Faith and Economics

Faith and Economics of Cooperative Businesses | #49

An episode of Faith and Economics

By Gwartney Institute
In Faith and Economics, economics professors Dr. Russ McCullough and Dr. Levi Russell discuss big issues that impact economic freedom and human flourishing from a Christian perspective. This podcast is an initiative of the Gwartney Institute at Ottawa University.
For more information, contact us at
More places to listen
In Faith and Economics, economics professors Dr. Russ McCullough and Dr. Levi Russell discuss big issues that impact economic freedom and human flourishing from a Christian perspective. This podcast is an initiative of the Gwartney Institute at Ottawa University.
For more information, contact us at

More places to listen

Morality of Eating Animals | #59
The crew discusses the moral issues related to eating animals. Should we all be vegan?
December 3, 2019
Truckonomics with Sarah Ruffcorn - President of Trinity Logistics | #58
We interview Sarah Ruffcorn, President of Trinity Logistics, on the economics of current issues in the trucking industry. Sarah discusses policy issues facing the industry and gives us insights into the relationship between her faith and work!
November 25, 2019
Menard Family Grant | #57
The crew discusses our newest grant and the opportunities it will provide to Ottawa Students, the University, and the community!
November 18, 2019
Entrepreneurship with David Price | #56
We talk with Dr. David Price of Washburn University about his research and experience as an entrepreneur.
November 11, 2019
Not So Forever 21 | #55
What can clothing retailer Forever 21's recent bankruptcy tell us about how markets work? How does corporate bankruptcy work? The crew addresses these issues in today's episode! (recorded October 8, 2019) Links Forever 21 Bankruptcy Signals a Shift in Consumer Tastes Forever 21 to Reportedly Save About 60 Stores Slated for Closing
November 4, 2019
Economics of Prison Gangs | #54
This episode was recorded on September 6th. Justin, Levi, Russ, and Jacob discuss Jacob's blog post (linked below) on the behavior of prison gangs and what they can tell us about our own economic behavior. Economic Understanding of Prison Gangs by Jacob Maichel
October 28, 2019
Why Socialism Sucks and What to Do About It | #53
We interview Dr. Paul Cleveland regarding socialism and its surging popularity among young adults and teens. Why is socialism appealing to them? What are some effective ways of educating them on the problems with socialism? Show Notes: The Great Utopian Delusion by Clarence Carson, Paul Cleveland, and L. Dwayne Barney Socialism Sucks! by Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell
October 21, 2019
Faith and Finance with Wiley Angell | #52
This week we interviewed Wiley Angell, Senior Portfolio Manager at Ziegler Capital. Wiley discusses his faith, philanthropy, and their connections to his work in finance. 
October 14, 2019
Professor Hunter Baker on Faith and Politics | #51
Professor Hunter Baker talks with us about important current issues including the current problems facing Cold War conservative/libertarian fusionism, policy issues related to Big Tech, and the importance of culture in politics. Political Thought: A Student's Guide by Hunter Baker and David S. Dockery
October 9, 2019
Debate - All Drugs Should be Legal | #50
Thank you for listening to our 50th episode! This week we share a debate sponsored by the Gwartney Institute featuring Dr. Levi Russell and Dr. Justin Clarke. Should all drugs be legal? After listening to the debate, tell us what you think!
September 30, 2019
Faith and Economics of Cooperative Businesses | #49
The crew engages in a wide-ranging discussion of the cooperative business form. History, policy, efficiency, and comportment with Biblical lessons are all discussed. Show notes: Small is Still Beautiful by Joseph Pearce Mondragon Cenex Harvest States Ace Hardware
September 23, 2019
P.J. Hill on Stewardship of Creation | #48
This week we interviewed Dr. P.J. Hill, Senior Fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Wheaton College. What can economics tell us about being good stewards of God's creation? Dr. Hill's Site
September 16, 2019
Is Addiction Profitable? | #47
This week we discuss an article review written by Gwartney Institute Graduate Assistant Jacob Maichel for our blog. The article discusses the notion that many modern inventions profit from our addictive impulses and that, allegedly, the profit motive enhances this suboptimal situation. Should we be concerned? What are the moral issues at play? Limbic Capitalism: Article Review
September 9, 2019
Tech and the Productivity Slowdown | #46
The crew discusses the role of social media and smart phones in the recent decline in labor productivity. Do smart phones provide a net benefit to our productivity or are they partly to blame for reductions in our productivity growth over the past 10 years? Show notes: Labor Productivity Article B.S. Jobs - NPR
September 2, 2019
Is Economic Value Subjective? | Ep 45
Professor Justin Clark joins the regular crew to discuss an important philosophical topic: subjectivity in economics. How do philosophers understand the term "subjective" with regard to economics? How do markets play into our ability to apprehend the value of things? Show notes: Why God Has Created Us to Value Different Things - Dr. Anne Bradley
August 26, 2019
On Tipping with Professor Tony Gill | #44
We interview Professor Tony Gill about his work on the issue of tipping. Why do people give tips to service employees? Why don't employers just pay them more? How do we understand the morality of the institution of tipping? "The Political Origins of Religious Liberty" by Dr. Tony Gill Brief op ed on Dr. Gill's article Dr. Gill's article on tipping Anti-Tipping video Humanomics - Vernon Smith Vernon Smith Episode
August 20, 2019
Faith and Economics of Recycling | #43
The crew discuss the economics and morality of recycling. Is recycling a good idea? Should it be subsidized? Is recycling local-only or does it cross national boundaries? Links: NPR story mentioned by Russ Popular Mechanics article Mises Institute article 1 Mises Institute article 2 China bars U.S. recycling
August 12, 2019
The USDA's Move to the Heartland | #42
The crew discusses the economic and moral implications of the federal government's choice to move the USDA's Economic Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture to the Kansas City area. What does this move mean for USDA-ERS and -NIFA employees? Their work? Will the public benefit from this move?
August 5, 2019
Cooperation in Evil | #41
Russ and Levi discuss the difficulty of participation in evil. Is it wrong to buy products from people who do horrible things? If we invest in companies that do bad things, are we guilty of their bad actions? Cooperation in Evil Chart
July 29, 2019
On the Obligation to Tithe | #40
The crew tackles the issue of tithing from the perspectives of faith, economics, and community. Are Christians obligated to give a tenth of their income? What economic circumstances make giving difficult or easy?
July 22, 2019
On Jobs and Automation | #39
The whole crew discusses automation and technological change and how economic policy should address these issues. Tucker Carlson on Ben Shapiro's Sunday Special
July 15, 2019
Working & Resting on Sunday | #38
Russ, Levi, and Jacyn discuss the prohibition of work on the Sabbath and how we can apply it to our lives. What types of work are prohibited? How should we set economic policy consistent with this commandment? The Sunday Rest video
July 8, 2019
Reggies Wenyika on His Faith and Zimbabwe's Economy | #37
Russ and Levi interview the President of Ottawa University's home campus on his faith, work, and the history of Zimbabwe. Reggies' charisma and experience as an academic, pastor, and administrator shine through the interview. You will love this one!
July 1, 2019
Dave Ramsey's Personal Finance | #36
The whole team has an informative conversation on Dave Ramsey's personal finance philosophy and tactics. Russ, who teaches a personal finance course here at Ottawa University, explains Ramsey's system and the rest of the crew ask questions.
June 25, 2019
Trump's Trade War with China | #35
Note: This episode was recorded on June 3, 2019 Russ and Levi discuss the trade war between President Trump and the Chinese government over the past 9 months. Are tariffs a good idea from a financial and economic perspective? How should we think about the ethical concerns with tariffs from a Christian perspective? CNBC report on tariff impacts
June 17, 2019
Randall Holcombe on Political Capitalism | #34
Russ and Levi interview Dr. Randall Holcombe of Florida State University. Dr. Holcombe discusses the concepts in his recent book Political Capitalism. Do we live in a free market economy? How does the government interact with the profitability of businesses in the U.S.? Check out our interview and Dr. Holcombe's book for more information!
June 10, 2019
Jim Gwartney on His Faith and Economics | #33
Russ and Levi interview Dr. Jim Gwartney, our institute's namesake. This is a wide-ranging discussion on Jim's life, experience at Ottawa University, and his opinions on the state of the world economy. Common Sense Economics book
June 3, 2019
Vernon Smith on Adam Smith | #32
Russ and Levi interview Dr. Vernon Smith, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. Dr. Smith discusses his faith and its impact on his views on economics and social behavior.
May 27, 2019
Dr. Anne Bradley on Income Inequality | #31
Dr. Anne Bradley of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics joins us to discuss income inequality. What should Christians think about income inequality? Is it a pernicious threat or an inevitable and benign characteristic of a free society?
May 20, 2019
Why Not Federalism? | #30
Russ and Levi discuss the economic and political costs and benefits of federalism in our own time. We draw on the Christian concept of subsidiarity to examine the ethical implications of devolving Federal power to the states!
May 13, 2019
Christian Ethics of Tariffs | #29
Russ and Levi discuss tariff policy and the costs associated with recent tariffs designed to protect American jobs. How should we evaluate the costs and benefits of tariffs? 
April 29, 2019
The Universal Destination of Goods | #28
Levi and Russ discuss the concept of the universal destination of goods. What are the limits of property rights? How do we understand moral obligations to help others financially? Show Notes Faith and Economics - Federal Food Programs: Efficiency and Ethics Faith and Economics - Universal Basic Income The Religious Roots of Modern Poverty Policy Lecture by Edward Feser Blog article by Jacyn Dawes
April 29, 2019
Creighton University Humanomics Event: Adam Smith - Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations | #27
Drs. Maria Pia Paganelli, Derek Yonai, and Michael Thomas join us to discuss Adam Smith's body of work and its implications for the place of economics in social science today.
April 22, 2019
Government Debt | #26
We dig into the mailbag for this episode! How do economists understand government debt? Can this understanding inform our ethical views of debt? Show Notes: US Debt Clock Dr. Bob Murphy on Intergenerational Debt Burdens
April 15, 2019
YangBucks | #25
Russ, Levi, and Jacob discuss one of the most popular proposals for a Universal Basic Income. Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang's proposed "Freedom Dividend" was recently criticized by the Acton Institute. We provide important commentary on his proposal and Acton's response! Show notes: Acton Institute Blog Post Yang Platform - UBI Universal Basic Income - Faith and Economics Podcast Great Stagnation - Tyler Cowen
April 8, 2019
Monasticism, Care for the Poor, and Capitalism | #24
We discuss the origins of capitalism in the west. What did early monasteries have to do with it? Were they early entrepreneurs? Show notes: How Caring for the Poor Led to the Beginnings of Capitalism How Progressive is the US Tax Code?
April 1, 2019
Inflation and Middle Class Life | #23
We discuss an interesting graph of changes in the cost of products and services over the past few decades. Does the increasing cost of health care and education make a normal, prosperous middle class life more difficult? Does the reduction in cost of other things offset this pernicious effect? Show notes: AEI inflation chart Acton institute blog article From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State by David Beito Atlas MD American Association of Physicians and Surgeons
March 25, 2019
Democratic Socialism and AOC
We discuss the notion of Democratic Socialism and its relationship to Christianity. Should Christians embrace Democratic Socialism? Is this political philosophy, advocated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex and Bernie Sanders, a coherent way forward?
March 18, 2019
Economic Freedom and Happiness
This week we talk with Professor Jeremy Jackson of North Dakota State University about his research on the relationship between economic freedom in the U.S., happiness, and social capital. Are residents of more economically free states happier? Do they form more tight-knit communities? Show notes: Professor Jackson's website Free to be Happy: Economic Freedom and Happiness in US States Economic Freedom and Social Capital
March 11, 2019
When is Coveting Legal Plunder?
We discuss the concept of legal plunder, first proposed by French philosopher and economist Frederic Bastiat in his tract "The Law." Is there a way to tie this concept to coveting?
March 4, 2019
Moral Hazard
In this episode, Russ, Jacyn, and Jacob discuss biblical and financial instances of moral hazard, asymmetric information, and "Too Big to Fail." Show notes: Malcolm Gladwell's TED Talk on David and Goliath David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
February 25, 2019
Is the U.S. a Christian Nation?
This week we discuss the U.S.'s status as a Christian nation. Russ and Levi agree that it currently isn't but arrive at that conclusion from two different angles. The relationship between economic prosperity and religion is a key component of the discussion. Show notes: Socialism Versus the Family - Edward Feser (lecture) The Myth of Religious Violence - William T. Cavanaugh (book) Interview with William T. Cavanaugh on his book
February 18, 2019
Economics of David and Goliath
We discuss Malcolm Gladwell's unique take on the story of David and Goliath. What can we learn about markets from Gladwell's perspective on this famous story? Show notes Malcolm Gladwell's TED Talk on David and Goliath David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell Luigi Zingales on social media antitrust at Free Market Forum
February 11, 2019
Universal Basic Income
In this episode we discuss the economics and morality of the Universal Basic Income. A Universal Basic Income would guarantee a minimum income to every individual over the age of 21 in the U.S. If you're looking for a brief primer on the subject, listen to this episode! Charles Murray's UBI proposal Text of a debate on UBI between Ed Dolan and Bryan Caplan UBI debate between Bryan Caplan and Will Wilkinson
February 4, 2019
Economic Freedom Abroad
Jacyn and Dr. McCullough discuss their recent trips abroad to South America and India. Both talk about their experiences in light of the economic freedom (or lack thereof) in the countries they visited!
January 28, 2019
Kingdom Theology and the Liberal Order
In this episode we discuss the implications of the Kingdom of God on politics. Dr. Rachel Ferguson, a philosopher at Lindenwood University, joins us to help us understand the link between Christianity and liberalism. Show notes: Dr. Rachel Ferguson's Website "Jesus of Nazareth" by Pope Benedict XVI "Rerum Novarum" by Pope Leo XIII "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt "Why Liberalism Failed" by Patrick J. Deneen
January 21, 2019
Economic and Moral Considerations for Community Development
In this episode we discuss community development and the roles of individuals and governments with Dr. Rebekka Dudensing of Texas A&M University. Show Notes Dr. Dudensing's Website The Little Pink House Documentary What is Community Development? People vs Place-Based Development Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies? Do Cities Make Us More Productive? (agglomeration discussion) Article: "Propping up the boonies, Atlanta’s thankless burden" Response: "Part 2: A Reply to 'Propping up the Boonies, Atlanta's Thankless Burden'"
January 14, 2019
Piety as a Barrier to Entry
In this episode we discuss the idea that piety - the activities and procedures often practiced by Christians - might be a barrier to entry to Christianity. Some might be put off by these practices and may not want to become Christian because of that. As usual, Dr. Russell takes the opposing view. Show Notes: Bondage of the Will - Martin Luther Five Proofs for the Existence of God - Edward Feser
January 7, 2019
Opportunity Cost of Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Dr. Terry Griffin of Kansas State University talks about his research on the cost farmers incur to attend weekly church services. Dr. McCullough challenges the group to think about physical labor as a way of giving glory to God. Show Notes: The Cost of Being Faithful: What Do Farmers Give Up to Keep the Sabbath? - Rosburg, Griffin, and Coffey
December 31, 2018
Consumerism, Santa, and Christmas
In this episode we discuss the origins of Santa Claus and the consumerism of the holidays and how we can address it as Christians informed by sound economics. Show notes: Veggie Tales - St. Nicholas, A Story of Joyful Giving The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman
December 24, 2018
Nutritional Insecurity and Poverty
In this episode we discuss nutritional insecurity and access to food. Our guest, Dr. Brandon McFadden, discusses the state of our knowledge of these issues and how they relate to poverty in the US and abroad. Dr. McFadden fills us in on how we as Christians can help solve food insecurity.
December 17, 2018
Christianity's Cultural Influence
We discuss Hugh Whelchel's book "How Then Should We Work" focusing on Whelchel's notion of a "cultural mandate." Should Christians attempt to influence culture? Should we attempt to use the government to influence culture in Christian ways? Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance Arthur Brooks' TED Talk How Then Should We Work, Hugh Whelchel
December 10, 2018
Christianity and Capitalism
Russ, Levi, and Jacyn discuss Russ's recent appearance on the Virtue in the Wasteland podcast. Is capitalism compatible with Christianity? What do Millennials and iGen think about this? Can markets be relied on to deliver moral results? Virtue in the Wasteland Episode featuring Russ: Capitalism vs Corporatism: Prof. Adrian Vermeule's Lecture on the Invisible Hand and Morality: Externalities (Potato chips): Contestable Markets:
December 3, 2018
Economics of a Call To Work: Be Fruitful and Multiply
In this episode we continue our discussion of "How Then Should We Work" by Hugh Whelchel of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. You can purchase Hugh's book at the link below. Contact us: Note: This is a re-upload of a previous episode after some needed edits were made.
November 26, 2018
Federal Food Programs: Efficiency and Ethics
In this episode we discuss federal food programs and non-profit efforts to alleviate hunger in the U.S. Our guest, Dr. Jeffrey Dorfman, helps us understand the most recent data on the effectiveness of federal food programs. Show notes: Follow our guest on Twitter @DorfmanJeffrey Econtalk Episode on Food Banks Contact us:
November 19, 2018
Biblical Success, Economics, and the Culture
We discuss the definitions of a successful life and how economics can inform those definitions. We also discuss Christianity's appropriate role in defining the culture. Show notes: Lenore Skenazy's Website How Then Should We Work? by Hugh Whelchel Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen Milton Friedman and the Ford Pinto Contact us:
November 12, 2018
Poverty vs Poverty of Spirit
As we are fond of saying here at the Gwartney Institute, Poverty Sucks!. It sucks the life and dignity out of people keeping them from being able to lead lives that flourish. We also have to keep in mind, though, that we are called to poverty of spirit. What does that mean? In this episode we explore this distinction focusing on economic themes such as poverty alleviation and wealth. Show notes: Atlas Shrugged Into Great Silence Contact us:
November 5, 2018
The Economics of Common Grace vs Saving Grace
In this episode we continue our discussion of "How Then Should We Work" by Hugh Whelchel of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. You can purchase Hugh's book at the link below. Contact us:
October 31, 2018
Shopping Religions? Economics of Checking Out Christianity First
In this episode we discuss the first part of "How Then Should We Work" by Hugh Whelchel of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. You can purchase Hugh's book at the link below. Contact us:
October 29, 2018
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