Friday, June 2, 2017

News from the Network, Vol. 10, No. 22

There has not been much visible movement in the Just Third Way this week, although there has been a great deal of research and scholarship accomplished, particularly in the understanding of how basic concepts of truth and justice have been corrupted by special interests over the centuries.  As for the news,

• The Summer 2017 issue of Initiatives, the newsletter of the National Center for the Laity, edited by William Droel, notes that a "Catholic" label isn't strictly speaking necessary for on-going adult education in widespread ownership — and recommended that people get in touch with their friends at CESJ for information on distributism.

• President Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord seems to be the hot topic of the day, but what does it really mean?  Someone here at CESJ HQ wondered if he even has the power under the Constitution to do so, while the Wall Street Journal claims that, even if he can, the U.S. can’t withdraw for a while yet, for reasons that we didn’t particularly understand.  Our position is that the way it was done was confusing, even ham-handed, it unnecessarily annoyed some valuable allies, and it avoids what we consider the real issue, which we addressed in a recent blog posting: the need to develop alternate energy sources that are clean, sustainable, and cheap, to be able to hold the dirty, unsustainable, and potentially very expensive in many ways fossil fuels in reserve for real emergencies.  As a failsafe we would say have a “Manhattan Project” type of project to develop three energy sources (e.g., hydrogen, solar, and fusion come to mind), any one of which would be sufficient for the world’s energy needs, with the fossil fuels in reserve for triple redundancy in the extremely unlikely event that the three other systems all fail simultaneously.  It’s simple economics.
De Tocqueville: Confused by 19th century Social Justice Warriors?
• We surfaced a book by Alexis de Tocqueville of which we were previously unaware, the posthumous Recollections (1893), which is considered by some to be his second most famous work . . . which goes to show you just how much the monumental Democracy in America (1835, 1840) overshadows everything else.  It seems that de Tocqueville may have been a bit stronger against socialism than we were aware, and that his influence on Catholic social thought a bit more important as well.  His “lapse” from practicing his faith may have been due more to some of the crazy cults springing up in France at the time, which confused many Catholics by all claiming to be authentic Christianity and which were almost all socialist . . . something that confuses people even to this day — just yesterday we had someone say as if to clinch an argument with us that Henri de Saint-Simon, a French socialist who invented a new religion under the old name of Christianity, was an early authority on Catholic social teaching . . . even though (according to the Catholic Encyclopedia) Rerum Novarum was written in part to refute Saint-Simonism — Saint-Simon’s “New Christianity” (Nouveau Christianisme) was one of the “New Things” Leo addressed.  If people today still can’t tell the difference between social justice and socialism after Leo XIII, Pius XI, and John Paul II, why should we expect more of de Tocqueville, who died in 1859?
"Walmart certainly helps me live better!"
• Walmart seems to be expecting more and more for less and less from its employees.  We have not verified a report that job applicants are also given details on how to apply for foodstamps (Karl Marx would have as much fun with that as he did Peter Gaskell’s recommendation that industrial workers in early nineteenth century England should have no problem supporting their families on nine shillings a week — about $1.80 — supplemented with “Parish” assistance, i.e., government welfare distributed by the local religious authorities.)  Now, according to a newspaper report, Walmart employees are being asked to deliver packages on their way home from work.  They sound as if they’re trying to beat Nordstrom’s level of customer service while paying about half Nordstrom’s level of compensation.  Of course, the argument is that Nordstrom’s prices are also high — one source joked that Nordstrom’s motto was “We Will Not Be Oversold,” but customers accept it because of the great customer service.  Here’s an idea for both Walmart and Nordstrom from the great labor statesman Walter Reuther: why not turn workers into owners, pay the market (not government or union determined) wage rate . . . and increase pay and benefits by taking increases out of profits instead of adding them to costs?
"Sorry. 'Toothy grins' are all I have."
• Here’s the usual announcement about the Amazon Smile program, albeit moved to the bottom of the page so you don’t get tired of seeing it.  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.
• We have had visitors from 35 different countries and 39 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Nigeria, Kenya, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “The Purpose of Production,” “What is Socialism?, I: The Natural Law,” “What is Socialism?, II: Private Property,” “What is Socialism?, Why It’s Wrong,” and “Climate Change and Economic Growth.”
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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