One of the things we’re finding out as we go through old newspaper files of the 1880s and 1890s is that “opinion journalism” is nothing new. It’s probably older than the clay tablets passed around by the ancient Sumerians, letting people know you can’t trust old Mekiajgacer, Son of Uta, because he disagreed with Zamug, Son of Barsalnuna over whether the bills of exchange drawn by Balih, Son of Etana, were better than the promissory notes issued by Ur-Nungal, Son of Gilgamec.
If that weren’t enough, we’re also finding that the “facts” reported today in the history books sometimes don’t agree too well with the facts as people of the day reported them. Things tend to get left out by academics who don’t bother to go to original sources, but take the word of someone with an ax to grind. As a case in point, we found a 24-page paper by a modern academic that had a five-page bibliography . . . of which four items (that’s items, not pages) were original sources. The vast bulk of the material simply reinforced the academic’s predetermined position, and was carefully selected to do just that — when some of the original material we’ve found flatly contradicts it.
And we wonder why it is so hard to get people to pay serious attention to the Just Third Way when they’ve accepted the assumptions of, e.g., Keynesian economics without question. To try and turn things around, here’s what we’ve been doing this past week:
• As many people know, CESJ, while not a Catholic or even religious organization, relies heavily on Catholic social teaching as “third party” moral authority supporting the Just Third Way, particularly the encyclicals Rerum Novarum (1891), Quadragesimo Anno (1931), and Divini Redemptoris (1937). In the past few weeks we have located original documents dating from the late 1880s hinting that a “doctrinal statement” might soon be issued on the question of private land ownership. We also located the full text of a “long lost” pastoral letter issued by Archbishop Michael Corrigan of New York on November 27, 1886, setting out Catholic doctrine on private property, especially private property in land. This morning, we located an item in the Milwaukee Journal of Saturday, April 30, 1887, that states, “New York, April 30. — Archbishop Corrigan has concluded not to make any statement in regard to the existing controversy between Dr. McGlynn, Henry George and others and the Catholic church, in view of the fact that an encyclical letter from Pope Leo XIII., bearing upon the land theory, is expected daily.” This is an important discovery due to the fact that Rerum Novarum has been used to support a theory of property that contradicts that of the Just Third Way.
• CESJ received two very interesting comments from members of the Just Third Way network this past week: “It's hard to remain hopeful these days. Sometimes I feel like Pope Benedict XVI wrote Spe Salvi just for me. If it weren't for CESJ, I think I'd have an even harder time remaining hopeful. At least I know there's an answer out there.” — J.C., 12/19/13. “Those days happen more frequently for me. I suppose the Bible ends dramatically for a reason. We just have to do what our Lord asks of us. I can see no better way to love thy neighbor (other than sharing the gospel) than helping share the message of the CESJ.” — R.C., 12/19/13.
• On Tuesday of this week, we had a posting on the surge in stock buybacks by U.S. corporations, touted as a boon for all concerned. We disagreed. Much to our surprise, in today’s Washington Post, columnist Harold Meyerson joined us — halfway — in suggesting that, perhaps, stock buybacks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. (“An Expensive Habit,” 12/20/13, A29.) He then joined us (again, halfway) by calling for “a whole new economic order.” We say “halfway” because what he described as “a whole new economic order” is nothing more than an intensification of what is most wrong with the current system. Not that we’re telling you to do anything, but wouldn’t it be great if one or two (thousand) people sent Meyerson an e-mail at meyersonh [at] washpost [dot] com to tell him (briefly) about the potential of Capital Homesteading? Just a thought.
Not unexpectedly, in the same issue of the Washington Post (the same page, actually), Charles Krauthammer put the screws on “Obamacare,” A.K.A., “The Affordable Care Act.” We say, “not unexpectedly,” because Krauthammer has not only pointed out the obvious flaws in the ACA before, he has a medical degree. Again, not telling anyone what to do, but the weaknesses that Dr. Krauthammer notes in the ACA are addressed in CESJ’s healthcare proposal — and if enough people sent him e-mails at letters [at] charleskrauthammer [dot] com telling him about the CESJ proposal, it might give him some leverage and help him introduce a viable solution in quarters where it might get the attention it needs. Again, just a thought.
• 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 63 different countries and 55 states and provinces in the United States and Canada (for some reason no one in Wyoming is reading the blog) 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 “Voluntary Taxation? Not in a Free Society.”
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.