Friday, February 28, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 09

Here’s how you, too, can make a fortune by speculating in something that doesn’t exist.  First, invent a virtual (fictional) commodity that can be generated by a computer program.  Next, come up with a snappy name for it, oh, say, a “Wit-coin.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Two-Pronged Strategy, I: The Temporal v. the Spiritual

A State Church
Many people assume that the roles of Church and State can be summed up very easily: meet people’s material needs.  Of course, if that orientation is correct, then either organized religion or government is redundant.  In the interests of efficiency, organized religion should take over government, or government should take over organized religion, whichever is in the best interests of the common good, or is consistent with the will of the people.  And, since the State has a monopoly on the instruments of coercion, you know who is going to win.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Capitalist Socialism, II: The Citizens Land Bank

In yesterday’s posting we saw that the United States could easily go the way of ancient Rome.  No, really.  If we really understand that Rome didn’t really “fall,” but slowly decayed and transformed into the Medieval world as conventional government spent itself into oblivion trying to meet every need, and then the modern world (where governments are spending themselves into bankruptcy trying to meet every need), it becomes comprehensible.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Capitalist Socialism, I: “Private Capital for Public Works”

One of the most serious signs of decay of the more or less cohesive classical Roman Empire and its transformation into the more inchoate “Christendom” of the Middle Ages composed of increasingly nationalistic groups was the takeover of State functions by private individuals.  Mostly this was the defense of the Empire, and the responsibility for raising and equipping troops (hence the rise of feudalism), but it included maintenance of infrastructure as well.  This turned the rich into the real rulers, an aristocracy, as distinct from the nominal rulers, the emperor (when there was one), and the local senate.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Woodrow Wilson and Walter Bagehot

Woodrow Wilson
Many people are unaware that Woodrow Wilson was a disciple of Walter Bagehot, who derived his theories in part from Thomas Hobbes, the totalitarian political philosopher. Not surprisingly, then, Wilson was an elitist who had a deep suspicion and mistrust of ordinary people, as well as those he seemed to view as demagogues, such as William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt. Bryan was someone to be used to counter Roosevelt, a sort of a backfire, or (perhaps more consistent with Wilson’s attitude) a thief to catch a thief.

Friday, February 21, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 08

Although the booming stock market has convinced many people that economic recovery is well in hand and progressing more or less on schedule, there are signs of serious problems remaining.  Chief among these is the fact that, while the stock market has recovered and more, reaching its highest level ever, there don’t seem to be too many actual people benefiting from this so-called “recovery.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Henry George v. Cardinal Gibbons

Georgist “legend” today has it that James Cardinal Gibbons (1834-1921), “quasi-primate” of the United States, did not put Progress and Poverty (1879) by agrarian socialist Henry George (1839-1897) on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“List of Prohibited Books”) because the Catholic Church found nothing wrong with George’s theory that individual people cannot own land.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

State Blackmail

Ultimately, the goal of the Just Third Way (in the short term) is to surface a world leader and present him or her with a possible framework for solving the problems world leaders are faced with, and for that leader to communicate to the world that the principles of economic justice as presented by Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler, and refined by CESJ.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem

Yesterday’s Washington Post (02/17/14) carried two columns related to the growing economic inequities.  From Robert Samuelson there was “Economists in the Dark.”  From Lawrence Summers there was “How to Curb Inequality.”  Both were on page A19.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Private Property: Absolute? or Absolutely Not!

A lot of people have a lot of problems with the word “absolute.”  They absolutely refuse to listen to anything that implies there might be such things as absolutes, moral or otherwise.  “There are no absolutes!” they trumpet . . . to which the obvious response is, “Are you absolutely sure of that?”

Friday, February 14, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 07

The new CESJ website is launched! Kudos to CESJ Director of Communications Dawn K. Brohawn for all her work in bringing this major effort to fruition.  If you go to the CESJ website and it looks the same as ever, just hit the “refresh” button, and you’re in for a treat.  All of your existing links should work.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fuller Wages, II: Contrary to Nature

In yesterday’s posting we noted that, in addition to the fact that paying people on the basis of need keeps them in a condition of dependency, that is, having the status of children or slaves, there is another, really big problem involved.  We have to face up to the fact that paying people more (or less) than they are worth is contrary to principles of justice, that is, to nature.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fuller Wages, I: “A Condition of Dependency”

First off, for those of you who think that this is a posting about the Fuller Brush Company, still going strong after more than a century (although we don’t see anything about worker ownership . . . ), we’ll give the standard response we get when we ask people what’s wrong with the Just Third Way: “You’re just wrong, that’s all.”  In any event, just because you haven’t seen a Fuller Brush Man (or Ma’am) doesn’t mean 1) the company isn’t around, or 2) it doesn’t have a good product.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Some Nineteenth Century Notes

Bagehot’s 1873 book, Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market, is an application of Bagehot’s theories of sovereignty described in The English Constitution. Bagehot embraced a political — and thus economic — system that assumed a political (and thereby financial) elite as a given and a positive good, as a necessity, in fact, if society is to advance socially, economically, and politically.

Monday, February 10, 2014

It’s Called a “MyRA”, III: A Better idea

In this brief series we’ve seen that the “MyRA” is a step . . . but in the wrong direction.  Aside from the fact that the whole idea is to get people to save more at the same time the government is making it more expensive to live (and then raising costs by increasing wages without a corresponding increase in labor productiveness), everything relies on an outdated and, frankly, failed understanding of money, credit, banking, finance . . . and power.

Friday, February 7, 2014

News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 06

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.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It’s Called a “MyRA”, II: A Few Problems

In the previous posting in this mercifully brief series we tried to describe the “MyRa” proposed by President Obama in his State of the Union Address.  Putting the best possible light on the subject, the MyRA does not appear to have the potential to do what Mr. Obama evidently assumes it will do: encourage Americans to save for retirement.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It’s Called a “MyRA”, I: What is It?

Last week during his State of the Union address, President Obama rolled out a retirement program for people who are employed by companies that don’t have retirement plans.  It is, at the very least, sounding better than the Affordable Care Act.  The president didn’t say that if you like your current retirement plan, you can keep it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why Economists are Unemployed

Why get a “good education”?  Why, to get a “good job,” of course.  A college diploma is a sure ticket to a lifetime of employment with the money just rolling in  . . . hopefully enough to repay all those student loans you had to take out to pay for the education that was guaranteed to get you that good job.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What is a “Bill of Exchange”?

This past Friday we got a question about bills of exchange, the financial instruments we’ve been talking about for some time.  Specifically, someone said, “‘discounting bills of exchange’ is something that I have been trying to wrap my head around for a while. In layman's terms, what does it mean?”