Friday, July 17, 2015

News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 29


Germany is being painted as the villain in the (alleged) solution to the Greek debt crisis. Germany (and Germans) are, as we might expect, being portrayed as Nazi stormtroopers and concentration camp guards (how original) for wanting Greece to pay its debts (gasp!), or at least promise to do so (how rude!) — and, yes, the swastika has put in an appearance.  Most people, however, seem to be missing a few salient facts.  That is, besides the fact that people or countries shouldn't make promises (i.e., go into debt) that they have no intention of keeping.

A mild example (no, really) of the rage against Germany.
For example, Greece was “forced” to agree to “austerity” before, and did nothing.  The Greeks seem convinced that all the other countries in the “Euro Zone” are somehow responsible for keeping the lavish promises made by their own country’s government.  Most important, as we have seen in the blog series on the crisis, the so-called solution — even if it were actually implemented — cannot solve the problem.

What will solve the problem?  It’s a simple two-step process: 1) Realize you can’t consume without producing.  2) Start producing.  Otherwise you’re consuming what others produce without giving anything in exchange.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas
Anything else puts the other countries in the Euro Zone, especially Germany, in the position that Abraham Lincoln referred to during his debates with Stephen Douglas:

“It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”

Now, on to things that are actually happening, instead of just being talked about:

"Thanks, dude!"
• CESJ’s article that appeared last month in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, “Pope Francis and the Just Third Way”, is still gaining more traction.  A CESJ friend in Buenos Aires who teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, where Pope Francis was Grand Chancellor before his election, has agreed to translate the article into Spanish.

CORRECTION: Last week we reported that Pope Francis had refused the “communist crucifix” presented to him by President Evo Morales of Bolivia.  We have since learned that Pope Francis accepted the item and “another gift.”  He then turned around and dedicated both gifts to Bolivia’s patron, “Our Lady of Copacabana.”  In this way the pope managed to defuse a potentially lose-lose situation by “re-gifting” back to the donor in a way in which the people of Bolivia couldn’t possibly take (any rational) offense.  It did, however, get rid of the thing as diplomatically as possible.  Morales seems to have a little egg on his face, and a spokesman for the Bolivian government made a somewhat disingenuous statement that the president had no ulterior motive in giving a gift that was virtually guaranteed to be interpreted negatively by many as an attempt to gain a de facto papal endorsement of socialism, or publicly embarrass the pope.

"Hi.  Own me, or I'll end up owning you!"
• The MIT Technology Review just published an article, “Who Will Own the Robots?  While we commented on the article, no one seems to have picked up on or understood the comment.  We republish the gist of it (edited to take out any dumb [or smart] errors) here: “It’s good to see that MIT is finally asking the question Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler answered more than half a century ago in their books, The Capitalist Manifesto (1958) and The New Capitalists (1961).  How are people without existing savings or the ability to restrict consumption to be empowered to purchase the capital that is making their labor redundant and driving down wages?  By financing the acquisition of new capital with ‘future savings’: the present value of future increases in production, repaid with the profits of the capital itself in the future that anyone with a financially feasible project can access, instead of ‘past savings’: the present value of past reductions in consumption, by definition a virtual monopoly of the currently wealthy.  Shifting from past savings to future savings as the source of financing for new capital formation frees economic growth from the constraints of the past and allows what is possible to determine the rate of economic growth as well as patterns of ownership.  This is why Kelso and Adler subtitled their second book, ‘A Proposal to Free Economic Growth from the Slavery of Savings,’ meaning past savings, not future savings. Kelso and Adler's proposal was based on the work of Dr. Harold G. Moulton, president of the Brookings Institution from 1928 to 1952 presented in his 1935 work refuting the Keynesian New Deal, The Formation of Capital.  By advocating that all new capital formation be financed with new money created backed by the present value of the future increases of production — the inherent feasibility of the capital itself — and repaid (and the money cancelled) out of future profits of the capital, and replacing traditional forms of collateral with capital credit insurance and reinsurance, it is possible for anyone to own capital without redistributing what already belongs to others. More about this can be found on the website of the Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) under the heading ‘Capital Homesteading.’ http://www.cesj.org/.

"Okay, one MORE time: socialism is BAD!"
• An exceptionally misleading article appeared today in Christian Democracy Magazine, “Capitalism and the Catholic Social Tradition: Conversing with Father Robert Barron.”  The author twists some comments by then-Cardinal Ratzinger about some good that could be found in certain types of socialism into an endorsement of socialism, mis-defines property, and ignores the explicit condemnations of socialism by the Catholic Church over the past couple of centuries or so, e.g., “If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity.  Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist. (Quadragesimo Anno, § 120.)”  It appears that the author’s errors are based on the assumption that capitalism and socialism are the only possible alternatives.  Too bad someone didn’t send him a link to the HPR article before he published his own, and let him know there is a way that transcends the errors of both capitalism and socialism.  He can be reached through his website: http://www.keithmichaelestrada.com/contact.html.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 60 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, Canada, India, and the Philippines. The most popular postings this past week were “Halloween Horror Special XIII: Mean Green Mother from Outer Space,” “News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 26,” “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,”  “News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 28,” and “Pope Francis and the Just Third Way.”

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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