Friday, February 4, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 5

We don't have time to go into it in any depth right now (or at all, for that matter), but Dawn K. Brohawn, CESJ's Director of Communications, came across a quote from the collection we've been compiling for many years. It dates from 1982, and concerns the analysis of Dr. Raj Reddy of Carnegie-Mellon. Dr. Reddy predicted, "Currently, around 25 to 28 million people are employed in manufacturing in America. I expect it to go down to less than 3 million by the year 2010. So we have only 30 years to decide what those millions of people are going to be doing."

The standard answer at the time — and one that continues to haunt us today in the never-ending quest for "job-creation" during the "jobless recovery" (a.k.a., "The Great Depression III"), is that new jobs will somehow magically appear in the service industries, leisure, research, and white-collar work. In response, Dr. Reddy said (in effect) "Wanna bet?" As he really said, "even there the same revolution is coming." He went on to comment that, "no one [in power] understands what's happening or grasps the extent of what's coming." ("Artificial Intelligence," Business Week, March 8, 1982.)

So, how accurate was Dr. Reddy's prediction?

Pretty accurate, as the figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest. The number of people employed in production ("manufacturing") in 2008 was 8,973,000, and in 2009 7,654,000. Doing a straight line regression, this gives us the estimated number of people engaged in production in 2010 (actual figures aren't available yet) as 6,335,000, 2011 as a little over 5 million, and 2012 could be as few as 3.7 million.

Of course, 2008 and 2009 were periods of economic recovery, so we should expect the number of jobs to decline even faster, once the economy gets back on an even keel. (Unless there's something drastically wrong with the claim that the "recession" is over . . . What?  You think that reasoning is any screwier than the claim that the "recession" is over?)

Anyway, as the U.S. economy continues to implode under the illusion that the economic problems have been "fixed" by bloating the financial services industry, increasing State takeover of the private sector, and assuming a gargantuan debt, it becomes painfully clear that, unless Capital Homesteading is adopted by 2012 at the latest, the U.S. can very quickly find itself locked into an irrecoverable economic downward spiral.

You can't have 400 million people supported by the productive efforts of the 0.92% of the population projected to own direct productive labor by 2012, or the less than 1% of the population who own most of the capital — that is, 98% of the population supported by the other 2% — without social disruption, even revolution on a massive scale. As Benjamin Watkins Leigh pointed out in 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."

So what have we been doing to extend ownership of capital to the millions being displaced by advancing technology and cheaper labor in other regions?

• Hernando de Soto has weighed in on the troubles in Egypt. With the rather unimportant caveat (at this point) that his orientation is based on existing accumulations of savings, de Soto pinpoints one of the flaws in what may be civil society's most important institution, the legal structures surrounding private property. Many people in Egypt do not have recognized legal title to what they have in their possession, even if they have built it up from scratch. Getting the proper permits and licenses in less than a decade for even a small business is a Herculean task. Credit, collateral, or anything else involving commerce above the level of barter or the smallest of cash transactions? Forget it. As de Soto concluded his op-ed piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, "Leaders and governments may change and more democracy might come to Egypt. But unless its existing legal institutions are reformed to allow economic growth from the bottom up, the aspirations for a better life that are motivating so many demonstrating in the streets will remain unfulfilled." ("Egypt's Economic Apartheid," WSJ, 02/03/11, A15).

• We sent out some e-mail follow-ups to the CESJ information packages we sent out last week following the Catholic Radio Association reception at the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America the evening before the March for Life. Those whom we had not given a copy of Supporting Life (available through the "bookstore" link to your right) were sent a complimentary copy, along with materials describing CESJ's accomplishments. So far we've heard back from two of the recipients — fortunately, the two highest-placed and thus the ones best able to get the word out about Capital Homesteading as a possible Pro-Life economic agenda.

• The relationship between the principals involved in the Harris Neck, Georgia initiative and CESJ and other Just Third Way organizations continues to deepen. Dave Kelly, the Harris Neck "prime mover," has been very active bringing people together and introducing them to Norman Kurland. Plans are afoot to have Norm attend an important gathering at Harris Neck within the next couple of weeks.

• Russell Williams, CESJ's National Field Secretary, has signed the contract for a 13-week radio show on the Just Third Way. CESJ has pledged support for the effort.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 51 different countries and 44 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, Germany, and the Philippines. People in Venezuela, South Africa, Poland, the Philippines and Indonesia spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting this past week has been "Pure Credit for Student Loans," followed by "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," "The 'New' Slavery, Part V: Debt Slavery," "The 'New' Slavery, Part III: Wage and Welfare Slavery," and "News from the Network, 4.1."

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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