Category : Economy

(IFS) Straight Talk About the Success Sequence, Marriage, and Poverty

Some communities in America convey the success sequence’s three rules to their young adults very emphatically. The importance of these norms gets through loud and clear in much of Mormon Utah, many immigrant communities, and in countless upper-middle class homes, neighborhoods, and schools across the nation. A whole host of stories, ideals, expectations, and norms in these communities foster adherence to the success sequence. This adherence, in turn, reduces the odds that their young adults end up poor, even when those young adults hail from poor and working-class families. It’s no accident, for instance, that children raised in lower-income families from Utah have markedly higher rates of economic mobility than children raised in lower-income families in most other states, or that children raised by poor Chinese immigrants from Brooklyn are much more likely than other poor children in New York City to get into the city’s elite public high schools, positioning them to move into the middle class or higher as adults. These young adults have been formed by communities that reinforce their own versions of the sequence—even in the face of social structural obstacles that make following the sequence more difficult.

There’s no reason, however, to limit the success sequence’s message to the offspring of the privileged, particular immigrant groups, or the religious. All young Americans—regardless of their parents’ education, ethnicity, or religious commitments (or lack thereof)—deserve to hear straight talk about the importance of education, work, and marriage. Although this message is not a panacea, and it is not a substitute for taking policy actions to address structural disadvantages —like reforming education, expanding the child tax credit, and increasing wage subsidies—we owe it to our young people to tell them the truth about how the exercise of their own agency in the direction of particular choices rather than others is likely to affect their own financial future. Doing anything less is just one more way in which our country locks in durable inequality for poor, Black, and Hispanic young men and women, and increases the odds that they forge a path into adulthood not towards the American dream, but towards poverty.

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Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Poverty, Sociology

(Axios) 40% in U.S. can’t afford middle-class basics

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Personal Finance

(ACNS) Anglican Church of Burundi helps improve rice growing techniques

The Anglican Church of Burundi has been training farmers to improve rice yields as part of efforts to combat food insecurity in the country. The two-year project has been run in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, the overseas development agency of the US-based Episcopal Church. Growing rice has been the main activity for people living along side Lake Tanganyika for many years; but the lack of improved techniques and seeds has caused low production and farmers could not expect to gain much from it.

Through the project, farmers have been trained and equipped with agricultural techniques and materials to improve rice production. “Already the farmers are seeing changes in agricultural production and consequently in their daily lives,” the province said in its newsletter.

“Our situation has improved since we no longer cultivate the rice just for consumption,” farmer Esperance Ndayishimiye, said. “I’m now able to meet easily my family’s needs. I pay school fees for my children. I have bought lands and built houses.” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Burundi, Burundi, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Energy, Natural Resources, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Stewardship

[The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record] Cremation gaining in popularity fast as burial costs rise

Fred and Margaret, of Clifton, N.J., died one month apart during the winter.

The couple, whose last name their children asked not to divulge, met in high school and were married for 69 years. They were inseparable.

Death was not about to change that.

They made arrangements years ago: Margaret, 87, would take the last grave in the family’s plot at St. Nicholas Cemetery in Lodi, N.J. Fred, 88, a devout Catholic who was born some 30 years before the Vatican lifted its ban on cremation in 1963, decided his ashes would be buried by her head.

Perhaps, if there were space, Fred would not have chosen to be cremated, his daughter Donna said. But there was room for only one.

“I think he just wanted to be with my mom and that’s what he had to do in order for him to be with her,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Secularism

FT: Executives who ignore their own health are in no position to lead

I recently asked a trio of entrepreneurs what they wished they had known before they set out on the path to leadership.

Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, who now heads Thrive Global, which aims to end the “stress and burnout epidemic”, told me: “I wish I knew what I discovered the hard way in 2007 when I collapsed from exhaustion . . . That [it is a] delusion that in order to succeed we have to be always on.”

“I wish somebody would have told me how hard it is,” said Anna Skaya, chief executive of Basepaws, which is building a database of feline DNA.

“There are obstacles all the time. All the time,” added designer Diane von Furstenberg, who heads the eponymous fashion group. “Listen, I have a lot of energy . . . That doesn’t mean that I don’t wake up thinking like I’m a total loser, [even] now.”

It probably takes a successful entrepreneur-founder to admit such truths. Even in a world where there is increasing acknowledgment of the dangers of workplace stress, this kind of leadership lesson is only rarely taught in business schools, still less by leadership manuals of the “five ways to be awesome” variety.

Yet this understanding of the many hurdles facing any leader is embedded in the 3,000-year-old Judeo-Christian culture of teaching about how to lead, according to Steven Croft, the Anglican Bishop of Oxford….

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Forbes) Religious Organizations Rally To Preserve Current Tax Treatment Of Clergy Housing Allowances

The wonderful thing about this litigation is how it brings different faith communities together in their desire to protect their cherished tax benefit. Not yet available is the brief from the following amici – Christian Legal Society, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, National Association of Evangelicals, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Council of Churches of New York City,  and Queens Federation of Churches.   Last time around there was a brief that included The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission (Southern Baptists, the second largest denomination in the United States probably have the most skin in this game) and   The International Society for Krishna Consciousness and The Islamic Center of Boca Raton.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Inter-Faith Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes

(Post-Gazette) Religious institutions wait to see what tax reform does to their place in people’s budgets

The conventional thinking is that most people who donate to places of worship are not primarily motivated by tax benefits.

For many, giving is a core value based on religious teachings and a sense of gratitude.

This could be the year when those assumptions are put to a test.

The new federal tax law has cut taxes for working American families, but it also could have the unintended consequence of reducing the financial incentive for many people to donate to religious and charitable organizations.

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy estimates roughly 30 million households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 will be less likely to itemize deductions on their taxes due to the new law. With less incentive to donate, researchers predict the amount those households give will decline.

“Tax incentives do affect how much people give,” said Una Osili, associate dean for research. “If it is more expensive to give, they give less.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes

Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mark Labberton’s recent Address at the Wheaton Gathering–The Crisis of Evangelicalism

Only the Spirit “who is in the world to convict us of sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) can bring us to clarity about the crisis we face.  As I have sought that conviction, here is what I have come to believe: The central crisis facing us is that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been betrayed and shamed by an evangelicalism that has violated its own moral and spiritual integrity.

This is not a crisis imposed from outside the household of faith, but from within.  The core of the crisis is not specifically about Trump, or Hillary, or Obama, or the electoral college, or Comey, or Mueller, or abortion, or LGBTQIA+ debates, or Supreme Court appointees. Instead the crisis is caused by the way a toxic evangelicalism has engaged with these issues in such a way as to turn the gospel into Good News that is fake. Now on public display is an indisputable collusion between prominent evangelicalism and many forms of insidious racist, misogynistic, materialistic, and political power. The wind and the rain and the floods have come, and, as Jesus said, they will reveal our foundation.  In this moment for evangelicalism, what the storms have exposed is a foundation not of solid rock but of sand.

This is not a crisis taking place at the level of language. This is not about who owns or defines the term “evangelical,” and whether one does—or does not—choose to identify as such.  It is legitimate and important to debate if and how the term “evangelical” can currently be used in the United States to mean anything more than white, theologically and politically conservative. But that is not itself the crisis. The crisis is not at the level of our lexicon, but of our lives and a failure to embody the gospel we preach.  We may debate whether the word “evangelical” can or should be redeemed. But what we must deal with is the current bankruptcy many associate with evangelical life.

This is not a crisis unfolding at the level of group allegiance, denomination, or affiliation.  The varied reality that is American evangelicalism is evidenced in this room.  We have no formal hierarchy, leadership, or structure and form no single organization, but are sorted and divided today as we have been—for better and worse—for much of our history.  Some might wish for a clearer distinction between those who call themselves fundamentalist and those who call themselves evangelical. We might look to varying traditions or geographies to explain our division. These distinctions matter but can easily devolve into scapegoating or blaming, diverting us from our vocation as witness to God’s love for a multifaceted world.

This is not a recent crisis but a historic one.  We face a haunting specter with a shadow that reaches back further than the 2016 election—a history that helps define the depth of the sorrow, fear, anger, anxiety, and injustice around us. Today’s egregious collusion between evangelicals and worldly power is problematic enough: more painful and revealing is that such collusion has been our historic habit. Today’s collusion bears astonishing—and tragic—continuity with the past.

Right alongside the rich history of gospel faithfulness that evangelicalism has affirmed, there lies a destructive complicity with dominant cultural and racial power. Despite deep gospel confidence and rhetoric, evangelicalism has been long-wedded to a devastating social self-interest that defends the dominant culture over and against that of the gospel’s command to love the “other” as ourselves.  We are not naïve in our doctrine of sin that prefers self over all, but we have failed to recognize our own guilt in it.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

NYMag talks to VR pioneer Jaron Lanier on Silicon Valley–‘One Has This Feeling of Having Contributed to Something That’s Gone Very Wrong’

In November, you told Maureen Dowd that it’s scary and awful how out of touch Silicon Valley people have become. It’s a pretty forward remark. I’m kind of curious what you mean by that.

To me, one of the patterns we see that makes the world go wrong is when somebody acts as if they aren’t powerful when they actually are powerful. So if you’re still reacting against whatever you used to struggle for, but actually you’re in control, then you end up creating great damage in the world. Like, oh, I don’t know, I could give you many examples. But let’s say like Russia’s still acting as if it’s being destroyed when it isn’t, and it’s creating great damage in the world. And Silicon Valley’s kind of like that.

We used to be kind of rebels, like, if you go back to the origins of Silicon Valley culture, there were these big traditional companies like IBM that seemed to be impenetrable fortresses. And we had to create our own world. To us, we were the underdogs and we had to struggle. And we’ve won. I mean, we have just totally won. We run everything. We are the conduit of everything else happening in the world. We’ve disrupted absolutely everything. Politics, finance, education, media, relationships — family relationships, romantic relationships — we’ve put ourselves in the middle of everything, we’ve absolutely won. But we don’t act like it.

We have no sense of balance or modesty or graciousness having won. We’re still acting as if we’re in trouble and we have to defend ourselves, which is preposterous. And so in doing that we really kind of turn into assholes, you know?

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT) Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match

As Facebook pushes into developing countries, it tends to be initially received as a force for good.

In Sri Lanka, it keeps families in touch even as many work abroad. It provides for unprecedented open expression and access to information. Government officials say it was essential for the democratic transition that swept them into office in 2015.

But where institutions are weak or undeveloped, Facebook’s newsfeed can inadvertently amplify dangerous tendencies. Designed to maximize user time on site, it promotes whatever wins the most attention. Posts that tap into negative, primal emotions like anger or fear, studies have found, produce the highest engagement, and so proliferate.

In the Western countries for which Facebook was designed, this leads to online arguments, angry identity politics and polarization. But in developing countries, Facebook is often perceived as synonymous with the internet and reputable sources are scarce, allowing emotionally charged rumors to run rampant. Shared among trusted friends and family members, they can become conventional wisdom.

And where people do not feel they can rely on the police or courts to keep them safe, research shows, panic over a perceived threat can lead some to take matters into their own hands — to lynch.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Buddhism, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

(Dallas News) After landing troubled Southwest plane, pilot Tammie Jo Shults hugged passengers, texted ‘God is good’

It seems that nearly everyone in Boerne[,Texas,] has a Tammie Jo story, and taken together, they paint a picture of a woman almost too impossibly caring, too impossibly devoted to her community. But, they say, that’s why she was a role model long before she landed that damaged jetliner.

Longtime friend and fellow church member Staci Thompson said a deep Christian faith has guided the way Shults lives.

Shults has taught nearly every grade level of Sunday school at their church. She’s volunteered at a school for at-risk kids and turned a cottage on her family’s property into a temporary home for victims of Hurricane Rita and widows.

“She would tell you everything she has she’s been given from God, so she wants to share it,” Thompson said.

Read it all.

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Travel

(Healthline) Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer Is Sounding the Alarm on Our Toxic, Modern Workplace

Is the modern workplace at the center of a massive public health crisis?

Stanford University professor Jeffery Pfeffer explores that possibility in his new book, “Dying for a Paycheck.”

Pfeffer, the professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University’s business school, has been studying and writing about the modern workplace for years. But he’s now looking at how office life can be toxic for your health.

Pfeffer estimates that 120,000 deaths may be attributed to workplace conditions, which include work-family conflict, no health insurance, and unemployment. This would in theory make the modern workplace the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

Pfeffer found toxic workplace environments permeate all types of companies across multiple industries and in various countries. He found plenty of issues with both old and newer companies, including places like Salesforce, which is currently listed as Fortune’s “Best Place to Work.”

 

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NYT) A $76,000 Monthly Pension: Why States and Cities Are Short on Cash

A public university president in Oregon gives new meaning to the idea of a pensioner.

Joseph Robertson, an eye surgeon who retired as head of the Oregon Health & Science University last fall, receives the state’s largest government pension.

It is $76,111.

Per month.

That is considerably more than the average Oregon family earns in a year.

Oregon — like many other states and cities, including New Jersey, Kentucky and Connecticut — is caught in a fiscal squeeze of its own making. I

Read it all.

Posted in City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, State Government, Taxes

(ACNS) Six prominent people in public life describe how their faith affects their work in this video produced by the Church in Wales

They six are: Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council; Auriol Miller, Director of the Institute of Welsh Affairs; Simon Prince, former Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police; Roy Jenkins, BBC radio presenter; Harriet Morgan, a property lawyer at Geldards; and Gaynor Ford, a retired magistrate.

Posted in Church of Wales, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NYT) Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit

“It has taken a long, long time to get anyone to pay attention to this issue and take it seriously,” said Luke Montagu, a media entrepreneur and co-founder of the London-based Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry, which pushed for Britain’s review of prescription drug addiction and dependence.

“You’ve got this huge parallel community that’s emerged, largely online, in which people are supporting each other though withdrawal and developing best practices largely without the help of doctors,” he said.

Dr. Stockmann, the psychiatrist in East London, wasn’t entirely convinced withdrawal was a serious issue before he went through it himself. His microtapering strategy finally worked.

“There was a really significant moment,” he recalled. “I was walking down near my house, past a forest, and I suddenly realized I could feel the full range of emotions again. The birds were louder, the colors more vivid — I was happy.”

“I have seen lots of people — patients — not being believed, not taken seriously when they complained about this,” he added. “That has to stop.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology