The only thing we can do is keep reminding people of what Jean-Baptiste Say said to the Reverend Thomas Malthus in 1821 — that you don't make your purchases of what others produce with this thing called "money," but with what you produce. "Money" is just the symbol, the common denominator of value, by means of which I trade what I produce for what you produce. If you can't produce, the economy will not work.
Thus the "mega question" for any economy at any stage of development is how to connect people with the means of production. When labor is the primary means of production, people need to be free to produce by means of their labor. When capital is the primary means of production, people need to be free to produce by means of their capital.
That means people must be free to produce either by what they own in the way of labor, or what they own in the way of capital. The "mega question" devolves into how people can gain democratic access to the means of acquiring and possessing capital as private property, the same way they own their labor. Capital Homesteading answers the mega question.
Until economists and policymakers realize that the answer to the current economic crisis is staring them in the face — and has been for more than half a century — we continue to work to open their eyes. Our efforts this week include:
• We just got an unusual query from a member of the Just Third Way network regarding how we would integrate the natural right to private property in binary economics and its application in Capital Homesteading into the American psyche and the history of the United States. The quick "elevator" response, of course, is that Locke, Sydney and Montesquieu, all "primary sources" of the U.S. Founding Fathers, stressed the importance of universal access to the means of acquiring and possessing private property in the means of production as the basis of a stable social order, and protection of private property as a justification for society. In his Second Treatise of Government Locke went so far as to claim that gaining protection for the natural right to become an owner, and the human rights of property once something is owned, are — politically speaking, and including "life" and "liberty" under "property" — the sole basis of society. The American system of government (at least as it was set up to run) relied on widespread ownership of the means of production in order to prevent economic, and thus political power from being concentrated: "Power naturally and necessarily follows property." (Daniel Webster, Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820) "Power and property can be separated for a time by force or fraud, but divorced never. For as soon as the pang of separation is felt, property will purchase power, or power will take over property." (Benjamin Watkins Leigh, Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1820). Abraham Lincoln's Homestead Act was, for whatever weaknesses it might have had in its conception and execution, a recognition of this basic fact of American life, as de Tocqueville analyzed in Democracy in America (1835,1840). Analogous to the analysis presented by Hilaire Belloc in The Servile State (1912) and An Essay on the Restoration of Property (1936), Capital Homesteading proposes to restore freedom and liberty by restoring private property in the means of production as a basic fact of life for all Americans, eventually all humanity, by extending Lincoln's program from the limited land frontier, to the effectively unlimited capital frontier.Those are the happenings for this week, at least that we know about. 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." If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you. All comments are moderated anyway, so we'll see it before it goes up.
• CESJ received a splendid and generous gift of chocolates and other candies from a friend in Germany, sufficient to enliven our daily lunch meetings and sweeten the discussions for some weeks to come. Viele danke.
• CESJ's Quarterly Board Meeting takes place next Saturday, October 17, 2009. Please notify CESJ via the contact information on the CESJ website asap if you plan on attending, or to be placed on the list to participate in the meeting via telephone.
• Dr. Max Weismann, president of the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas in Chicago, sent us an essay by Mortimer Adler on "The Doctrine of Natural Law in Philosophy," which is a valuable addition to our "Adler Collection." The essay shows that, for all they might differ on the origin and transmission — even content — of the natural law, such diverse thinkers as Aquinas and Locke, even Hobbes, agree that there is a natural moral law that transcends human positive law. Adler's analysis rounds out the perspective of Dr. Heinrich Rommen's analysis found in The Natural Law (1946), and confirms our understanding of the ancient and medieval jurists who spoke of "discovering" the law rather than legislating it. The only problem I have with Adler's essay is that it is illustrated with a photograph of a bust of Adler by Maude Hutchins that stands at the front entrance to the Aspen Institute, which in my opinion does not look a bit like Adler.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 38 different countries and 39 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, the UK , India and Venezuela (and we continue to be popular in Not Set). People in Aruba, Venezuela, the United States, the UK, and Brazil spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting continues to be the recommendation for Dr. Charles Rice's new book, "What Happened to Notre Dame," followed by "Ireland: Business Requires Sacrifice," then "news from the Network," "Thomas Hobbes on Property," then Part IX of the "Thoughts on Money." With respect to the amount of time spent reading, "On Usury and Other Dishonest Profit" has bumped the posting on John McCain endorsing worker ownership from the list, followed by how you would spend the stimulus money and "Bring the Jubilee."