Friday, May 21, 2010

News from the Network, Vol. 3, No. 20

So far the BP oil spill and the ups and downs in the stock market are vying for the top news spot. On the surface, these look like two different issues. After all, what could be more different than gigantic financial services companies breaking the rules and messing up the economy, and gigantic natural resource extraction companies breaking the rules and messing up the ecosystem . . .

Okay, so it's the same basic problem, and the same basic situation, to say nothing of the same basic mindset, and the same basic solution: the government should do something! What should The Government (bow) be doing? Seek out the guilty! Put them on trial!! Give them the electric chair for life!!! And then get serious by passing more laws telling people not to do what is most advantageous for them to do and will generate the most profits . . . and if they lose money, the State will bail them out, or subsidize them, because they are too big to fail.

As the French say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose — the more things change, the more they stay the same. (No, I don't speak French ... it's just amazing what you can find on the internet.) Why? Because people are not looking at the system, but at the symptoms. Symptoms of a badly structured system are infinite, and not even the most powerful and intrusive State can create a regulation to cover every single one of them — or enforce.

For example, according to today's Wall Street Journal, Congress has just passed a bill with the "most sweeping reform" of Wall Street since the Great Depression. The Associated Press appears to concur. It is clear, however, once we look at the various provisions, that there is very little that is either effective or, frankly, realistic. The new legislation is, basically, a package of "don't do that" orders. With the sole exception of a token prohibition against banks dealing in derivatives, there does not appear to be anything addressing problems in the system.

As we already know from the laws and characteristics of social justice, simply ordering people to do what's right is a useless and frustrating exercise until and unless we make it possible for people to do what is right by restructuring our institutions to conform to universal precepts of the natural moral law. Here's what we've been doing to try and bring a modicum of common sense to the situation:
• Speaking of internal controls, Dr. Norman Kurland was as impressed with the analysis of what happened with the removal of internal controls in the financial services industry in Lydia Fisher's Cinderella of Wall Street, as he was unimpressed with the measures taken by Congress to correct a situation that they caused in the first place with the repeal of Glass-Steagall (the Banking Act of 1933) and similar internal controls. Trying to correct the problem by adding increasingly levels of external regulation and State involvement exhibits a profound misunderstanding of the role of the State. It also increases State intrusion into areas in which it has no business: business, thereby increasing the danger or (more often these days), the magnitude of the problem of functional overload of the State. The State cannot legislate morality, which is what ethics, business or otherwise, are. The State's limited role in the economy is to enforce the ethical standards and agreements, police abuses, and provide a "level playing field."

U. S. News and World Report published an article, "12 Ways to Fix Social Security." You don't have to read the article, although we've included a link. It's not really a list of a dozen, but boils down to three simplistic options, none of which are either politically or financially feasible: 1) Pay in more (7 "ways"), 2) Pay out less (4 "ways"), 3) Use any surplus to purchase secondary issues on the stock market (1 "way"). Option No. 3, while seemingly the most fiscally responsible, is actually the most deceptive — and the most dangerous. Not only would a massive infusion of government funds drive up prices on the stock market, but it would give the federal government a significant direct ownership stake in the private sector, complementing the enormous indirect control ("ownership") it now enjoys. Noticeably absent is the only solution that makes sense: Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen, which would be much more respectful of human dignity and personal sovereignty by returning to people direct control over their own lives.

• Early this week Norman Kurland met with Elias Chipimo, who is running for president of Zambia in 2011. Mr. Chipimo is running on an inclusionary, anti-corruption ticket and, where other candidates are trying to emphasize tribalism, Mr. Chipimo is stressing unity and solidarity. Norm reported that Mr. Chipimo has expressed great interest in implementing the Just Third Way in Zambia as a way of fostering economic growth in which every citizen can participate. Mr. Chipimo is only in the United States for a week, but wants to meet again with Norm for more discussions.

• Today Norman Kurland is being interviewed on Fairfax cable television on the applicability of the Just Third Way to the situation in the Middle East. Stressing justice and its importance to people of all faiths, Norm made a point of wearing an "Own or Be Owned" tee shirt during the interview.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 42 different countries and 43 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, Brazil, and India. People in Norway, Belgium, Maldives, Venezuela, and Romania spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting is "News from the Network," followed by "Kemp Harshman, Soldier of Justice," "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," "Expanded Capital Ownership Now," and "The Great Society" in the "Own the Fed" series.
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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