Friday, June 18, 2010

News from the Network, Vol. 3, No. 24

Aside from oil "spills" (which strikes us as the wrong word; is an aneurism a "spill"?) the Just Third Way news this week is the intensifying effort to have the State control money and credit to restore
the economy and stimulate recovery. The idea that the State can exercise that degree of control over the daily lives of individual people and the economy as a whole is, on the surface, ludicrous.

On close examination, however, we realize that it is not ludicrous, but completely insane. The idea that the State can, in Keynes's words, "re-edit the dictionary" and change reality — while these days at the heart of virtually all public policy and even interpretation of the law — meets at least one legal definition of insanity: "a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality."

As a minor case in point, take the annual nuttiness known as "daylight saving time." Twice a year the government stops the sun in its course for an hour or speeds it up, and decrees that a day in the Spring is 23 hours long, and a day in the Fall is 25 hours long. When it is related in the Book of Joshua (10:12-14) that Yahweh stopped the sun in its course to prolong a battle so the Israelites could kill more people, we are told that this is "the most implausible claim in Joshua," and a graphic demonstration of the presumption that the Biblical writers were totally disconnected from reality. As the source declares,
It should be a relief that the sordid tales of butchery in Joshua are fictional. But it's a poor reflection on the ancient Israelites that they'd want to believe that it was true, and likewise on the modern Christian fundamentalists who are incapable of thinking it was anything else, and who fail to be disgusted by it. Joshua shows that rather than elevating our moral character, religious piety can debase it.
Obviously the ancient Israelites, not having the benefit of modern political theory that claims, in effect, that the State, not Yahweh, is God, were stupid beyond belief. Clearly it would have been much better had the Book of Joshua related that the government had decreed that the earth's rotation should leap forward an hour, speeding up the movement of time. This would allow more people to be killed in automobile accidents the next day from lack of sleep so that a few months later the survivors could enjoy the "extra" hour when the government gave it back.

Claiming the power to stop the sun in its course or speed up the rotation of the earth is a pretty bold statement. Given that, it is child's play to believe that bureaucrats have the legitimate power to declare that the State can create money at will and manipulate the amount of money so that, in the words of Pius XI, they "regulate the flow, so to speak, of the life-blood whereby the entire economic system lives, and have so firmly in their grasp the soul, as it were, of economic life that no one can breathe against their will." (Quadragesimo Anno, § 106.) Once we reject the idea that money is a derivative of the present value of existing and future marketable goods and services and claim, with Georg Knapp and John Maynard Keynes, that money is whatever the State says it is, we have rejected reality and accepted a mad delusion in place of sanity, substituting worship of the State for worship of God.

With that in mind, here's what we have been doing this past week in an effort to restore some semblance of sanity to civil society, most particularly the economy:
• Work proceeds on the formatting and indexing of our new edition of Dr. Harold G. Moulton's The Formation of Capital (1935). Superficially a rather innocuous case to present an alternative to the Keynesian New Deal and restore the commercial banking system and the Federal Reserve to their original functions, The Formation of Capital is actually a revolutionary treatise. Moulton presented an analysis of how the financial and banking system really works, as opposed to the distorted and incomplete understanding of banking and finance found in Keynesian economics and, increasingly, even the Monetarist and Austrian schools.

• Moulton's analysis in The Formation of Capital is the basis of the Just Third Way proposals for reform of the financial services industry. Moulton's book was a primary source for Louis O. Kelso and Mortimer J. Adler's second collaboration, The New Capitalists (1961), the subtitle of which clues us in on what may be the single worst financial and economic assumption in history, aside from the brilliant but depraved analysis in David Christy's apology for chattel slavery, Cotton is King (1855): "A Proposal to Free Economic Growth from the Slavery of Savings."

• Increasing interest has been expressed in the upcoming release of Supporting Life: The Case for a Pro-Life Economic Agenda, a short monograph presenting the ramifications of the presumption of a constitutionally mandated right to choose, and laying out the rationale for an economic agenda that has the potential to unite both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice adherents in a common cause: the establishment and maintenance of a Just Third Way through implementation of Capital Homesteading at the earliest possible date, thereby providing an economy in which people can gain an income sufficient to meet common domestic needs adequately by their own efforts without the need for massive redistribution of existing wealth. Rev. Edward Krause, C.S.C., Ph.D., member of the CESJ Board of Counselors, head of the Central Bureau of the Catholic Central Union of America in St. Louis, and professor of moral philosophy at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, has agreed to write a foreword for the book.

• The monthly CESJ Executive Committee meeting was held on Wednesday of this week. Attendance was down, possibly due to the start of the Summer holiday for many people. An important administrative change is being tried out. Instead of reading the minutes from the previous meeting at the current meeting, we will try distributing the minutes from the previous meeting at the current meeting, for approval at the subsequent meeting. Thus, at each meeting, the minutes from two months prior will be voted on, while the minutes from one month prior will be distributed. Board and Executive Committee members will have one month to offer amendments, changes, and corrections before the minutes are approved.

• CESJ received an order for 16 copies of Father William Ferree's Introduction to Social Justice (1948) from the Center for the Laity in Chicago. Father Ferree was a co-founder of CESJ, and on his death in 1985 he was eulogized as America's greatest social philosopher by Father Andrew F. Morlion, O.P., Ph.D. (United Peoples, No. 14, 1986, 17.) Copies of Introduction to Social Justice in .pdf can be downloaded for free from the CESJ website.

• Joseph Recinos, a CESJ Board member, has made some important outreach to the children and grandchildren of the late Señor Alberto Martén Chavarría. As we reported in the News from the Network of January 29, 2010, Señor Martén (who died December 26, 2009 at the age of 100) founded of Solidarism in Costa Rica in 1950. He was an important figure in Central American politics, and had discussions with Louis Kelso and Norman Kurland on the compatibility of Father Heinrich Pesch's solidarism with binary economics and the Just Third Way. Joe believes that Señor Martén's granddaughter will be most helpful in searching through her grandfather's papers for specific tie-ins between solidarism and binary economics. Any findings might be the subject of a future blog series, and almost certainly an article in Social Justice Review.

• Somewhat surprisingly, most of the recent visitors to this blog have singled out two postings for special attention (aside from these news items, which seem to be read by everyone). These are the "Prologue" and "Le Armée Catholique et Royale" postings in the "Out of the Depths" series. The Prologue relates the a portion of the debate in Congress on the "Proprietary Fund for Puerto Rico" in the 1970s, and highlights Nobel Laureate Dr. Paul Samuelson's dismissive and, frankly, rather silly comments about the proposal in particular, and binary economics in general. Le Armée tells the story of the rising in the Vendée during the French Revolution — at least the financial aspects of it.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 50 different countries and 41 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, the UK, Brazil, Australia, and Canada. People in Egypt, the United States, Maldives, Brazil, and India spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting is the piece on "Le Armée Catholique et Royale" from the "Out of the Depths" series on French financial experiments. This is followed by the weekly "News from the Network" with two of the top five spots, and the "Prologue" and "Production is the Key" from the "Out of the Depths" 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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