Friday, June 3, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 22


Today’s newspaper announced that the U.S. “jobs market” is the best it’s been in years, while the “jobs” data released today declared that “job growth” has reached a five-year low.  Setting aside the obvious contradiction and the whole idea of a “jobs market” (how, exactly, do you market and distribute “jobs”?), and the plunge in the stock market (the Dow is down about 100 as of this writing), the question remains, How do you make a “jobs market” grow?

The answer from a Just Third Way perspective?  Use the right fertilizer: new money and credit extended solely for financially feasible capital projects that are broadly owned. And read the following news items:

"Excellent . . . now contribute directly!"
• But before we start, here’s the usual announcement about the 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.

• CESJ’s latest book, Easter Witness: From Broken Dream to a New Vision for Ireland, is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as by special order from many “regular” bookstores.  The book can also be ordered in bulk, which we define as ten copies or more of the same title, at a 20% discount.  A full case is twenty-six copies, and non-institutional/non-vendor purchasers get a 20% discount off the $20 cover price on wholesale lots ($416/case).  Shipping is extra.  Send enquiries to publications@cesj.org.  An additional discount may be available for institutions such as schools, clubs, and other organizations as well as retailers.  Initial sales are encouraging, and CESJ (although interfaith) has applied for an “imprimatur” which will allow the book to be used as a text in Catholic schools.  We received word that the books ordered for the Archbishop of Dublin have been shipped and should arrive today or early next week.

• A question that just popped up in a “distributist” forum was, Why is wage income these days inadequate for a single worker to support a large family at an acceptable standard of living?  The answers were, 1) student debt, 2) rising medical costs, 3) usury, and 4) big business. This is odd, because “distributism” was intended to get people out of the wage and welfare system, not think of new ways to lock people into it permanently.  That’s why it was surprising that in a “distributist” forum there was no mention of expanded capital ownership as a possible solution in the comments section . . . until we put it in. “Distributism” was supposed to be a social policy that favors small, family-owned farms and businesses.  It has evolved today into what is, to all intents and purposes, State socialism of the Fabian (i.e., “New Age”) variety. In the U.S., the downward trend in ownership started in the 1890s with the effective end of "free" land under the Homestead Act, as Frederick Jackson Turner noted. Starting about 1904, Judge Peter Stenger Grosscup of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (a friend of Theodore Roosevelt who seems also to have been acquainted with Archbishop John Ireland, who tried to implement an expanded ownership program in Minnesota) advocated a national reform of corporate law to make it possible for ordinary people who were being pushed out of ownership to become shareholders of corporations with the full rights of ownership. It was not, however, until the breakthrough of Louis O. Kelso with the invention of the ESOP that this became practical, allowing workers to purchase shares in the corporations that employ them, and pay for the shares with future profits without reducing take-home pay or benefits. The proposed “Capital Homestead Act” would extend the concept to every child, woman, and man, thereby achieving what Hilaire Belloc advocated in his 1936 Essay on the Restoration of Property. We have put out an “updated” version of this, The Restoration of Property, that would use modern methods of finance without relying on imposing disabilities on the currently wealthy.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 54 different countries and 44 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Brazil. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “The Purpose of Production,” “Strictly Speaking,” “How Not to Limit Capital,” and “Lower Forty.”

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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