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...]

Is the free market incompatible with Catholicism?

The pope’s right-hand man has essentially declared that free market economics is incompatible with Catholicism.  Speaking at a conference entitled “Erroneous Autonomy: The Catholic Case against Libertarianism,” Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, drawing on statements from Pope Francis, said that the free market economy “kills” and oppresses the poor.

His condemnation seemed to conflate Ayn Rand-style libertarianism with free market economics, but it also scored theological points against the assumptions of autonomous individualism.  Many prominent American advocates of free market economic policies–such as Rep. Paul Ryan, Father Robert Sirico,  and Michael Novak–are Roman Catholics.

Catholic conservatives, what do you make of this?  Do these arguments carry any wait for Protestants, or is Protestantism tied up with the same “autonomous individualism”? [Read more...]

How Bill Gates gave us the Common Core

The left usually complains about the influence of big corporations in government and public policy, but the most dramatic example of that is out in the open and garnering little but praise.  That would be Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates, who is directly responsible for the implementation nation-wide of the controversial school reform program called the Common Core.

The Washington Post has a story about this, and the headline and deck says it all:  How Bill Gates pulled off the Common Core revolution:  After he bought into the plan, his money won over states, with few asking questions.  Excerpts after the jump. [Read more...]


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