Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the implications of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case involving Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, which was argued before the Supreme Court on Dec. 1. How much has the legal regime created by Roe and Casey distorted our civic and political life? And what would be likely to happen if the Supreme Court did overturn the Roe and Casey decisions in their Dobbs ruling? Would it be as incendiary as some people seem to assume? Then the guys discuss the primary theme of Blake Masters’ campaign for Senate: “In America, you should be able to raise a family on one single income.” Is it true that people can’t do that right now? Do the proponents of this vision ignore the costs associated with it? And are GDP growth and family formation really at odds?

 

This week, Eric Kohn, Stephen Barrows, and Dan Hugger discuss the emergence of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. With so little known about it, are political leaders and public health officials getting too far ahead of themselves? Dr. Anthony Fauci says he “represent[s] science.” When did we come to have such a malformed understanding of the scientific process that we moved into an ideological understanding of science? And how unsurprised should we be that the World Health Organization skipped over the “Xi” variant name? Finally, they discuss Yuval Levin’s recent essay “The changing face of social breakdown.” What’s holding people back from starting their lives? Has the pandemic made these problems worse or just revealed trends already at work? And how can we learn to better deal with our changing world to establish more communion, not just communication?

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Today on Acton Unwind, Stephen Barrows, Dan Hugger, and Dylan Pahman join Michael Matheson Miller—guest editor of the new double issue of Religion & Liberty, Acton’s quarterly journal of religion, economics, and culture—to discuss the issue’s theme: the challenges of thinking clearly in an age dominated by ideology. How can we function in a time when the pursuit of truth, and even the meaning of “truth” itself, is subservient to a suffocating ideology that makes real dialogue between opposing viewpoints difficult if not impossible? What are the risks that come with the adoption of a rigid ideology? What is the difference between ideology and worldview? And how do we resist the temptation of adopting ideological thinking ourselves?

Religion & liberty Summer/Fall 2021

Today Eric Kohn, Stephen Barrows, and Dan Hugger discuss all things inflation. What makes the inflation we’re seeing now different from the experience of the 1970s? What does it mean that we have a contracting labor force along with high inflation? How long will inflation be with us, and is there anything that can be done about it? The discussion then turns to mission creep and masking guidance from the CDC, with the agency head suggesting we keep wearing masks to combat, not only COVID-19, but the flu and the common cold as well. And finally, the trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and the accused killers of Ahmaud Arbery are both underway, but only the Rittenhouse proceeding is getting much attention, thanks largely to people using it as a political cudgel. What would happen if we lost faith in our legal system the way we’ve lost faith in so many other American institutions?

Fastest Inflation in 31 Years Puts More Heat on Washington | New York Times

This week, Eric Kohn, Michael Matheson Miller, and Dan Hugger discuss the National Conservatism convention, from which Dan just recently returned. What do the national conservatives want? Should we think about this as an intellectual movement or as a political movement? Have they achieved a consensus about their own identity? And how much of a force will they prove to be within conservative intellectual circles and conservative politics going forward?

 

In this episode, Eric, Sam, and Dylan discuss the potential for upheavals in public education. Will fights over the curriculum and the cumulative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (and the behavior of the teachers union during it) open up the possibility of wholesale changes in public schools? Next, Joe Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis goes very, very well. At least according to Joe Biden. Is the president to be believed when he says Pope Francis assured him he’s a Catholic in good standing? Is this something he should even be saying out loud? Finally, Eric and Dylan discuss Dune and explore the important themes related to human nature at play in Frank Herbert’s book and Denis Villeneuve’s film–and in all good science fiction.

 

This week, Eric and Sam discuss the growing threat from China. First, Sam recaps a talk he gave in Houston last week entitled, “China: Enigma and Challenge for the World.” In the wake of China’s test of a hypersonic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead, how should we think about the military, economic, and cultural threat that China poses to the United States and to the world?

 

This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss Netflix standing up to the woke mob coming after Dave Chappelle for his new comedy special, The Closer, in which he makes jokes about the trans-rights movement. Can we view this as a watershed moment in the culture wars? Or is Netflix just defending their $60 million investment in the legendary comedian? Then, the supply chain has problems. Between that, high energy prices, employment problems, and inflation, are we staring down the barrel of a repeat of the 1970s? Next, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been out for two months on paternity leave. Setting aside the political-football aspect, how should we think about paternity leave in the modern culture and economy? And finally, we end with a new segment called Recommendable, where the crew will recommend articles, books, podcasts, or anything else they found important and recommendable throughout the week.

 

This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dylan Pahman discuss the possibility that objection to Southwest Airlines’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate was behind the cancelation of more than 1,000 flights over the weekend. Even if it wasn’t, there is clearly resistance to vaccine mandates out there, whether coming from the government or private businesses. And why is resistance to mandates, for some people at least, turning into resistance or rejection of the vaccine itself? A University of Michigan professor is under fire for showing his class Lawrence Oliver’s black-face film portrayal of Othello. Is the biggest culprit in situations like these the people in authority who cave to the mob? And finally, Sam Gregg discusses his review of Vivek Ramaswamy’s new book Woke, Inc. and how the behavior we’re seeing in big corporations is similar to that on display in the University of Michigan story.

 

Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Michael Matheson Miller discuss U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance’s comments about the Ford Foundation–namely, that we should “seize the assets of the Ford Foundation, tax their assets, and give it to the people who’ve had their lives destroyed by their radical open borders agenda.” When did it become acceptable for the right to abandon concepts like constitutionality and the rule of law? Why is this kind of rhetoric constantly escalating? Is it really what the polity wants? Then, have we thrown open the Overton window on spending with the trillion-dollar infrastructure deal? When Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is still cool with spending $1.5 trillion on a reconciliation bill on top of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, is the “conservative” in the conversation, have words lost their meaning entirely? And how long before we’re talking about quadrillion-dollar spending bills?

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On this week’s episode, Eric Kohn, Dan Churchwell, and Dan Hugger discuss America’s dueling refugee crises: one on the southern border manifesting in around 14,000 migrants descending on Del Rio, Texas, and the refugees fleeing the Taliban rule in Afghanistan following the American exit from that country. How should we approach these problems as Americans, and as Christians? Crime has been rising in American cities. How should we understand the problem, and how important is it to truly understand the nature of the problem and how it’s different in different places before we attempt to pick and choose policies to solve the problem? And finally, Brookings senior fellow and Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan says our constitutional crisis is already here. When they’re subject both to erosion and attack, how long can our American institutions hold up?

 

This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes’ Met Gala tax-the-rich dress stunt says about the current state of our elites and of elite culture. Are our elites so frivolous because we’ve become frivolous? Or is it the other way around? And why are we so preoccupied with identifying hypocrisy rather than observing and highlighting the underlying implications of that hypocrisy, and the tributes that vice are paying to virtue when we find them? Then, they discuss the email sent to observant Jews at Barnard College in New York City, in effect demanding that they violate their Shabbat obligations to utilize technology for Covid-19 symptoms and to participate in contact tracing. Why is religious freedom so often an afterthought?

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This week, Eric Kohn, Stephen Barrows, and Dan Churchwell discuss the new vaccine mandate President Joe Biden has announced for businesses larger than 100 employees, to be administered by OSHA. In what ways are they failing to consider the role of incentives, and what unintended consequences might this effort have? Will it just drive people further into their political corners and continue to undermine faith in our institutions? Then, they discuss a new piece in Wired from Azeen Azhar about the concept of exponential growth. Are we prepared for a time when technological growth happens at a blinding pace? Can we even effectively prepare for it? Are we at all prepared to cope with the unrest that it will create?

 

This week on Acton Unwind, Sam Gregg, and special guests Dan Hugger and Michael Miller discuss the ongoing developments in Afghanistan as we approach the 31st deadline. Then, they discuss the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill and how we can look to C.S. Lewis for guidance on how to respond. What is human infrastructure? Is the United States a civilization-building nation? Is all truth subjective?

 

This week on Acton Unwind, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and special guest Mustafa Akyol discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan, as the United States works feverishly to get Americans out of the country. How many refugees should the United States accept? What will rule by the Taliban look like? Have they changed at all, as some people have suggested? Then, Eric and Sam discuss the FDA’s final approval of the COVID vaccines, the lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand and the resistance they have produced, and whether our elites and civic leaders are more incompetent than they were in the past, or whether the velocity and availability of information just makes it seem that way.

 

This week on Acton Unwind, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the collapse of the Afghanistan government as the United States withdraws from the country nearly 20 years after September 11th and the beginning of combat operations there. We were told a collapse might happen in a year. Instead, it took days. What lessons should be learned from this? And how are we to trust our institutions when they’re constantly shown to be either wrong or lying to us? August 15 marked the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon taking the United States off the gold standard. How much of the economic turbulence in the decades since can be blamed on this decision? And, what role can cryptocurrencies play in the future of monetary policy?

 

We’re thrilled to bring you a new podcast from the Acton Institute: Acton Unwind.

Acton Unwind is a weekly roundtable discussion of news and current events through the Acton Institute’s lens on the world: promoting a free and virtuous society and connecting good intentions with sound economics. Each week I’ll be joined by Dr. Samuel Gregg and other Acton Institute experts for an exploration of news, politics, religion, and culture. This week, we discuss the extension of the CDC’s unconstitutional eviction moratorium, the Biden administration’s economically problematic proposal for free community college, and the New Right’s infatuation with Viktor Orbán’s Hungary.