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Friday Five: Brooms, Envy and Differing Perspectives on Poverty Alleviation

On Fridays we bring you the best ideas from our blog and around the web. This week’s collection includes: the harms of inciting envy, a video on the noble choices that sustain a society and more.

The Vocation of Business Is the Main Hope for the World’s Poor: In his recent address at Catholic University, Michael Novak highlights the theological motivations and economic implications of pursuing business and enterprise as a means of promoting human flourishing, particularly for the poor.

It is the main task of the vocation of business to break the chains of poverty… Without an enterprising, risk-taking, imaginative, creative community of businesses large and small—but especially small—it is impossible to look forward to new job creation. Impossible to imagine the survival of a free society. It is even harder to imagine a society that has dramatically broken the chains of poverty for every woman and man in its midst.

The Path to Responsibility Can Start with a Broom and a Paycheck: This article by AEI’s Robert Doar compares the differing approaches of President Obama and New York City’s Doe Fund in addressing poverty and mobility in the urban context.

It is troubling that at the same time the president has announced a new focus on helping young minority men, one of his administration’s top legislative priorities is a substantial hike in the federal minimum wage—a mandate on employers that is likely to reduce job opportunities for the very young men the president wants to help with My Brother’s Keeper.

Static Clarity: “In critical moments of choice,” Iris Murdoch observes, “most of the business of choosing is already done.” This insight is even true for the little people among us—an insight beautifully portrayed in this haunting, much-deserving winner of V&C’s 2014 student iNRB video competition.

The Downside of Inciting Envy: Rather than working to increase opportunity and mobility for all Americans, some politicians are increasingly leveraging class division and inciting envy as a strategy to further their own political agendas. But as Arthur Brooks reminds us, envy has a toxic affect on both our culture and our own happiness.

We must recognize that fomenting bitterness over income differences may be powerful politics, but it injures our nation. We need aspirational leaders willing to do the hard work of uniting Americans around an optimistic vision in which anyone can earn his or her success. This will never happen when we vilify the rich or give up on the poor. Only a shared, joyful mission of freedom, opportunity and enterprise for all will cure us of envy and remind us who we truly are.

A Biblical View of Productivity: In his new book “What’s Best Next,” Matt Perman offers a thoughtful view of productivity from a Biblical perspective, and reveals what God desires most of us as we pursue our individual vocations.

The process of managing our work is often messy and overflows its banks. Behind closed doors, after hours, there remain unanswered calls, tasks to be delegated, unprocessed issues from meetings and conversations, personal responsibilities unmanaged, and dozens of emails still not dealt with…From a biblical perspective productivity isn’t just about getting more things done; it’s about getting the right things done.