• Economy & Work •
August 17, 2006
May 5, 2006
According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the fastest growing group of American commuters are those who travel more than 90 minutes to work, and then another 90 minutes back home. For many Americans, life is increasingly lived behind the driver’s wheel and the interior of the automobile is becoming the most familiar “living” space for many harried Americans. Today, Dr. Albert Mohler considers the growing phenomenon of “extreme commuting.”
February 24, 2006
Are stay at home moms a threat to civilization? Those of you who are shocked by this question should take note of the fact that ABC’s “Good Morning America” program devoted segments to this question on two successive days, featuring the arguments of Linda Hirshman, a prominent feminist thinker.
February 1, 2006
The Brave New World we now experience is filled with a myriad of moral dilemmas–and none demands more urgent attention than those related to human reproduction and the massive technological advances that are related to human fertility and babies.
November 8, 2005
OK, I’ll admit I had a hidden agenda in writing today’s commentary, “The Moral Education of Physicians–Why it Matters to All of Us.” My main agenda was the column itself. The practice of medicine requires a moral education that is lost when the training of physicians is reduced to scientific knowledge. This should concern all of us — physicians and non-physicians — because doctors play such a big part in our lives, and in the culture. When doctors lose a moral compass (remember the Nazi medical experiments), human dignity is endangered.
October 31, 2005
The issue of Halloween presses itself annually upon the Christian conscience. Acutely aware of dangers new and old, many Christian parents choose to withdraw their children from the holiday altogether. Others choose to follow a strategic battle plan for engagement with the holiday. Still others have gone further, seeking to convert Halloween into an evangelistic opportunity. Is Halloween really that significant?
September 22, 2005
September 1, 2005
July 28, 2005
July 1, 2005
Ethicist Ben Mitchell, a perceptive Christian thinker on a whole range of issues, suggests that Christians should not support entertainer Bob Geldof’s ‘ONE‘ campaign intended to combat poverty. Writing for The Florida Baptist Witness, Mitchell addresses his column to Southern Baptists. Nevertheless, all seriously-minded Christians should find his analysis to be very helpful.
Appropriately, Mitchell first argues that Christians must indeed be concerned about poverty — and should be committed to alleviate poverty where possible. Yet, he rightly insists that poverty is a very complex moral issue, with a seemingly infinite number of economic, political, sociological, historical, and theological complexities. Professor Mitchell urges Christians who disagree over the best means of understanding and alleviating poverty not to demonize each other.
The ‘ONE‘ campaign is based on the fundamental premise that poverty is the fault of rich nations and then moves to encourage political pressure for a redistribution of wealth from rich countries to poorer countries, believing this to be the best way to solve the problem of poverty.
Not so fast, Mitchell urges. In a succession of short paragraphs, he sets out his case against the ‘ONE‘ campaign’s approach:
What the ONE campaigners fail to examine are the variety of problems leading to poverty in each poor country. For instance, in some Islamic nations the problem is religio-cultural. In other countries the problem is an oppressive or corrupt government (as in the case in many African countries, particularly Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the Congo). In still others, the problem is a socialist-type economic system, such as was the case in the former Soviet Union and is still the case in North Korea.
Poverty is not inevitable and does not have to persist, as the fast-growing (but only recently very poor) “tiger” economies of South-East Asia and India attest. These countries freed their economies of unnecessary state control and are trading their way out of poverty. In doing so they are displaying some of the fastest rates of economic growth in the world.
Furthermore, ONE campaigners argue the Third World is poor because the West does not provide enough aid. But the evidence shows that a great deal of the aid which is provided is wasted in grandiose public sector schemes and does little to help the really poor, or it is simply siphoned off to politicians’ Swiss bank accounts or is used to help prop up corrupt governments which might otherwise be removed.
Moreover, they argue the Third World is poor because they are mired in debt provided by the West and this debt should be written off. In fact much debt has been systematically written off in the past, but irresponsible governments have often only borrowed again.
They also argue Third World countries are exploited by Western multinationals; whereas, in fact, Western multinationals are often crucial providers of both jobs and capital to the Third World.
Finally, they say the West systematically rigs trade rules to exclude the agricultural products of Third World countries. This last accusation does contain some truth, especially as far as the agricultural protectionist policies of the European Union are concerned. Most countries would benefit from a regime of generalized free trade, but, in fact, Third World countries themselves are often very unhappy to adopt free trade and demand various forms of protection against imports or subsidization of their exports.
While Southern Baptists should fervently support and encourage truly effective means to address the distress of the poor, failure to identify the true causes of Third World poverty and thus advocate useful real solutions–like the ONE Campaign–is not just misguided, it is actually harmful. The wider public knows this to be true.
May 16, 2005
Jen Littlefield’s decision to donate her eggs was, she says, a way of “giving back.” Of course, “donate” in this case does not mean that Ms. Littlefield was not paid. Indeed, the University of Chicago undergraduate was paid $5,000 for her eggs and for undergoing the procedure that secured them for use by another woman. Ms. Littlefield told The Chicago Maroon, the university’s student newspaper, that she was motivated, at least in part, by the knowledge that she was conceived with the use of donor sperm–a fact she did not know until age 19. In her article, reporter Kat Glass described the payment as “nothing for a college student to scoff at” and explained that egg donors can be paid much, much more on the market. As Ms. Littlefield described the process, she had applied to a local agency for the role by filling out a 14-page medical history form and sending in the required pictures of herself and her mother. After psychological screening and legal briefings, followed by hormonal treatments, she underwent the egg-removal surgical procedure. As she sees it, this is simply a business transaction that might help someone have a baby–even if it is with her eggs. “You kind of separate yourself and know that, yes, your genes are going to be there, but it’s not your child because you’re not raising it,” she explained. “And genetics are a crap shoot anyway,” she added. Well, maybe not a crap shoot after all. Ethicist Mary Mahowald of the University of Chicago Hospitals understands that these egg donors are not chosen at random. “A U of C [University of Chicago] student–especially if she’s tall, athletic, attractive, and white–can probably get a fair amount” for her eggs, she told the paper. Tellingly, the only ethical issues raised as significant were related to economic inequality–the fact that only wealthy persons have access to the technology, and can afford to pay for expensive donor eggs. This article, published in the student newspaper of a major American university, reveals a reality unknown to most Americans. This country has become an open market for human gametes. The lack of legislation, combined with technological sophistication and the profit motive, allows would-be egg and sperm customers to advertise for designer genes, and “donors” to sell to the highest bidder. We must all know we are living in a new age when a woman conceived with donor sperm decides to sell her own eggs. What will the next generation sell?
April 15, 2005
The conservative movement in America–the movement that elected President George W. Bush and continues to change the political landscape–is actually a coalition of different movements joined together by a common rejection of liberalism. The movement includes identifiable groups such as moral conservatives, social traditionalists, neo-conservative transformationists, and libertarians. Together, all reject the expansive power of the state and the idea that government should serve as the centralizing principle within the culture.