A number of CESJ initiatives have made a great deal of progress this week. We have been talking with people from across the globe and even in the United States, as can be seen from this week’s news items. Our electronic outreach seems to be having some effect, and the social media, podcasting, and now even television are starting to pick up on the Just Third Way:
• Catholic Internet Television. Norman Kurland has been invited to tape a video presentation for “Catholic Internet Television,” a network with a global outreach affiliated with the Catholic Worker movement. Many of the goals of the Just Third Way are compatible with those expressed by CITV and the Catholic Worker movement, so the program, consisting of a lecture by Norman Kurland followed by a question and answer period, should be informative and lively.
• Citizens Land Cooperative. The CESJ core group had a skype meeting on Tuesday with three concerned citizens in Poland and Ukraine to discuss applying the “Citizens Land Cooperative” (also called “the Citizens Land Bank”) concept in Ukraine, where people are worried that the “economic warlords” will end up owning all the land and control economic growth. On top of everything else, the government is burdened by debt and cannot create more debt-backed money to finance economic growth, so we recommend that the banking system be reformed to phase out the current government debt-backed money, and substitute a money supply backed by private sector hard assets. By allowing the private sector to finance growth out of existing productive potential instead of the government’s swiftly disappearing ability to tax in the distant future, the economy could be put on a much sounder basis, and a foundation laid to protect the sovereignty of every child, woman, and man. To prevent people with money right now from buying up all the land, a Citizens Land Development Corporation or Cooperative could be the owner of all the land (with existing owners selling at a fair price to the Cooperative, and leasing it back with a non-transferable, 99-year lease with renewal option), and every citizen owning the land by owning the Cooperative.
|Pope Pius XI|
• A Question of Human Dignity (?). We have pretty much decided to retitle the book about the development of the concept of social justice and what happened to derail it. Words and concepts we’re tossing around are human dignity, social justice, and so on. The book is essentially a history of the development of the concept of social justice up to the breakthrough of Pope Pius XI in the 1930s, and how something intended to enhance and protect the dignity of every person has been used instead to expand and glorify the State and the collective.
• Principles of Economic Justice. If the book on social justice (above) is well received, another volume on the principles of economic justice, and the development of that concept, focusing on money, credit, and banking (for reasons that will become evident in the book) would be in order. The idea is to take the concept of economic justice from its early stages up to the 1930s, when Louis Kelso had his breakthrough. A potential third volume would show how the social justice ideas of Pius XI, and the economic justice ideas of Kelso came together in the Just Third Way, relating events and concepts from the 1930s to date.
• Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know. While it’s a little out of CESJ’s direct focus, and (from a certain perspective) limited by its title, we recently received the final copy of the cover for the upcoming Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know — and, in our opinion, every Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, or anyone else who wants a good read. . . . Anyway, the reaction has been “positive” . . . if by “positive” you mean “wildly enthusiastic.” For a number of reasons we won’t put up an image of the cover yet, but be prepared for something good. You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but that’s not a bad idea in this instance. We have run the text past an Islamic scholar who (purely by chance, of course) is Muslim, and he has stated that no Muslim should be offended in any way by the book’s “Cross versus Crescent” theme: the book relates facts without (too much) editorializing. From a Just Third Way perspective, there is even a subchapter on the last emperor/first basileus of Byzantium, Heraclius, who reigned from 610 to 641, and who strengthened the Empire (some authorities claim he saved it) in part by sponsoring what amounted to a medieval “homestead act.”
|Nibelungenlied: a few changes sneaked in over the centuries.|
• Sequels to Ten Battles. We hope it’s not premature, but we’re looking into possible follow-ups to Ten Battles, assuming it does as well as we think it will. We’d like to look more into the achievements of Heraclius in promoting individual sovereignty and widespread capital ownership, and also the slow (some might even say agonizingly so) development of the natural law ideas behind Catholic social teaching. That sounds dull until you realize we’re talking about the transformation of the Roman Empire and its institutions as a result of the barbarian non-invasions in late antiquity, and the development of key political and religious ideas (that lacked only sound economic ideas) that culminated in the philosophy of Aquinas. A key incident, the fall of the Burgundian kingdom in the fifth century, was the seed from which the medieval epic, the Nibelungenlied (“The Song of the Nibelungs”), and Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” grew — a fascinating story in itself. (One oddity: in the Nibelungenlied, Attila the Hun turns from “the Scourge of God” into a kindly and generous king who has the name “Etzel,” a corruption of the name of Flavius Aëtius, the Roman general who opposed Attila!)
|A powerful tool being misused.|
• Taxation as Financing? A bad idea that is getting worse is the insistence of lowering taxes on the rich to enable them to finance (and own) new capital formation to create jobs for others. This is expected to de-fund social programs. A better idea would be to limit the tax system to raising the money to run government, and use the Federal Reserve to create money for private sector development that can be widely owned instead of financing government. That will not only provide sufficient money for all sound economic growth and finance expanded ownership, it will lessen the demand on government for social programs and — eventually — lower taxes naturally instead of as a political ploy.
• Frightening Fed Fiasco. So distant has the Federal Reserve become from its original mission of providing adequate liquidity for private sector economic growth that some banks are simply opting out of the system. The regulatory burden is too much, and there are few benefits. Shifting back to the original mission of the Federal Reserve would go a long way to solving this problem, but if it continues, there are going to be other, more serious problems developing.
• Just Third Way Hour. Michael D. Greaney, CESJ’s Director of Research, taped an episode of CESJ’s podcast the Just Third Way Hour this week with host Bryan Vosper. It’s not up yet, but the first three podcasts can be heard by going to the CESJ “Podcast Page.”
|Relax. We want your money, not your blood.|
• Shop online and support CESJ’s work! Did you know that by making your purchases through the Amazon Smile program, Amazon will make a contribution to CESJ? Here’s how: First, go to https://smile.amazon.com/. Next, sign in to your Amazon 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.
• Blog Readership. We have had visitors from 39 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, Switzerland, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Reinventing Religion,” “The First Step,” “‘Doing’ Social Justice,” “Foundation of Confusion,” 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.