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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pro-Life v. the Wage System

Earlier today we had a fascinating conversation with a Pro-Life lawyer . . . yes, Virginia, there are such fantastic creatures. Even more fantastic, she seemed to be tracking on the need for an economic agenda for the Pro-Life movement. This seems like a no-brainer, no matter what side of the aisle you're on, for everyone who is born should have a reasonable chance to be able to make a living.

The question is, how is that living to be made? Some people already know the answer . . . or think they do. Those greedy capitalist pigs should just fork over the money, create jobs, and pay people more. As one Pro-Life economist (self-billed) snarled at us some years ago, "The Pro-Life movement has an economic agenda. It's called the Just Wage."

Brilliant. Raise wages and encourage capitalists to buy more capital that doesn't demand regular increases in wages and benefits to replace increasingly expensive human labor that does nothing but make trouble instead of widgets.

Or . . . why not follow Louis Kelso's advice as quoted in LIFE magazine back in 1964: "If the machine wants our job, let's buy it." That is, if you've lost your job or face being replaced by a machine, why shouldn't you be given the opportunity to buy the machine so that you receive by right of private property the income generated by that machine?

That's not just us saying that. Back in 1937 a labor economist name Goetz Briefs (who ended up as department chairman at Georgetown University), wrote in his book, The Proletariat: A Challenge to Western Civilization:

In addition to this insecurity and distress which the nature of the system imposes upon workers in general there are hardships entailed upon some smaller groups, by reason of their particular circumstances — age, for example, or occupation — the members of which find that the demand for their services has been temporarily, perhaps even permanently, reduced. Then too there are great numbers of workers whose earnings are but little above the subsistence level and do not permit the accumulation of savings to meet emergencies. It is the testimony of experience that capitalism offers no guarantee of either steady employment or adequate pay.

"This is no accidental defect. It derives from the vary nature of the system and the principles of its operation. It cannot keep prosperity always at a high level; it cannot by any means at its command stabilize the business cycle; and it cannot indefinitely continue to open up new continents. If there is to be advance along technical lines, if there is to be active competition, if business is to be guided by individual initiative and enterprise, there are bound to be ups and downs in the number of available jobs and in the wage level. And this, of course, rules out the chance that a job can ever be a satisfactory substitute for property as a means of security. A dynamic capitalism and a static job situation simply do not go together. Nor can there be a high wage level for the marginal worker and at the same time sufficient enterprises to absorb the available supply of labor on the market. These things are obviously incompatible. [Emphasis added.]

There is nothing astonishing about what Dr. Briefs said. After all, it is nothing more than what Leo XIII and Pius XI said before him. The only question is, where is the money to come from to finance the acquisition of capital by workers?

If you've been reading this blog, you already know the answer. If not (and we're feeling generous), we may let you in on the secret-that-is-no-secret.