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, July 10, 2009

News from the Network, Vol. 2, No. 28

One of the more difficult things about the current administration is trying to figure out the rationale of their monetary and fiscal policy, to say nothing of how they think what they're doing is going to affect the economy. It's very difficult to get anything other than vague promises that never seem to come to fruition, or contradictory demands. Within the last few days, for example, following months of demands that financial institutions make more consumer credit available to "stimulate" the economy, Mr. Obama declared that he was in favor of forcing people to save more. Thus, at one and the same time, people are supposed to save and dis-save, or consume and cut consumption.

Of course, this conundrum could easily be solved by the adoption of a Capital Homestead Act, but the administration and its advisors are firmly committed to the disproved Keynesian dogma that only existing accumulations of savings can be used to finance capital formation; new money creation is restricted to monetizing government debt and bailing out failed companies. This used to be called, "throwing good money after bad." (Now, of course, it's throwing bad money after worse, but that's a different issue.) By adopting a Capital Homestead Act along the lines recommended by the Center for Economic and Social Justice, people would be empowered to both spend and save — spend out of existing accumulations, and save (invest) out of real "forced" or "future" savings instead of coerced savings mandated by a desperate government seemingly intent upon undermining what little effectiveness it has left.

That being the case, what has the Global Justice Movement been doing to reconcile all the contradictory demands being forced on the State and the economy?
• On Monday, Norman Kurland had a good meeting via telephone with Mayor Alvin Parks of East St. Louis. The East St. Louis project, the "Metro East Citizens' Land Cooperative," or MECLC, will be a Community Investment Corporation, "CIC," as outlined in Illinois House Bill 4922. It will be dedicated to operating a professional land leasing and development company to serve its shareholders, the resident owners, and to link them to land and technology through ownership.

• On Tuesday, the CESJ team downloaded the new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, and began work on an analysis. A preliminary reading reveals that the main emphasis of the encyclical appears to be on emergency measures intended to ameliorate the worst effects of the current global financial crisis in the short term, what Pope Leo XIII referred to in the first social encyclical as, "a duty, not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity — a duty not enforced by human law," (Rerum Novarum, § 22), a judgment in which Pope Benedict XVI clearly concurs. While the encyclical recommends that business leaders and politicians begin looking to the long term instead of focusing always on the short term, essential principles of economic justice based on the natural law that can be used to develop long term solutions are not explicitly evident. This suggests that Caritas in Veritate may be the "first part" of a holistic program to address both the short and the long term issues in the economic crisis. In particular (since Catholics believe that all infallible teachings of their Church remain permanently valid and cannot be changed), we would look to a second encyclical especially on the subject of economic justice to address the critical importance of private property, for (as Leo XIII reminded us over a century ago) "That right to property, therefore, which has been proved to belong naturally to individual persons, must in like wise belong to a man in his capacity of head of a family; nay, that right is all the stronger in proportion as the human person receives a wider extension in the family group. It is a most sacred law of nature that a father should provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; and, similarly, it is natural that he should wish that his children, who carry on, so to speak, and continue his personality, should be by him provided with all that is needful to enable them to keep themselves decently from want and misery amid the uncertainties of this mortal life. Now, in no other way can a father effect this except by the ownership of productive property, which he can transmit to his children by inheritance." (Rerum Novarum, § 13)

• On Tuesday evening, David Jon Sponheim of America's Third Party interviewed Norman Kurland for the party's "Blog TV Channel." Mr. Sponheim seemed to very interested in the possibilities offered by the Just Third Way.

• On Wednesday, thanks to the efforts of Daniel Moore (who has been making great efforts to present the Just Third Way to unions as an alternative to the conflict-ridden model of industrial relations), Charles Showalter interviewed Norman Kurland for an hour on Mr. Showalter's radio talk show, "The Union Edge." While touching briefly on such topics as universal health care and how capital is financed, Norm focused on the benefits of worker ownership, but most of all changing the role of the unions from the conflict-ridden model of industrial relations, to solidaristic, justice-based "ownership unions" that secure and protect the ownership as well as labor rights of their members.

• On Wednesday evening, Norman Kurland had extended telephone conversations with Oklahoma State Representative Anastasia Pittman, and George State Representative Calvin Smyre. Representative Smyre is president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. As a result of the conversation, Norman Kurland is sending a package of materials to Ms. Pittman and Mr. Smyre. The idea is that this will help kick start the development of an agenda to get started on raising the funding for the Metro East Citizens' Land Cooperative in East St. Louis (see above) out of the economic stimulus money. The project will provide an exemplar to demonstrate the financial feasibility of green, renewable and sustainable energy, as well as the benefits of widespread, direct citizen ownership of community infrastructure and other resources ordinarily owned by government. This will build an example of how private sector initiatives can achieve sustainable development in which everyone shares equitably. Once developed, the model can be replicated throughout all fifty states, then the world.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 26 different countries and 39 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, Brazil, Canada, the UK, and the Philippines. People in Venezuela, Chile, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom spent the most average time on the blog. Not surprisingly, the most popular postings are the series on usury (which may actually finish soon), and the news reports.
Those are the happenings for this week, at least 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 anyway, so we'll see it before it goes up.