Daniel Hannan Delivers Keynote at Acton Annual Dinner
Daniel Hannan lamented during Acton's 24th Annual Dinner that conservatives seem to only want to focus on problems, believing the past was better than the present or the future. Rather than engage in pessimism, the EU Parliament representative for South East England advised the audience to "offer something better." Hannan encouraged the audience to infuse into their arguments a "breath of warmth, a hint of optimism that the best lies ahead." He argued that, while conservatives may be famous for coming across as curmudgeonly, they fight for the best. "Is there a better system of government on the planet than the constitutional freedom evolved in the English language?" Hannan asked. Americans should not allow the state to usurp power it does not have, He quoted the famous words of Lord Acton:
It was from America that the plain ideas that men ought to mind their own business, and that the nation is responsible to heaven for the acts of the state…burst forth like a conqueror upon the world… and the principle gained ground that a nation can never abandon its fate to an authority it cannot control.
The audience was reminded that law is "imminent in the population;" it is not given by government but rather comes directly from the governed. While conservatives may be wary about the current state of America, he said, "There is still time to turn aside. It doesn't have to be this way… Remember your past. Honor your fathers. Treasure the extraordinary inheritance that has come from your founders."
After the keynote, Rev. Robert Sirico made remarks, echoing Hannan's charge, "We can offer something better," he said, "because we have something better to offer and there is nothing better to offer than the moral vision of a free people." He discussed the great power of a free economy that unleashes human innovation and creativity as well as the ills of corporate welfare, noting that there should always be a separation between the economy and the state.
Finally, Sirico reminded the audience of the necessity of virtue in a free society, quoting Alexis de Tocqueville: "How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed?"
New PovertyCure Projects Attracting a Broad Audience
"You made me so proud to be an African woman. Thank you for the brutal but necessary and empowering truth," said Dany Masado, a health professional from Cameroon, after watching Poverty, Inc., the latest product from Acton's PovertyCure initiative. Poverty, Inc. - an 86-minute full-length documentary film, directed by Michael Matheson Miller, and screened at thirteen film festivals in 2014 - has already won eight awards, including: the Grand Prize at the Topanga Canyon Film Festival near Los Angeles and the top three prizes at the Anthem Film Festival in Las Vegas.
From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, Poverty, Inc. challenges anyone interested in helping end poverty to ask: could I be part of the problem?
Philip Sansone, Executive Director of the Whole Planet Foundation said that "this documentary will be required viewing for our entire team." Additionally, Whole Foods Market and the League of Women Voters have agreed to be screening partners in select cities. It is precisely this broad appeal—transcending political ideology— that makes Poverty, Inc. so powerful.
Acton and PovertyCure are seeing unprecedented opportunity to reach a global mainstream audience with this film and truly impact the global conversation on aid, poverty, and development. The film has especially energized teachers and students. The film was recently screened at Regis University in Denver and Marist High School in South Chicago. In 2015, screenings will be held at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany; University College in Dublin, Ireland; and during the Africa Business Conference at Harvard University.
In addition to Poverty, Inc., PovertyCure continues to reach broad audiences through the PovertyCure video series and additional resources. Jonathan Moody recently joined the Acton Institute to serve as Managing Director of PovertyCure in order to lead this expansion. PovertyCure now has more than 330 partners working in 144 countries and a social media following of more than 1.3 million people.
In 2014, the PovertyCure video series was streamed to 600 students at a California high school, more than 2,000 people attended screenings in Argentina, there were several student screenings at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, and a secret screening was held in Cuba for church and business leaders, held in hiding, because of possible government retaliation. Furthermore, the series has been implemented as a part of the curriculum at more than 100 colleges and universities.
PovertyCure will be launching some new efforts in 2015, including a publication tailored for churches and organizations sending out short/ long-term missionaries and volunteers to developing countries. If you're interested in learning more, would like to introduce PovertyCure to a friend, find out more about the new missions resource for local churches, or want to organize a screening of Poverty Inc., please contact info@PovertyCure.org. You can also visit www.PovertyCure.org and www.PovertyInc.org.
Juurikkala Accepts Novak Award and Speaks at Calihan
On December 4, Oskari Juurikkala was presented with the 2014 Novak Award. Named after distinguished theologian Michael Novak, this honors new outstanding scholarly research that examines the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society. Lawyer and economist Juurikkala, gave the Annual Calihan Lecture—titled 'Virtuous Poverty, Christian Liberty: A Free-Market Appreciation of Pope Francis'—after he received his award at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. He argued that Pope Francis' teachings on economic ethics are both acceptable and beneficial for economic freedom. "Freedom-friendly economists need not be afraid of the Pope," he said, "they should follow him," He acknowledged that Francis' words and his language seem to be in tension with free market principles, but argues that this isn't necessarily a bad thing: "instead of a contradiction, that can be a positive tension that helps to purify and enrich our economic thinking—just as sound economics is needed to complete the message of Francis."
Acton University Named a Finalist for 2014 Templeton Freedom Award
Acton University was recently named a finalist for the 2014 Templeton Freedom Award. In 2014, there were almost 70 applicants and eight finalists. Each year, this award honors Sir John Templeton's legacy by identifying and recognizing "the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise, and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation and human fulfillment via free competition." Finalists are evaluated in the underlying values of freedom of choice, private ownership and initiative, free enterprise, efficient use of public resources, and transparent and accountable governance. On November 13, the Municipal Performance Index for Freedom and Free Enterprise, a program of The Lithuanian Free Market Institute was named the winner. Acton has long had an excellent relationship with this organization. Lithuanian Bishop and scholar, Kestutis Kevalas, a board member at the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, was the recipient of the 2010 Novak Award and is an Acton alumnus.