Friday, September 30, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 37

Although today is the end of CESJ’s fiscal year, things haven’t slowed down any.  In fact, they’ve picked up quite a bit of speed.  Most of this doesn’t make good news items, of course; it’s pretty baffling to read, “Someone whose name we can’t reveal talked to someone here for over six hours last night, but we can’t tell you what they talked about until something happens.”  The events that we can tell you about are often not quite as exciting as that, but we try:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The CESJ Core Values

Although it’s posted on the CESJ website, we made a reference yesterday to the Core Values of the Center for Economic and Social Justice.  Therefore, without further ado, we post them today, either as a refresher or an introduction.  There is, of course, much more about CESJ on the website, which you are encouraged to visit:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


As we’ve said on more than one occasion, we like it when people ask us serious questions.  In that category we do not include the “Are-you-still-beating-your-wife?” type.  This is technically known as “the complex question fallacy” because it assumes as a given the answer to a question that has not been asked.  It’s committed when a question is asked (a) that rests on a questionable assumption, and (b) to which all answers appear to endorse that assumption.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Let Freedom Ring: Social Injustice

Yesterday we noted that, in refusing to stand for the National Anthem of the United States, Colin Rand Kaepernick may have acted in a socially unjust manner.  That is, if he harmed the common good, he broke the first law of social justice.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Let Freedom Ring: Principle and Application

One thing we’ve noticed (i.e., had driven home to us like a railroad spike through the skull) is that quite a large number of people are confused about the difference between a general principle, and a particular application of that same principle.  Yet all the sciences, moral philosophy, and even theology are based in some measure on this distinction.

Friday, September 23, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 36

A number of important irons are in the fire as CESJ approaches the end of its fiscal year (September 30).  A lot of time is taken up with that, of course, but things are also moving forward:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Where’s the Recovery?

On the Opinion page in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the title, “The Reasons Behind the Obama Non-Recovery” (p. A13) caught our eye.  The argument by a Harvard professor of economics was that because recovery from all past depressions/recessions has always been relatively rapid, President Obama is responsible for a slow recovery because he increased non-productive government spending that made the rich richer, instead of figuring out ways to make business more profitable to make the rich richer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Religion and the Rise of Capitalism . . . and Socialism

From the point of view of organized religion, the situation in the first half of the nineteenth century was a virtual shambles.  There was a perceived conflict between reason and faith.  The Will (opinion) had replaced the Intellect (knowledge) as the basis for discerning the natural law — the general code of human behavior.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

And Another Distributist Question!(!): Distributism

To continue our little discussion from yesterday. . . .

Monday, September 19, 2016

And Another Distributist Question!(!): Catholic Social Thought

They do seem to keep coming, don’t they?  The questions from distributists, that is.  We’d prefer if they were accompanied by checks with large numbers of zeros to the right of the other digits, but we’ll take what we can get.  Anyway, we just got this question:

Friday, September 16, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 35

As the world’s central bankers try to figure out what a central bank is supposed to do, and the commercial and mercantile banks follow suit, the stock market continues its wild gyrations.  We believe that this will continue (if it doesn’t crash and burn) until a Capital Homestead Act is passed and the stock market can return to its proper role as a Second-Hand Shoppe for used debt and equity.  To help a CHA along, here’s what we’ve been doing for the past week:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Another Taxing Question, IV: The Terror of Taxation

Quite a large number of people would tend to agree that the United States should get rid of the Federal Reserve System and the income tax.  We agree with that goal . . . if to “get rid of” is broadly interpreted as getting rid of the incompatible functions that have been added to these essential if exasperating social tools.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Introduction to Keynesian Wreckonomics: Say’s Law

Last week we mentioned Adam Smith and the possibility that the political-economist-you-love-to-hate might have gotten a bum rap for the past couple hundred years or so.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Distributism, Socialism, and Syndicalism, What’s the Difference?

We’ve mentioned a number of times before on this blog that we like it when people ask questions that are easy to answer.  It makes us look smart, and it doesn’t take too much work to put a posting together.  That’s why we were so delighted last week to get the following question: “I just came across the word ‘syndicalism’.  It sounds very much like distributism.  How do they differ?”

Monday, September 12, 2016

More Malthusian Madness: Scarcity

Last week we mentioned the Thomas Malthus in a posting or two in connection with the reverend sir’s lamentable effect on economics — he is, after all, credited with getting it labeled “the dismal science.”  Our comments last week, however, had to do with Malthus’s rejection of Say’s Law of Markets, which brought forth Jean-Baptiste Say’s best explanation of the “law” that bears his name . . . and that many people reject flat out without knowing anything about it.

Friday, September 9, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 34

As of this writing, the Dow is down over two-hundred points, probably due to the various noises about the possibility of the Federal Reserve raising rates, making it more expensive to create money to pour into the stock market.  The possibility of eliminating “interest” altogether for any money that creates new owners of capital instead of to make the rich richer doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of the powers-that-be.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Distributism and Population Growth, III: Mean Ol’ Adam Smith

Distributists almost always have one political economist they detest more than all the rest . . . which is saying a lot.  That is that Mean Ol’ Adam Smith, whose “invisible hand” argument has sometimes been characterized as attempting to substitute for the Hand of God.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Why Did the U.S. Go Off the Gold Standard in 1933?

The other day we took a poke . . . or maybe that was a peek . . . at what people mean when they say “gold standard.”  Today we look at why the U.S. abandoned the gold standard in 1933.  It might surprise you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What is “Capitalism”?

As we mentioned a short time ago, we seem to be getting more and more questions from distributists.  Not from the official organizations, of course.  They have their Party Line and they’re sticking to it.  There are, however, a growing number of people interested in the subject who seem to be increasingly dissatisfied with the Party Line, which bears a strong resemblance to a somewhat skewed or off-center version of social justice.  As CESJ co-founder Father William Ferree put it,

Monday, September 5, 2016

Distributism and Population Growth, II: Who Has Rights?

Last Thursday we looked at the question of whether a program of expanded capital ownership requires adherence to a particular belief system, or any belief at all.  We concluded that, as long as someone adheres to the basic principles or precepts of the natural law, his or her personal beliefs — or lack thereof — are (or should be) a matter of complete indifference to others.

Friday, September 2, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 33

Things seem to be picking up a little as the summer draws to a close.  That being the case, we won’t waste time, but get straight to this week’s news items:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Distributism and Population Growth, I: A “Catholic System”?

We’re not sure why, but we keep getting questions about distributism, the rather loose proposal by G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc that was developed in the early twentieth century as an alternative to Fabian socialism with its heavy reliance on State control of the economy, of the law, of individual lives, and of anything else it could get its mitts on.  Distributism, by the way, is more or less defined as a system in which most people own capital, with a preference for small, family-owned (meaning members of the family have defined ownership stakes, not that the family unit owns) farms and artisan, worker-owned businesses.  That’s “preference,” by the additional way, not “mandate.”