Friday, December 13, 2013

News from the Network, Vol. 6, No. 50


The Federal Reserve just announced that Americans are wealthier than ever before! We’re so relieved.  We thought the fact that our income keeps buying less and less, and our liquid assets seem to be evaporating like we wish the snow outside would (must be selective global warming that affects only assets, and not ice sets) meant that people as a whole are getting poorer, not richer.

According to an amusingly snarky news report from Aaron Task of The Daily Ticker and Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo! Finance, there are one or two misleading partial facts that suggest that, while there is certainly more wealth (at least as measured in inflated Keynesian Kurrency), it’s not spread out very well. . . .

  • The Dow is at its highest point in history.  The S&P is ’way up.  What’s not up?  The percentage of Americans who directly own equity in a corporation.  Less than 10% of Americans own 80% of publicly traded shares.

  • Per capita household wealth is at an all-time high.  So is the number of Americans on food stamps.  Isn’t it amazing what you can do with averages?  Take one dead person, and one live person, and you average out to two half-dead people.

  • Nearly one-third of Americans think we’re in a recession.  (The rest probably call it by its right name: “depression.”)  Thirty-nine percent think the economy can only get worse.

  • As of October 2013, real household income has declined 6.3% from December of 2007.  Thank you, inflationary stimulus packages that do nothing except raise prices by shoveling money to the rich and drive up speculative values on the stock exchanges so fewer people can afford shares even if they had the money.

  • The housing market has rebounded!  Yay!  Houses are usually the biggest single factor in most people’s calculation of wealth.  More Americans are renting (35%) than in 2004 (31%).  Boooooo.

  • Non-mortgage debt is at an all-time high.  And you know what a big factor is?  People who were hoodwinked into going back to school to qualify for jobs that don’t exist.  They were working two jobs to stay in debt, then lost the job to go to school and assumed another $250,000 in new debt.  Oh, sorry.  The average student loan debt is only $29,000.  We’re saved.  Just like with the Affordable Care Act, those who are not in debt will pay down the debt that others incurred.  Won’t they?

Okay, let’s get to the real news items that tell us what’s being done to fix the problem of being so rich we don’t have any money:

• A number of important connections have been made this past week.  We are in the process of making arrangements to meet with union leaders, religious leaders, and even possible funding sources for CESJ.  Obviously, we can’t tell you any more until the actual meetings come off, but things are looking very good on the networking front.  This shows what just a little door-opening whenever you see an opportunity can accomplish.

• We may have located “the smoking gun,” so to speak, that led to the issuance of what is reputedly the first “social encyclical,” Rerum Novarum, by Pope Leo XIII.  We located an unpublished manuscript that has been lying around for more than a century in a university archive without anyone realizing its significance.  It is a first-hand account by one of the principals involved in a situation that pitted socialists and capitalists against the Catholic Church in the late 19th century.  Rerum Novarum is important to the Just Third Way because it was the first encyclical to give a specific remedy to the growing wealth gap and other social problems: “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.)

• Father Matthew Habiger, O.S.B., Ph.D., a member of the CESJ Board of Counselors, and a strong supporter of CESJ’s “Pro-Life economic agenda,” has kicked off an initiative called “50 Million Names.” CESJ does not take either a Pro-Life or a Pro-Choice position as an organization, but we do maintain that solving the income problem and addressing the wealth gap will take away the economic pressures that may induce people to consider abortion as an expedient.  Something like Capital Homesteading would make choice truly free, at least in an economic sense, so that people can go with what they truly believe, rather than what they feel themselves forced into.

• The big news is still that Freedom Under God is available after nearly three-quarters of a century.  CESJ is now taking bulk/wholesale orders (please, no individual sales).  The per unit price for ten or more copies is $16.00 (20% discount).  Shipping is extra.  Send an e-mail to “publications [at] cesj [dot] org” stating how many copies you want and the street address (no P. O. Boxes) where you want them delivered.  We will get back to you with the total cost, how to pay, and estimated delivery time.  All payments must be made in advance, and orders are placed only after payment clears.  Individual copies are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as by special order from many bookstores.

CESJ offers a 10% commission on the retail cover price on bulk sales of publications.  If you broker a deal with, for example, a school or civic organization that buys a publication in bulk (i.e., ten copies or more of a single title), you receive a commission once a transaction has been completed to the satisfaction of the customer.  Thus, if you get your club or school to purchase, say, ten cases of Freedom Under God (280 copies) or any other CESJ or UVM publication, the organization would pay CESJ $3,920.00 (280 copies x $20 per copy, less a 30% discount), plus shipping (the commission is calculated on the retail cost only, not the shipping).  You would receive $560.00.  Send an e-mail to “publications [at] cesj [dot] org” for copies of flyers of CESJ and UVM publications.  (CESJ project participants and UVM shareholders are not eligible for commissions.)

So Much Generosity, the collection of essays about the fiction of Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman, John Henry Cardinal Newman, and Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson by Michael D. Greaney, CESJ’s Director of Research.  The book is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and is also available on Kindle. Many of the essays incorporate elements of the Just Third Way.  The book is priced at $20.00, and there is a 20% discount on bulk orders (i.e., ten or more), which can be ordered by sending an e-mail to publications [at] cesj [dot] org.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 60 different countries and 53 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 United Kingdom, India, and the Philippines. The most popular postings this past week were “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “Aristotle on Private Property,” “Distributive Justice”?, XIX: Henry George and the Catholic Church,” News from the Network, Vol. 6, No. 48, and “Distributive Justice”?, XVI: Solemn Nonsense.”

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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