Web Notables (January 28, 2015)

Democracy and Business, a Return to Faith, and Other Stories

By The Editors Published on January 28, 2015

“Web Notables” is a daily feature that highlights articles readers may want to see but have missed.

Democracy is Good for Business from Forbes. The question of whether democracy makes countries wealthier or whether wealthier countries can afford to be democratic is a hard one, writes finance professor Noah Smith, although a recent study shows that democracy increases a country’s gross domestic product by about 20 percent. The study found

that countries with democracy have better government — they pursue more economic reforms, provide more schooling, provide more public goods and reduce social unrest. They also find, contrary to many who have been following China’s story, that business investment is higher in democracies.

Why I Believe Again from the English magazine The New Statesman. The novelist A. N. Wilson, a bestselling writer in England, explains how he went from being a very public Christian to a very public atheist (after writing a biography of C. S. Lewis) and then back to being a Christian. When he became an atheist, he felt he finally belonged.

At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world — that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that “this is all there is” (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of … all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

Years of seeing the example of religious believers and asking questions about life that Christianity answered better than atheism brought Wilson back to the faith. “My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again.”

What is the Jewish Afterlife Like? from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Jews have had very different ideas of the afterlife at different times and places, and no one has decided which is the right one. Beginning in the struggle between the Jews and the Greek world in the second century B.C., Jews began to believe in the resurrection of the dead, but the way they understand it has developed on rationalist and mystical lines.

Hitler’s First Victims from the English newspaper The Daily Telegraph. A review of a new book on the first German concentration camp, Dachau, and a heroic lawyer who tried to expose the atrocities committed from the very beginning, when the camp opened in 1933. He was asked to review each death because the Nazis still wanted everything to look legal. He bravely objected.

The reviewer writes: “The haunting question at the heart of the book is this: if there had been a few more like Hartinger [the lawyer] … at all levels of the law and in government, was there any way the Nazi terror might have been averted?”

The press of the day was not much use. A reporter from The Times of London was invited to inspect the camp in 1934 and wrote of prisoners “playing chess, a few reading books … it was almost an idyllic picture of a rest camp.” But of course it wasn’t.

About That 20-Week Abortion Bill from National Review. “I was born about three months — call it a “trimester” — before Roe,” writes Kevin Williamson, an editor at the magazine. He was adopted. “People like me — we ‘unplanned,’ the millions of us — now live the first part of our lives outside the protection of the laws of these United States. Our lives, and very often our deaths, are instruments of the convenience of others.” The House Republicans didn’t help, he writes.

[T]he vast majority of voters support the provisions in the bill. This bill was not a problem for Republicans, but for a handful of House members. Majorities of men support these changes, as do majorities of women — for that matter, only 17 percent of the people who describe themselves as “pro-choice” support the current anything-goes abortion regime. On a question that really matters, the House of Representatives had a rare chance to take “Yes” for an answer.

I can only conclude that that was not the answer you want.

The Fundamental Precept for Humane Economics, from the Intercollegiate Review. An excerpt from The Humane Economy by German economist Wilhelm Roepke, a committed Christian. A defender of the market economy and one of the first professors purged by the Nazis when they came to power, Roepke argued that

[A]n economic order ruled by free prices and markets … is the only economic order compatible with human freedom, with a state and society which safeguard freedom, and with the rule of law. For these are the fundamental conditions without which a life possessing meaning and dignity is impossible for men of our religious and philosophical convictions and traditions.

But he also insisted that “the market economy is not everything. It must find its place within a higher order of things which is not ruled by supply and demand, free prices, and competition.”

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