A Bit on the Debt Ceiling

I understand the desire to cut back on government spending. Indeed, I share it. But politicians flirting with not raising the debt ceiling by the August 2nd deadline are playing a very dangerous game. And as the Reading Rainbow guy

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A Religious Turning Test

This post requires a bit of background explanation, so bear with me. A few weeks ago, Paul Krugman made the following comment about conservatives and liberals: [I]f you ask a liberal or a saltwater economist, “What would somebody on the

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Is it Anti-Catholic to Believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ?

Writing in the Atlantic, Joshua Green notes that Michelle Bachmann’s (now former) church holds some, shall we say, unflattering views about the papacy: Bachmann was a longtime member of the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minn., which belongs to

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Whatever Happened to Usury?

While the subject of usury used to be a hot topic in moral theology, the Church has not had much to say on the subject over the last couple hundred years. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Interest ably sums up

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Father Coughlin and the Great Depression

I recently finished Alan Brinkley’s Voices of Protest, which is a dual biography of Louisana politician Huey Long and radio firebrand Father Coughlin. Father Coughlin is known for being virulently anti-semitic, yet Brinkley takes pains to note that a focus

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Immigration vs. Euthanasia

First up, Matt Yglesias on How to Run America Like a Business: If you’re trying to look at America from a balance-sheet perspective the problem is very clear. It’s not “entitlements” and it’s not “Social Security” and it’s not “Medicare”

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A Few Thoughts on Wisconsin and Unions

At the risk of losing some of my libertarian street cred, I have to say that I feel a lot of sympathy for the public employee members in Wisconsin. Even if you think that their salaries and benefits are excessive,

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Pro-Life Incrementalism is Working

Over at the Corner, Michael New draws attention to a recent op-ed by Frances Kissling of the oxymoronic group Catholics for a Free Choice: In a column that appeared in last Friday’s Washington Post, Frances Kissling, who served as president

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Against Small Pox

There is a saying among logicians: one man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens. In english, the idea is that different people often respond to the same argument by reaching opposite conclusions. If you see that an argument is

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Obama Administration to Stop Reporting Abortion Statistics?

Beginning in 1969 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collected data on legal abortions carried out in the United States through its Abortion Surveillance System. The report based on this data ordinarily appeared as an article in CDC’s professional

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Egypt Thought of the Day

Bryan Caplan asks, a propos of events in Egypt, why some revolutions end up making things better while others make things worse. His answer (which he admits is unconvincing) is that revolutions make things better when they are against totalitarian

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The Ultimate Left-Wing Tax System

Recently Matt Talbot of Vox Nova offered up the following plan for tax reform: I propose that there is a one-time, 20% federal tax on all financial assets over $2 million – assets in IRA’s and 401(k) plans would be

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Vatican Bank Chief Condemns Keynesianism

Current fiscal and monetary policies in the United States and Europe risk increasing government control over national economies, resulting in weakened political strength throughout “the whole of the western world,” the Vatican’s top banking expert said. Writing in the Jan.

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Federal Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional.

A copy of the decision is here. Two other federal district courts have previously upheld the individual mandate against constitutional challenge, and at least one suit remains pending. It’s often claimed that the individual mandate is a necessary compliment to

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Tight Money is a Tax on the Unemployed

One argument commonly made by inflation hawks is that inflation is bad because it is a tax on savers. The idea being that since inflation erodes the purchasing power of a dollar, those who keep their money in a savings

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Quote of the Week

So I’ve been reading Fintan O’Toole’s Enough is Enough: How to Build a New Republic on my Kindle recently. I know what you’re thinking: why would someone read a book about how to make Irish politics more left-wing when he

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Is Inflation Hiding?

There’s an old saying, which I’ve seen attributed to every from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to the effect that while a man is entitled to his own opinion he is not entitled to his own facts. This saying would seem to

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More Money, Less Problems

If the case for increased monetary stimulus could be summed up in one picture, it would be the above chart. For the last several decades, nominal spending in the U.S. has increased at a fairly steady rate, and businesses and

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The True Cost of TARP

What does the fact that, so it now seems, the TARP program will only end up costing taxpayers $25 billion tell us about the merits of the program? According to Jonathan Chait, this low price-tag makes the program “one of

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Apologia Pro Libertarianism Sua

There’s been a bit of discussion about the nature of libertarianism on the blog recently, and as the resident pseudo-libertarian, I thought I would re-state where I come down on the matter (this is based largely on an older post

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Open Letter to Conservatives on Monetary Policy

By monetary economist Scott Sumner: 1. The Fed isn’t really trying to create inflation. The Fed doesn’t directly control inflation; they influence total nominal spending, which is roughly what Keynesians call aggregate demand. Whether higher nominal spending results in higher

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Moralism and Monetary Policy

Last week I mentioned in the comments to this post that I think most political and financial problems are fundamentally technical rather than moral and cultural in nature. Several people took exception to this idea, so I figured I should

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Caritas in Veritate 25, By the Numbers

My co-blogger Tim recently highlighted the following statement from Pope Benedict’s latest social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate: The global market has stimulated first and foremost, on the part of rich countries, a search for areas in which to outsource production

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On Not Having Sex At Harvard

From the New York Times: There was a time when not having sex consumed a very small part of Janie Fredell’s life, but that, of course, was back in Colorado Springs. It seemed to Fredell that almost no one had

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Progressives Are Not Cynical Enough About Business

One thing my study of economics has taught me is that businesses will tend to act in whatever way they think will bring them the most profit. There may be rare exceptions, and of course businessmen often have mixed motives.

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HHS Statement on Abortion Funding

The Department of Health and Human Services has released the following statement regarding allegations that newly approved Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans would cover abortions: As is the case with FEHB plans currently, and with the Affordable Care Act and the

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Remembering Bastille Day

Today is Bastille Day, typically associated with the start of the French Revolution. In honor of that blessed event, I offer up this classic piece by John Zmirak: Remember when the L.A. riots spun out of control, and engulfed the

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Inequality: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

In my last post I looked at the question of how to calculate the just or living wage, using figures from Father Ryan’s classic text A Living Wage brought up to date by adjusting for inflation. Commenter Restrained Radical, however,

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The Advantage of Ideology

One of the main problems with politics is that it is complicated. Take, for example, the recently passed health care bill. The bill was over 2,000 pages. I haven’t read it. Neither, I imagine, have most of our readers (indeed,

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Libertarians vs. Rand Paul

A couple of months back Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul stirred up a hornets’ nest of controversy when he (briefly) indicated his opposition to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in “public accommodations”

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