Friday, February 26, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 08


A number of very positive things have happened this week, so we’ll go straight to the news items and cut the introduction short:


"I'm DEE-lighted you signed up for Smile!"
Amazon Smile program.  To participate in the Amazon Smile program for CESJ, 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.

• Members of the CESJ core group had a very good meeting yesterday with three gentlemen from Nigeria — none of which can go home due to the fact that they would probably be killed before the sun set on the day of their arrival.  One was a Catholic priest, another a Catholic layman, and the third a Presbyterian minister.  All three came to CESJ because they had come across CESJ’s materials and wanted to know more.  As two of them are connected with a university, there is the possibility that elements of the Just Third Way can be incorporated into their teaching materials.  We will know more as the situation evolves.

• We had a telephone meeting this morning with Father Edward Krause, a CESJ “Counselor” (CESJ’s version of an advisory board).  Father Krause, who is in residence at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, although he is very busy, works steadily at introducing the Just Third Way to individuals and organizations on campus.  He is very concerned with the decay of Academia, moral and social life, and (of course) the growing wealth and income gap, all of which combine to make the “easy” solution of a totalitarian, socialist or fascist State seem so attractive to so many people.

• Tomasz Pompowski in Western Australia recently had some very good meetings with a number of Australian MPs — “Members of Parliament” to us Yanks.  Tom, who used to work at the Vatican and still has some key contacts there, has been very active in working to introduce the Just Third Way in political, religious, and academic circles “down under.”  It was not too long ago that Tom arranged for Norman G. Kurland, president of CESJ, to have a conversation over the internet with a small group, and has reached out to Notre Dame-Perth, which is affiliated with the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A.  Tom reported that, although the MPs are very busy and only had limited time, interest was expressed in the ideas and there may be a good basis for follow-up.  He plans on reaching out to some key members of the Australian Catholic hierarchy in the near future, to introduce Just Third Way concepts as one way of addressing some controversial issues in a positive manner.

Stanford's Hoover Tower, dead center.
• Today we came across an article on a student ballot initiative at Stanford University in California, “Stanford Erupts in Controversy After Student Petition Calls for Mandatory Western Civ Classes.”  Admittedly, we were first drawn to the article at first because it had a photo of the Stanford Tower that we could see from our patio when we lived in Redwood City.  When it wasn’t foggy, anyway.  On reading the article, however, we were struck by the vitriol directed against the students circulating the ballot initiative in order to get the required minimum number of signatures to get it on the ballot — not voting for or against it, mind you, just saying you want to vote for or against it.  (Has it occurred to any of the people so upset over the ballot initiative that getting it on the ballot and defeating it would effectively stop the effort dead in its tracks?  They could then claim in perfect truth that the people have spoken after a fair hearing and free discussion of the issue.)  Evidently even expressing an unpopular opinion is strictly verboten in Academia these days; students known to have signed the initiative or whom others think might be inclined to sign are being subjected to “pressure” to remove their names or refrain from adding them in the first place.  Outside of Academia, of course, we would call such tactics “bullying,” “intimidation,” “assault” (“assault” means making someone think you’re going to harm him or her physically, “battery” is actually doing it), “threats,” and so on.  We could not but recall our recent research into the “Young Ireland” movement of the 1840s, which put great emphasis on education, especially to restore a sense of national and cultural pride to the Irish people by learning about their own history.  True, it was a bit overblown and exaggerated, overly romantic, led in some cases to an unjustified racial pride and an unfortunate openness to the pseudo mysticism of the “Celtic Revival,” but it was effective in restoring pride and a basic knowledge of history that had been almost entirely wiped out over the centuries.  What is truly shocking about such examples of rigid intolerance about “western civilization” (which covers a rather broad region and span of time) at Stanford — aside from the glorification of ignorance of and bigotry toward viewpoints other than one’s own in the name of tolerance and diversity — is that it demonstrates the complete moral bankruptcy of Academia as an institution.

Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891)
• During the research for the book on the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, Éire, we came across some speeches by Charles Stewart Parnell, an important figure in Irish politics in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  One thing that struck us forcibly was Parnell’s insistence that economic power must precede political power, both to join everyone together in solidarity, and provide the basis for a true reform of the system based on justice instead of force.  In particular, Parnell emphasized that he did not want to destroy the landlords or throw them out of the country, but to bring them together with everyone else in a united, Irish front: “We do not want to exterminate the residential Irish landlords (hear, hear), . . . we should gladly welcome the continued presence of those gentlemen in Ireland (hear, hear).  We should gladly see them taking their part for which they are fitted in the future social regeneration of the country (hear, hear), in the future direction of its affairs and in the future national life of Ireland (hear, hear).  (Charles Stewart Parnell, speech reported in the Freeman’s Journal, April 20, 1890.)  This is in the same spirit as Pope St. John Paul II’s reminder to the bishops of North and South America in 1999 that “love for the poor must be preferential, but not exclusive” (Ecclesia in America, § 67), and to stop alienating the very people who are key to a just restructuring of the social order.  All of this is consistent with the claim in the Just Third Way that, yes, we need the rich . . . but we don’t need their money.  They can keep what they have.  All we want is their help in opening up access to the opportunity and means for everybody to own capital and (as Frederick Jackson Turner put it) be able to earn a “competence.”

• In today’s Wall Street Journal there is a column on “Ending the One-Two Corporate Tax Punch” (A13).  Briefly, the idea is to put a stop to the double taxation of corporate profits by making dividends tax deductible at the corporate level for all corporations, not just “pass through” entities or for dividends paid through ESOPs.  Of course, what the authors say is well and good, but it doesn’t go far enough.  Why not finance growth in ways that create new owners of capital as well as benefitting existing owners, and create money backed by private sector hard assets instead of government debt?

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 48 different countries and 54 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 Netherlands. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “The American Chesterton, XVII: Sheen v. Radical Catholicism,” “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “Socialist Delusions, Capitalist Illusions, I: What is Socialism?”  “Socialist Delusions, Capitalist Illusions, VI: Where Does the Money Come From?” and “The Purpose of Production.”

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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