The Catholic University of America

Viewing by month: April 2010

Apr 30 2010

A Cautionary Note on the “Push” Towards Renewable Energy

It looks like an energy bill that attempts to address the issues of climate change, global warming, and carbon emissions will (soon) be introduced in Congress.  Against that backdrop, together with the recent approval of the “Cape Cod” wind farm, I’d like to provide a synopsis of the Earth Day lecture I gave on April 21.  The presentation was a collaborative effort based on some research I’ve been doing  with my colleague Kevin Forbes who is the Director of CUA’s Center for Energy Studies and Environmental Stewardship.  (Note:  For full disclosure, Forbes was actually scheduled to give the lecture but was unexpectedly “detained” in Germany as a result of Iceland’s volcanic eruption.)  (...) The main point we tried to get across was this:  achieving meaningful reductions in carbon emissions at the lowest possible cost requires either the imposition of a carbon tax or the implementation of a cap-and-trade program—period. Subsidizing renewable energy technologies and/or consumption, by itself or in conjunction with a carbon tax/cap-and-trade program, is a waste of resources that actually moves us in the wrong direction...

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2 comments - Posted by Ernest Zampelli at 2:20 PM - Categories: Economy | Peace & Environment

Apr 30 2010

The Ethics of the Obama Administration’s Nuclear Weapons Policy: Catholic Perspectives

“Are you going to the conference on the ethics of nuclear weapons being held at our Catholic U.,” I asked? “I didn’t know there was a conference,” was the reply. “I do know, however, that any discussion on this topic is far more important than the discussions we are having on the economy, global warming, and other so-called significant issues making the news,” was the follow-up observation. In this conversation with a parishioner, who also teaches at Catholic U., we talked about the devastation created by the Iceland volcano and how this pales in comparison to the destruction a nuclear war would create.

With these in mind, I attended the Conference on Nuclear Weapons Policy, which was sponsored by the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Among the many aspects of the issue discussed at the conference, one common theme seemed to emerge, at least from my perspective: is getting rid of nuclear weapons a moral imperative?...

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0 comments - Posted by Eugene F. Hemrick at 12:29 PM - Categories: Social Justice | Education | Peace & Environment | Government & Civil Society

Apr 27 2010

Some Comments on Financial Reform

In the wake of the recent financial crisis, calls for meaningful financial reform echo everywhere and rightly so.  The question is “What should constitute the pillars of such reform?”.  Some argue that we need to return to the days of Glass-Steagall, the 1933 act that separated commercial banking from investment banking.  Others contend that the largest banks, those deemed “too big to fail”, be broken up and that new limits on bank size be imposed.  I’m very much skeptical about the need for the first and somewhat unsure about the necessity and sufficiency of the second...

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2 comments - Posted by Ernest Zampelli at 3:05 PM - Categories: Economy

Apr 26 2010

Understanding the Hispanic Presence

On April 19, the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, in conjunction with university departments and institutes involved with Hispanic work hosted the conference, Hispanic Presence in the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Region. As I listened to the presenters, I couldn’t help but recall all the Hispanics I see on a daily basis. Across the street from St. Joseph on Capitol Hill Church, which I serve, is the U.S. Senate parking lot. Most of its car attendants are Hispanic. Walking over to the Union Station to catch the Metro, I pass teams of Hispanic landscapers tending the lawns of the Thurgood D. Marshall Judiciary Building. And it never fails, when driving to work, that I see young Hispanic construction workers carrying their lunch boxes or repairing streets.  Even though this is a daily occurrence, I often feel we are like ships passing in the night...

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0 comments - Posted by Eugene F. Hemrick at 4:51 PM - Categories: Social Justice | Government & Civil Society | Religion & Culture & Society

Apr 23 2010

Dispatch from Edinburgh

I've been more or less nicely stranded in Edinburgh this week, courtesy of an 'act of God,’ or so the airlines demur when you ask them for compensation.  It's a good place to be (...) Still, it's fairly depressing for a Catholic to walk around this marvelous city, which, like so many others in Europe, is filled with old churches now operating as community centers, theaters, cafes, offices, art galleries, or simply boarded up.  (...) As I think of my distance from home, I’m reminded that in my diocese of Baltimore, priests are fewer and fewer, Catholic schools merge and close, and many parishioners are deeply troubled in a moment recently estimated by Hans Küng to be the Church’s ‘worst credibility crisis since the Reformation.’  (...) The way things are going, it's hard not to feel as if I'm on a walking tour of the Catholic future.  Küng's open letter to the Bishops last week has great merit in my opinion, but I'd prefer to offer a few reflections closer to my lay pay grade and academic métier, sparked not just by my dismay at the Edinburgh commercial real estate market, but by the news I’ve had time to catch up on in my geologically imposed exile.  I doubt I’m alone in finding that the Good Friday homily by Fr. Cantalamessa referred to by Küng--which has been understandably interpreted by many as entitling priests, the pope and the church to a victimary status on par with that of 20th century Judaism--was as historically in error as it was rhetorically deaf.  Not just tone-deaf, but simply deaf, uncommunicative...

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Posted by Stephen J. McKenna at 10:47 AM - Categories: Social Justice | Religion & Culture & Society

Apr 16 2010

Who’s the (TEA) Party For?

After having heard about, listened to, and pondered over the concerns of card-carrying TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party members, I ‘d be remiss if I didn’t point out several facts regarding federal government tax receipts and spending. My reason is simple—to listen to the rants of some, one might easily get the impression that John and Jane Taxpayer’s revolt is the product of the ongoing, incessant, and irresponsible taxing and spending spree of an out-of-control federal government. So, as Popeye used to say, “That’s all I can stands and I can stands no more!”. Now, I don’t want to be the proverbial Party pooper, but let’s hold on for a moment and look at some data.

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3 comments - Posted by Ernest Zampelli at 12:00 PM - Categories: Economy | Government & Civil Society

Apr 15 2010

In Honor of Tax Day

Tax day is here again and, as usual, talk about tax simplification abounds.  Everyone wants the tax code to be simplified—in theory at least.  Of course, when we get down to brass tacks and actually talk about changes that could simplify the tax code fairly easily, people get pretty miffed.  For example, take a sacred cow of the current income tax code and one that constitutes one of the largest drains on federal tax revenue—the home mortgage interest deduction. How about we start by phasing that baby out?

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0 comments - Posted by Ernest Zampelli at 1:38 PM - Categories: Economy