This week’s news notes give a graphic illustration of the universal applicability of the Just Third Way principles and even specific vehicles for expanding ownership in ways that avoid putting the burden on current taxpayers by raising taxes, or future taxpayers by incurring a burden of (more) debt. Of course, we refer primarily to Puerto Rico, but there is also the Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Florida, and even the city of Detroit, Michigan:
|His Holiness Pope John Paul II and Norman G. Kurland|
• Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice. While not entirely surprising, the blog postings on the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice have proven very popular. We even got a note of congratulations from Dr. Norman A. Bailey, former Chief Economist for International Economic Affairs for the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan, at whose suggestion the original strategy paper was written. The Task Force is notable not only for having been a bipartisan effort, it was carried out entirely with private sector contributions, without one cent of taxpayer money. The work of the Task Force received kudos from President Reagan in the speech he gave, while His Holiness Pope John Paul II gave his personal encouragement to the work of CESJ when he was presented with a copy of the Task Force Report in a meeting with CESJ and Polish Solidarity at the Vatican. Readers are encouraged to send links to the extract of the strategy paper as well as President Reagan’s speech to their Representatives and Senators in Congress, as well as to any media figures they feel might be interested in a positive program for rebuilding the region in a way that benefits everyone.
• Hurricane Katrina Proposal. It has also recently been noted that the plan developed to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has the same basic principles as the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice that should be considered for Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean, but has been somewhat refined and fleshed out in more detail, e.g., the idea of using the “Citizens Land Bank” concept. We will post links to the Katrina proposal as they become available.
|The fortress of El Morro Castle, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
• New York Federal Reserve Aids Puerto Rico. The New York Federal Reserve has worked to ensure that there is plenty of cash on hand in Puerto Rico for consumption purposes. This is laudable, but the fact is that the commercial banks and the Federal Reserve should also be concerned with making new money available to rebuild the Commonwealth in ways that benefit everyone instead of a political and economic élite. The issue of where the money is to come from for the massive rebuilding effort will become increasingly important as the immediate needs of people are met in a sustainable (at least in the short term) manner. It can be done, and in a way that does not put the burden on the people of Puerto Rico or any other U.S. citizen, but realizes direct tangible benefits for every child, woman, and man affected by the disaster, as well as indirect tangible benefits for all other Americans, especially as a model on how to make the rest of the country and even the whole region “great again.” Puerto Rico is in a key position in the trade routes connecting four — yes, four — continents (North and South America, Europe, and Africa), and can once again become the premier trading hub and transshipping point it was in the glory days of the Spanish “Seaborne Empire.” The Spanish built those fortresses in Puerto Rico for a reason . . . as the name of the island itself — “Rich Port” — tells you. There is no reason why it should be “Puerto Pobre.”
|"If I had ever heard of it, I would have approved."|
• Dr. Norman G. Kurland, president of CESJ, has been invited to speak by the City Council of Lincoln Park, in Wayne County, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit), at an event in January 2018 to explore ways of saving the Motor City by using the Citizens Land Cooperative, Homeowners Equity Corporation, and other expanded ownership vehicles that might be possible under current state law. Key to the effort, of course, would be gaining access to the discount window of the Chicago Federal Reserve, in which district Detroit and its environs fall. By creating money for projects through private sector initiatives that pay for themselves out of future development profits, the taxpayer is off the hook, and the state and federal governments avoid incurring more unsustainable debt. Best of all, the citizens and other residents of Detroit — or anywhere else a similar program is implemented — become owners of “their” city . . . removing the quotes, establishing what the late, great G.K. Chesterton might have called “the Distributist State” in microcosm. People from around the country are planning on attending, and a number of institutions are being invited to send representatives.
• The Just Third Way Hour. With two shows “in the can,” the new edition of the Just Third Way Hour podcast is on the verge of being launched. There are some technical issues that need to be resolved before we can provide the links, but we expect to have everything in place by the end of next week. On the plus side, once the shows are up, anyone can listen to them any time, which will make it much easier for people in North America and Europe to take advantage of this unique resource.
|"No, really, guys. I only get it for the articles. And my letters."|
• Louis Kelso and . . . Playboy Magazine? The death earlier this week of Hugh Hefner reminded us that the Just Third Way applies to everything. For ye of little faith, here is the text of Louis Kelso’s letter to Playboy magazine in the January 1972 issue (Vol. 19, No. 1 . . . that we read only for the letters to the editor, of course), in response to an article by Craig Karpel in the October 1971 issue (Vol. 18, No. 10 . . . that proves Kelso only got it for the article), “Immortality is Fully Deductible.” As Kelso responded, “To me, Karpel’s work raises a fundamental philosophical question: Are we committing an affront to our humanity when we try to assign human life an economic value? A society that understood realistic economics and the nature and destiny of man would unhesitatingly reply in the affirmative. Man’s ultimate objective in the economic order is not production but consumption. His destiny is not to toil for subsistence but to produce through technology so he can be free to devote his mental and physical energies to the work of leisure. Society, however, has never understood that man’s economic struggle is temporary. It conceived of toil as a permanent necessity and elevated it to an extent that it has become the object of life rather than its means. Among these toil totems are such familiar assertions as the following: Human labor is the only real factor of production; everyone must serve in the work force, for only economic toil is meaningful; consumption is immoral unless legitimated through the consumer’s personal toil (the Puritan work ethic); people are human resources and human capital; full employment of labor should be the foremost goal of an advanced industrial economy (even if capital instruments, not people, produce the overwhelming preponderance of goods and services); ad infinitum. The habit of thinking of people in economic terms is an anachronism from the pre-industrial past, when man’s chief functions were war and work. A free society implies more than political liberty. Citizens who are bound involuntarily to the production process are not free. They are industrial serfs. The ideal economic goal, in my view, is vicarious production through private ownership of the capital instruments that are replacing labor in production. Only when a human being has no economic value whatsoever will we have achieved the human ideal of freedom.” — Louis O. Kelso, Attorney at Law, San Francisco, California.
|Henry C. Warmoth, Carpetbag governor of Louisiana|
• CESJ Annual Event. All things considered, the CESJ annual celebration this past Saturday was well-attended, with a great deal of lively discussion, especially on the subject of Justice-Based Management. Of particular interest was the discussion that led to tying in the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873 to Dodge v. Ford Motor Company in 1919, both of which assumed as the basis of the decision that human beings derive rights from an abstraction such as the collective, the State, a business corporation, a labor union, or anything else, instead of rights being inherent in each human person, as the Just Third Way assumes as a matter of course.
• Amazon Smile Program. 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 34 different countries and 44 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, and India. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “What, Exactly, Is ‘Infallibility’?” “Project Economic Justice: Origins,” “News from the Network, Vol. 10, No. 38,” “Project Economic Justice: Ideological Framework,” and “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property.”
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.