The Acton Institute has announced its 2006 Good Samaritan winner.
But first, a little information on the Institute, in case you haven’t bookmarked them…yet. Naming their organization after Lord Acton, they offer this thumbnail sketch:
Described as “the magistrate of history,” Lord Acton was one of the great personalities of the nineteenth century and is universally considered to be one of the most learned Englishmen of his time. He made the history of liberty his life’s work; indeed, he considered political liberty the essential condition and guardian of religious liberty.
In a brief biography, they describe his views:
Lord Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton (1834-1902)
“Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences; education, knowledge, well-being.”
… through his involvement in the first Vatican Council, Lord Acton became known as one of the most articulate defenders of religious and political freedom. He argued that the church faithfully fulfills its mission by encouraging the pursuit of scientific, historical, and philosophical truth, and by promoting individual liberty in the political realm.
The 1870s and 1880s saw the continued development of Lord Acton’s thought on the relationship between history, religion, and liberty. In that period he began to construct outlines for a universal history designed to document the progress of the relationship between religious virtue and personal freedom. Acton spoke of his work as a “theodicy,” a defense of God’s goodness and providential care of the world.
When he died in 1902, Lord Acton was considered one of the most learned people of his age, unmatched for the breadth, depth, and humanity of his knowledge. He has become famous to succeeding generations for his observation — learned through many years of study and first-hand experience — that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
So that’s the philosophy underlying the Acton Institute, which is also an important source for inexpensive books on the writings of Frederic Bastiat, a liberal economic philosopher who died young, in 1850. Here is one of his gems, about socialism:
“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.” — from The Law
By the time Bastiat wrote that, Marx had begun his fulminations. This small quote puts Marxism in its place: the trash can. Or, as the mayor of Miami said, back when the Cubans really began flourishing in his city, ratcheting up the wealth and the economy of his area (which was in a decline when they arrived): “the best thing that happened to Miami since air-conditioning was when Fidel Castro read Karl Marx.” In other words, bad ideas drove out the intelligent and the ambitious from Fidel’s paradise and enriched Florida — and the nation — in the process.
All this to provide you the context for the Acton Institute’s Good Samaritan Awards. This year’s grand prize winner is in Nashville:
Their “Who We Are” Page is pretty straightforward. They’ve been around since 1997 and were started by volunteers…dare I use the epithet, faith-based volunteers?? As they say:
The purpose of Christian Women’s Job Corps is to equip women for life and employment with basic life skills necessary for self-sufficiency, within her culture, which may include: sustained employment; adequate income; housing; transportation; child care; and/or medical care. CWJC provides a loving environment where self-image can be restored and a place where women can develop life skills, set personal, educational and career goals and discover a realistic plan for accomplishing them. CWJC of Nashville does this by offering women in need “A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out.”
Like all shoestring operations, they have a wish list. If you live in the Nashville area — or even if you don’t — there are practical things you can donate, including, but certainly not limited to, cash contributions. For example, one of their items is prayer, which is certainly free (in some ways, at any rate).
The Acton Institute’s guidelines for nominations to the Good Samaritan Awards are clearly conservative (that is, classic liberalism), faith-based, and geared to outcomes rather than good intentions. In all of these, they exist in a parallel universe when it comes to the assessments government makes in its hand-outs to charities. Here’s one piece of the Institute’s work — how they go about identifying possible contenders:
Our online Guide examines a charity’s implementation of Marvin Olasky‘s principles of effective compassion, its emphasis on participant outcomes and transformation or change, and to what extent faith elements are present. These are represented among twenty rating factors by the designation of Good, Better, and Excellent. In the real world, charities have areas of strength and areas that could improve…
All the Good Samaritan winners are here.