Friday, December 18, 2015

News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 51


This is the last full work week of the year, so this will be the last full “News from the Network” for 2015 — we’ll content ourselves with a retrospective of the important events for the Just Third Way for our next two “issues.”  Unusually for this time of year we have quite a bit to report:

Amazon Smile program.  We’re going to keep mentioning this until we get the first million out of this program, so (once again) here are the instructions for using the Amazon Smile program.  It’s pretty easy, but you have to follow the directions exactly, or CESJ won’t get the 0.5% of your net purchase(s) as your donation (it adds up).  First, go to https://smile.amazon.com/.  Next, sign in to your account.  (If you don’t have an account with Amazon, you can create one by clicking on the tiny little link below the “Sign in using our secure server” button.)  Once you have signed into your account, you need to select CESJ as your charity — and you have to be careful to do it exactly this way: in the space provided for “Or select your own charitable organization” type “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington.”  If you type anything else, you will either get no results or more than you want to sift through.  Once you’ve typed (or copied and pasted) “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington” into the space provided, hit “Select” — and you will be taken to the Amazon shopping site, all ready to go.  That’s it.  Oh, and be sure to share this information with your friends and neighbors.

Abraham, the "Father of Nations"
• On Wednesday evening of this week the CESJ core group met with Professor Zaid Eyadat of Jordan University, founding Dean of the Prince Hussen Bin Abdullah II School of International Studies and Political Science there.  He is also a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University (which is how he happened to be in town), and Professor-in-Residence of Political Science and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut.  Not surprisingly, Dr. Eyadat expressed interest in the Abraham Federation concept as a way of integrating the legitimate interests of the three great Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to build a peaceful and solidaristic society in the Middle East, without any individual or group taking unfair advantage of the others.  Dr. Eyadat also thought that the Citizens Land Bank proposal holds a great deal of promise.  Also not surprising for a devoted academic and scholar, Dr. Eyadat was also intrigued by the “Justice Classrooms” concept, especially as a way of teaching fundamental moral and ethical values (e.g., truth, beauty, love, and — of course — justice), thereby laying the groundwork to their restoration to the surrounding culture, turning academia from the source of the problem (below), to the solution.

Benjamin Franklin
• Thanks to Max Weismann of the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas for this one.  As a hoax with a point, someone circulated a petition at Yale University to repeal the First Amendment . . . which (among other things) protects the liberty to petition for redress of grievances.  Astonishingly, the “petition” met with approval from the student body, as reported in this video.  It recalls what Benjamin Franklin said, keeping in mind that the move on college campuses is ostensibly about “safety” from offensive speech: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”  A hat tip to Max for reminding us that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom in academia as well as anywhere else.

• As a follow-up to last week’s Friday meeting with the representative of a state agency, we met on Monday with the representative’s boss.  To reiterate, the agency is looking at the potential of JBMSM S-Corp ESOPs to enhance the bottom line for small and minority business start-ups, as well as the looming succession problem as the Baby Boomer generation starts to retire and doesn’t have anyone to continue the culture of a company . . . except the workers who helped build that company.  A key selling point is that a company that is organized as an S-Corp and is 100% owned by the workers through an ESOP trust pays no state or federal corporate income tax under current U.S. law.  That means that cash flow could be enhanced by as much as 50%, depending on the level of taxation — and it gets pretty steep in some states.  CESJ, of course, is a non-profit and does not do any professional consulting, but Equity Expansion International, Inc., a for-profit company, has agreed to use CESJ’s principles and the Just Third Way when doing deals.  The boss has political connections that, if the program is adopted and proves successful, could make it replicable throughout the country.

Justice-Based Management
• Expanding a little on the above item, Justice-Based ManagementSM is a critical feature of transforming an ESOP from an expensive employee benefit plan, to a cost-effective vehicle for creating and preserving a worker ownership culture.  One of the things that makes ESOPs so expensive, relatively speaking, is that, even thought an ESOP is a “defined contribution plan” (i.e., a participant only gets out what is put in), people tend to view it as a typical “defined benefit plan” (i.e., regardless of what is in the plan, a participant is guaranteed a “defined benefit” that the plan might not be able to pay).  Thus, instead of a first rate ownership vehicle, people view the ESOP as a second rate pension plan.  That’s why a JBMSM ESOP includes education so people understand what they have — and what they don’t have.  To reduce the cost, CESJ has developed specifications for an ESOP that — if implemented and administered with absolutely no change, has the potential to reduce implementation and annual administration costs dramatically.

Russell Long and Ronald Reagan promoting the Just Third Way
• You find the most interesting things reading the newspapers . . . especially old newspapers.  This week we came across a column from July 8, 1981, John Chamberlain’s These Days: “Everything Back to the Electorate.”  It was a commentary on President Ronald Reagan’s letter to Governor Pierre du Pont IV of Delaware, a copy of which we already had in our files.  What was interesting is that Chamberlain compared Reagan favorably to G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, and said the problem with England was that they had gone over to Fabian socialism instead of distributism.  (And we thought we were the first ones to draw that conclusion!)  Chamberlain made a couple of errors, though.  He referred to Reagan’s “distributist theory of capitalism,” which technically is an oxymoron.  He also was unaware that Reagan got his “distributist” ideas from . . . Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler, who developed the core of the Just Third Way’s economic theory (binary economics), and its ethical and moral basis, respectively.  A sample from Reagan's letter: “The General Assembly of the State of Delaware has taken an important step by the adoption of House Bill 31, which makes it the policy of the state to encourage the broadening of the base of capital ownership among the people of the state.  I have long believed that the widespread distribution of private property ownership is essential to the preservation of individual liberty, to the strength of our competitive free enterprise economy, and to our republican form of government.”

Shaw: Mr. Chesterton does not understand socialism.
• Almost as interesting as the column that implied the Just Third Way is a more realistic form of distributism was a piece we found from Friday, November 27, 1908 in The Boston Evening Transcript, “The Fading Fabians.”  It’s a report on George Bernard Shaw’s “State of Socialism” speech, in which his response to people who don’t accept socialism is to claim that they don’t understand what socialism really is — a plaint that has been made since at least 1848 with the publication of The Communist Manifesto.  Evidently, when a socialist cannot refute what is said, he or she declares that the opponent “doesn’t understand,” and stalks off with an immense feeling of virtue for having bested yet another intransigent capitalist . . . such as G.K. Chesterton.  Chesterton a capitalist?  Evidently . . . according to Shaw, or (at least) an ignoramus about socialism.  As related in the article, “Mr. Gilbert Chesterton, it appears, once called himself a Socialist, ‘but he did not know what Socialism was then, and he does not know now when he says he is not a socialist.’” Shaw was a leader among the Fabians, and was instrumental in creating stronger ties between Fabianism and the theosophical (“New Age”) movement.  He described fellow Fabian Annie Besant, who took over leadership of the Theosophical Society from Madame Blavatsky, its founder, as “perhaps the greatest woman in the world.”  (“Fearing a General Uprising, India Expels Mrs. Besant,” The Evening Independent, August 8, 1916.)

Henry George: Proto Fabian socialist?
• According to the article, Shaw also appears to have had a disagreement with the followers of Henry George.  “And here again has promptly come another division in the succeeding lecture of the course before the Fabian Society, last month, by Rev. Stewart Headlam.  His test for Socialists is simply the belief in ‘the extinction of private property in land.’ . . . . The Fabians may work for other things, but the socialization of land values takes precedence in their minds, according to Mr. Headlam (who by the way is a member of the London County Council), over everything else.  It is a revelation of the extent of the spread of the doctrines of the American, Henry George, in other countries than his own.”

Maisie Ward
• We recently obtained a first edition copy of Maisie Ward’s biography of Chesterton, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1943).  In something of a paradox, the Chesterton who comes across in Ward’s book and in Chesterton’s own writings doesn’t seem too much like the individual promoted by neo-Chestertonians and neo-distributists.  As one correspondent remarked, “I learned about Chesterton from the [neo] Chestertonians, but the more I read their stuff the more I think they must be reading different Chesterton books than I'm reading.”

• Late yesterday we also received a first edition of Maisie Ward's Return to Chesterton (1952), made up of people's reactions to the earlier book and some "leftover bits."  Interestingly, the total cost of both first editions was less than $10, including shipping.

William H. Mallock
• Finally, we also received a copy of one of Msgr. Ronald Knox's favorite "novels" (in quotes because it is an examination of the new concept of religion that was coming into its own in the nineteenth century put in the form of loosely disguised fiction), William H. Mallock's The New Republic, or, Culture, Faith, and Philosophy in an English Country House (1877).  It's not a first edition, but the annotated edition put out by the University of Florida Press in 1950 that restores the original text of the first, two-volume edition, some of which was deleted in subsequent editions.  Evelyn Waugh reported in his biography of Knox that in his later years Knox would read from only a few books in the evening, one of which was The New Republic.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 53 different countries and 56 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, Russia, Canada, and India. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “Halloween Horror Special XIII: Mean Green Mother from Outer Space,” “Aristotle on Private Property,”  “The American Chesterton, I: The Triumph of the Will,” and “Book Review: A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey.”

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.

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