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Acton Notes - December 2007

2007 Annual Dinner Celebrates Faith and Freedom

The 2007 Acton Institute Annual Dinner presented the Faith and Freedom award to Dr. Mart Laar, a two term prime minister of Estonia. Before becoming prime minister, Estonia was in a state of economic ruin. After taking office, Laar initiated policies which allowed for free markets and private property rights to flourish. As the keynote speaker, Laar also told inspiring stories of how Estonians resisted Soviet domination during their country’s captivity under communist rule. Laar, also paid tribute to Winston Churchill and his “Iron Curtain” address at Westminster University saying, “He reminded us of the dangers of communism and that freedom is the most important thing. The speech has been hailed as prophetic, but at the time Churchill gave the speech he was heavily criticized.” Laar declared, “It took many years for the West to stand up and protect its values. We knew in our country how right Winston Churchill was.” He also warned against the onslaught of creeping tyranny and the need for vigilance saying, “When you are forgetting your values, and the West is not following its values it means a big danger to all of us.” He added, “We have lost our connection with God and then our fear comes. Sadly, we are denying our Christian heritage. When you are not fighting against anything you lose faith.”

Rev. Robert Sirico also addressed the attendees and praised the Acton staff saying, “The staff not only produced an event like this but numerous programs, conferences, websites, and outreach to inoculate future religious leaders against the specious claims of central planning enthusiasts in pious posture.” Sirico also spoke of the importance of freedom and limited government noting, “I admit it does seem paradoxical to argue, as the Acton Institute does, that the essence of good government lies in less government…Every now and then somebody comes along on the world stage that reminds us of this and renews our hope. Dr Mart Laar is one such person.” The annual dinner took place on October 24th at the JW Marriott International Ballroom in Grand Rapids. The Acton Institute would like to send out a special thanks to our friends and supporters who attended this memorable evening.

Jay Richards Talks Free Market Morality With Michael Reagan

Acton’s media director Jay Richards discussed the importance of free markets and economic freedoms on the nationally syndicated Michael Reagan radio show on November 7, 2007. Richards highlighted the agenda of some in public policy, saying, “Some politicians are repackaging some of the same old tired economic policies in religious and moral terms.” Richards who also addressed the three leading Democratic presidential candidates noted, “Each of the candidates are peddling soft socialism.” Richards also delved into the topic of entrepreneurship saying, “If you look at successful entrepreneurs they put their wealth at risk, so they pursue some vision they have in their head long before they can fulfill, thinking how can I meet some need or desire of my future customers better than my competition. That’s the opposite of the greedy miser who hoards his wealth and protects it.” He also continued by saying, “When you look at the reality of the free market system it’s much more morally robust than the caricature suggests.”

Richards also cautioned against socialist rhetoric and policies declaring, “the fact that one segment of the population can vote for politicians who will say, I will take some money from another segment and give it to you. Theft is still theft even if you’re having the government doing it for you. That’s not just stupid economically, it’s immoral.” His disappointment was not restricted to one political party, “I saw a poll in the Wall Street Journal that said 59% of Republicans are against free trade.“

Samuel Gregg Awarded ISI – Templeton Book Prize

On October 30, 2007, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute awarded one of its three Templeton Enterprise Awards to Acton’s Director of Research, Dr. Samuel Gregg, for his book, The Commercial Society (Lexington, 2007).

Sponsored by ISI and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the Templeton Enterprise Awards are given annually to the best books and articles published in the previous year on the culture of enterprise. The awards are designed to encourage young scholars (39 years or younger) to explore and illuminate the process by which economics and culture are related throughout the world.

“I am humbled to receive this award,” Dr. Gregg said. “In our new global age of business and free enterprise, the spread of commercial society represents the greatest hope for liberating the developing world from poverty and much of the developed world from the dead hand of bureaucracy and excessive regulation. The free economy is not sufficient for the growth of liberty, but it is essential. If The Commercial Society helps in its small way to forward the cause of economic liberty across the world, then it will have achieved its purpose.”

Building on the insights of great minds such as Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville, Wilhelm Ropke, Friedrich von Hayek, Adam Smith, and Thomas Aquinas, The Commercial Society outlines the moral, economic, and legal foundations required for the growth of economic liberty, commercial order, free enterprise, and free trade. It also underlines the perennial and contemporary threats to commercial society, ranging from populist politicians and neo-corporatist governments, to particular equalizing tendencies present in modern democracy. Widely and positively reviewed in many academic and popular journals, a large number of excerpts from The Commercial Society have also been printed in many American and non-American newspapers around the world.

2007 Catholic High School Honor Roll Announced

The Catholic High School Honor Roll announced its fourth annual selection of the best 50 Catholic secondary schools in the United States. The purpose of the Honor Roll is to recognize and encourage excellence in Catholic secondary education. It is a critical resource for parents and educators honoring schools that excel in three categories: academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education. The list includes eleven new schools, as well as eleven schools which have been honored in each of the past four years. Honorees range from newcomer schools such as the Heights School in Potomac, Maryland, to repeat honorees such as All Hallows High School in the Bronx and Brother Rice High School in Chicago.

Not surprisingly, reactions have been enthusiastic for the schools that have been honored for academic excellence and Catholic focus. Margaret Miller, an administrator at Holy Cross Academy in Oneida, NY said, “When we announced the award to our students yesterday, a huge roar of spontaneous cheering filled the building. What a glorious day!” Marilyn G. Malone, Principal of Holy Angels Academy in Louisville, KY added, “Thanks to the Acton Institute, Holy Angels Academy is no longer ‘the best kept secret’ in Louisville. More families and prospective teachers both in and out of state are hearing about our excellent program.” Bishop William L. Higi, Bishop of Lafayette-in-Indiana declared, “The Catholic High School Honor Roll will ignite enthusiasm in this Diocese.” “When it comes to recognition, this honor is priceless.” Articles discussing the honorees were also featured in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Los Angeles Times, just to name a few publications.

The Catholic High School Honor Roll is an independent project of the Acton Institute. The Honor Roll was produced in consultation with a national advisory board comprised of Catholic college presidents and noted a Catholic scholar. You can learn more about the Catholic High School Honor Roll and view a complete list of schools at the Web Site www.chshonor.org.