THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My offer of help to Michelle Obama


I doubt if this will ever get to you, but here goes. If it does, you will understand my point and can help Barack win. My contribution to his campaign will be far more than any money I donate.

I was inspired by your talk last Tuesday, but could not have been more disappointed in Barack's acceptance speech last night. If Barack is for "hope", he did nothing to raise my hope and convince me that he's for real change.

I was sorry that Barack knocked the "ownership society" and made fun with the word "own" in his speech (i.e., "you're on your own."). He could have attacked Bush's Wall Street version and offered a truly new way to spread ownership, profits and economic power to the people, from the bottom up. If he read my "Just Third Way" paper I sent you and to Barack (which also was handed to him last week by Ralph Paige, the head of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives), then he was rejecting the idea of changing the system to spread future ownership opportunities in a synergistic fashion. If he read my paper, he would have understood the artificial legal and institutional barriers that limit green growth and shackle most Americans to wage and welfare dependency, while the Wall Street crowd continue to accumulate obscene amounts of income-producing capital.

Barack's version of change, if you think about it, would make most Americans "owned" by the government, and increasingly dependent on the elite in charge of the state and their Wall Street cronies for their incomes, their jobs, their health and and their well-being. This vision of the future is totally opposite to the American Dream, where the state (civilization's exclusive monopoly with coercive powers) was supposed to be totally dependent on economically independent and empowered citizens.

What an irony of history if the first African-American President was to stand in the way of capital homesteading for every man, woman and child. His would be a sure-fire formula for creating a nation of economically disenfranchised citizens. Lincoln, Martin Luther King and my old friend Medgar Evers must be turning over in their graves.

Who's going to have the guts to wake up Barack, before he delivers us an economic nightmare?

Own or Be Owned,
Center for Economic and Social Justice

Michelle Obama wrote:
> Norm --
> The first time I ever heard Barack speak was at a community meeting on the South Side of Chicago.
> He won me over with the same message that inspired millions last night.
> He told people who'd been knocked down that, despite everything, we need to set our sights on a better place around the bend -- and that it's up to each one of us to fight for it.
> That's where you come in.
> More than two million supporters already own a piece of this extraordinary campaign. Will you join them by making your first donation right now?
> Make a donation of $5 or more today:
> Now that the convention is over, time will fly between now and Election Day.
> And the next two days are especially important.
> The August fundraising deadline is this Sunday at midnight, and we can prove that a campaign funded by grassroots supporters can compete with John McCain and the Republicans.
> The past four days in Denver -- and the amazing event last night -- showed the country that Americans are ready for change.
> Now it's up to each of us to make it happen.
> Thanks for everything you're doing,
> Michelle
> Donate:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Paid for by Obama for America
> This email was sent to:

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

Open Letter to Barack Obama: Why NOT the “Ownership Society”?

Dear Senator Obama:

With all due respect, we were gravely disappointed by certain remarks you made on Thursday evening, August 28, 2008 in accepting the nomination of your party for the office of President of the United States.

These particular remarks struck us as tossing away an historic opportunity. Worse, they undermined the very heart of what this country stands for, and the vision and hope that America could bring not only to every man, woman, and child in the United States, but throughout the world. We refer to your words, as reported in the Washington Post of 08/29/08 (“The Speech: ‘The Change We Need Is Coming’,” A28):

"For over two decades — for over two decades, he’s [John McCain] subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy: Give more and more to those with the most, and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the ownership society, but what it really means is that you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck; you’re on your own. No health care? The market will fix it; you’re on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You are on your own."

Senator Obama, what is wrong with an “ownership society”? You rightfully criticize an ownership society if it means that only a few people own productive wealth. What you fail to see, or to offer, is the possibility of an ownership society in which every person has real access via our laws and social institutions to the means of acquiring and possessing an independent stake in income-generating assets. You have arrogantly dismissed what Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1976 called a new “twin pillar” of U.S. economic policy — universal citizen access to direct ownership stakes in our most advanced technologies and most well-managed corporations — which could allow America to develop into an economically just society.

Admittedly, you are right in your characterization of the Republican economic platform. It will at best maintain the status quo and will help make the rich richer. But frankly, Senator Obama, you aren’t offering anything better. Republicans and Democrats alike are merely hawking their own brand of failed Keynesian repair jobs that have resulted in a looming deficit of $74 trillion in Social Security and Medicare, a debauched currency, and an economy that crawls back and forth between worship of Big Government (Washington) and worship of Big Business (Wall Street). The best you have offered is to raise the minimum wage, offer tax credits to encourage alternative energy and so-called “good jobs,” while sticking it to the fat cats and corporations that send jobs overseas.

Under both your plan and Senator McCain’s, ordinary workers will be kept in their place — powerless and propertyless. If Senator McCain has his way, Wall Street will own us. If you have your way, Washington and its Wall Street partners will.

Rather than making the ordinary citizen dependent on a private employer, or worse, on an ever-growing State and welfare bureaucracy, why aren’t you offering real change and justice? If you believe in the dignity of the person over the power of the State, why reject out-of-hand a new economic vision and plan based on 1) a limited economic role for the State, 2) free choice and open and competitive markets, 3) restoration of the rights of private property, and (what both you and the Republicans omit), 4) widespread, direct citizen ownership of the means of production.

Your glib denigration of an ownership society is all the more discreditable in that, to our knowledge. you have been handed on at least two occasions a genuine blueprint for the change you claim you seek — an economic democratization program that could build a green economy and an ownership stake in it for every citizen.

The program you were handed is called “Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen.” Founded on the same principles as Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Homestead Act, Capital Homesteading is designed to open up the virtually limitless technological frontier to widespread ownership, just as the original Homestead Act opened up the agricultural frontier. True, Lincoln was a Republican, and he sought to establish and maintain the ownership society that you dismiss so easily, but he, too, was from your home state of Illinois, and might be worthy of emulation for that and other reasons.

Why not an ownership society? Frankly, what has propertylessness and powerlessness ever done for you or anybody else, for our ancestors, or the generations unborn? Is ownership so bad that you must subject it to ridicule, and offer nothing better than the protection and patronage of an impersonal and monolithic State?

Your proposals would not only maintain barriers to widespread capital ownership, they would erect more and increase the disabilities imposed by existing barriers. Is that what you want for America? Is that the change you seek?

The only way for Americans to be secure against the inroads of either Big Business or Big Government is to be economically, not just politically, empowered. Power follows property . . . having direct ownership in the means of production. A just society can only exist where power is spread broadly and access to private property is secured as a basic right of citizenship — in other words, an “ownership society.” As William Cobbett pointed out in 1827,

Freedom is not an empty sound; it is not an abstract idea; it is not a thing that nobody can feel. It means, — and it means nothing else, — the full and quiet enjoyment of your own property. If you have not this, if this be not well secured to you, you may call yourself what you will, but you are a slave.

The next time you are tempted to ridicule or denigrate ownership as a way for ordinary people to secure their futures and their freedom, remember this message: Own or be owned.

In Peace through Justice,

Norman G. Kurland, President, Center for Economic and Social Justice
Michael D. Greaney, Director of Research, Center for Economic and Social Justice
Dawn K. Brohawn, Director of Communications, Center for Economic and Social Justice

News from the Network: Friday, August 29, 2008

Hopefully this will become a regular feature, but the news items are a little sparse for this first "issue" of News from the Network. If you consider yourself in the Global Justice Movement and have any SHORT news items about what you're doing that you'd like considered, send them to me at
mgreaney [at] to edit for the next "issue."

• Michael D. Greaney, CESJ's Director of Research set up a blog, "The Just Third Way." This is a little like the first issue of a newspaper reporting, "NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED!", but perhaps it may spur the creation of other blogs and web sites to establish a significant internet presence, as well as encourage people to send in news items.

• Norman G. Kurland, Dawn K. Brohawn, Rowland Brohawn, Steve Neskis, and Harriet Epstein met yesterday to begin organizing for the annual "Focus on the Fed" demonstration held every April in conjunction with CESJ's annual meeting and celebration.

• On Wednesday, August 27, 2008, Norman G. Kurland, Dawn K. Brohawn, and Michael D. Greaney finished the final touches and submitted a paper, "The Just Third Way: How We Can Create Green Growth, Widespread Prosperity and Global Peace," to be published in 2009 in the UK as a chapter in a book to be titled, Achieving Social Capitalism, and that will be published in the UK by Arena Press.

That is all the news we have for this week. Please send in your short news notes before 4:00PM EDST next Thursday, September 4, 2008.

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3)

Obama's Tough Decision

The previous squeak went to the Wall Street Journal. This one went to the Washington Post. Again, I encourage plagiarism, rip offs, copying, . . . whatever, as long as the message starts to get out somewhere.

Dear Sir(s):

The editorial on the clay-footed lending giants ("Tough Decision Coming: Barack Obama is inching away from his party's orthodoxy on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Washington Post, 08/28/08, A18) indicates that Senator Obama is at least thinking about a step in the right direction. As last night's speech demonstrates, however, he is still fixated with the idea that ordinary people are incapable of doing anything without the help of Big Government, Big Business, or some Big Combination of the two.

If Obama is serious about "moving in the direction of economic reality," he should look into "Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen," from the book with that title. One application of Capital Homesteading is called the "Homeowners' Equity Corporation" ("HEC"), which would solve the whole Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disaster.

A HEC is a proposed for-profit stock corporation whose shareholders would be homeowners in danger of foreclosure. HECs — and there should be many, to provide redundancy, lower risk, and ensure competition in a community — would purchase distressed properties at the current market value. HECs would obtain acquisition loans from commercial banks, which in turn would discount the loans at the local Federal Reserve at a rate reflecting transaction costs and a revised risk premium. The homes could then be leased at a realistic market rate to their former owners or new tenants.

The tenant would earn shares in the HEC as lease payments were made sufficient to cover debt service, maintenance, and taxes. When the acquisition loan for a particular property was fully paid, the tenant could exchange his or her HEC shares for title, or continue as a tenant/shareholder at a reduced lease payment, sufficient to cover maintenance and property taxes.

Financing the purchase of properties through the Federal Reserve System and its member banks would cost the taxpayer nothing and be the first step in restoring a currency backed by hard assets instead of government debt. Let the free market decide what happens to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The HEC may require some enabling legislation from Congress to give it powers similar to those currently enjoyed by leveraged ESOPs, but, after that, the State can step aside, and, except for its regulatory role, let people solve their own problems without imposing any more burdens on the taxpayer or running up the deficit now approaching $10 trillion.

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

"Calling Hank Paulson" . . . Hello?

Here's today's squeak from the wheel (should we rename the blog, "Squeaks from the Wheel"? There's probably already one named that). Anyway, if you want to help grease the movement a little, you can send a similar letter of your own. Feel free to plagiarize.

Dear Sir(s):

While the "Review and Outlook" editorial in yesterday's Wall Street Journal ("Calling Hank Paulson," WSJ, 08/28/08, A14) is a start in the right direction, calling for a restructuring of the banking system of the United States, it does not go far enough. Since World War I the federal government has managed to circumvent the intent of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and use the central bank of the United States to monetize its deficits. This leaves the industrial, commercial, and agricultural sectors of the economy — the "private sector" that produces wealth and generates income — out in the cold, shut off from the power the central bank has to monetize the productive capacity of the nation and provide financing for capital formation.

Genuine reform of the banking system would restore the original purpose of the central bank of the United States, cut the federal government off from the money creation powers of the Federal Reserve, and institute a 100% reserve requirement for commercial banks. The Federal Reserve would provide the reserves by opening up the discount window so that commercial banks could "sell" qualified industrial, commercial, and agricultural loan paper to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve would create the currency and demand deposits to purchase these liens on hard assets instead of government debt, thereby providing commercial banks with the necessary 100% reserves and restoring an asset-backed currency.

A further reform would empower every American citizen with access to the process of capital formation, and thus the ability to become an owner. This could be done by providing each individual with the right to finance a pro rata portion of the annual "growth ring" of additional new capital formed each year (c. $2 trillion), monetizing the new capital when a borrower presents the loan officer of a commercial bank with a financially feasible project, collateralized by the project itself and backed up with capital credit insurance instead of existing pools of savings. The commercial bank would immediately discount such loans at the Federal Reserve, thereby creating an asset-backed currency to finance capital formation without the need for government intervention, foreign investment, or further complicating the tax system.

A program has been developed along these lines called "Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen," from the book with that title. Responding to President Reagan's call for an "Industrial Homestead Act," Capital Homesteading details necessary banking and tax reforms to establish a financially sound and political feasible "ownership society." At the very least, it is worth looking into before the politicians manage to destroy what remains of America's economic base.

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

Thursday, August 28, 2008

INTO Chaos: Power Struggle in Ireland

The Irish Independent of Thursday, August 28, 2008, reports that the Irish National Teachers Organization ("INTO") — the teachers' union — is on a "collision course" with the Catholic Church over the issue of who will control up to 400 new schools that are planned for the coming decade. ("Church and teachers in battle over school roles," John Walshe, Education Editor) The union wants secular schools on the model of the "community national school," run by the local government's vocational education committees, claiming that the government can't afford to set up schools to cater to the needs of the country's growing number of religious groups.

There are so many things wrong with the position of the INTO that it is difficult to know where to start — but we'll try.

First, the education of children is not the responsibility of the State, but of parents. It's not the Catholic Church that the teachers' union is colliding with, but parents, the rights of which the Catholic Church is defending. As the Catholic Church has held for 2,000 years, parents, especially tax-paying parents, have an absolute right to determine how their children are educated. Whether Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Muslim (or anything else), if they want religious education in the schools, they have a right to it. Similarly, if parents do not want religious education, or are of a different sect or faith, that, too, is a right that must be respected. This is, in fact, the position of the Irish Catholic Hierarchy, which insists that there is a place for both secular as well as religious schools of all denominations and faiths to ensure parental choice.

The union claims that State-run schools will teach religion, but that gets into a very sticky quagmire. When you have a mix of students of different faiths, even of no faith, which religion is taught? The "solution" in the United States was — none . . . and to inhibit or prevent parents from doing it on their own by withholding State aid to religious schools — money that was taken from the parents in the first place through taxation.

Second, the union claims the State cannot afford it. The answer? It's not the State's money. Money for education is taken from people and, by legislative legerdemain, turned into "State money" that cannot be used to educate children the way their parents desire, and for which they are paying. If the teachers' union is worried about the cost, let them campaign for a Capital Homestead Act for Ireland, which would do more to increase people's income (and thus the tax base) than all the fighting over crumbs left from a decaying economy.

Third (and probably most important), the INTO is clearly seeking power for itself at the expense of both students and parents. In this, the teachers' union is following the lead of unions everywhere. Instead of seeking genuine empowerment for union members (as would be the case with an ownership union), unions are chaining members irrevocably to the wage system, and bringing up new generations of wage serfs in schools geared more toward "job training" than to genuine education.

We could go on at great length, but the bottom line is that the Irish teachers' union, in common with most people in the world, are laboring under the illusion that "the people" are somehow created for the State, instead of the State being a tool for people to use in building a just society, within which human beings grow and develop according to their inherent nature. The State and teachers have no authority over children's education in their own right. They have only that which parents have delegated to them for the sake of expedience. It is therefore up to the State and the teachers to take orders from the people in matters of education, not the other way around.

The State's proper role is to set minimal standards to ensure as far as humanly possible that education provides what is necessary for a child to learn how to function reasonably within civil society. It is the primary duty of the parents to see that these standards are met, but (more importantly) that their children receive a real education, which consists of learning how to grow and develop as human beings. That necessarily involves moral education, which ordinarily comes from religion.

The effort on the part of the Irish teachers' union is a giant leap downward on the way to complete secularization of education, with the results that we have seen repeated over and over as western civilization abandons its roots in the natural law and embeds moral relativism ever more securely in what is left of western culture.

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

"Why Fannie and Freddie Will Survive (Alas)"

Here is the text of yet another letter to the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps if some of our readers will take the text and edit it for their own purposes and send something in, the Journal might take some notice of the Just Third Way.

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.'s "Business World" column of 08/27/08 ("Why Fannie and Freddie Will Survive (Alas)," Wall Street Journal, A13) identifies the key issue in the mortgage crisis: the two lending giants don't need capital. Ordinary people do.

Fortunately, there is a way within the free market that ordinary people can gain access to the means of acquiring and possessing capital. Called "Capital Homesteading," it is based on the "binary economics" of Louis O. Kelso and Mortimer J. Adler, detailed in their book, The Capitalist Manifesto (1958), now celebrating the 50th anniversary of its publication.

One application of Capital Homesteading that has been developed is called the "Homeowners' Equity Corporation" ("HEC"). A HEC is a proposed for-profit stock corporation whose shareholders would be homeowners in danger of foreclosure. HECs — and there should be many, to provide redundancy, lower risk, and ensure competition in a community — would purchase distressed properties at the current market value. HECs would obtain acquisition loans from commercial banks, which in turn would discount the loans at the local Federal Reserve at a rate reflecting transaction costs and a revised risk premium. The homes could then be leased at a realistic market rate to their former owners or new tenants.

The tenant would earn shares in the HEC as lease payments were made sufficient to cover debt service, maintenance, and taxes. When the acquisition loan for a particular property was fully paid, the tenant could exchange his or her HEC shares for title, or continue as a tenant/shareholder at a reduced lease payment, sufficient to cover maintenance and property taxes.

Financing the purchase of properties through the Federal Reserve System and its member banks would cost the taxpayer nothing and be the first step in restoring a currency backed by hard assets instead of government debt. Let the free market decide what happens to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The HEC may require some enabling legislation from Congress to give it powers similar to those currently enjoyed by leveraged ESOPs, but, after that, the State can step aside, and, except for its regulatory role, let people solve their own problems without imposing any more burdens on the taxpayer.

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

Nothing to Worry About

The McCain campaign is reportedly all a-dither over Senator Obama's selection of Joseph Biden as his running mate, according to the Yahoo! news service yesterday morning. ("Biden is Wrench in McCain's VP Choice" Yahoo! news, 08/27/08) As one McCain supporter put it, " 'McCain knows Biden well. He knows how good he is as a knife fighter. He'll take McCain apart,' said one Republican operative."

This hardly sounds like positive reinforcement on the part of McCain supporters. It sounds, in fact, very much like defeatism. It might be useful to point out a few things that the major media — no surprise — seem to have missed, and which indicate that McCain's position might not be quite as hopeless as some people wish. (In a sense, I could wish that both McCain's and Obama's positions were utterly hopeless. They might then be tempted to read this blog and perhaps pick up a few interesting bits of information.)

Admittedly, McCain might want to look out for Biden's knife . . . in the back. Biden is a self-described "pro choice Catholic." As far as I'm concerned, he might as well be a "Jew for Hitler," or an "African-American for Slavery."

Senator Biden might very well honestly believe he is a Catholic, and I assume he is sincere in his support for "choice." Unfortunately for this compartmentalization of himself (all too prevalent in our relativistic culture), by his support for abortion and active participation in helping people procure abortions through legislation, he incurs automatic excommunication. This means that the Catholic Church tosses him out on his ear until he repents.

On the other hand, if Senator Biden believes in and adheres to all the teachings of the Catholic Church (as every Catholic swears he or she does when confirmed and renews every Easter) the pro choice movement has no use for him. He is necessarily opposed to the killing of an innocent human being: "murder." It is not acceptable to take the position that a single innocent life be sacrificed, even if the desired end is to save an entire people from annihilation. (John, 18:14)

The bottom line is that Senator Biden (in common with all pro choice "Catholics") has put himself between a rock and a hard place, completely of his own volition and of his own free will. If he follows the teachings of the Catholic Church to the best of his ability, he betrays his pro choice comrades. If he promotes the pro choice cause, he betrays his God.

Both pro choice and pro life advocates have to look at someone like that with more than a little suspicion. Either side might find him useful in the short run to achieve some transitory end, but sooner or later he has to make a choice and stop straddling the fence. When that time comes, he will necessarily betray one side or the other. This is not an issue in which it is possible to find some via media.

Let's be blunt. The one thing that both McCain and Obama have to look out for is themselves. Neither has advanced a viable platform that addresses the issues, whether it be the war in Iraq, the housing crisis, health care, the looming Social Security meltdown, or the economy as a whole. If McCain wants to counter Obama's selection of Biden as running mate, he should adopt the platform of the American Revolutionary Party.

On the other hand, if Obama is serious about wanting to do the best he can for this country, he should jettison Biden, and (you guessed it) adopt the platform of the American Revolutionary Party. It's about time we had an election campaign about the issues, and which candidate could best deliver on what will restore the economic, political, and, yes, spiritual health of this country.

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

Why are the Candidates Silent?

At least some of the media are catching on to the fact that the candidates for president of the United States are avoiding the real issues that concern ordinary Americans. As reported on Yahoo! news ("Financial Crisis Is Absent From Agendas of Parties, Candidates" 08/27/08), neither McCain nor Obama is addressing what some authorities are calling the worst financial catastrophe since the Great Depression.

Even the media pundits, however, are a little vague on why this is so, although they have managed to come up with a few glib responses: "Many Democrats shy away from tackling the credit crisis because of the party's historical support for Fannie and Freddie. The Republicans, for their part, are reluctant to draw attention to a crisis that occurred on their watch."

These rather flabby excuses, however, just don't cut it. The real reason that nobody is addressing this crisis is that neither candidate nor any party has any idea what to do about it. They do what in their minds is the next best thing: keep their mouths shut, ignore it, and hope it goes away.

Any regular reader of this blog can probably recite the rest of this post verbatim, without even looking at it.

The candidates should immediately study and begin advocating some version of the platform of the American Revolutionary Party. If they want information about specific problems, there is nothing to stop them from taking a look at:

The Homeowners' Equity Corporation to solve the subprime lending crisis.

The Iraq oil proposal to end the war in Iraq.

Capital Homesteading to stabilize the U.S. economy and open up democratic participation in the free market to all.

And so on, and on, and on. What is stopping them? The only thing they have to lose is the air of vacuous circumlocution pervading the current campaign.

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The High Moral Ground

Since Sunday, August 24, as reported briefly on August 26 by the Associated Press on the Yahoo! news service, protesters have been attempting to disrupt the Democratic National Convention in Denver. I could understand their anger and outrage if it was directed at the apparent hypocrisy of the candidates of both parties who pay lip service to the basic principles of the natural law that underlie the American system while doing as they please to advance their private agendas.

Unfortunately, they appear to be protesting the party most sympathetic to their stated goals - such as they are. In an article of some length, there was only one specific issue mentioned in two brief sentences: "[Kaycee] Ryann and [Eric] Finch described themselves as anti-capitalists who were protesting ecological devastation. They said others in the crowd were protesting other issues." As the article continues,

Ron Kovic, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist who led a peaceful march the day before, hurried to the scene in his wheelchair from his downtown hotel after he heard about the confrontation.

"We must remain nonviolent. We must have the high moral ground," he told the crowd.

"There's a powerful police presence here. The chill of 1968 is in the air of Denver," said Kovic, whose story was chronicled in the book and movie "Born on the Fourth of July."
Frankly, the situation sounds like people anxious to experience or recapture the feelings, passion, and enthusiasm of the protest movements of the 1960s, but without anything substantive to protest, at least against the party that, to all appearances, supports them. Rather than any specific issue, protest itself has become the issue.

The irony is that, if they are so desperately seeking something to protest, there is no lack of serious issues with substance. Why not, for example, protest the deafness of both candidates and all parties concerning the Just Third Way? If they're against the war, why not express anger over the fact that "the establishment" has consistently refused to give serious consideration to CESJ's Iraq oil proposal? And if they're pro choice, why not protest the fact that pro life American taxpayers are denied the very right to choose that they themselves demand by being forced to pay for what they can only regard as murder? Have any of them even considered demanding that the State stay out of the abortion business altogether? As the State is the guardian of the common good, is it too much to ask that the State neither subsidize nor criminalize an issue that has the potential to plunge the country into civil war?

If the protestors are having difficulty finding a party that satisfies their demands on "other issues," have they bothered to check out the platform of the American Revolutionary Party?

What and where, exactly, is this "high moral ground"?

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

Pro Hobson's Choice

Here's another in our series of (unanswered) letters to major newspapers. Again, please feel free to plagiarize any part of this letter for submission to your local journal.

Dear Sir(s):

William McGurn's "Main Street" column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal ("Democrats Made No Room on Abortion," WSJ, 08/26/08, A19) makes it clear that the Democratic Party in the person of Barack Obama is offering the American people a Hobson's Choice. Employing common pro choice rhetoric, this can be expressed as, "if you don't want an abortion, don't have one." One might as well say, prior to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, "if you don't want a slave, don't own one."

If Senator Obama is serious about "change," why doesn't he advocate changing the way in which pro life Americans are forced to subsidize abortions with their tax dollars — thereby giving them the choice of supporting abortion with their tax dollars or going to jail? Why is he ignoring economic reforms that to this writer's certain knowledge have been presented to him, and which would eliminate the economic reasons for abortion by changing how ordinary Americans participate in the free market, to say nothing of reforming the currency, correcting the tax system, and freeing America from dependence on foreign investment?

If Obama (or Senator McCain, for that matter) is serious about what is best for this country instead of what he thinks will get him elected, he should dust off one of the copies of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen (2004) with which he has been presented, or remove the material on the Just Third Way from the circular file, and get busy studying something that has the potential to put this country back on the right track — and without worrying about whether it's in his pay grade, or if he can come up with a clever (or not so clever) quip fast enough to cover up his real intentions or slips.

(According to the Wikipedia, "Hobson's Choice" is, ". . . a free choice in which only one option is offered, and one may refuse to take that option. The choice is therefore between taking the option or not taking it, colloquially formulated as "take it or leave it." The phrase "Hobson's choice" is said to originate from Thomas Hobson (1544-1630), a livery stable owner at Cambridge, England who, in order to rotate the use of his horses, offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door or taking none at all.")

Donations to CESJ are tax deductible in the United States under IRC § 501(c)(3):

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Did you see Michelle?

Dear Barack,

Thank you for alerting me to Michelle's wonderful speech. I just sent her this message:


As a 78-year-old Korean War vet, revolutionary centrist and political independent, I found your talk both eloquent and inspiring.

Yes, we need hope and a new vision on how to heal the wounds of history and deliver Peace, Prosperity and Freedom for all. But that dream depends on whether our leaders are guided by universal principles of justice.

More specifically, Buckminster Fuller wisely said: "We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.... [Our challenge is to] make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation and without ecological damage or the disadvantage of anyone."

To meet Bucky's challenge we posted today on the website of the Center for Economic and Social Justice our most definitive paper on an agenda that you should share with Barack:

My wife (she a veteran of the WWII internment camps for Japanese Americans) and I will vote for the candidate who comes closest to matching the reforms called for in our Just Third Way paper, including our project in East St. Louis, our bottom-up approach to financing universal health care and our Abraham Federation for resolving conflicts in the Muslim world.

I was told by Ed Brown, a delegate to your party's Denver convention that Ralph Paige, also a delegate from Georgia, last week personally handed an earlier version of this paper to Barack. Ralph heads the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and Ed Brown was former head of the Atlanta-based Voter Education Project. Ed and I worked together in the 1960s on civil rights and poverty situations.

You'll see from the linked abstract of our paper (from which you can click on the full 36-page paper) that our ideas are outside-the-box because our policies are aimed at lifting the exclusionary barriers to economic empowerment of every man, woman and child, barriers to which both political parties ignore or are blind to.

Just as access to the vote was a key to political empowerment, equal personal access to future capital ownership opportunities is the key to economic empowerment. Blindness or silence in the face of artificial legal and institutional barriers to the power and profits from ownership largely explains why grassroots Americans are so economically vulnerable and disenfranchied politically, while a tiny elite commands policy-making in America and the world.

Power does tend to corrupt and without new leaders with a clear vision of how to change the economic system, corruption will be perpetuated and the wealth and power gaps in the world will continue to widen.

We don't need a new New Deal or a new Fair Deal. They did not work. We need a Just Deal that will lift all Americans from dependency on government, to a system beyond the greed of Wall Street capitalism and beyond the inefficiencies of socialism. We need a Just Third Way that will return economic power to the people and make government more dependent on economically independent citizens.

Do Barack a favor and find the time to read our paper. It will help him overcome the resistance to some of the specifics in his current agenda from those (including myself who spent 5 years in the military and 5 in civil service) who have good reason to fear Big Government, Big Labor and Big Money on Wall Street. You and he will see that our Just Third Way agenda offers a truly populist vision for the technological and renewable energy frontier of the 21st century. It will achieve for economically disenfranchised voters today what Lincoln's Homestead Act of 1862 (despite its injustices to Native Americans) did for propertyless immigrants after the Civil War.

On a personal note in light of your position in the U of C hospital system, my daughter and first son were born at the U of C's Lying-In Hospital in 1958 and 1959 when I was studying law and economics at the U of C.

In Peace, Prosperity and Freedom, only through Justice,
Norm Kurland


In 1966 or 1967 I engaged in a street corner debate with Saul Alinsky, whose Industrial Areas Foundation you once worked for. It was late at night outside the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, with my three youngsters sleeping in the rear of my station wagon. While I was a great admirer of his "Rules for Radicals" and skills as a "people power" tactician, I'm afraid Alinsky never embraced the strategic vision of the Just Third Way. And, as the 1964 author of the "maximum feasible participation of the poor" guidelines for the Community Action Programs of Johnson's War on Poverty, I came to understand the underlying political opposition to the Federal anti-poverty strategies was not the rich but the average middle-class taxpayer. Fortunately, as a Federal official helping to fund some of the most highly participatory CAPs on the West Coast in the face of the emerging taxpayer revolt, I stumbled across someone else's vision for achieving a market-based version of economic democracy. This radical "Just Third Way" vision (see exposed the strategic weakness of the "Jobs and Welfare" mantra of the leaders of the so-called U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and explains the failure in all strategies to date for eradicating poverty.

And, frankly, your campaign policy advisers would benefit from seriously studying this strategy. In fact, I challenge them to debate the political feasibility of the reforms spelled out in our paper or in the detailed version in our book Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen that can be downloaded from

All Power to the People,
Norm Kurland

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On the Reading List?

A new book by Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, seems to be making an impression, both out west and in Rome. Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (possibly not coincidentally) was released at the beginning of August . . . just in time for the media circus of the Democratic National Convention in the bishop's own city.

Perhaps more devastating than the book itself (although the extracts I've read are pretty powerful stuff) is the fact that the author, despite his being a Catholic clergyman, has impeccable "liberal" credentials. He is a Potawatomi Indian (you can't get any more American than that), and is a full-blooded member of the Franciscan Order — the "right" minority, and the acceptable liberal order. His position on pro choice Catholics, especially politicians, thus undermines cherished misconceptions of non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

As the author states in his introduction,
People who take God seriously will not remain silent about their faith. They will often disagree about doctrine or policy, but they won't be quiet. They can't be. They'll act on what they believe, sometimes at the cost of their reputations and careers. Obviously the common good demands a respect for other people with different beliefs and a willingness to compromise whenever possible. But for Catholics, the common good can never mean muting themselves in public debate on foundational issues of human dignity. Christian faith is always personal but never private. This is why any notion of tolerance that tries to reduce faith to private idiosyncrasy, or a set of opinions that we can indulge at home but need to be quiet about in public, will always fail.
If I were to say that Render Unto Caesar needed anything, it would be an appendix outlining Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen as a practical means to empower Catholics — and everyone else — with the ability to stand up for what they believe. Check out Bishop Chaput's book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The China Syndrome

What with the Olympics and the perceived "threat" of the growing power of the Chinese economic machine, what discussion on the internet isn't focused on the U.S. presidential election is concentrated on our "problem" with China. Let's be honest, however. Our problem isn't with China. Our problem is with us — just as China's problem is with China.

China is steamrolling forward with all the aspect of an economic juggernaut that will very quickly come to dominate the world. There is, however, one extremely serious error the Chinese are making, and it's an error that will cause the Chinese economy to implode faster than it is growing.

By focusing exclusively on producing goods for export and ignoring the legitimate wants and needs of its own people, China is laying the groundwork for its own ultimate collapse as well as that of the United States. A case in point is the $40 billion spent on the Olympics — which few Chinese can afford to attend — contrasted with the estimated $10 billion budgeted for rebuilding the areas affected by the earthquake.

No country can survive for long if it does not first meet its own needs. Securing that, anything produced for export is a bonus, a surplus that allows your country to benefit from whatever comparative advantage it has by trading for the products generated by other countries' comparative advantage in whatever they produce.

By trying to be number one in all markets and ignoring both comparative advantage and the needs of its domestic market, China may very well bankrupt other countries. It will then bankrupt itself by accumulating more and more foreign currency at the same time that they undermine the value of those currencies by throwing trade out of balance. This also undermines the U.S. economy by feeding off the American proclivity to meet consumer needs by going into debt — an addiction as deadly to a national economy as opium is to personal health.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to both our problems. A program of Capital Homesteading implemented at the same time in both China and the United States will allow both countries to meet the legitimate wants and needs of their citizens, provide adequately for national security, and participate as equal partners in trade for mutual benefit.

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Taxation and Productivity

The September 2008 issue of Krause Publications' noted hobby magazine World Coin News has published the latest installment (No. 71) of my continuing series, "Hibernicis ipsis Hibernior: A Millennium of Irish Coinage." This particular article features a short discussion on the effect of taxation on productivity as it applied during the tenure of Thomas Wentworth, who was appointed Lord Deputy (governor) of Ireland in 1633. It is useful to quote it here. (The full article is available in the September issue of World Coin News.)
Pursuing commerce in peace was a very important part of Wentworth's program. Not a stupid man, the new Lord Deputy knew very well that it is impossible to tax the poor, however good or ill your motives might be, and however well-intended your projects. Further, if you tax the middle class and rich beyond what they can truly afford to pay, they have a tendency not to engage in productive activities, thereby eroding the tax base and decreasing revenues to the State (or, as in Wentworth's case, the tax collector).

One bizarre example of how the State can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs is the tax code in the United States and most developed countries. There is a "Catch-22" in the Internal Revenue Code, given the combination of the regressive Social Security tax, progressive income tax, and Individual Retirement Account contribution, and adding in the ill-fitting standard deduction, personal exemption, and earned income credit. Self-employed individuals in the United States - the types who tend to be most entrepreneurial and productive - can net less money the more they make within a certain range. This range is roughly $12,000 to $25,000 - the very income bracket into which many new entrepreneurs fall when starting a small business.

Experiencing this, many would-be entrepreneurs simply chuck it and go back into the wage system and pay a less unjust tax, ending up with more disposable income with less effort. Since big businesses that generate workers' taxable wages usually only grow from viable small businesses, the tax system works against itself by choking off potentially productive enterprises and taxing what survives in ways that simply raise prices to consumers. (Corporate and other business taxes, along with interest and fixed wage and benefit packages are costs of doing business. When the cost of doing business goes up, companies raise their prices in order to meet the additional costs, passing the increased costs along to the consumer. When customers no longer want to pay the higher prices or cannot do so, companies go out of business. Workers lose their jobs, and the State loses a portion of both its corporate and its individual tax bases.)

To do him justice, the new Lord Deputy was anxious to avoid such counter-productive measures. Of course, his object was, ultimately, to make the people richer so that he could steal more, but he still first had to make them prosperous. A wise thief doesn't kill a victim or take all he has. He leaves him enough with which to make more, and well enough to do so. This works - up to a point.

In the previous article we touched on the effect that the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few people was having on the social structures in England and Ireland, as well as the ability of the ordinary person to be productive. The fixed belief was that the only way to become wealthy was to take what somebody else had. This was simply an extension and a logical development of a process that had begun in the British Isles in 1485 when Henry VII Tudor usurped the throne from Richard III Plantagenet. The economic changes that started in the middle of the eighteenth century with the Industrial Revolution were simply tremendous accelerations of changes that had begun with the political and religious revolution initiated by the Tudors that caused the growing economic disenfranchisement of most people. (See William Cobbett, A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, 1827) As Hilaire Belloc was to point out a few centuries later,

"Consider in what way the industrial system developed upon capitalist lines. Why were a few rich men put with such ease into possession of the new methods? Why was it normal and natural in their eyes and in that of contemporary society that those who produced the new wealth with the new machinery should be proletarian and dispossessed? Simply because the England upon which the new discoveries had come was already an England owned as to its soil and accumulations of wealth by a small minority: it was already an England in which perhaps half of the whole population was proletarian, and a medium for exploitation ready to hand. . . .

"Had property been well distributed, protected by cooperative guilds, fenced round and supported by custom and by the autonomy of great artisan corporations, those accumulations of wealth, necessary for the launching of each new method of production and for each new perfection of it, would have been discovered in the mass of small owners. Their corporations, their little parcels of wealth combined would have furnished the capitalization required for the new processes, and men already owners would, as one invention succeeded another, have increased the total wealth of the community without disturbing the balance of distribution. There is no conceivable link in reason nor in experience which binds the idea of a few employing owners and a mass of employed nonowners working at a wage. Such great discoveries coming in a society like that of the thirteenth century would have blest and enriched mankind. Coming upon the diseased moral conditions of the eighteenth century in this country, they proved a curse." (Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State. Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1977, pp. 100-101.)

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Capital Homesteading and the Health Care Crisis

As a change from the usual McCain/Obama commentary, we'll have a little less usual McCain/Obama commentary. While the issues have been swept aside as critical matters such as the number of houses Senator McCain might own or Obama's celebrity status take center stage, the growing level of poverty and the number of Americans without adequate health insurance — or any health insurance at all — are still of interest to a few people. As the Wall Street Journal notes ("New Insurance, Poverty Data to Play in Races," WSJ, 08/25/08, A2),
This fact [i.e., more Americans without insurance] will give both candidates a springboard to tout their very different health-care plans. Among other things, Sen. John McCain would change the tax treatment of health insurance to help people even if they don't get insurance from their employer.

One of Sen. Barack Obama's solutions would be to set up a government-organized insurance marketplace in which private companies would compete with a medicare-like plan.
  • The fact is, the number of Americans without health insurance is growing.
  • The fact is, the gap between the poorest and the wealthy is increasing.
  • The fact is, Social Security and Medicare are a ticking time bomb.
  • The fact is, people can't afford either of the so-called health plans.
  • The fact is, . . .
Face it. The fact is that neither of the presidential candidates has a clue about what to do about this and other real problems (as opposed to arguing about whether Paris Hilton is a genius at political strategy or a ditz who parrots the liberal line perfectly).

The only real solution is to implement Capital Homesteading at the earliest possible date, and start the program detailed in CESJ's "Doctors' Plan for Universal Health Care Coverage."

That is, if they're serious, instead of intent on playing politics "as usual."

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