All the world (or, at least, that portion of it getting its news from the latest item to go viral) is talking about Manti Te’o and the story that he was ostensibly the victim of a cruel hoax. Opinion seems to be divided between those who think there’s something vaguely suspicious about the whole thing, and those who feel that Manti Te’o might be more deserving of sympathy now than when his fake girl friend allegedly died.
Notre Dame is not known for its population of dumb jocks. It has been for some time one of the few places where “student athlete” was not considered an oxymoron. So, given the smarts needed to go to ND, is it plausible that a Domer could be so stupid?
Rather than answer that, we’ll pose another question. Is it plausible that large numbers of American citizens could believe that the way to stimulate economic growth and bring the economy out of a downturn that we call a depression and the government calls a recovery is to keep on spending money and going into debt? On the other hand, is it plausible that equally large numbers of other American citizens could believe that the only solution to a gigantic debt is to cut government spending and pump up prices on the stock market?
Plausible or not, it’s true. Capital Homesteading, which appears to be the only viable proposal around to bring us out of the present crisis, doesn’t even have a place at the table. Consequently:
• It appears that the floodgates may be opening, and there may soon be a run on the financial strength of the United States, already seriously weakened by the economic downturn and massive increases in government spending and debt. Ecuador, Venezuela, Romania, the Netherlands, and Germany (and probably a few others we haven’t heard about) have initiatives afoot to demand repatriation of their gold held in the United States, mostly in the gold repository in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This follows the classic pattern of a bank failure, and can destroy even the strongest bank: when things look bad, take your paper, rush to the bank, and demand gold. Evidently, according to a growing number of countries, the U.S. is not the safest place to store your wealth anymore.
• Of course, repatriation of gold reserves is, in and of itself, nothing to worry about . . . or would be nothing to worry about if the U.S. money supply was backed by private sector assets instead of government debt, and capital ownership was widespread. Gold reserves are useful as a standard of value. When the paper currency is convertible into gold, it gives the public confidence in the currency. To insist, however, that the currency must be backed by gold — a “sterile” asset — instead of the productive capacity of the private sector is to misunderstand what money is (anything that can be accepted in settlement of a debt) and what money does: a tool that facilitates exchanges. In a sense, no exchanges can take place in civil society without involving “money,” for civil society is presumably based on contractual relationships between “independent others” of equal status, and just as all money is a contract, all contracts are, in a sense, money.
• A few weeks ago Guy S. in Iowa sent us a copy of Fulton Sheen’s first published book, God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy: A Critical Study in the Light of the Philosophy of Saint Thomas (1925). The book is unique among Sheen’s works for many reasons, not the least of which is that it features an introduction by the incomparable G. K. Chesterton. Eight years later — perhaps as a “course correction” to alter the direction in which he saw his followers were starting to drift and as something of a final legacy — Chesterton wrote his own short volume covering the same points as Sheen: Saint Thomas Aquinas: The “Dumb Ox” (1933). Heinrich Rommen, a student of Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J., and co-organizer of the Königswinterkreis discussion group, also made the same points in The Natural Law (1947), as did Mortimer Adler in a number of his books and essays, and, of course, Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis (1950). Paradoxically, the abandonment of reason has undermined both faith and reason. As Chesterton observed, “The truth I think is this: that since the triumph of what was called rationalism, we have successfully cultivated everything except reason.” (“On Monsters and Logic,” Avowals and Denials, 1934, 3.)
• The idea was proposed that CESJ might want to look into producing short radio programs of 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes as a way of starting “Justice University.” Using a “talk show” format, but with genuine education instead of opinions as the goal might be a very effective tactic to helping people understand the Just Third Way.
• An article by Michael D. Greaney, CESJ’s Director of Research, will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Social Justice Review. Entitled “The Blind Leading the Blind,” the article focuses on the problem of the growing national debt and how it might be repaid through reform of the tax, monetary, banking and income systems.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 50 different countries and 50 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 United Kingdom, Canada, India, and the Philippines. People in Sweden, Mexico, South Korea, Nepal, and Argentina spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular postings this past week were “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “News from the Network, Vol. 6, No. 2,” “Islamic Banking,” “How to Redeem Economics,” and “Is Choice Unconstitutional?”
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.