Thursday, December 11, 2014

Santorum’s “Better Place” I: Why Not Ownership?


No, even though we took the phrase straight from yesterday’s Washington Post, they weren’t referring to Rick Santorum’s departure from this life, but his reentry into political life.  It seems that Santorum has been contemplating running for the presidency (of the United States) in 2016.  He’s been keeping it low key, describing his position for 2016 as being “in a better place” than in 2012.

Another man from PA...You lookin' at me?
That being the case, and since we don’t see anyone, Democrat or Republican who has anything better, we thought we’d give the man from Pennsylvania a few tips, freely given, and no doubt worth every cent.  Of course, that does beg the question as to whether Santorum himself has anything, but everyone has to start out somewhere.

We resisted saying “Demolican or Repubocrat.”  It suggests construction workers engaged in tearing down buildings going repeatedly to bars.

That’s an unfair stereotype.  It implies, one, that blue-collar workers hang out in bars all the time.  Two, it implies that there are jobs.

Frankly, if someone, blue-collar or white-collar, has a job, he or she has better things to do than go to a bar, like work and family.  If unemployed, it’s a waste of money, and there are better ways to spend one’s time . . . like looking for work or taking care of the family.  And these days, jobs just can’t, uh, handle the job.

There’s the crux of the matter, and how, if Santorum can (as the Washington Post put it) appeal to “blue-collar workers who are being left behind in the economy.”  (Snide comment alert:  Right.  Blue-collar workers are the only ones “left behind” . . . according to the white-collar workers at the Post who have jobs . . . that haven’t been replaced by a computer program.  Yet.)

The other Abe; Not Shinzo.
Seriously, there are a number of things wrong with that.  We’ll focus on only one, however, because it’s connected with an idea that is the one thing that could put Santorum so far out front that even old Abe (Lincoln, not Shinzo . . . okay, Shinzo, too) couldn’t catch up.  Ironically, it’s an idea that Lincoln would have bought into — and did, in part, with signs that he was thinking of going the whole way before A Soldier of the Confederacy Acting on His Own Initiative decided to kill him for the dastardly crime of ending chattel slavery.

Aside to Santorum: Watch out if you buy in.  There may be equally avid defenders of wage slavery and the status quo, or who are Just Plain Nuts out there.

Bringing in wage slavery helps us segue into what Santorum can offer as a New Vision for America: a Capital Homestead Act.  Get away from the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” mantra, and the growing dependence of people on the State.

If Santorum is serious about the desire to “stand up and fight for [average Americans],” he should concentrate on getting power back into their the hands.  He should fight to restore the dream of a free and sovereign people who control the State, not a subservient mélange of wage serfs and welfare slaves who cower and kowtow to anyone with lots of money and a slick line of gab, and vote anybody into office who promises them a bigger share of someone else’s pie.

And that means capital ownership.  As another great American statesman said, “Power naturally and necessarily follows property.”  That was Daniel Webster, speaking to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820 on the issue of extending the franchise to adult white males who did not meet a property qualification.  He and Benjamin Watkins Leigh of Virginia properly feared for the foundation of the civil order if people without property used their political power to take over the property of others.

Pro-American, Pro Pontifice
If that’s not enough, what about what Pope Leo XIII said? —

“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.”  (Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, § 46.)

Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Homestead Act was (arguably) the greatest and most democratic economic initiative in history.  It ushered in what just might have been one of the most rapid periods of economic growth ever.

There were only three problems.  One, the Homestead Act applied only to landed capital, not commercial or industrial capital.  Once the land was gone, so was the opportunity for ownership.

Two, financing for development depended on a small and diminishing accumulation of past savings.  The policy of deflating the paper currency to restore parity with gold after the inflation during the Civil War ensured that farmers and small businessmen would be starved for credit.  The rich and powerful commercial interests could create money at will by issuing bills of exchange, and also received government subsidies.  Neither was available to the “less interesting” small farmer and business owner.

Ownership, you say? Fire up that peace pipe.
Three, the indigenous inhabitants, whether you call them “Native Americans” or “Injuns,” might be said, by a long stretch of the imagination, to have had some sort of claim to land they had occupied for a few thousand years.  Perhaps.  Maybe.  (Did we forget to push the “Sarcasm Alert” button?)

The third problem is actually distantly related to the second.  The belief that you can only finance new capital formation out of past savings, and that you only gain if somebody else loses, are errors, as Mortimer J. Adler said in a different context: “Looked at one way, the two mistakes represent opposite extremes.  Looked at another way, they represent opposite faces of the same error.”  (Mortimer J. Adler, Ten Philosophical Mistakes. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985, 90.)

We’ll talk about how Santorum can overcome these problems and present a vision of hope and positive change to the people of America and the world . . . and have a cakewalk into the White House in 2016 on Monday.

#30#

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