Friday, April 30, 2010

News from the Network, Vol. 3, No. 17

In keeping with the view that the State can solve everything, and the Federal Reserve can do whatever the State cannot (yes, we realize the logical absurdity of the statement, but you can verify these beliefs just by reading the paper or watching the news), the push to "do something" to or about Goldman Sachs has intensified.

The situation is fraught with ambiguity. On the one hand, the Goldman Sachs people are probably correct. They (likely) did nothing illegal. On the other hand, they clearly betrayed the trust that their clients put in them. That's not illegal, either, or we'd have to indict every politician in Washington. On still another hand (clearly we're dealing with the Mutant Monster into which the economy has developed under the tenets of the Currency School) what they did could be regarded in certain circumstances as unethical — except that they were only selling a product to presumably knowledgeable people, and it is a little gray just how far they are obliged to disclose how lousy their product really is.

On the other hand . . . but you get the idea. The problem is that this is the kind of circumlocutions and problems you deal with when the system is not solidly grounded on basic moral principles found in the natural moral law and as applied in the three principles of economic justice on which binary economics is built. You have to do stranger and stranger things, and get further and further removed from reality to make the system even appear to work — which, ultimately, it can't, given the separation from the economics of reality, as well as reality itself.

Here are some of the events that have happened as we work to try and wake people up to the fact that they are going to have to start facing reality sooner or later — preferably sooner:
• We're a little bit late acknowledging it (especially since we didn't know about it until this week) but Mr. Samuel Allen of St. Maarten Island in the Netherlands Antilles published a very good review of Michael D. Greaney's book, In Defense of Human Dignity (2008) on www.sxmislandtime.com. Nor did Mr. Allen stop there, but added the book edited by Dawn K. Brohawn, Journey to an Ownership Culture, and dropped a line about Rodney Shakespeare and Peter Challon's book, Seven Steps to Justice.

• A potential candidate for president of Zambia has been reading the material on CESJ's website, especially the programs relating to rebuilding an economy from the ground up. The candidate believes that the Just Third Way is just what his country needs. As he stated, "It is hard for me to put into words the joy I felt as I read through the material on the CESJ website. Your writings have been keeping me up very late into the night and early hours of the morning. . . . Please excuse my excitement but I have been so refreshed by what I have read (and by your reaction) and feel now, more than ever, that the call to leadership was indeed one that I could no longer ignore." Is there anyone out there suffering from the delusion that Africa is the "dark continent"? It appears that there is some leadership coming out of there that can teach the rest of the world a thing or two.

• His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI spoke earlier today to a gathering at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In remarks clearly directed to the worsening European financial crisis, the pope explained how "the Church, based on her faith in God the Creator, affirms the existence of a universal natural law. ... As part of the great heritage of human wisdom, the natural moral law, which the Church has appropriated, purified and developed in the light of Christian revelation, serves as a beacon guiding the efforts of individuals and communities to pursue good and to avoid evil, while directing their commitment to building an authentically just and humane society". As His Holiness continued, "Among the indispensable principles shaping such an integral ethical approach to economic life must be the promotion of the common good, grounded in respect for the dignity of the human person and acknowledged as the primary goal of production and trade systems, political institutions and social welfare. In our day, concern for the common good has taken on a more markedly global dimension. It has also become increasingly evident that the common good embraces responsibility towards future generations; intergenerational solidarity must henceforth be recognised as a basic ethical criterion for judging any social system." Obviously, CESJ's fundamental grounding in the natural law is a common starting place. It is only a matter of educating the man, which requires gaining his ear.

• We just received a copy of Lydia Fisher's Cinderella of Wall Street, published in September of last year. We haven't had time to do an in-depth reading, but so far it looks pretty good. Ms. Fisher clearly knew nothing of CESJ and the Just Third Way when she wrote the book, but there is, nevertheless, a significant measure of congruity between her approach and ours, especially the acknowledgment of the importance of universal moral principles not just to guide personal behavior, but public life and, especially, business. The author integrates her personal life holistically into an intensely personal story, but still makes the convolutions of what has been going on in the Wall Street secondary market understandable. The author pinpoints one of the chief causes of the present chaos in the 1999 full repeal of the Banking Act of 1933 ("Glass-Steagall"), a judgment in which we fully concur. Among the personal information discovered was that, although personally acquainted with the author, this writer was unaware that Ms. Fisher was named after the heroine, Lygia, in one of his most favorite novels, the great Heinryk Sienkiewicz's Quo Vadis. (When in Rome, this writer made a point of visiting both Quo Vadis chapels.) The downsides (which can safely be ignored): 1) For such a friendly and approachable book, the typeface is "unfriendly," that is, it appears to have been chosen more for art's sake than for readability. It tends to tire the eye. 2) The current financial system, based ultimately on principles that are essentially antithetical to the book's clear moral orientation, is not given the lack of credit it deserves. (Obviously these downsides are, as Damon Runyon would put it, "pretty small potatoes.")

• Work proceeds apace on the republication of Harold Moulton's The Formation of Capital from 1935. We're working on refining the foreword, which explains the importance of the book for the Just Third Way and binary economics.

• The "grand work" on the Federal Reserve System is nearly two-thirds complete. Most of what has been written has been posted on this blog in the two "Own the Fed" series.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 46 different countries and 46 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, Australia, and India. People in Norway, Guatemala, Venezuela, Maldives, and Pakistan spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting continues to be "Kemp Harshman, Soldier of Justice," followed by "Full Employment" in the "Own the Fed" series, Guy Stevenson's "Expanded Capital Ownership Now," "The Great Society" in the "Own the Fed" series, and "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property."
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.

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