Just as Americans are being socked with some rather hefty increases in their health insurance, thereby further reducing what in many cases is an already inadequate consumption income, the latest “crusade” is the panic over the fact that Americans are not saving enough for retirement; that retirement needs are short by “trillions” of dollars.
Under the prevailing Keynesian paradigm, of course, “saving” is always defined as the excess of income over consumption. If you want to save, then, the iron assumption of Keynesian economics is that you must consume less. So the American consumer is being put into an impossible situation: they are legally required to purchase healthcare or face fines and penalties, thereby increasing consumption dramatically and reducing saving, and at the same time are being told they must reduce consumption dramatically in order to accumulate sufficient savings for retirement.
Of course, the whole problem would go away with Capital Homesteading and financing both retirement and capital needs out of future savings (that Keynes insisted do not exist, vide “What is a Bill of Exchange?” from earlier this week), thereby increasing the capacity to consume and afford healthcare and everything else without government fines or subsidies.
But wait! That’s not the only nuttiness this week:
• The United Nations has taken it upon itself to lecture the Catholic Church on its inadequacies. This appears to be the latest move in an ongoing effort to get the Vatican out of the UN, even as an observer. Many of the comments are directed at insisting that the Catholic Church must change its religious teachings to conform to popular opinion and the demands of civil governments, who (not surprisingly) don’t want to recognize any authority higher than themselves. People of all religious beliefs and (more importantly) no beliefs should be extremely suspicious of this and similar tactics. Once people and institutions outside a religion start dictating what people of that faith may believe or how they practice their faith, it is a short road to mandating a State religion, with compulsory support and attendance under penalty of law. If government control of religion bothers you at least as much as religious control of government, consider signing the petition to defend the Catholic Church (and, by extension, all religions, organized and unorganized) against State control.
|Archbishop John Ireland|
• A couple of weeks ago we posted a quote from Archbishop John Ireland. It was about religious v. government schools, but it applies to all religious beliefs and practices: “Secularists and unbelievers will demand their rights. I concede their rights. I will not impose upon them my religion, which is Christianity. But let them not impose upon me and my fellow-Christians their religion, which is secularism. Secularism is a religion of its kind, and usually a very loud-spoken and intolerant religion. Non-sectarianism is not secularism, and, when non-sectarianism is intended, the secularist sect must not claim for itself the field which it refuses to others. I am taking my stand upon our common American citizenship. The liberty that I claim, I grant.” — Archbishop John Ireland, “State Schools and Parish Schools,” Address before the National Education Association of the United States, 1890.
• If you needed more evidence of the growing intolerance of religious belief of any kind, a British court has subpoenaed Prophet Thomas Monson, recognized by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as head of their church and God’s representative on earth, to answer charges of “fraud” in the church’s religious teachings. No one seems to be questioning the right of civil authorities to rule on purely religious matters, either in the U.K., or the U.S. Separation of Church and State appears to be a one-way street, and construed as government control of religion.
|Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C.|
• For all you friends of the University of Notre Dame du Lac, today is the 200th birthday of Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., who founded the university in 1846. Thanks to Dr. Sam N. of Cleveland for the heads up.
• For years the experts have been reassuring us that Social Security and employer-funded pensions are fully adequate to meeting Americans’ retirement needs. There is no Social Security crisis, and the defined benefit pension plan is solid. It’s perfectly safe, even advisable, to get rid of defined contribution plans, such as the 401(k) and, especially, the ESOP, particularly since the ESOP is not generally funded directly by the participants, but by a share of company profits that is due to them as part owners of the company. It does not reduce take-home pay. Now, coincidentally, at a time when the public needs to be diverted from the (un) Affordable Care Act that looks to have a hefty price tag in the trillions, we are being told there is a retirement savings crisis . . . in the trillions of dollars. So, just when a high-ticket healthcare package is starting to suck trillions of dollars of consumption income out of the system and reduce the potential for savings, the panic-effort is now to try to get Americans to start saving the trillions they will need for retirement. Of course, a Capital Homestead Act would solve both problems without reducing take-home pay, but it has the downside of having the potential to drastically reduce the power of government over everyone’s life.
• Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has his own proposal to fix the “retirement crisis.” His “Universal, Secure and Adaptable (USA) Retirement Funds Act of 2014” has all the downsides of the “MyRA” and nothing to recommend it. It claims it offers lifetime income security funded out of current savings, meaning further reductions in consumption out of already inadequate incomes. It also aggregates everything into a “private sector” institution that is custom designed to be “too big too fail.” Both the MyRA and the USA would be completely unnecessary if we had Capital Homesteading, but nobody in power seems to be thinking that way. Maybe if Guy S. in Iowa would put a flea in Senator Harkin’s ear, the government would stop trying to run our lives, and reform the necessary tax and monetary institutions so that we can run our own lives.
• The “jobs market” is officially improving, which should give a boost to Wall Street. The good news is that 113,000 “jobs” were “created” in January. Of course, this sidesteps the fact that 150,000 new jobs are needed each month to maintain even a static economy. . . .
• Capital Homesteadingfor Every Citizen: A Just Free Market Solution for Saving Social Security (2004).
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 52 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, Germany, Australia, and Canada. The most popular postings this past week were “Raw Judicial Power, I: ‘The Beginning of the Quarrel’,” “Why Did Nixon Take the Dollar Off the Gold Standard?” “What is a ‘Bill of Exchange’?,” “Aristotle on Private Property,” and Social Justice, IV: The Characteristics of Social Justice.
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.