Friday, March 6, 2015

News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 10


You figure it out.  All the news reports yesterday were bubbling with excitement over the U.S. jobs report, chattering on how the good news would send stock market prices soaring.  Sure enough, the stock market is soaring . . . if you’re standing on your head.  As of this writing, it’s down nearly 200 because the Federal Reserve is talking about a rate hike in June due to the drop in the “official” unemployment rate.

Evidently the powers-that-be still haven’t figured out that the stock market has little or nothing to do with the productive sector . . . just as the productive sector is having less and less to do with “jobs” as human labor productiveness continues to fall rapidly relative to that of capital, and will do so at an accelerating rate as labor costs continue to rise.

If we haven’t said it enough already, the only answer is Capital Homesteading.  If you need more reasons —

A piece of the action (and a buffalo skull).
  The Wall Street Journal recently opined on why the “Corporate Pension Gap” is soaring.  Even though the stock market is also “soaring,” and companies with defined benefit pension plans are pouring vast amounts of cash into their plans, there is a serious and growing shortfall in the projections of what will have to be paid out.  The main reason?  Speculative equity issues on Wall Street (you know, where all the recent “economic growth” is) often don’t meet the requirements of “safe” investments in which plan trustees are required to invest pension funds.  A prudent trustee (or paranoid, depending on how you want to look at it) will often go to government bonds because no government auditor is going to try and argue that it’s imprudent to invest pension funds in U.S. government debt.  Not if he or she wants to keep his or her job, anyway.  Interest rates on government bonds, however, are at rock bottom, which means even billions of dollars in pension plan contributions are not going to generate the income that millions did before.  The quick answer, of course, is to shift from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan — which, unless it’s a JBM S-Corp ESOP, has other issues, but is still better than the standard defined benefit plan.  The long-term answer?  Capital Homesteading.  Give everybody, not just corporate employees, the opportunity and means to build their own retirement trust.

"Look, guys, we have to produce to consume. We can't just keep spending."
• The Mises Institute has come up with a five-step plan for Greece.  1) Default on all loans (why keep promises?  You don’t really want anyone to accept your new currency, do you?).  2) Implement “true” austerity (as opposed to fake austerity?  They shouldn’t be spending what they don’t need to spend, anyway.  What else can they cut?).  3) Implement true free market banking (meaning limit all banks to the deposit function . . . who needs issue and discount banking anyway?  Only those who don’t have existing savings, i.e., 99.9% of humanity . . . “free banking” used to mean something else).  4) Institute monetary competition (not sure what this means, but it sounds like doing away with a uniform currency — evidently Mises doesn’t know about the problems with bimetallism or multiple legal tender currencies with shifting exchange rates — another way the rich screw the poor). 5) Fix the Drachma to gold (this almost makes sense . . . except that this only works if the currency is convertible, otherwise, if you’re going to peg to a commodity, it should be one that reflects the productive potential of the economy.  In ancient times it was usually cattle.  These days, why not another form of energy — or energy itself?).  Missing from the Mises plan is the only thing that would work: rebuild the economy (and thus the tax base) with a Capital Homesteading program, restoring government to its old role, and getting it out of trying to run the economy.  Even then, nothing is going to work unless they first change their philosophy of government.

• We’re still working on following up with Rabbi Skorka, “the Pope’s Rabbi.”  We’re having a little trouble getting people to return phone calls and e-mails, though.

Rockin' with the Washington Men's Camerata, 30th Anniversary
• If you’re not doing anything tomorrow night (Saturday, March 7, 2015) and you’re in Falls Church, Virginia, the Virginia Glee Club is having a “free” (i.e., no admission, but a collection will be taken) concert at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 7426 Idlwood Road, right off Route 7, at 8 pm.  Be there . . . or be somewhere else.  The Washington Men’s Camerata will sing three pieces by itself and join the Virginia Glee Club for Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria (actually the Angelus, but the piece is titled “Ave Maria”).  This is the Camerata's 30th Anniversary Season.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 46 different countries and 47 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, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. The most popular postings this past week were “Lord of the World, I: The Papal Reading List,” “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “Lord of the World, VI: Reformation and Transformation of Truth,” “Lord of the World, II: Introducing Robert Hugh Benson,” and “Lord of the World, V: Benson, Money, and Modernism.”

Those are the happenings for this week, at least those 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, so we’ll see it before it goes up.

#30#

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