The freezing temperatures here around Washington, DC, and the currency spectacle in Argentina (and pretty much everywhere else in the world) do have something in common. Not much, but something. I’ll explain.
When I discuss the temperature with a friend in Germany, I often have something of a “jog” in the conversation. She measures the temperature in Celsius, while I use Fahrenheit. When, during a summer heat wave, she says she’s burning up at 20°, I have to pause for that “Oh, yeah” moment. Once said to her that, if she would just change from Celsius to Fahrenheit, she would cool off very fast, start freezing, in fact. (For some reason she didn’t think that was funny, but Germans have no sense of humor, anyway.)
Obviously it’s silly to think that you can change the temperature simply by recalibrating the thermometer or by using a different standard. It ain’t gonna change nothing.
Why, then, do the “experts” insist that you can promote economic growth by manipulating or changing the measure of economic growth: the currency? Money, after all, is not wealth. Money is a measure of wealth, the medium of exchange by means of which claims on the present value of existing and future wealth are conveyed in a transaction. Issuing more money backed by nothing but government debt only increases the claims, it doesn’t increase wealth. In fact, devaluing existing claims by issuing debt-backed instead of asset-backed money makes it harder to create new wealth, and distorts the distribution of existing wealth.
So what have we been doing this past week to try and restore some sanity to matters?
• This past Monday was CESJ’s quarterly board meeting. The issue of participation of non-board members was addressed, making it clear that non-board members participate in an advisory capacity, representing the membership as a whole, with votes being in the form of non-binding “opinion polls.” The position of “National Field Secretary” has been put in abeyance. “Project Manager” was selected as being more appropriate and descriptive at the present time.
• CESJ interviewed a prospective intern from American University recently. The prospect sounds very enthusiastic, and appears to grasp some of the fundamental principles already. She believes that, assuming she accepts the internship, she might bring as many as a dozen people to the annual rally at the Federal Reserve in April.
• CESJ has been working with a consulting group to train members of the CESJ core group to submit grant applications to foundations. A number of projects have been reviewed for funding, with the primary one being the Justice University proposal.
• The CESJ core group has been having some in-depth discussions with two clergymen in Pennsylvania, both of whom have expressed interest in advancing the Just Third Way through both non-profit and for-profit channels. We are still in the “relationship building” phase, making connections, and learning about each other’s respective approaches and philosophies, but so far everything has been going very well.
• Norman Kurland attended a reception hosted by “Americans United for Life,” a Pro-Life legal advocacy organization, the night before the annual “March for Life” in Washington, DC. Norm made a number of interesting connections, and will be following up, with the goal of introducing the Pro-Life movement as a whole to the possibilities represented by a “Pro-Life economic agenda” as part of the “platform.”
• Guy S. in Iowa located a rare English translation of a radio address given by Pope Pius XII on September 1, 1944, in which the pope stressed the importance of private property in securing family life on a firm foundation, and in reconstructing the social order once the war then in progress came to an end. (Scroll up and to the right to see the article by following the link.) Some parts of the address were obscured due to poor copying, but reference to the official Italian and Spanish versions on the Vatican website should make it easy to fill in the missing words. (An interesting side note for people interested in Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, “Padre Pio,” is that one of the newspapers in which Guy found a report of the pope’s address also carried an article about the Italian friar whose masses were attended by “thousands of U.S. soldiers,” both Catholic and non-Catholic.)
• 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 50 different countries and 46 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, Germany, Nigeria, and Brazil. The most popular postings this past week were “Some Thoughts on Money, Part II,” “A Brief Course in Banking Theory, I: Banks of Deposit,” “What History Teaches Us About the Welfare State,” “Aristotle on Private Property,” and “Why Did Nixon Take the Dollar Off the Gold Standard?”
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.