Don’t Pass the Buck to Government When It Comes to Financial Education

Here is the audio from my presentation at the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) conference in Las Vegas on April 14, 2014. It was a pleasure to be on a panel chaired by Howard Baetjer Jr. who was a professor at the first Institute for Humane Studies summer seminar I attended at George Mason University in 2011.


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Sometimes I interview people in Starbucks…

Chuck is from Toronto, lives in Toronto, and I met him in this Toronto Starbucks. He spoke to me reminiscing about his experiences of moving to Alberta in the 1970s to work in the oil sands. Here’s he discusses the wildlife, scenery, working conditions, and his fond memories.

Here’s his response to my question about negative perceptions of the oil sands.

Satan! Dangerous Person! Neo-Liberal!

Tonight I attended a “Catholic Media Ethics” talk at my church. This was my comment and question during Q&A:

Using abstract nouns like “society”, “community”, and “humanity” seems to disregard the important fact that, in reality, there isn’t some perfect consensus; individual persons are divided on every single political, economic, social, and moral question. Do you think there is a ‘media party’ with a consistent ideological bias because of the idea that there is (or can be) a homogenous, social consensus on things when no “shared story of collective humanity” actually exists?

The speaker (from The Catholic Register) shouted, “Satan!!!” and pointed at me while stepping back to distance himself from me. Then he said, “You are a dangerous person. You are giving us an individualistic, neo-liberal view that I don’t think is at all compatible with the Christian concept of community.”

An audience member said with outrage, “Just like Margaret Thatcher!”

The speaker then argued that the neo-liberal view is mainly an economic one and that its adherents have the wrong anthropology.

“What if the ‘neo-liberal’ anthropology is actually quite truthful and ‘Catholic’? I mused.

He said, “Try to make the case sometime.” Then he noted Father Raymond de Souza as an example of a ‘right wing’ Catholic who gets published in The Register.

Nice to have one token conservative.

Given how relevant economics and politics is to our lives, shouldn’t we be able to discuss these controversial topics in the light of faith and from a plurality of perspectives?

I think this is why Father Sirico founded the Acton Institute. And I’m thankful he did. Acton University is the first place I ever learned the term “philosophical anthropology.” Michael Matheson Miller told us that JPII had said, “The fundamental problem of socialism is anthropological in nature.” What he meant is that socialists give an incorrect account of the human person.

That experience at ActonU was one of the most illuminating and memorable moments of my life and has influenced me personally, academically, and professionally. Who we are and what it fundamentally means to be human persons is a debate that is, of course, not “settled.”

I don’t think that all my fellow Catholics and, more broadly, fellow citizens should think like me. I do hope though that we would be able to think about things together without excommunication from the conversation on the basis of different political and economic perspectives.

It’s the Creed that’s universal among a particular faith community.

Is it not some form of idolatry then to elevate policy opinions (and, dare I add, social doctrine) to the status of dogma?

Beer and Bureaucracy, Churches and Chocolate, Waffles and Western Civilization

After two years of graduate studies at the university, I felt that I did not have a sufficiently good education to merit the degree of Doctor in Philosophy. I confided my worries to one of the professors, who said: “What would you like to have in education?” I said: “I should like to know two things—first, what the modern world is thinking about; second, how to answer the errors of modern philosophy in the light of the philosophy of St. Thomas.” He said: “You will never get it here, but you will get it at the University of Louvain in Belgium.
                                     — Fulton J. Sheen, Treasure in Clay  

ISI Summer Seminar at Samford in Alabama

ISI Summer Seminar at Samford in Alabama

I arrived to the Brussels airport on Sunday morning. From there, I found my way to the train and purchased a ticket to Leuven where I would meet my friend Dan, who is studying there, and who I met at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute First Principles seminar this past summer at Samford University in Alabama. At the closing picnic, he and I had struck up a conversation, along with Vinny, who was studying at Leuven with Dan, too. We hit it off quickly discussing existentialism, phenomenology, and mysticism. They both encouraged me to consider studying at Leuven and to, at the very least, visit. So the seeds planted during that one conversation in Alabama were now bearing fruit in Belgium.

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Human Action versus Behaviourialism: Can Praxeology and Experimental Economics be Reconciled?

Here is my presentation on Human Action and Behaviouralism that I delivered at the Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference on November 2, 2013 at the University of Toronto.

At Yonge and Dundas Square: Collecting Street Propaganda so you don’t have to

So, I recently moved to Toronto. And often I pass by Yonge and Dundas Square, a main public square downtown. It’s always a lively and bustling place. You can count on seeing street performers and people handing out free stuff.

On day 2 here, I got bored of saying ‘no, thank you’ to everyone handing out tracts, pamphlets, etc. so I decided to accept anything anyone is handing out and share it with you in this blog.

You might say no to pamphleteers, but I know you’re curious about what they’re spreading around!

Free copies of the Qu’ran:

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Handbooks about Islam:

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Toronto Pig Save pamphlets:
“As long as there are slaughterhouses…there will be battlefields.” – Leo Tolstoy (quoted inside brochure)

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A Toronto Vegetarian Directory:

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And a promo piece for the Vegetarian Food Festival:

And reminding you to:

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And what would a public square be without conspiracy theorists?

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Time for a snack!

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Poem: Only the gods are wise

Only the gods are wise
The living imitations we ought not idolize
Refracted lights that shine quite dim
Emptiness overflows unto the brim

Seeking hungrily new knowledge
We eagerly provide a stage
The crowd is quickly hushed
So to listen to some sage

But the guru has no answers
And leaves no lasting impression
What was long anticipated
Becomes hardly worth a mention

What then is this philosophizing for?
We seem not to get too far
All these public intellectuals
And their speeches seem bizarre

Only the gods are wise
And our philosophizing is mere play
We must decide to live the questions;
They are not going away.

Amanda Achtman
May 4, 2013
Vancouver, BC