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Acton Notes - November 2008

Acton Institute Weighs in on Economic Crisis

Mr. David Milroy and Dr. Samuel Gregg each wrote commentaries that emphasized the need for and importance of morality in the free mar- ket. “If the current financial upheaval teaches us anything, it should be how much market capitalism depends upon most people developing and adhering to some rather uncontroversial moral virtues,” said Dr. Gregg. Dr. Gregg, who is the director of research at the Acton Institute, titled his commentary “No Morality, No Markets.” He criticized the rampant materialism on Wall Street and Main Street. “If markets are going to work and appropriate limits on government power maintained, then society requires substantial reserves of moral capital,” noted Dr. Gregg.

Milroy’s piece “The Economic Crisis and the Cause of Freedom” also looked at the meltdown on Wall Street. Milroy is a board member of the Acton Institute and president of Flatrock Capital Management in Columbus, Indiana. Admitting it was a difficult time for advocates of a free market system, he stressed the importance of virtuous behavior. He appeared on the Kresta in the Afternoon show on Ave Maria Radio. Speaking about the crisis on that show, Milroy declared, “A free-market econ- omy requires virtuous people that can assume some personal responsibility for their actions. It cannot work without that framework.” He also said advocates of a free economy will have to think more creatively and work a little harder to successfully make their case.

Rev. Robert Sirico addressed the economic crisis and proposed bailout legislation with a piece in The Detroit News on September 30 titled “Sound Morals Strengthen Economy.” Rev. Sirico also discussed the issue on the Morning Air show on Relevant Radio.

The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to dis- cuss and stress the importance of ethics, morality, and virtue within free-market capitalism.

Acton Attends Heartland Event

Five members of the Acton staff attended the twenty fourth anniversary dinner of the founding of the Heartland Institute in Chicago, Illinois, on October 2. Seated with staff members was Mr. Robert Costello, a board member of the Acton Institute. The dinner featured a dynamic debate between Peter Brimelow and Jacob G. Hornberger on immigration policy. Hornberger is the founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and Peter Brimelow is a financial journalist and author of Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster.

This year’s recipients of the Heartland Institute Liberty Prize were S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery. Avery is director of the Center for Global Food Issues and a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, and Singer is the president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project and a distinguished professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. The Heartland Liberty Prize is given to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the preservation of liberty in the United States. Rev. Robert Sirico was the recipient of the prestigious award in 2006.

Acton and Globalization

The Acton Institute is hosting an event on globalization titled “Morality and the Rule of Law in a Market Economy.” The conference will take place in Budapest, Hungary on November 8 and is free and open to the public.

The speakers at the conference will examine the opportunities and challenges of globalization, including its moral, historical, and theological underpinnings; various forms of globalization in the light of Catholic Social Teaching; and some of the actual political and economic problems facing emerging market economies and new democracies in Europe.

Speakers include Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Ezstergom – Budapest and Primate of Hungary, Mr. John O’Sullivan who is the executive editor of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, Mr. Christof T. Zellenberg, who is the director of Private Wealth Management for Central and Eastern Europe and president of the Europa Institute, and Austrian think-tank, Dr. Samuel Gregg, distinguished author and Acton’s director of research at the Acton Institute, Mr. Michael Miller, director of programs at the Acton Institute and Dr. Andrea M. Schnieder, who is an advisor to the office of Germany’s Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Dr. Gregg Lectures on Economy

Dr. Samuel Gregg delivered a lecture titled “What’s Wrong with our Economy” for the final Acton Lecture Series on September 18. Dr. Gregg’s lecture focused on the economic difficulties currently being experienced in America. One of the great strengths of his lecture was explaining the economic downfall in a way non economic experts could understand. He was able to explain the important relationship between democratic capitalism and morality. “Moral issues, I think, are quite central to these economic problems but have received little attention, because, I think, we tend to treat economic life and the moral life as two separate phenomena, when, in fact, they are intimately connected to each other,” said Dr. Gregg. The Acton Lecture Series will resume again in January 2009.

Acton Sponsors and Participates in GodBlogCon

For the second year in a row the Acton Institute sponsored GodBlogCon, which took place on September 20-21 in Las Vegas, Nevada. GodBlogCon is a gathering of bloggers and new media enthusiasts committed to advancing the Kingdom of God and impacting the culture. Acton’s director of communications, John Couretas, and associate editor, Jordan Ballor, represented the Acton Institute at the event.

Attendees of the conference were treated to an exclusive premiere of The Birth of Freedomon the final day. “The film was well received by the Godbloggers, and there was a great deal of interest in how it fits into Acton’s work and how the film could be passed along to friends, family, and colleagues,” said Ballor. He stressed that it was a significant opportunity to present the film to an important and informed audience. “Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton University observes in The Birth of Freedom that it is patently false to think that faith plays no positive role in public life, a position promoted by the New Atheists and popularized by the likes of Bill Maher,” added Ballor.

Some of the topics at this year’s GodBlogCon included “The Missional Church in the Internet Age,” “The Art of Online Conversation,” and “The Internet, Media Ecology, and Christian Consciousness.” The Family Research Council also hosted an opening night complimentary dinner for registered participants this year.

Jordan Ballor says GodBlogCon as we know it will end and evolve into something different for next year and in future events. “It will encompass broader new media techonlogies beyond merely blogging,” says Ballor.

Other sponsors of GodBlogCon include Stand to Reason, Crossway Books & Bibles, The High Calling, Collective Muse, and Mars Hill Audio.