Jollity

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Something for the weekend.  Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, the bringer of jollity, my favorite part of The Planets.  Some things become so popular that we tend to take them for granted.  I am afraid that is what has happened to some degree with The Planets.  It is a magnificent piece of music and places Holst in the top ten list of composers of all time in my estimation.

Palin, Steele, & Populism

Daniel Larison on why conservatives have been critical of Michael Steele, but defended Sarah Palin:

Steele does not have the benefit of a verbose, mistake-prone counterpart to distract us [like Palin did with Biden], but even if he did the reaction to Steele would have been nothing like the response to Palin. In other words, Steele’s blunders on substance are treated as badly damaging and activists insist that they require immediate correction, while Palin’s blunders were spun as imaginatively and desperately as any politician’s answers have ever been spun. This is a bigger problem than pushing unprepared leaders into the spotlight–it is a clear preference for one kind of style, namely the combative pseudo-populist act, over whatever style Steele has at the expense of any consideration of the merits of what these leaders say. The takeaway is that Steele is being ripped apart for making statements that are not terribly different from Palin’s campaign statements on the very same issues, and somehow she is still considered a rising star by the very activists who are ripping Steele.

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This May Explain His Position on Abortion

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Fertilizing embryos?  You know, I never thought much of the intelligence of ex-President Clinton, although I stood in awe of his political skills, but I did think, based upon his colorful history, that he had the facts of life down pat.  For his future reference, and the edification of anyone who agrees with him about fertilizing embryos, this video might be helpful.  The fellow not correcting Clinton?   Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the nominee of President Obama for Surgeon General until Gupta abruptly withdrew his name from consideration.

Update: Father Z is all over this story.

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-12-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  The Catholic Newman University College Chapel in Birmingham, England is celebrating the birth of Mohammad.  Yes, that Mohammad who formalized Islam and spread it throughout the Arabian peninsula by forced conversions of Jews, Christians, and pagans.  What is even more outrageous is that Archbishop Nichols where this chapel is located is supporting this 100%.  And he’s considered orthodox.  You know what I think about these types of bishops.

For the article click here.

2.  Speaking of England rumors are that an announcement will be made today that the next primate of England and Wales, ie, Archbishop of Westminster, will be Bishop Bernard Longley.

For the article click here.

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Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

cardinal-egan

Outgoing Archbishop of New York Cardinal Egan demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.  In comments made to a radio program in Albany two days ago Cardinal Egan [may have] insinuated that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.  Cardinal Egan openly admitted it was his “greatest” failure in bringing in more seminarians.

[I am using the Cardinal's own words in describing the issue of raising the number of vocations]

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Prince of Foxes

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It is rare that a swashbuckling movie can also be a suitable Lenten meditation, but Prince of Foxes (1949) accomplishes this difficult feat.  A magnificent portrayal of Renaissance Italy at the time of Cesare Borgia, the film is also a compelling indictment of treachery, deceit and the lust for power.  The realpolitik of Machiavelli is matched against the True Faith of Christ, and found wanting.

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Have You Read Them?

In continuity with my love of Anne Rice’s earlier books, I’d like to continue that, but to move away from the Vampire Chronicles, the Mayfair witches, and the activity of other “supernatural” creatures, and into her works on the life of Jesus.

There is much to be said about the two first installments in the Christ the Lord series. However, I’ll refrain because I cannot and will not ruin these books for anyone. They are jewels. At first thought, the idea of someone writing a novel about the life of Jesus in the context of a fictional, but historically-probable 1st century world for a Jew sounds like quite the challenge. However, to write this from a first person perspective as if you were Jesus Himself, to enter into the psychology of the incarnate Logos and to imagine what it is like to be simultaneously God and man and try to ‘live’ it out, as it were, in a novel presents itself as an impossible task. The impossibility becomes exponentially more clear when Mrs. Rice decided that she would be entirely faithful to the biblical framework and the orthodox Catholic understanding of the person of Jesus — that is, she would contradict none of the christological pronouncements of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), nor Chalcedon (451). What a task.

ricejesus

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Gun Control and School Shootings

Politicians are already considering how to tighten gun control laws as people respond with shock and horror to a school shooting spree which took the lives of 15 victims and the 18-year-old shooter in a small town today in Germany. The problem is, Germany already has some of the tightest gun laws in Europe, a continent of tight gun laws.

In 2002, in the wake of a school shooting which killed 17 plus the shooter, Germany went so far as to require a permit for airsoft guns and starter pistols. Under current German laws, someone must have a gun license for each gun he purchases, and licenses expire and must be renewed at least every three years. To get a license, you must a 18 for an airgun or .22, and 21 for larger calibers. Applicants are subjected to a criminal and psychological background check and must demonstrate ability and safety knowledge.

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Congress Kills DC School Choice Program

Obama’s pledges to reform schools and stand up to teacher’s unions are sounding pretty hollow. Via MOJ:

In the spending bill that President Obama will sign today, the D.C. voucher program will be effectively killed, as Democratic leaders in the House had desired.  A proposed amendment in the Senate to strip this measure from the bill was defeated on a vote of 39-58 (you can check here to see how your Senators voted on school choice for the disadvantaged in Washington, D.C.).  This is not an auspicious beginning for educational reform and opportunity in the new administration.

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