Faith and Economics

Faith and Economics
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

The Trolley Problem, What Would Jesus Do? | #84
Jun 3 • 35 min
The Gwartney team dives into the philosophical trolley problem and discuss why people struggle with different scenarios.
Debit Forgiveness for Everyone? Charles Bryfogle | #83
May 18 • 37 min
Charles Bryfogle joins the Gwartney team to discuss debt forgiveness and Christian jubilee as a potential solutions for economic collapse.
Morality and mechanics about how the government will pay for Covid | #82
May 11 • 36 min
The week the Gwartney teams discusses the morality and mechanics behind how the government is paying the stimulus for covid.
Personal Finance Virtues During Hard Times-The Dave Ramsey Approach | #81
May 4 • 38 min
With the stimulus payments from the government it raises the question, “What would Dave Ramsey do during these hard times?”
Oil and Jesus - Is there a connection? | #80
Apr 27 • 26 min
The oil industry has hit a slump in recent months. The Gwartney Institute team discusses the complexities of the oil market and its connection to Jesus.
Dr. Rachel Ferguson | #79
Apr 20 • 38 min
Rachel Ferguson joins the Gwartney team for a second time to discuss her family’s personal experience with the corona virus.
Russ Roberts | #78
Apr 13 • 47 min
Economist Russ Roberts joins the Gwartney team to discuss his book “How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life”, the current Corona virus pandemic, and other interesting topics.
Changing Beliefs | #77
Apr 6 • 40 min
Changing beliefs can be difficult, admitting you were wrong more so. The Gwartney team discusses this issue and then goes through some of their own belief changes.
Corona Virus Part 2 | #76
Mar 30 • 38 min
The Gwartney Institute covers the new developments in the Corona Virus and the effects it is having on the economy, including price gouging.
Corona Virus | #75
Mar 23 • 34 min
With the growing concern of the corona virus crisis, the Gwartney team discusses the ethics behind social distancing and the problems it is causing for businesses.
National Debt | #74
Mar 16 • 34 min
The Gwartney team co-hosted a debate over the national debt. This podcast reviews some of the highlights from the debate.
Are Economists Immoral? | #73
Mar 9 • 35 min
Economists get a bad rap for promoting a capitalist system. This week the professors take on the question, are economists immoral?
Home Economics | #72
Mar 2 • 29 min
This week the Gwartney Institute discusses how the family plays a role in economics.
God is a Capitalist | #71
Feb 24 • 39 min
The Gwartney Institute interviews Roger McKinney about his intriguing book called “God is a Capitalist.”
Urbit and Your Online Identity | #70
Feb 17 • 44 min
Social media gives third parties power over our online identities. The Gwartney Institute takes a look at how Urbit might provide an alternative platform.
Computer Simulation | #69
Feb 10 • 33 min
As technology advances, the line between computers and life becomes thinner giving the Gwartney Institute an interesting topic that will keep evolving.
Chile’s Economic Freedom | #68
Feb 3 • 36 min
With civil unrest growing in Chile due to inequality, the Gwartney team looks to the benefits of Chile’s high economic freedom for answers.
Organ Lottery | #67
Jan 27 • 33 min
This episodes sheds new light on utilitarianism by bringing up the option for an organ lottery.
New Year Resolutions | #66
Jan 20 • 33 min
The Gwartney Institute examines how New Years Resolutions affect different industries and shed a little light on their own resolutions.
Regulatory Impact on Consumers | #65
Jan 13 • 33 min
This week the Gwartney Institute tackles how regulations can cause a negative tax on the poor.
Economics on Everest | #64
Jan 6 • 26 min
From Jon Krakauer’s autobiography of the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest to the modern day over-crowding at the summit, this episode uncovers the economics of how commercialization has changed the supply and demand in Nepal.
On Brexit | #63
Dec 30, 2019 • 35 min
In the summer of 2016, one of the most significant political events in the past 50 years occurred in the UK: the British public voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. The particulars of this decision are still being decided, so the Gwartney…
Faith and Work with Hugh Whelchel | #62
Dec 23, 2019 • 38 min
Hugh Whelchel of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics joins us to discuss his book How Then Should We Work?
Faith and Economics in Guatemala | #61
Dec 16, 2019 • 35 min
Guillermo Gonzales of Share Guatemala joins the crew for a discussion of the economy of Guatemala and the efforts of groups like Share Guatemala to reduce poverty.
Victor Claar on Fair Trade | #60
Dec 9, 2019 • 48 min
We talk with Professor Victor Claar about his research on fair trade coffee, his faith, and economic policy.
Morality of Eating Animals | #59
Dec 2, 2019 • 31 min
The crew discusses the moral issues related to eating animals. Should we all be vegan?
Truckonomics with Sarah Ruffcorn - President of Trinity Logistics | #58
Nov 25, 2019 • 35 min
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!
Menard Family Grant | #57
Nov 18, 2019 • 35 min
The crew discusses our newest grant and the opportunities it will provide to Ottawa Students, the University, and the community!
Entrepreneurship with David Price | #56
Nov 11, 2019 • 35 min
We talk with Dr. David Price of Washburn University about his research and experience as an entrepreneur.
Not So Forever 21 | #55
Nov 4, 2019 • 30 min
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…
Economics of Prison Gangs | #54
Oct 27, 2019 • 28 min
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…
Why Socialism Sucks and What to Do About It | #53
Oct 21, 2019 • 35 min
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…
Faith and Finance with Wiley Angell | #52
Oct 14, 2019 • 38 min
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.
Professor Hunter Baker on Faith and Politics | #51
Oct 9, 2019 • 46 min
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…
Debate - All Drugs Should be Legal | #50
Sep 30, 2019 • 45 min
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!…
Faith and Economics of Cooperative Businesses | #49
Sep 23, 2019 • 32 min
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…
P.J. Hill on Stewardship of Creation | #48
Sep 16, 2019 • 29 min
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
Is Addiction Profitable? | #47
Sep 9, 2019 • 30 min
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…
Tech and the Productivity Slowdown | #46
Sep 2, 2019 • 31 min
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…
Is Economic Value Subjective? | Ep 45
Aug 26, 2019 • 34 min
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…
On Tipping with Professor Tony Gill | #44
Aug 20, 2019 • 35 min
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…
Faith and Economics of Recycling | #43
Aug 12, 2019 • 31 min
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…
The USDA’s Move to the Heartland | #42
Aug 5, 2019 • 29 min
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…
Cooperation in Evil | #41
Jul 29, 2019 • 29 min
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
On the Obligation to Tithe | #40
Jul 22, 2019 • 26 min
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?
On Jobs and Automation | #39
Jul 15, 2019 • 37 min
The whole crew discusses automation and technological change and how economic policy should address these issues. Tucker Carlson on Ben Shapiro’s Sunday Special
Working & Resting on Sunday | #38
Jul 8, 2019 • 37 min
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
Reggies Wenyika on His Faith and Zimbabwe’s Economy | #37
Jul 1, 2019 • 46 min
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!
Dave Ramsey’s Personal Finance | #36
Jun 25, 2019 • 42 min
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.
Trump’s Trade War with China | #35
Jun 17, 2019 • 29 min
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…
Randall Holcombe on Political Capitalism | #34
Jun 10, 2019 • 42 min
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…
Jim Gwartney on His Faith and Economics | #33
Jun 2, 2019 • 41 min
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
Vernon Smith on Adam Smith | #32
May 27, 2019 • 40 min
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.
Dr. Anne Bradley on Income Inequality | #31
May 20, 2019 • 27 min
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?
Why Not Federalism? | #30
May 13, 2019 • 34 min
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!
Christian Ethics of Tariffs | #29
Apr 29, 2019 • 33 min
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?
The Universal Destination of Goods | #28
Apr 29, 2019 • 30 min
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…
Creighton University Humanomics Event: Adam Smith - Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations | #27
Apr 22, 2019 • 38 min
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.
Government Debt | #26
Apr 15, 2019 • 35 min
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
YangBucks | #25
Apr 8, 2019 • 30 min
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…
Monasticism, Care for the Poor, and Capitalism | #24
Apr 1, 2019 • 31 min
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?
Inflation and Middle Class Life | #23
Mar 25, 2019 • 35 min
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…
Democratic Socialism and AOC
Mar 18, 2019 • 28 min
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?
Economic Freedom and Happiness
Mar 11, 2019 • 33 min
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…
When is Coveting Legal Plunder?
Mar 4, 2019 • 39 min
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?
Moral Hazard
Feb 25, 2019 • 34 min
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
Is the U.S. a Christian Nation?
Feb 18, 2019 • 37 min
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…
Economics of David and Goliath
Feb 11, 2019 • 35 min
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…
Universal Basic Income
Feb 4, 2019 • 39 min
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…
Economic Freedom Abroad
Jan 28, 2019 • 28 min
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!
Kingdom Theology and the Liberal Order
Jan 21, 2019 • 58 min
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…
Economic and Moral Considerations for Community Development
Jan 14, 2019 • 35 min
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…
Piety as a Barrier to Entry
Jan 7, 2019 • 41 min
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…
Opportunity Cost of Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Dec 31, 2018 • 34 min
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…
Consumerism, Santa, and Christmas
Dec 24, 2018 • 30 min
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…
Nutritional Insecurity and Poverty
Dec 17, 2018 • 33 min
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…
Christianity’s Cultural Influence
Dec 10, 2018 • 25 min
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…
Christianity and Capitalism
Dec 3, 2018 • 34 min
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…
Economics of a Call To Work: Be Fruitful and Multiply
Nov 26, 2018 • 39 min
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…
Federal Food Programs: Efficiency and Ethics
Nov 19, 2018 • 35 min
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…
Biblical Success, Economics, and the Culture
Nov 12, 2018 • 30 min
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…
Poverty vs Poverty of Spirit
Nov 5, 2018 • 31 min
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.…
The Economics of Common Grace vs Saving Grace
Oct 31, 2018 • 32 min
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:
Shopping Religions? Economics of Checking Out Christianity First
Oct 29, 2018 • 40 min
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: