Friday, December 26, 2008

News from the Network, Vol. 1, No. 18

As this is the last "News from the Network" for 2008, we will use it to list the major accomplishments through the year. Obviously, we've been very busy working on ways to address the current economic crisis. Fortunately, because of our study of the principles of binary economics and economic and social justice, we are to develop specific programs rapidly, while the major media and policymakers have been floundering in bewilderment over what to do. As a case in point, the "Homeowners' Equity Corporation" was substantially worked out early in 2008, before the true magnitude of the problem became apparent. Had it been implemented immediately, the greater meltdown in housing and which hit the financial markets like a tsunami might have been avoided. As it is, implementation of Capital Homesteading or the HEC, even at this late date, could go a long way toward restoring confidence in the economy and provide the basis for sound and rational growth. Here are the year's highlights:
• Beginning with a proposal we worked out some years ago for the Georgetown University Medical Center, CESJ developed a more comprehensive plan to address the crisis in health care. This project was initiated at the request of Dr. Steven White, past president of the Catholic Medical Association. We incorporated elements listed in a paper prepared by the CMA, as well as an article by Michael D. Greaney originally published in Social Justice Review. From this seed we grew a "total plan" that would address not only the ethical crisis in medicine, but, by integrating the proposal with Capital Homesteading, how to finance adequate health care for everybody. The paper, still in progress, can be found on the CESJ web site.

• In concert with the health care reform paper, CESJ proposed the formation of "Doctors for Social Justice" as a means for medical care professionals of all types (not just physicians) to study the concept, then organize in social justice and work toward its implementation. This effort is still looking for a leader around which to gather a core group of concerned and effective individuals.

• Major advances have been made in East St. Louis, Illinois, to implement a major redevelopment project, including a citizens land cooperative to be owned by all citizens, a CESJ chapter, a Fuller-Kelso World Design Science Center, a $65 million prototype renewable energy power plant and manufacturing complex and a "Homeowners' Equity Corporation" (below). Laura Zacher was able to meet and gain support for the CLC from eleven mayors of towns in the area. Plans were made and goals were set, with the result that events have been moving steadily toward beginning the long-planned revitalization project that began decades ago with the vision of design science revolutionary R. Buckminster Fuller.

• Norman Kurland has been interviewed on a number of radio shows, notably Dawud Muhammad's "Talk Black Live Radio" in connection with the East St. Louis project, Williamsburg Revolutionary Radio, and Michigan Catholic Radio (WMCR). Norm has also attended seminars and lectures sponsored by Freedom House, New America Foundation, and other organizations and think tanks in the Washington, DC area.

• Significant outreach efforts were made to potential "prime movers," notably David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States, who is now with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation working to alert people to the unsustainable debt of the federal government resulting from budget deficits and future entitlements under Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, totaling over $55 trillion projected in coming decades. A telephone conference has been scheduled between Mr. Walker and Norman Kurland for January 6, 2009. There was also an e-mail campaign to try and surface potential leaders from within Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, the two houses of the legislature of the Republic of Ireland. In connection with that, CESJ got 14 responses, of which the one from Senator Shane Ross requested further information.

• In response to a question by Reverend Robert Brantley, "How would Capital Homesteading address the home mortgage crisis?", CESJ developed the "Homeowners' Equity Corporation," or "HEC." The HEC would be a means whereby people in danger of losing their houses to foreclosure in the backwash of the subprime mortgage fiasco could join with others in the same situation and organize to implement a "rent to own" plan that would use "interest free" money from the Federal Reserve channeled through the commercial banking system for financing. CESJ prepared a draft proposal, that former Congressman Walter Fauntroy has been working to bring to the attention of potential prime movers in the Obama transition team.

• Members of CESJ as private individuals attended the Virginia Republican Convention in support of Robert Marshall's primary bid for U.S. Senator. Bob Marshall has been a supporter of the Community Investment Corporation and the Just Third Way for many years, and introduced a CIC bill in the Virginia House of Delegates. Thomas Pekarek in Ohio's 11th District also used Capital Homesteading themes in his campaign.

• CESJ's annual celebration in April was well attended, and preceded by a demonstration outside the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC, sponsored by the American Revolutionary Party, which many CESJ members attended. The point of the annual demonstration that started in April 2005 is to convince the Federal Reserve to adopt Capital Homesteading monetary and credit reforms as a way of financing acquisition of productive assets by ordinary people who currently lack access to the means of acquiring and possessing private property.

• Great efforts have been made by Ulysses James Montgomery, and Norman and Marie Kurland to save Nihonmachi Terrace in San Francisco's "Japan Town" for the elderly residents, who are baffled by proposals to renovate the building at great cost in a way that residents fear could result in their losing their homes.

• On August 7-9, 2008, in cooperation with the Catholic Central Union of America (which was hosting its annual convention of the Scholars for Social Justice), CESJ participated in the first Social Justice Collaborative to seek areas of commonality and cooperative action on capital ownership as a fundamental human right. This initiative sprung from challenges to CESJ's Just Third Way coming from scholars from the Distributist school of thought. The Social Justice Collaborative brought together a number of scholars, including Dale Ahlquist (president of the American Chesterton Society), Don Killoren (representing the Georgists), and various university professors from the U.S. and Canada. CESJ's network was represented by Father Edward Krause (director of the Central Bureau), Fr. Matthews Habiger, Geoff Gneuhs, Dr. Sam Nigro, Rudy Wrobel, Laura Zacher (Senior Project Manager for the East St. Louis MECLC project), The Hon. Alvin Parks, Jr. (mayor of East St. Louis), and Dawud Muhammad of Talk Black Live Radio, among others. Prior to the discussions between CESJ, the Distributists and the Georgists, the Collaborative sponsored panels on universal health care reform. Specific proposals were presented by Michael O'Dea (Christus Medicus), Dr. Sam Nigro, and CESJ's Norman Kurland. Perhaps the most important outcome of the Collaborative was the development of a joint statement to launch the Abraham Federation, reflecting support from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities: "The Abraham Federation is a coalition of organizations that hold in common the idea that access to property ownership is the key to justice, and justice is the key to peace. We are a think tank and catalyst for social change comprised of Muslims, Christians, Jews and all who uphold the principles of natural law. We advocate limited economic power of the State, free and open markets, and the full rights of private property."

• Michael D. Greaney delivered the Keynote Address at the centenary of the Central Bureau, Catholic Central Union of America. The address, "Good is to be Done," correlated the Just Third Way based on natural law with Catholic social teaching, promotion of which is the special mission of the CCVA.

• In response to a request to contribute a chapter to a book on "social capitalism" that was to be published in the United Kingdom, CESJ made extensive revisions in its Just Third Way paper. While the book project appears to have been abandoned, the new version of the Just Third Way paper represents a major advance in communicating the vision.

• Economic Justice Media, CESJ's imprint for its publishing effort, released two major works in 2008. The first is In Defense of Human Dignity, a collection of articles by Michael D. Greaney previously published in Social Justice Review, the official journal of the Central Bureau, Catholic Central Union of America in St. Louis. The book has received some extremely positive feedback, and is being considered as a text or supplemental reading for a number of education programs focused on social justice and economics. The second is an annotated edition of The Emigrant's Guide, a "long lost" book by William Cobbett, revered by distributists as "the apostle of distributism" for his strong advocacy of widespread ownership of the means of production. CESJ's edition features an in-depth foreword as well as extensive notes and an index, which create significant "value added" for the reader interested in "minute particulars" of a system described in broader strokes by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America. Both volumes are available from Amazon. In Defense of Human Dignity is also available from Barnes and Noble, while our edition of The Emigrant's Guide may soon be available there as well.

• A well-known press in the Netherlands (Elsevier) is republishing the Iraq oil proposal on their on-line journal Futures. The journal goes to scholars all over the world.

• Norman G. Kurland was invited by Prof. A. Y. Zohny, the Academic Director for the International Business and Trade Washington Seminar Program at American University in Washington, DC, who heard Norman G. Kurland speak at the New America Foundation, and arranged for Norman G. Kurland to speak before a class of around 35 students at American U. It turned into a two-hour meeting, moving from one classroom to another, and responses were very favorable.

• After mistakenly publishing negative remarks about CESJ and the CCVA, The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly newspaper, corrected its comments and published a positive overview of CESJ, the CCVA, and the social thought of Reverend William J. Ferree, S.M., Ph.D., in its "From the Mail" column in the December 12, 2008 issue. The column led to requests for copies of books by Father Ferree. Two works by Father Ferree are available as free downloads in .pdf from the CESJ web site, www.cesj.org: Introduction to Social Justice, and the annotated transcript of a series of talks on social charity.

• Members of CESJ attended the "End the Fed" rally on November 22, 2008 in Washington DC, and heard Norman Kurland's 14-minute talk on ending the Federal Reserve's current method of operation by reorienting it back to its original mission of providing liquidity for private sector growth and cutting the federal government off from its ability to circumvent the controls in place to prevent it from monetizing government deficits. By adding Kelsonian features to a reform of the central bank, the Federal Reserve could serve to finance the acquisition of capital by people who currently lack access to the means of acquiring and possessing private productive property.

• CESJ met with Mr. Chris O'Connor, Financial Secretary of the Arlington, Virginia, Colonel John Fitzgerald Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, to discuss possible collaboration on projects to teach people about social justice and effective social action. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, or "AOH," has the potential to become a leader in the effort to restore a proper understanding of social justice to America's educational institutions.

• Finally, we started this blog — and managed to keep up with it. As of this morning, we have had visitors from 21 different countries and 32 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months.
That's the year in review, at least briefly. If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we'll see that it gets into the next "issue."

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