Ukraine and the Constantine Bargain

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Trump with Bible

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has blown into the open the coalition of the political powers with the religious powers in Russia that I first wrote about back in 2018. The Constantine Bargain is the “deal” that a political power makes with a religious leader to legitimize the church’s dogma and dominance over “heavenly things” relating to the populace,… Read more »

Bullies, goons, and political meanness

No bullies or goons

I do not like bullies. Not one bit. The outside owners of a book and software publisher that employed me for many years would send in a new president every three years or so as part of an executive development strategy for their publishing empire. First year to get settled, second year for changes, third year either up or out…. Read more »

What is the crypto bet, really?

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Bitcoin

When I try to make sense of the cacophony preaching cryptocurrencies, I hear at least four “bets” people are making about how the financial world works, especially the economic concept of money, This is my take on those four bets. I started this year with my overview philosophy of what money really is. In that post I made some hints… Read more »

The political pricing of rooftop solar

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rooftop solar

Take it from a retired accounting professor that utility pricing is ALWAYS much more about politics than it is about accounting. It has long been that way for home versus business customers, and the addition of rooftop solar, which Florida legislators are literally trying to kneecap right now, adds a messy third axis to the politics. Let’s try to explain… Read more »

Betting that you are going to die…or not

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Dice

The old joke about life insurance is that the policyholders are betting that they are going to die, while the insurers are betting that they won’t, at least until the premiums and investment income pass break-even. One significant new social change emerging from this coronavirus pandemic is that the most conservative segment of the insurance industry’s base is refusing a… Read more »

“Sucks to Be You” ethics revisited

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Jimmy Swaggart: "I have sinned!"

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared the Covid pandemic over in her state yesterday, saying the state’s feeble measures to contain the coronavirus and address hospital needs are “no longer feasible or necessary.” Meanwhile, many Iowa hospitals remained stretched to the max, relying on “traveler” staff and “locums” to maintain services. Reynolds has no apparent plans for preparing for any future… Read more »

Iowa rent-seekers meet Adam Smith

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Note: This post previously appeared in the Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. Many thanks for your support! When economists talk about rent-seeking, they are usually not referring to literal payments to temporarily use someone else’s physical property. Except in Iowa: “[Iowa Governor Kim] Reynolds proposes that retired farmers no longer be taxed on cash rent for their farmland…” More about how… Read more »

The American religious olio

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Helsinki Cathedral

The word olio survives in English usage, I suspect, because the New York Times crossword puzzle frequently resorts to using it when it needs three vowels, but not using an “e” as in the similarly-spelled synonym for margarine. The original olio was an Iberian stew consisting of “whatever’s around,” and thus today the word refers to any collection of barely… Read more »

The attack of the Republican “brain viruses”

coronavirus

While watching the most recent Trump rally in Arizona I recalled this slice of a nature documentary about European paper wasps and their most unwelcome parasite, as told by Wired magazine: “Early in summer, when a hive is busiest, the infected wasp leaves and travels, as if under command, to some unknown but predetermined place. Other parasitized wasps converge there,… Read more »

The shape-shifting political gospel of conservative Christianity

The Peaceable Kingdom

Here is the curious thing: When it comes to the embrace of modern medical care. including, or especially vaccinations, there has historically been little difference between how members of conservative Christian denominations and their “mainstream” Christian or their secular neighbors choose treatment modalities — until Covid-19. Some conservative religious types have long championed “natural health” methods rather than conventional medicine…. Read more »