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Commentary on an extended piece by an outsider.

Pope Francis' inaugural homily


At the Pope's inaugural Mass (his first Mass for the public — his actual first Mass as Pope was in the Sistine Chapel with the Cardinals of the conclave) he delivered an important homily on the Solemnity of St. Joseph. See

Zombie Apocalypse?

The increasing cultural references to the phrase "zombie apocalypse" have finally caught my attention. As I understand it, the phrase is apparently the independent invention of bloggers, one in the entertainment industry, the other in the video game industry. The zombie character is tailor made for video games, but is related to such movie horrors as vampires (because they're described as "undead"), killers that can't be killed (like Jason), pod people and triffids (because they spread their own kind -- come to think of it, vampires are included here, too). According to David Hambling ("How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse," the zombie idea originated in Voodoo, but the notion of a zombie-like creature can be traced to earlier European literature. See Homunculus, and note that Hollywood's concept of Frankenstein's monster is decidedly more zombie-like than Mary Shelley's original conception!)

Neither a Hayekian nor a Marxist be...

Ralph E. Ancil (Prof. of Economics at the Franciscan University in Steubenville and President of the Wilhelm Roepke Institute), gave a clear critique of the pure market subjectivism of Friedrich Hayek in "Hayek’s Serfdom: Fifty Years Later." The title of the piece refers, of course, to Hayek's famous (or some would say infamous) The Road to Serfdom which, written while he was in England at the tail end of World War II (1944), is a prophesy of the mess we are in today and will most likely be in tomorrow.

Drill, Barry! Drill!


Demand elasticity is one of the more important and poorly understood and appreciated concepts in economics (along with marginal utility, moral hazard and the law of diminishing returns). Demand for a commodity is termed elastic when a modest rise in the price of the commodity significantly reduces demand. It's termed inelastic when only a very large rise in price results in a significant reduction in demand. When a part of the family budget is squeezed by a rise in the price of what we think of as a necessity, other parts of the budget (consisting of things for which demand is more elastic) suffer.

The same analysis applies to the economy as a whole. When prices increase on a commodity which enjoys inelastic demand, like fossil fuels (oil, coal or natural gas) and the cost of derivative energy (like electricity and heat) spikes, other parts of the economy stall and stagnate. It's essential to understand these relationships to make intelligent policy decisions at the national level. These considerations are not, of course, the whole story. They are, however, ignored at our peril. See, for example, "Just Drill, Barry."


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