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June 13, 2014 2:19 PM Go To Church and Save Mammon

By Ed Kilgore

In our continuing effort to understand the rather complex world-view of VA-07 Republican nominee and economist Dave Brat, here’s an excerpt from a Gabriel/Perez-Pena New York Times profile of Brat and his fellow Randolph-Macon College faculty member and general election opponent, Jack Trammel:

Religious ethics rarely enter into mainstream economic theory, but they are topics that Mr. Brat, who describes himself in his writing as a Calvinist, has turned to repeatedly. In a 2011 article, “God and Advanced Mammon — Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” published in a journal of religion, Mr. Brat questioned whether Christianity could be reconciled with government programs.
“Are you willing to force someone you know to pay for the benefits for one of your neighbors?” he asked. “Very few Christians I know are willing to say ‘yes’ to this question.”
In the same essay, he argued: “If we make all of the people good, markets will be good. If markets are bad, which they are, that means people are bad, which they are. Want good markets? Change the people.”
Several economists said in interviews that Mr. Brat often appeared not to be writing as an economist. “I did find him pretty confusing,” said Justin Wolfers, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, and a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “This dude just really wants us all to go to church, and that appears to be his economic policy conclusion.”

Sounds perfectly suited for today’s GOP.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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