Friday, August 5, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 31

The theme for this week's news items is social justice. And what is "social justice"? you ask. It's not all the detritus that's been shoveled onto the term, e.g., institutionalized almsgiving, universal health care, job creation, same-sex marriage (for or against), abortion and contraception (ditto, ditto), etc., so on, so forth. No, the act of social justice means organizing for the common good. And what is the "common good"? you ask. It's not a vague term. It means the vast network of institutions within which humanity as "political animals" develops its humanity.

So — what are your marching orders for this week? How about sending an e-mail or two to help us follow up with some of these outreach efforts? Focus on obtaining statements of support for the Coalition for Capital Homesteading and opening doors for Norm to meet with them. There is a lot of work to do, so you'd better get busy:

• Licensed deck and engineering officers and stewards represented by American Maritime Officers went on strike against American Steamship Company Monday after AMO's contract with the company expired at midnight July 31. The strike is now in its fifth day. The company wants to cut 14 jobs immediately, with the possibility of 56 more, and would no longer fund the medical, retirement and training benefits of AMO officers. CESJ stalwart Rob Woodman has suggested a radical idea to Thomas J. Bethel, National President of the AMO, to settle their differences with American Steamship, a Great Lakes shipper founded in Buffalo, New York, in 1907, and today a subsidiary of GATX Corporation of Williamsville, New York: Why not set up an ESOP? As Pope Leo XIII declared back in 1891, "We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners." (Rerum Novarum, § 46.) Contact information for Mr. Bethel can be found here.

• In light of yesterday's "disaster" (for the gamblers and speculators on Wall Street, as well as governments determined to avoid the accountability that living within their means imposes), a couple of articles surfaced by another CESJ stalwart, Rowland Brohawn, gain even more relevance. According to a March 2010 CNN Money story, "ESOP Plans [which is a little redundant; "P" stands for "Plan"] Let Founders Cash Out and Employees Cash In," a "study from Georgetown University shows that in the recent recession, ESOP firms' revenue grew an average of 15.1%, compared to a decline of 3.4% for all private-industry revenue. ESOP firms also showed employment growth, faster wage growth and higher average wages during 2008, compared to drop-offs in all of those metrics at other firms." Another article gave a different twist on the same study: "New Study Shows S Corporation ESOPs Outperformed Other Companies During the Recent Recession." As the article explained, "A Georgetown University/McDonough School of Business study released today found that, in the most recent economic recession, Subchapter S companies owned by their employees through employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) demonstrated considerable resilience and performed better than other companies in providing for workers' retirement security, job creation, and revenue growth." This corroborates findings of the National Center for Employee Ownership in Oakland, California, regarding the performance of worker-owned companies with profit sharing and participatory management. Maybe in light of these results something will click at Georgetown about the Just Third Way. Oh, if only CESJ in North Arlington, Virginia, wasn't so far away from Georgetown University across the Potomac River. Oh, if only somebody would suggest some talks with Norman Kurland to advocates of expanded capital ownership at Georgetown, say, Father James V. Schall, S.J., Ph.D., a professor in the Government Department who is considered one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America, and who has outreach to a number of individuals and organizations with which CESJ should be in touch. Imagine what Father Schall could do if he learned about the Just Third Way. Contact information for Father Schall can be found here.

• We sent an e-mail to Rebecca Messall, CEO of the National Lawyers Association (which still hasn't corrected the Edmund Burke quote on its homepage), about digging up half-a-dozen or so well-placed contacts in or around Washington, DC, with whom Norm can meet in order to start some networking to advance the Just Third Way, especially in light of the current Great Depression III Great Recession, and the potential that a Capital Homestead Act has to turn things around. Use the NLA's "snail mail" address from their website; they don't have an e-mail. (Why? Because lawyers operate on precedent. If nobody did it before, they can't do it now.)

• Norm put in a call to Bob Marshall, representing Manassas in the Virginia House of Delegates. Norm has "mentored" Bob in the Just Third Way, and is working to try and get people interested in a just and financially feasible — and ethical — solution to the current economic crisis organized. Bob's probably a little busy and hasn't responded. Maybe he just needs a little reminder. Contact information for Bob can be found here.

• We sent an e-mail to Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein concerning a column he wrote on the dangers of misinterpreting the economics of John Maynard Keynes. If you recall (we posted the letter on this blog when he didn't respond), we raised the possibility that it's not so much the dangers of misinterpreting the Great Defunct Economist, but in interpreting him at all. You might send Mr. Klein an e-mail, suggesting that he might want to talk to Norm. It certainly couldn't hurt. We'll break our policy here and publish his e-mail, since it is published in the Post, anyway. It's "kleine" with that little "a" with a circle around it, followed by "washpost" dot "com."

• Then there's George Melloan, who also ought to be listening. We couldn't find an e-mail for him, so we just sent it to the "newseditors" at "wsj" dot "com." Come to think of it, any one of them should be having a chat with Norm.

• Norman Kurland and Michael Greaney had a very good meeting on Wednesday with Michael Holzman, an ESOP attorney, and his father, a psychologist. Among many other things, Dr. Holzman asked if the Just Third Way was inspired in any degree by the work of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc and the system they called, "distributism." When we said yes, he asked what "the Chesterton people" were doing about it. "Nothing." "Why not?" "Dunno." If you're burning to find out "why not?" you can probably get in touch with "the Chesterton people" yourself at the American Chesterton Society, or the Chesterton Institute. If you want a guess as to why the Just Third Way is not on their radar, it might be that they're using some bad definitions of money, credit, finance, property, the State, natural law, and few other et ceteras.

• Norman Kurland will be following up this week with the contacts he made at the CAUX Global Roundtable, including three people from Japan, three more from the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the head of the Institute for Servant Leadership in the Netherlands, a professor of business (also from the Netherlands), a number of Muslims who expressed a great deal of enthusiasm, and some others who might be in key positions.

• Norman Kurland was the keynote speaker at a conference of the Federation of Christian Ministries. Their orientation seemed to be "traditional liberal," but a number of them expressed a great deal of surprise that they hadn't heard anything about the Just Third Way, and became quite excited that there is an alternative to the Keynesian prescription that avoids the "hardheartedness" of "traditional conservatism."

• Pollant and Eileen Mpofu have been making great strides in opening doors in South Africa. Eileen has been able to get a number of letters of support from organizations as well as mayors and tribal leaders.

• Jimmie Griffin in Waterbury, Connecticut, has been having radio interviews (he had to leave today's meeting of the Coalition for Capital Homesteading to give an interview, but he returned), issuing press releases, and holding press conferences.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 45 different countries and 48 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, the Philippines, Canada, and India. People in Italy, Slovenia, Mauritius, Malaysia and Guatemala (Hi, Joe!) spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting this past week was "History of Binary Economics . . . Sort Of" "Aristotle on Private Property." "Dangers of Interpreting Keynes," "What History Teaches Us About the Welfare State" and "I'm Against It."

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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