Russia’s economic & political clout

Anne Applebaum points out that Russia has a smaller population than Nigeria or Pakistan, with an economy about the size of Italy’s.  But it has a lot of economic and political clout–possibly enough to thwart the recently-imposed sanctions for what Vladimir Putin is doing to the Ukraine and other of his neighbors–thanks to an intentional strategy of investing in politically-connected corporations. [Read more...]

Drug money

Colorado has legalized the sale and possession of marijuana, with Washington state soon to follow suit.  But it’s still illegal under federal law.  Which means that banks are not allowing companies that sell marijuana to open accounts, lest they violate federal laws and regulations.  This means that the legalized marijuana industry is accumulating mountains of cash and storing it in warehouses.  (A special dispensation allows for bank accounts to be opened for the sole purpose of paying taxes, so the government has that covered, at least.) [Read more...]

USA is now the world’s biggest oil producer

The United States passed Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer.  (Also the world’s largest natural gas producer.)  This is due to new technologies, such as shale extraction and fracking (which, however, has been linked to the epidemic of earthquakes in Oklahoma, something I never experienced growing up there.) [Read more...]

Obamacare numbers

A Kaiser study has found that 57% of the 8 million who have signed up for Obamacare were previously uninsured.  Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are hyping that number, since other studies found that only 26% to one-third of the enrollees had been uninsured.  But let’s accept the higher figure and then do the math. [Read more...]

Catholic, Calvinist, and Libertarian

David Brat, the Virginia economics professor who overthrew House Majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican congressional primary, calls himself a “Calvinist Catholic libertarian.” Let’s hope Pope Francis doesn’t burn him at the stake!  But what could that possibly mean?

Does that make him, in effect, something like a Lutheran, holding to a sacramental spirituality that expresses salvation by grace alone, with a strong emphasis on Christian freedom?  Or is he trying to combine beliefs that can’t be combined?

Or is it mainly a matter of his social and economic theory? Julie Ingersoll explains that, after the jump. [Read more...]

Populist conservatives vs. big business

The left stereotypes conservatives as the tools of big business, but, as I keep saying on this blog, there are many different kinds of conservatives, and a good many of them–especially the populists associated with the Tea Party– oppose powerful corporations for some of the same reasons leftists do.  Thus, the Washington Post reports that big business is mourning the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and is dismayed at the rise of tea party favorite David Brat, a strong critic of “crony capitalism,” the partnerships between big business and big government.  (See this for Prof. Brat’s ideas about economics and Christianity.)

So is there the possibility of a left/right populist coalition?  The Republican elite and the Democratic elite mostly agree on the cultural issues, though possibly ordinary people in both parties–Catholic Democrats and evangelical Republicans– have more in common on these issues than they realize. [Read more...]


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