A polite rebuke of Pope Francis’ economic confusion

Review of Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Robert M. Whaples; The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA; 2017, 234 pp. Having toiled in the free-market research universe for nearly two decades, perhaps the most common misperception I’ve encountered is “whataboutism.” Readers know of which I write: “What about BP and Deepwater Horizon?” or “What about Enron?” and, perhaps most stridently, “What about the mortgage-lending industry’s complicity in causing the Great Recession?” When this rhetorical strafing fails, there’s always the “What about the poor?” and the “What about the environment?” macro-strategies. Continue Reading...

FAQ: Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs

President Donald Trump is scheduled to announce new steel and aluminum tariffs from the White House at 3:30 p.m. local time. What is President Trump going to announce? Trade officials have said the president will impose across-the-board tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, which will go into effect between 15 and 30 days from now. Continue Reading...

Black Panther has something important to offer

In this week’s Acton Commentary I examine the dynamics of marginalization and solidarity in the blockbuster phenomenon Black Panther. As so many commentators have suggested, there’s a lot to this film, and one of the important things it has to offer is a valuable perspective on the underlying unity amidst diversity in humanity. Continue Reading...

Isolationism and internationalism in Black Panther

I finally got around to seeing Black Panther last night, and my early reaction echoes so much of the overwhelmingly positive response to the film. As so many superhero tales do, Black Panther weaves together complex ideas within the often deceptively fantastical trappings of science fiction and fantasy. Continue Reading...

Riding the net neutrality see-saw

This week, I was one of several commenters consulted in Nicholas Wolfram Smith’s article “FCC Repeal of Net Neutrality Leads to Lively Fight” for the National Catholic Register. I think Smith did a fine job conveying my primary concern: But according to Dylan Pahman, a researcher and managing editor of Acton Institute’s Journal of Markets & Morality, one of the problems with the 2015 net neutrality regulations was that it gave the government far too much regulatory power over ISPs. Continue Reading...

Ending America’s bigoted education laws

When James Blaine introduced his ill-fated constitutional amendment in 1875, he probably never would have imagined the unintended consequences it would have over a hundred years later. Blaine wanted to prohibit the use of state funds at “sectarian” schools (a code word for Catholic parochial schools) in order to inhibit immigration. Continue Reading...