Friday, January 7, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 1

This is the first News from the Network for the New Year, so it is appropriate that recent events have signaled a potential "new beginning" for efforts to introduce the Just Third Way and bring it to the attention of policymakers and politicians. Nowhere is this more evident than in the advances that have been made in Harris Neck, Georgia.

Now, we aren't doing work in Harris Neck. Maybe we'll never do work in Harris Neck. That, however, is not the point. Which is? That people who are the prime movers and shakers in Harris Neck came upon the Just Third Way, as far as we can tell, completely by chance. Welche wonne, they immediately expressed openness to the basic principles of the Just Third Way and the proposals based on those principles.

If you're a reader of The New York Times or a viewer of 60 Minutes, you're already familiar with the Harris Neck situation. Since we've provided links here, we'll only give a brief outline from our perspective. You can follow the links to the Times and 60 Minutes, as well as the Harris Neck Land Trust website if you want more details — and, if you're a typical reader of this blog, you will. If you're then inspired to volunteer for the effort . . . well, hold your horses. We have to see what develops before we start soliciting help, either for them or for CESJ. In the meantime, a statement of support would no doubt be more than welcome — especially if you have any connections to The Rich 'n Powerful and want to be a door opener.

Most of us here at JTW Global HQ had never paid any attention to Harris Neck. For the most part we've focused our efforts on East St. Louis that, as most viewers of The Simpsons know, is a city in need of some substantial work to return it to its former livability. We worked with Wyvetter Younge, the Illinois State Representative for the area, for many years in her efforts to bring R. Buckminster Fuller and Louis Kelso's vision of What-Could-Be to fruition. Due to various factors, however, the project has been on a back burner for some time now.

Not too long before Christmas 2010, however, we got a nice surprise gift in the form of a call from Dave Kelly, one of the prime prime movers working to get Harris Neck back to its rightful owners. Dave filled Norman Kurland in on the Harris Neck situation, and Norm filled Dave in on the potential of the Just Third Way as a possible means to structure the project and secure development financing in a way that not only doesn't put it on the backs of the taxpayers, but vests direct ownership of any development in the people.

We scheduled a meeting during one of Dave's trips to Washington to discuss how Just Third Way principles, especially financing and direct citizen ownership, might be applied to the Harris Neck situation, and to strategize on how to get to "door openers" and others within less than six degrees of Kevin Bacon. When the meeting was almost over, we found out that Dave, like this writer, is a "Domer," the Not-So-Secret-Code-Word for graduates of Notre Dame. By merest coincidence, the tie I had selected to wear (i.e., that was on top of the heap of clothes that I hadn't put away for a week) was what "We Domers" call a "Bookstore Special," meaning the sort of kitsch that gets sold by the truckload on "Football Saturdays" at the Notre Dame Hammes Bookstore to alumni & friends who show up to see some real football, as opposed to pro ball in which you watch twenty-two millionaires beat each others' brains out after preempting your favorite show.

We exchanged Secret Handshakes, etc., and dropped a few names ("Holy Cross!" "St. Ed's!"), leaving Norm and Dawn Brohawn completely in the dark. We then politely included these Children of Lesser Universities (U of Conn/Chicago & Georgetown, respectively) in the rest of the conversation — which concerned tactics on (what else?) how to bring the the Harris Neck initiative to the attention of the media and prime movers.

This, obviously, is an Auspicious Beginning to the New Year, which (thanks to "Great Depression III: This Time It's Personal") bodes well to be open to the effort to pass a Capital Homestead Act by 2012, the Sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's 1862 land-based program. It is not, however, the only thing, as this week's news items make clear:

• Naturally, right after we wrote the above effusion on Harris Neck, we got a telephone call from Pollant Mpofu in London. (Pollant did not attend Notre Dame.) As we've reported previously, Pollant, who is an official in the Labor (or "Labour") Party in London, has been working very hard at making connections with the goal of introducing VIPs in the UK and Éire to the principles of the Just Third Way. He has reached out to the Prime Minister, the Taoiseach, Members of Parliament, Members of the Daíl, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and, seemingly, all the clippers and ships at sea. Pollant's news was that a series of letters to the Hon. Grant Shapps, MP and Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and one of David Cameron's most valued and strong supporters of the Prime Minister's "Big Society" initiative, have resulted in an invitation to meet with Mr. Shapps. (It doesn't hurt any that Mr. Shapps is also noted for being "squeaky clean," having come out of the investigation of the recent parliamentary expense scandal with flying colors . . . I mean, colours.)

• Dave Kelly, Domer Extraordinaire and prime mover for the Harris Neck initiative, is working to get Norm a meeting with some highly placed other prime movers who might be able to open up the door to Mr. Obama. We haven't heard yet, but, frankly, people are busy, and it takes time to arrange things. For example, we knew that Pollant's persistence (above) would pay off, but we didn't expect anything this soon.

• As readers of this blog are aware, it's not just the financial system and academia that are messed up. The surrounding culture has been taking a beating ever since widespread ownership disappeared, the wage system became "the" way to run the world, and, in consequence, "bodily labor, which Divine Providence decreed to be performed, even after original sin, for the good at once of man's body and soul, is being everywhere changed into an instrument of perversion; for dead matter comes forth from the factory ennobled, while men there are corrupted and degraded." (Quadragesimo Anno, § 135) Nowhere is this more evident than in the popular media. In light of that, a bunch of us got together some years ago and started an effort to bring "long lost" fiction that embodies universal moral values back into print. Our first effort was famed Notre Dame (them again!) football coach Knute Rockne's only novel, a "Young Adult" epic entitled The Four Winners from 1925, and featured in one of the late Dr. Ralph McInerny's mysteries set at Notre Dame. (We even got the endorsement of Dr. Charles Rice, Dr. Sam Nigro, and some guy named Knute Rockne III.) We followed up with the fiction of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson . . . who lectured at Notre Dame. (What is going on here? Is this Notre Dame place supposed to be important for some reason?) We started with Father Benson's better known works, such as his science fiction satire Lord of the World (1907), but this past week (finally) got all of his lesser-known-but-in-many-ways-much-better "mainstream" novels, written between 1910 and 1914, to the printer. One or two of these have not been widely available for nearly a century, which is a real pity, for they probably qualify as classics of satiric literature — Evelyn Waugh loved them. Anyway, we expect them to be listed on Amazon, possibly even Barnes and Noble by next week, at which point we'll tell you how to get them, as well as CESJ's own publications. Don't bother to get those put out by other publishers, as we've added forewords and footnotes to fit the novels into the general ethical framework of the Just Third Way so, while other editions are perfectly okay, they don't do anything for us.

• Final arrangements have been made to meet next week with Mr. Robert Colangelo, Executive Director of the National Brownfield Association in Chicago, and one of his associates from Detroit, Mr. John Dondanville . . . who went to Notre Dame . . . . Among other things, we'll be discussing ways to finance the "right sizing" of cities in the U.S. and Canada, the topic on which Norm spoke at the Canada-U.S. Brownfield Summit held in Buffalo, New York, this past October.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 46 different countries and 45 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, Brazil, the UK, and India. People in Croatia, Venezuela, Poland, Canada, and the United States spent the most average time on the blog. Yet again, and still possibly due to the growing perception that something is wrong with the basic assumptions of Keynesian economics (as well as other schools of economics based on the Currency School of finance), the most popular posting by far is one from a while back, "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," that briefly explains the similarities in the way Keynes and Hobbes abolish private property. This is followed by "Aristotle on Private Property," "Games People Play," "The Problem With Distributism," and "Why Government Debt is Really Bad."
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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