Acton Line


Should Businesses Embrace Remote Work?

Ep. 376

Should businesses allow their employees to work remotely? Almost all employers and employees have wrestled with this question. More and more job-seekers are expecting remote-work flexibility, and COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns greatly accelerated this trend. But are employees really as productive working from home? Does remote work hurt company culture? Or could hybrid or remote options make businesses more successful? David Bahnsen, Founder of the Bahnsen Group, argues that remote work should be minimized. Dr. Raj Choudhury, remote work expert at Harvard Business School, argues that businesses should embrace hybrid and remote options. This debate took place as a part of the 2023 Business Matters conference.

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  • 389. The China Nexus

    June 4 marked the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, in which the Chinese Communist Party put down a pro-democracy protest movement that had bubbled up in Tiananmen Square and throughout mainland China. For many, it served as a stark reminder the brutality of the country that, under the autocratic leadership of Mao Zedong killed between 40 and 80 million of its own people, could still be just as brutal.Tiananmen happened just three years before Benedict Rogers moved to China to begin teaching English. For Rogers, this marked the beginning of a professional career focused on issues in and around China and Hong Kong that saw him work as a journalist in Hong Kong for the first five years after the handover to traveling to China’s borders with Myanmar/Burma and North Korea to document the plight of refugees escaping from Beijing-backed satellite dictatorships and then campaigning for human rights in China, especially for Uyghurs, Christians and Falun Gong practitioners, human rights defenders, journalists and dissidents, and the people of Hong Kong.Rogers, who today runs the organization Hong Kong Watch, a watchdog organization which researches and monitors threats to Hong Kong’s basic freedoms, the rule of law and autonomy as promised under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle which is enshrined in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, is the author of the new book, “The China Nexus: Thirty Years In and Around the Chinese Communist Party’s Tyranny.”In the book, Rogers takes the readers on a journey through some of the leaders and participants in the Human rights activities that China has suppressed since its inception in 1949. He goes on to dispute and lays to rest all of the specious claims by the tyrants in Beijing that all Chinese citizens are equal and are afforded human and civil rights. Currently, the regime is engaged in re-education, cultural assimilation, and multiple genocides, leading to better citizens for China and the world if one believes Chinese officials.Today, Eric Kohn talks with Benedict Rogers about his book, China’s history, its rise as a global power, its record on human rights, and what the future holds the Chinese Communist Party and the people under it’s thumb. Subscribe to our podcastsThe China Nexus | AmazonAre Artists Really Free to Express Themselves? | Acton Linefreejimmylai.comHong Kong
  • 388. Friendship in a Democratic Age

    In this episode, we dive into some of the profound changes occurring in American society. Back in the day, social scientist Robert Putnam observed a concerning trend—he called it "bowling alone"—where Americans were becoming increasingly disconnected from community bonds and support systems. Fast forward to the present, and we see not only a retreat from these vital sources of communal life but also a rise in loneliness, anxiety, depression, and overall mental and physical distress. Marriage and parenthood are also being delayed or foregone altogether. These developments have far-reaching implications for both American politics and civil life, as well as for the individual's well-being and fulfillment.Taking us back to the roots of democratic thought, we turn to Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America." Tocqueville recognized the unique nature of the democratic social state and the need for a "new political science" to navigate its strengths and weaknesses. He explored how the principles of democratic equality would transform our intellect, sentiments, and social norms, painting vivid images of democracy and the dangers of soft despotism that still resonate today.While Tocqueville's masterpiece provides a comprehensive view of American democracy, there are areas he did not directly address. One such topic is friendship—a central element in Tocqueville's own life. Although seemingly absent from his work, we can draw upon Tocqueville's theories, as well as insights from Aristotle and C.S. Lewis, to ask: How does democratic equality transform friendship, a fundamental association crucial to human flourishing? Today, Dan Churchwell, Director of Program & Education, talks with Sarah Gustafson, as they exploring how democratic equality opens up new possibilities for meaningful connections while also introducing habits and trends that can erode genuine companionship and push individuals into the "solitude of their own hearts."Sarah H. Gustafson is a PhD Candidate in Government (Political Theory) at Harvard University where she is completing her dissertation on the thought of Alexis de Tocqueville. She graduated from Davidson College, and earned a MA in the History of Political Thought at Queen Mary University of London, where she won the Quentin Skinner Prize for Excellence in the History of Political Thought. In her years at Harvard, she has had the opportunity to work closely with Professors Harvey Mansfield, Michael Sandel, Richard Tuck, and Eric Nelson, among others, and is a Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute. In her free time, she has authored reviews for publications such as Law and Liberty and The University Bookman.Subscribe to our podcastsAristocrats in a Democratic Age | Law & Liberty
  • 387. Rev. Tim Keller on The Problems of Modern Identity

    For this episode of Acton Line, we’re bringing you the remarks by Rev. Timothy J. Keller at the Acton Institute’s Annual Dinner in 2018, in which he spoke on identity, business, and the Christian gospel. Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, New York Times bestselling author, teacher, and arguably the most influential evangelical preacher of his generation died May 19, 2023, after a three-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was 72. He leaves behind his wife of 48 years, Kathy, and three sons: David, Michael, and Jonathan. Keller’s winsome appeal and professorial demeanor grew an exploratory prayer group in 1989 to a 5,000-plus-member megachurch in the heart of the Big Apple, a supposed desert wasteland for spirituality. His impact on urban church planting, his ability to speak in a forthright and non-condescending manner to skeptics, and his deliberate avoidance of political partisanship were just a few qualities that made him stand out in a world of so-called celebrity preachers and would-be chaplains to the rich and famous. His intellectual curiosity wedded to a personal humility were also hallmarks of his unique ministry. Through such books as The Reason for God, The Prodigal God, Generous Justice, and Making Sense of God, Keller argued for the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his all-sufficient sacrifice in a world of idols and “self-made” men and women. As he liked to sum it up: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”Taped just a few weeks before his death, he left behind one final message for Redeemer Presbyterian Church and any who would wish to follow in his footsteps. “Forget about your reputation. Jeremiah 45:5: ‘Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.’ … Ministers, don’t make your ministry success your identity… People, don’t make getting a big name in New York City your main thing. Lift up Jesus’ name. Hallowed be thy name. Forget yourself.” For those who had the honor to hear him, to be counseled by him, to be challenged by him—he will never be forgotten.Subscribe to our podcastsDied: Tim Keller, New York City Pastor Who Modeled Winsome Witness | Christianity Today
  • 386. Against the New Paganism

    There’s been much discussion of how “wokeness,” for lack of a better term, operates as a form of civic religion for the political left. Less discussed, according to Jack Butler of National Review, is the emerging form or forms of paganism on the political right.Most prominent among them is Costin Alamariu, a Romanian political-science Ph.D. from Yale, who goes by the moniker “Bronze Age Pervert.” Alamariu is the author of Bronze Age Mindset, which Butler describes as “an intentionally provocative, discursive, and ungrammatical “exhortation” outlining his thought.” In it, Alamariu laments the diminution of the authentic expression of masculinity and the masculine virtues, and the failures of political conservatism to preserve those virtues and whatever else is good about civil society. In ideas reminiscent of Frederich Nietzsche, Alamariu castigates the “bug men” or “human cockroaches” for their weakening of men and of society, and the need for a league of neo-ubermenches to rise up and reshape the world in their image.Butler contents that, wild as this all sounds, we should take the Bronze Age phenomenon and the rising new paganism seriously. Today, Eric Kohn talks with Jack Butler about the rise of this new paganism on the left and on the right, and how he contends that only a reinvigorated Christianity in the public square can adequately contend with these new “pretender faiths of our time.”Subscribe to our podcastsAgainst the New Paganism | National Review
  • 385. Mere Natural Law

    We live in what appears at first glance to be a highly skeptical age, one characterized by moral relativism in public discourse and ‘value-freedom’ in science. But is this really the case? Hadley Arkes believes that, despite many people’s protest to the contrary, what they do is informed–perhaps unwittingly–by an understanding of natural law. In this wide-ranging conversation, the founding director of the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding unpacks this paradox as explored in his new book, Mere Natural Law: Originalism and the Anchoring Truths of the Constitution.-What is natural law and what sort of alternative does it provide to skepticism?-Why is there hostility or disinterest in natural law today among both self-styled progressive and conservative jurists?-Why do contemporary criticisms of natural law fall flat?-Where can natural law principles contribute to clarifying and answering contentious moral and legal debates of our time?- Why are comedians the best expositors of natural law principles?Subscribe to our podcastsMere Natural Law | AmazonAbout Hadley Arkes
  • 384. A Closer Look at Aircraft Industrial Policy

    The last time you took a commercial airline flight, odds are that you were on a plane that was manufactured by one of two companies: American-based Boeing, or French-based Airbus. Together, these two companies have almost the entire market for commercial airplanes.A piece published recently at the website American Compass makes the argument that Airbus is a success story for industrial policy: European government decided they needed to compete with foreign manufacturers of airplanes, they made the public-money backed investments, and propelled Airbus past Boeing and others to be the world leader.As American Compass said when publishing the piece: “According to free-market dogma, state-backed Airbus shouldn't have been able to compete with Boeing. Instead, Airbus surpassed Boeing as leading aircraft manufacturer, gaining a reputation for cutting-edge innovation. U.S. policymakers should take note.”The American Compass piece really took off. But is really describing reality for Airbus and Boeing? Economist and Mercatus Center research fellow Veronique de Rugy says those claims need some serious grounding.In a response to the American Compass piece published at National Review, de Rugy flies into the industrial policy headwinds and argues that while crony capitalism certainly works for the companies it benefits, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for the country.Buckle your safety belts and secure your deployed oxygen masks, because today, Eric Kohn talks with Veronqiue de Rugy about the turbulent claim that European industrial policy to boost Airbus “worked,” the reality of massive American public subsidies to Boeing, and whether advocates industrial policy can actually bring their goals into a safe landing.Subscribe to our podcastsApply Now for Acton University 2023Airbus’s Industrial Flight Plan | American CompassA Closer Look at Aircraft Industrial Policy | National ReviewWhen ‘Success’ Breeds (Even Bigger) Failure | The DispatchView From The Wing
  • 383. Free Enterprise and the Common Good

    For this episode of Acton Line, Dylan Pahman, the editor of the Journal of Markets and Morality and a research fellow here at Acton, speaks with Alexander Salter. Salter is the author of the recent article "Free Enterprise and the Common Good,“ published at the Heritage Foundation. The article has generated a lot of buzz, particularly online, where the Salter’s ideas have been the subject of much debate. Before delving into specific questions about the article and its reception, we start with some definitions to clear the air: What is common-good capitalism? What is the common good? And what is the difference between the "science" of economics and the "art" of political economy? They then explore how the author's article has been perceived within the context of the Heritage Foundation's recent changes, as well as how their ideas diverge from those of other national conservative economic proposals. They also discuss the influence of Roman Catholic social thought on the author's ideas, and the ways in which the Swiss German ordoliberal economist Wilhelm Röpke has shaped their thinking. Finally, we look at the concept of industrial policy and how it fits into the author's vision of common-good capitalism.Subscribe to our podcastsApply Now for Acton University 2023Free Enterprise and the Common Good: Economic Science and Political–Economic Art as Complements | The Heritage FoundationPhoto Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • 382. Unleashing the Entrepreneur

    For this episode of Acton Line, we’re bringing you a panel discussion from the Grand Rapids edition of the Free Market Road Show, an event the Acton Institue recently co-hosted along with the Austrian Economics Center.In this conversation, entitled “Unleashing the Entrepreneur,” the panelists explore the theme of entrepreneurship and how it can be a key driver of economic growth and prosperity, as well as examine the challenges that entrepreneurs face, such as regulatory barriers and access to capital, and how these challenges can be overcome to unleash the full potential of a market economy.The panelists discuss how entrepreneurs can play a crucial role in addressing societal issues and creating positive change through innovation and entrepreneurship, and on the importance of empowering individuals to take control of their own economic destinies and how this can lead to greater prosperity for all.This panel features John Chisholm, has three decades of experience as an entrepreneur, CEO, and investor. A pioneer in online marketing research, he founded and served as CEO/Chairman of Decisive Technology (now part of Google), publisher of the first desktop and client-server software for online surveys, and Dylan Pahman, a research fellow here at Acton, where he also serves as executive editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. Subscribe to our podcastsApply Now for Acton University 2023
  • 381. The Mainstreaming of Marx

    Karl Marx.If you’re listening to this podcast, it’s unlikely that I need to explain to you who Karl Marx is. You know he’s the author of The Communist Manifesto, and the father of one of the most significant and impactful philosophical and economic theories of the late 19th and the 20th century. It would be fair for you to assume that Marx was always celebrated in the way he was throughout the 20th century, as numerous countries, like the Soviet Union, sought to put his theory into practice. But a new research paper from Phillip W. Magness and Michael Makovi says that this common, popular understanding of Marx’s significance is wrong. They contend, and seek in the paper to demonstrate empirically, that Marx was largely dismissed as a scholar in his own time, and that he owes is outsized influence today to historical and political events, in particular the success of the Russian Revolution.Today, Eric Kohn talks with Phil Magness about the findings in his paper, how we should properly understand the influence of Karl Marx, and what it means that his ideas seem to again be ascendent in the modern world.Subscribe to our podcastsApply Now for Acton University