How Not to Help Sweatshop Workers

You hear that H&M buys shirts from a factory in Bangladesh that works its employees long hours under harsh conditions and low pay. What’s the moral thing to do?

Should you publicly shame the company for its iniquitous practices? Call on the government to improve wages and working conditions? Buy your shirts from someone else? Propose that the company raise prices so workers can get paid more?

Actually, if you really want to be socially responsible, the first thing to do is be as sure as possible that actual harm — from the perspective of the workers themselves — is taking place.

Freeman writer Ben Powell addresses the consequences of outright bans in this video and short essay.

As long as the workers are there by choice, they consider themselves better off with a “sweatshop” job than without one. Banning sweatshops pushes poor people into worse alternatives and slows economic development to boot.

So what’s the alternative?


The public-shaming option is the method of comedian John Oliver. Comedy is a powerful manipulator of public opinion, whatever the entertainer’s ideology, but don’t expect a fair analysis. Oliver mocks and demonizes some big companies for getting their clothes from factories in developing countries to sell at low prices in the West.

He assumes that the low-priced clothing…

Marriage clerk cites ‘God’s authority’ to defy federal court


Kim Davis, right, the clerk of Rowan County, Ky., speaks with David Moore after refusing to issue him a marriage license on Tuesday. Photo: Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

A homosexual duo left the office of the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk’s office early Tuesday “red-eyed and shaking,” according to the Associated Press, but without a marriage license after the clerk there cited “God’s authority” to decline to issue the document.

Clerk Kim Davis’ appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a lower court’s order to issue the licenses was rejected late Monday.

And on Tuesday, she was barraged by catcalls of “bigot” when she met people lined up waiting for services.

AP reported James Yates and Will Smith Jr. “marched” into the office to get a marriage license, even though Davis stopped issuing any marriage licenses the day the Supreme Court created the right to “same-sex marriage.”

Sheriff’s officials told both “gay”-rights activists and the clerk’s supporters to leave a short time later.

Randy Smith, who was among Davis’ supporters, says the group knows Davis might go to jail on contempt charges for defying the federal court order.

“But in at the end of the day, we have to stand before God, which has higher authority than the Supreme Court,” he said.

Davis had said briefly, when asked on whose authority she would not issue licenses, “Under God’s authority.”

One homosexual activist said, “We’re not leaving until we have a license,” AP reported.

“Then you’re going to have a long day,” Davis reportedly said.

WND reported late Monday that the full U.S. Supreme Court, including two justices who openly performed “same-sex wedding” ceremonies while the issue was before them, denied Davis’ request for a stay of a judge’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis’ attorneys with the nonprofit Liberty Counsel had asked for a stay as her case developed at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said Davis “certainly understands the consequences either way.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the 6th District, was one of two justices, along with Ruth Ginsberg, who defied conventional judicial ethics and performed a “same-sex wedding” while the Obergefell case establishing the legality of same-sex marriage was under consideration.

She had received the request for a stay in the Davis case and referred it to the whole court.

But the justices refused to consider Davis’ constitutional religious rights and, without comment, refused to act.

Read Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage in the WND Superstore!

Those who have raised complaints about Davis’ refusal to issue licenses to same-sex couples pointedly have bypassed more than 100 other locations in Kentucky where they could obtain licenses.

Liberty Counsel has noted that even the district court, which issued the order against Davis, admitted that the case presented a “conflict” between “two individual liberties held sacrosanct in American jurisprudence.”

One was the enumerated right to religious freedom, the other the newly created marriage right.

Staver had argued: “Providing religious conviction accommodations is not antithetical for public employees. Throughout our history, the courts have accommodated people’s deeply held religious beliefs.

“The Supreme Court’s marriage opinion does not suggest that religious accommodations cannot be made or that people have a fundamental right to receive a marriage license from a particular clerk,” he continued, referencing the original opinion.

“There is absolutely no reason that this case has gone so far without reasonable people respecting and accommodating Kim Davis’ First Amendment rights,” he said.

“The SSM Mandate demands that she either fall in line (her conscience be damned) or leave office (her livelihood and job for three decades in the clerk’s office be damned). If Davis’ religious objection cannot be accommodated when Kentucky marriage licenses are available in more than 130 marriage licensing locations, and many other less restrictive alternatives remain available, then elected officials have no real religious freedom when they take public office.”

The courts have misbehaved already, the document argues.

“No court, and especially no third-party desiring to violate religious belief, is fit to set the contours of conscience,” Liberty Counsel argued. “For if that were true, a person who religiously objects to wartime combat would be forced to shoulder a rifle regardless of their conscience or be refused citizenship; a person who religiously objects to work on the Sabbath day of their faith would be forced to accept such work regardless of their conscience or lose access to state unemployment benefits; a person who religiously objects to state-mandated schooling for their children would be forced to send their children to school regardless of their conscience or face criminal penalties; a person who religiously objects to state-approved messages would be forced to carry that message on their vehicles regardless of their conscience or face criminal penalties; a person who religiously objects to capital punishment would be forced to participate in an execution regardless of their conscience or lose their job; a person who religiously objects to providing abortion-related and contraceptive insurance coverage to their employees would be forced to pay for such coverage regardless of their conscience or face staggering fines.”

Those are examples showing “that the majority who adhere to a general law” do not “control the dictates of individual conscience,” Liberty Counsel argued.

The Obergefell decision, in fact, recognized the religious rights of Americans, even while creating the new right to “same-sex marriage.”

“Obergefell unanimously held that First Amendment protections for religious persons remain despite SSM,” Liberty argued.

WND reported earlier that “gays” were demanding Davis be charged with official misconduct.

Davis also has has filed a separate lawsuit against her governor for violating her religious rights.

In Obergefell, the four dissenting Supreme Court justices – John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – all warned that creating the new right of same-sex “marriage” would war against the existing right of religious exercise embedded in the U.S. Constitution.

“And here we are, two months later, and it is already happening,” Staver said.

Liberty Counsel warned two years ago, Staver said, that religious freedom would be replaced by the new “right” to a “same-sex marriage.” They were roundly criticized by the left for resorting to “scare tactics” and “conspiracy theories.”

Leonard Read: The Spiritual Economist

To this day, the most influential of FEE’s publications may be Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil.” It is widely used in introductory courses in economics and social philosophy. It offers a striking way to introduce students to a market-based perspective. And yet, its origins in the mind of Leonard Read were a mystery to almost everyone — until now.

For a refresher, here’s a sliver of the classic text:

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The story brings out how, in a market economy, we are able to make use of socially scattered knowledge. Literally no one knows how to make as apparently simple an object as a pencil.

The story brings out how, in a market economy, we are able to make use of socially scattered knowledge. 

Read sets out ideas that — once one is aware of them — seem straightforward and illuminating. The result is that it is all too easy to take his approach for granted. But no one else had put things quite that way before.

So, just how did Leonard Read come to write his essay? And what lies behind it?

Contemplating Ordinary Objects

In Read’s journal entry for August 29, 1958, he wrote, “Decided to try ghost writing an aut…

World’s Poor: “We Want Capitalism”

In the forests of India, something exciting is going on. Villagers are regaining property taken from them when the British colonial authorities nationalized their forests. Just as exciting, in urban Kenya and elsewhere, people are doing away with the need for banks by exchanging and saving their money digitally. All over the world, poor people are discovering the blessings of bottom-up capitalism.

Sadly, though, developed country governments and anti-poverty activists ignore this fact and insist that developing nations need a paternalistic hand up. Both are missing an opportunity, because there are billions of capitalists in waiting at the bottom of the pyramid.

Next month, the United Nations will formally announce the successors to its Millennium Development Goals, the global body’s approach to poverty alleviation since the year 2000. These new goals will be touted as “sustainable.” The event will coincide with a visit by the pope, at which he is expected to concentrate on climate change and materialism as the greatest threats to the welfare of the people of the developing world.

Don’t expect to hear much on the way people in the Western world lifted themselves out of poverty: free-market capitalism.

The phrase “the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” was coined by the late C.K. Prahalad, building on the work of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. In his groundbreaking 1999 work, Development as Freedom, Sen pointed out that one of the most important aspects of development is freedom of opportunity, a vital part of which is access to capital and credit. Capital and c…

Obama move to rename mountain sparks ire

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley

President Obama’s move to rename Mount McKinley in Alaska to Denali may have put to rest a long-running campaign from Native Americans who wanted the traditional Athabascan name restored – but it’s sparked outrage from Ohio lawmakers, who want their state’s assassinated leader to maintain his mountain recognition.

“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans,” said Rep. Bob Gibbs, the Associated Press reported. “I will be working with the House Committee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action.”

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He also said, Fox News reported: “Mount McKinley … has held the name of our nation’s 25th president for over 100 years. This landmark is a testament to his countless years of service to our country” and Obama should not be allowed to go forward with this “constitutional overreach.”

Speaker John Boehner, also from Ohio, said he was disappointed in Obama’s decision to rename the mountain as well.

Mount McKinley is North America’s tallest peak.

McKinley, the 25th president of the United States, rose in ranks from private to major in the Civil War, serving on the Union side. He moved to Canton, Ohio, after the war, served in Congress and then as governor. In 1896, he beat out his Democratic challenger for the White House, in part because of his call for a gold standard for U.S. money. He was assassinated on Sept. 6, 1901 and succeeded in office by then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

Mount McKinley was named after the former president in 1917, by an act of Congress.

And it’s not just Republicans who are upset at Obama’s name change announcement.

“We must retain this national landmark’s name in order to honor the legacy of this great American president and patriot,” said Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, whose district includes McKinley’s hometown of Niles, located in the eastern portion of Ohio, Fox News said.

West Point prof: Kill critics of U.S. war on terror

(Raw Story) U.S. military academy official William Bradford argues that attacks on scholars’ home offices and media outlets – along with Islamic holy sites – are legitimate

An assistant professor in the law department of the US Military Academy at West Point has argued that legal scholars critical of the war on terrorism represent a “treasonous” fifth column that should be attacked as enemy combatants.

In a lengthy academic paper, the professor, William C Bradford, proposes to threaten “Islamic holy sites” as part of a war against undifferentiated Islamic radicalism. That war ought to be prosecuted vigorously, he wrote, “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage”.

Other “lawful targets” for the US military in its war on terrorism, Bradford argues, include “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews” – all civilian areas, but places where a “causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited” exist.

Iran deal opens vitriolic divide among American Jews

(New York Times) The attacks on Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, since he announced his support for the nuclear accord with Iran have been so vicious that the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Anti-Defamation League both felt compelled this week to publicly condemn Jewish voices of hate.

On the other side, three Jewish Democrats in the House who oppose the deal released a joint statement denouncing “ad hominem attacks and threats” against not only supporters like Mr. Nadler but also Jewish opponents, who have been accused of “dual loyalties” and treason.

This August recess has not produced the kind of fiery town hall-style meetings that greeted lawmakers in 2009 before their vote on the Affordable Care Act, but in one small but influential segment of the electorate, Jewish voters, it has been brutal. Differences of opinion among Jewish Americans may be nothing new, but the vitriol surrounding the accord between Iran and six world powers has become so intense that leaders now speak openly of long-term damage to Jewish organizations, and possibly to American-Israeli relations.

God’s Forgotten Libertarian

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

Of the Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937), Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck declared,

The man was admirable. He never gave in one inch to anyone. He never bowed his head. It was not in him to trim or compromise, to accept any peace that was less than triumph. He was a glorious enemy because he was completely open and direct in his angers and hatreds. He stood for something and everyone knew what it was.

Lest you be tempted to dismiss Buck’s praise as predictably biased because, after all, she was raised by Presbyterian missionaries living in China, consider the view of H.L. Mencken.

Mencken was known for his caustic criticisms of Christians in general and ministers in particular. He described the Creator as “a comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh” and once wrote, “Shave a gorilla and it would be almost impossible, at twenty paces, to distinguish him from a heavyweight champion of the world. Skin a chimpanzee, and it would take an autopsy to prove he was not a theologian.”

And yet, Mencken pronounced great admiration for Machen:

Dr. Machen is surely no mere soap-boxer of God, alarming bucolic sinners for a percentage of the plate. On the contrary, he is a man of great learning.… His moral advantage over his Modernist adversaries, like his logical advantage, is immense and obvious. He faces the onslaught of the Higher Criticism without flinching, and he yields nothing of his faith to expediency or decorum.

When Machen died, Mencken compared him to another prominent Presbyterian, politician William Jennings Bryan, with these words: “Dr. Machen was to Bryan as the Matterhorn is…

From the makers of ‘Courageous,’ ‘Fireproof,’ comes ‘War Room’


By Paul Bremmer

The wait is finally over.

“War Room,” the new Christian drama from Kendrick Brothers Productions, is hitting theaters across the U.S. on Friday.

Co-directors and co-writers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, known for films such as “Facing the Giants” and “Courageous,” believe their latest work is their best.

“‘War Room’ is filled with heart like our other films,” Stephen told WND. “Like our other films, you’re gonna laugh, you’re gonna cry, be caught up with the story and inspired by messages from Scripture that hopefully will enrich your own life.”

Alex said he and Stephen spent a lot of time praying for guidance regarding the film’s emphasis, and the answer was that it should be about prayer itself.

“[God] pointed us to the power of prayer, and even the weapon that prayer can be, and the fact that we need to go seek Him first and do our battles first in prayer,” Alex told WND.

The concept of prayer as a battle inspired the movie’s title, according to Alex. Just as military commanders plan their strategy in a war room before they hit the battlefield, the Kendricks believe Christians must go into their prayer closets and pray before going outside and living out the gospel.

Alex cited Matthew 6:6, where Jesus instructs his followers on how to pray: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

See the WND Superstore’s huge selection of movies, from “Alone Yet Not Alone” to “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell”.

Said Alex: “We want to call the church and remind them of the crucial priority that prayer should be in your life for every area. You can pray about anything. But spend that time exclusively with the Lord, undistracted, before we fight our battles in life.”

The Kendricks have both served as Baptist pastors.

“You can shut up all the world’s arguments with a true demonstration of God’s power, and prayer is a demonstration of the power of God,” Stephen said. “Jesus said if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, we can pray and ask and He will work and move mightily on our behalf.”

Stephen pointed to some historical examples of the power of prayer. The biblical heroine Esther, he said, “completely rocked the political system” of her day after praying for three days and going in before her king. The Great Awakenings, he argued, transformed America after more and more Americans began praying.

The Kendricks argue now is a great time for Americans to turn to God through prayer, considering all the turmoil in the country.

“We believe that right now, the politics is not getting it done, more money is not getting it done, the fights and the racism, the cultural wars,” Stephen said. “We go back to, what does Scripture say God will do if we repent, if we as a nation will seek his face and humble ourselves and pray? He says he’ll heal our land. He says He’ll work. We see it in history. We see it in the Scripture. We believe He wants to do it now.”

The Kendricks urge everyone to take part in the 9/11 National Day of Prayer and Repentance. Held every year on Sept. 11, the event calls on Americans to heed the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their sinful ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

See their message:

The event is held on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks because that day was a “national wake-up call” and “epitomized our dependence on God and our helplessness without Him,” according to

The Kendricks agree with the event’s founders that Americans have slipped into a pattern of immorality and need to pray for God’s mercy on them and on the country.

“God has worked miraculously in previous generations when believers united together across racial and denominational lines and began to cry out to Him on behalf of their nations,” Stephen stated. “The second and first Great Awakenings in America happened because believers were praying. We believe the time is now for believers to get desperate before the Lord and begin to cry out to Him based upon what is going on in our country.”

Stephen encourages people to see “War Room”before Sept. 11 so they can use it as a “catalyst of prayer” in preparation for the 9/11 Day of Prayer.

The brothers hope their film encourages Christians who might be distracted by petty differences such as worship styles to unify around Jesus as the only hope for the future.

“When we unify around the foundation of our faith, Jesus Christ the Son of God who died on the cross, rose from the grave – when we unify around that, and that is the greatest reason to unify, we can accomplish so much more as a body of Christ,” Alex said.

“War Room” is the fifth film the Kendricks have worked on together. Their previous efforts were “Flywheel” (2003), “Facing the Giants” (2006), “Fireproof” (2008) and “Courageous” (2011).

The movies have all dealt with Christian themes: “Facing the Giants” was about faith, “Fireproof” focused on love and “Courageous” dealt with courage and faith as a parent, Alex noted. But the brothers are most excited about “War Room,” which they say was filmed with a different cast, a different crew and at different locations.

Stephen said, “We think it’s the best one yet in so many ways, and so we’re asking the Lord to use it right now in people’s lives, and we’re looking forward to August 28.”


How Many People Can Planet Earth Sustain?

Asked whether or not the growing world population will be a major problem, 59% of Americans agreed it will strain the planet’s natural resources, while 82% of U.S.-based members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said the same. Just 17% of AAAS scientists and 38% of Americans said population growth won’t be a problem because we will find a way to stretch natural resources.
Pew Research Center

“If humanity is to have a long-term future,” writes James Dyke at the Conversation, “we must address all these challenges [of population growth] at the same time as reducing our impacts on the planetary processes that ultimately provide not just the food we eat, but water we drink and air we breathe. This is a challenge far greater than those that so exercised Malthus 200 years ago.”

Thomas Malthus was a pioneer in political economy who wrote a famous 1798 essay on the dangers of population growth. Nowadays, environmentalists concerned with “sustainable growth” typically invoke Malthusian concerns as they recommend government interventions.

Free-market thinkers tend to reject such “solutions” as unnecessary, but beyond the technical policy debate, there is also a strand in the free-market community that embraces population growth with optimism.

The crux of Malthus’s original essay was that unchecked populations grow exponentially, whereas food production grows — at best — linearly. The following passage sums up the bleak Malthusian view of life: