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, May 31, 2011

A "Reasonable" Pro-Life Position

A couple of weeks ago we took a little flak from a potential reviewer of our book, Supporting Life: The Case for a Pro-Life Economic Agenda. The chief complaints were that, one, we didn't say anything about how God was on the side of the Pro-Life movement because we can only know right from wrong (the "natural law") if God tells us — and God said so, so that's that. Two, the argument conceded too much to "those people," meaning Pro-Choice adherents.

First, not only the Catholic Church, but Aristotle (who wasn't even Greek Orthodox), teaches that the principles of the natural law are discernible by reason alone. Second, conceding too much to the opposition is a matter of opinion, so we won't spend any time on that. Today.

Frankly, the first complaint confused us, and caused more than a few eyebrows to go up when (without naming any names, of course) we mentioned it to some attorneys, priests, and professors of moral philosophy, as well as rabbis, imams, and people like that.

The general consensus substantiated what we learned by reading Mortimer Adler (the "Great Books" philosopher) and Heinrich Rommen (a student of Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J., the "solidarist philosopher"), basing the natural law on faith in any degree automatically excludes anyone from whom the gift of faith has been withheld, or who has never heard of whatever revelation is being used.

Yet the popes in the encyclicals come right out and say that the natural law is "written in the hearts of all men" (and, yes, women and children), and thus no one is exempt from the precepts of the natural law. The primary precept of the natural law, of course, is "good is to be done, evil avoided."

The belief that more than reason is needed to discern the natural law was the error specifically addressed by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis ("Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine") in 1950: ". . . absolutely speaking, human reason by its own natural force and light can arrive at a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, Who by His providence watches over and governs the world, and also of the natural law, which the Creator has written in our hearts." (§ 2) [Emphasis added.]

Basing the natural law in any degree on faith also, according to both Adler and Rommen, leads directly into totalitarianism, and (as Rommen put it in his book, The Natural Law, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1998) "pure moral positivism, indeed to nihilism" (p. 52), as well as to the belief that it is not necessary for God to exist (p. 62).

The role of faith should be confined to illuminating and helping us overcome the obstacles that "prevent reason from making efficient and fruitful use of its natural ability." (Humani Generis, loc. cit.)


Friday, May 27, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 21

This has been a slow week for "hard news." It seems that most of our time has been taken up in philosophical discussions. Consequently, we simply cut and pasted our blog postings from a copy we had of the paper on the Abraham Federation. Unfortunately, we were using an outdated version of the paper that needs revision. Since we were posting the paper to save the trouble of writing something ourselves, it would have defeated the purpose to do the necessarily revisions before posting. We took the easy way out. We posted something innocuous (ha) to replace yesterday's posting, and "suspended" posting the rest of the paper until "further notice" (which is author talk for "until somebody else does all the work"). The rest of the news items for this week are important, if not particularly exiting to hear about:

• Our CESJ Summer Fellows from Mauritania and Niger have been delving very deeply into the Just Third Way. They seem particularly enthusiastic about the potential of the Just Third Way as applied in Capital Homesteading to solve what seem to be perennial problems in Africa.

• The Fellows were introduced to Pollant Mpofu in the U.K. (via skype, of course). They seem to think there is a great deal that can be done to advance the Just Third Way through collaborative effort and opening doors.

• A professor of Medieval philosophy, along with Catholic and Muslim thinkers, has supported CESJ's position on the basis of the natural law: human reason. Faith is, of course, important, and can even help remove barriers to our understanding, but has its own role to fill, and does not replace reason. This is a critical issue, for we believe that Kelso and Adler's three principles of economic justice, as well as the four pillars of an economically just society, can be known by reason, or (as Aquinas put it) "not on documents of faith, but on the statements and reasons of the philosophers themselves." Basing the natural law on anything other than reason justifies the imposition of religious law and beliefs by force.

• Our revision of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen is coming along. If you have the current version — don't worry, it's still valid. We just want to update figures and clarify our proposals to reform banking and financial institutions, as well as eliminate some redundancies and integrate the material in the appendices more into the main text. In short, it's mostly a "housekeeping" thing, and does not change the basic principles or theory.

• Wendy in Denver has been moving one or two mountains (and, given the size of the "hills" around Denver, that's something to brag about) to make connections, network, open doors, and set up meetings with potential prime movers. As a result, we may be able to send a delegation to the National Lawyers Association conference in June, and combine it with other important events.

• Our draft of the "brief" study of the monetary, credit, financial and banking theory behind binary economics and the Just Third Way is finished — at least this writer's part. We still need to add in material about the theory behind Justice-Based Management, and review the adaptation of Norman Kurland's Prices and Money paper.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 50 different countries and 45 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, the UK, India, Canada, and Australia. People in Ghana, Barbados, Qatar, Belgium and India spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting this past week was once again "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," followed by "Aristotle on Private Property," "Finding the Right Negatives," "In the Blink of an Eye," and the tribute to Robert Woodman.

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.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part XV: Political Structures

This series is suspended until further notice (a diplomatic way of saying we're tired of it, it has not resulted in any discussion, and there seems to be a complete lack of interest in the subject). Take heart, however. We are replacing this posting with one that will generate even less interest, and which was settled (as far as orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims are concerned) over eight centuries ago: whether the natural law can be discerned by reason alone, or whether we need religious revelation to discern what is good and be virtuous people. As far as Thomas Aquinas was concerned, it was reason alone:

Aquinas divides law into four kinds: eternal, natural, human, and Divine.

All humans, if virtuous, can have access to the natural law even without supernatural infusion or revelation. For example, consider what Aquinas says as he fields the following objection to the claim that there is only one Divine Law: "Further, the Divine law seems to be more akin to the eternal law, which is one, than the natural law, according as the revelation of grace is of a higher order than natural knowledge. Therefore much more is the Divine law but one." (ST I-II q. 91 a. 5, obj. 3.). The relevant difference between the eternal law and the natural law to which Aquinas appeals is that the knowledge of natural law is natural — that is, knowledge of the natural law does not depend on "the revelation of grace." This is confirmed in Aquinas's response to the objection, where he writes, "The natural law directs man by way of certain general precepts, common to both the perfect and the imperfect: wherefore it is one and the same for all." (ST` I-II q. 91 a. 5, ad 3.)

Natural law is related to the eternal law, which ultimately consists in God's governance of the universe "by Divine Providence" (ST I-II q. 91 a. 1, resp; cf. ST I q. 22 a. 1-2.) Specifically, natural law just is a "participation of the eternal law." (cf., ST I-II q. 91 a. 2, resp.) That is, the principles of the natural law are a certain kind of manifestation of the eternal law.

Granted, Aquinas claims that the eternal law itself is promulgated in part through Christ and the words of scripture, both matters of revelation; he says, "Promulgation is made by word of mouth or in writing; and in both ways the eternal law is promulgated: because both the Divine Word [i.e., Christ, the Word made flesh] and the writing of the Book of Life are eternal." (ST I-II q. 91 a. 1, ad 2.)

Note, however, what Aquinas says about the promulgation of natural law: "The natural law is promulgated by the very fact that God instilled it into man's mind so as to be known by him naturally." (ST I-II q. 90 a. 4 ad 1.) While the natural law is "an imprint on us of the Divine light," (ST I-II q. 91 a. 2, resp.), this imprint need not be made on us via revelation.

And again: "Now all men know the truth to a certain extent, at least as to the common principles of the natural law: and as to the others, they partake of the knowledge of truth, some more, some less; and in this respect are more or less cognizant of the eternal law." (ST I-II q. 93 a. 2, resp.) It would appear that "all men" is not limited to those who have received revelation.

Consider also the precepts of the natural law; in addition to the general precept that good is to be sought and evil avoided, Aquinas includes the following: "whatever is a means of preserving human life, and of warding off its obstacles," norms regarding "sexual intercourse, education of offspring and so forth," as well as precepts "to shun ignorance, to avoid offending those among whom one has to live, and other such things regarding the [natural inclination to know the truth about God, and to live in society]." (ST I-II q. 94 a. 2, resp.) None of these general principles appear to require revelation.

Further, Aquinas writes, "By the natural law, the eternal law is participated proportionately to the capacity of human nature." (ST I-II q. 91 a. 4, ad 1.) Here, Aquinas compares the natural law to the Divine law; the latter is concerned with truths of revelation, while the former is not - at least, not necessarily. The law of grace applies to the latter, but not necessarily to the former. Pelagian worries can be put to rest insofar as we make the qualification that the bonum honestum towards which the natural law points us is that of the earthly city, not the heavenly city. So, while human virtue won't get to what is unqualifiedly good (i.e., God Himself) without grace, it can aspire to what is good qua earth-bound human.

G. Joyce, writing in The Catholic Encyclopedia, indicates that there is a relationship between the truths of natural law and revelation. He notes, however, that revelation just has a particular role to play in the appropriation of natural law — it is not a sine qua non: "Though his intellectual faculties are not radically vitiated, yet his grasp of truth is weakened; his recognition of the moral law is constantly clouded by doubts and questionings. Revelation gives to his mind the certainty he had lost, and so far repairs the evils consequent on the catastrophe which had befallen him." (G. Joyce, "Revelation," The Catholic Encyclopedia (New Advent), "Revelation.") This is echoed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known 'by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.'[cf., Pius XII, Humani generis] The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit." (§1960). Again, revelation is not needed to see or know the precepts of natural law; rather, revelation helps to remove doubts about what one already knows and helps one apply it readily.

Later, Joyce asserts that thinking revelation is necessary is, in fact, contrary to Catholic theology: "Luther indeed asserted that man's intellect had become hopelessly obscured by original sin, so that even natural truth was beyond his reach. And the Traditionalists of the nineteenth century (Bautain, Bonnetty, etc.) also fell into error, teaching that man was incapable of arriving at moral and religious truth apart from Revelation." (Joyce)


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part VII: A New Beginning

(Another glitch: this posting was made on Thursday, May 12 as Number VII in the Abraham Federation series . . . and "disappeared" from the blog.  It is reposted again, necessarily out of sequence because we can't go back in time.) Although some Arabs would dispute the legitimacy of all Israeli-occupied territory, the Israeli military has the power to maintain law and order over all areas it now patrols. Despite the intifada and mounting international pressures on Israel, this reality is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the easy diffusion of modern military technology, including weapons of mass destruction among Arab guerrillas and their allies, makes a military status quo uneasy at best.

The main obstacle to peace, in this author's view, is not the Israeli military or the deep-seated Holocaust fears which justify in the minds of most Israelis the continued Israeli military presence on the land where the Abraham Federation could be created. Rather, the deeper issue is whether a more just society can be conceived, which will eventually allow the Israeli military presence to be phased out and replaced by US and international security forces during the transition to a viable Abraham Federation at peace with all its neighbors, including Israel.

Some occupied territory under Israeli control is now open to negotiation for a new status at least as a foothold for a more comprehensive, longer-term strategy in the future for the entire Middle East.

The biblical region of Judea and Samaria the West Bank (with extensions in Gaza and other areas covered by the Oslo Agreement) could provide that foothold. It includes Bethlehem, Hebron and the surrounding mountain region west of the Jordan River. It also encompasses Jerusalem, which deserves special handling, perhaps serving in the transition period as the capital of the new nation as well as present Israel. Jerusalem could even be designated by the UN as a special "global capital," to be administered by spiritual leaders of all faiths and policed by security guards under the authority of the Security Council of the UN.

The proposed strategy would go beyond the demeaning "autonomy" proposals of the Israeli Likud Party. It would be less threatening to Jewish settlers than the Labor Party's "land-for-peace" proposals. And it would offer a significantly more just future for all Palestinians than what they are now demanding.

If a new beginning can be made in the West Bank and Gaza, with a free transit corridor linking the two areas, a more comprehensive regional approach could later be negotiated, based on the success of the Abraham Federation model.


Finding the Right Negatives, Part XIV: Highlights of the Abraham Federation

The Abraham Federation would aim at bringing a higher order of justice than any nation has ever offered its citizens. It would offer acceptable safeguards to Israeli demands for security and guarantee the right of all Jews and Palestinians to visit and settle in the "Holy Land." It would offer Palestinians "self-determination" and a religiously pluralistic "democratic state" that would insure everyone complete freedom of religion. It would also offer Jewish and Christian settlers the opportunity to become citizens of the Abraham Federation. It would be neither a collectivist Zionist state nor a collectivist Palestinian state, but a new form of nation that members of all faiths could build together.

(Naturally, as we have pointed out in previous postings in this series — numbers VI, VII and VIII — neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians can force themselves on the others, any more than they can forget legitimate concerns about personal safety. Further, it is not practicable that a solution simply be imposed. Even the best solution — as we believe the Abraham Federation to be — will have to be phased in more or less gradually.)

Politically, the new nation's constitution would guarantee a Jeffersonian form of democracy, open to all, with clearly defined and limited functions given to government and all political institutions. In addition to normal democratic checks and balances on the "minimalist" government of the nation, the major check on future concentrations of power would be outside of government, based on "Capital Homesteading" policies and institutions that would systematically spread economic power and free enterprise ownership broadly, right down to the individual level.

Widespread diffusion of property would become the ultimate constitutional safeguard for all human rights. Although the new nation would have no "official" state religion, by systematically spreading property and economic power among its citizens, it would insure that freedom of religion, of association, of the press and other protections of individual human rights vis-à-vis the government would be built upon a solid economic foundation.

Thus, the new nation would be built on a foundation of personal (as opposed to collective) political sovereignty, and that foundation would in turn rest on personal economic sovereignty. It would be a nation whose sovereignty is built from the ground up, rather than from the top down. Individual, family, community and minority rights would thus be protected from the potential abuses of political majorities or traditional power elites. In this way, religious freedom and cultural pluralism would have stronger economic supports than other world trouble spots that breed organized terrorism.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part XIII: Highlights of the Abraham Federation

(This is today's posting) Here are some suggestions for initiating the Abraham Federation:

First steps should start small, focusing on a relatively small territory over which no existing nation-state has yet declared its sovereignty, namely ancient Judea and Samaria and the Gaza strip. If the new nation succeeds, the beachhead, with its capital in the Old City of Jerusalem, will expand naturally. Neighboring countries in the region will seek to merge with the Abraham Federation and share the special benefits described below.

To foster maximum growth opportunities for the citizens of the Abraham Federation, other countries in the Middle East, including Israel, and other major industrial nations such as the U.S., Japan and members of the European Community, would sign a multilateral agreement treating all the land in the Abraham Federation as a unique "global free market zone." In contrast to most free trade zones often cesspools that attract sweatshop industries and exploited workers the Abraham Federation would in microcosm be a model for

a global free trade system. Rather than merely providing special investment concessions and free access to goods imported into the zone, the global free market status would allow all goods and services exported from this unique zone to be sold within these cooperating countries with no duties, quotas, or other trade barriers. This feature alone, after security against terrorism is assured, would attract "leapfrog" technologies and accelerate new investment and job opportunities for the benefit of all producers, investors, worker-owners, suppliers and global customers. "Capital Homesteading" tax and credit incentives would add additional icing on the cake.

A revolutionary advance over all existing nation-states would be formed. The new nation would reject collectivist and exclusionary concepts of nationalism and would carry the concept of sovereignty or "self-determination" down to the personal, family and community levels, an ideal implicit in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


Finding the Right Negatives, Part XII: The Vehicle for Change, A National "Capital Homesteading" Strategy

(Yesterday's posting somehow didn't make it up. Here it is again.) The Capital Homesteading concept is not limited to worker ownership. (See Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen, prepared for the William H. Donner Foundation by the Center for Economic and Social Justice in December 2002.) Other variations of the expanded capital ownership concepts that could be implemented in the Abraham Federation would build individual equity stakes in capital-intensive industries into the general population.

These include stock ownership plans for utility users and regular customers of enterprises (CSOPs), community investment corporations (CICs) for resident share ownership of local land development corporations and community infrastructure, and personal investment accounts or "Capital Homestead Accounts" for citizens to gain access to credit to choose among a variety of ownership options (CHAs). (These vehicles are described in the Capital Homestead Act, and in various papers at The "Capital Homestead Account" and its relationship to central banking policy is described in "Saving Social Security" on the CESJ web site.) The CIC provides an ideal vehicle for keeping profits, equity growth and land governance rights resulting from land and infrastructural planning and development in the hands of members of the local community, rather than government or outside private developers. (See various papers on the Community Investment Corporation as a for-profit citizen-owned land developer at

Other significant developments indicating a growing world-wide interest in the expanded capital ownership approach, include:

Endorsement by President Reagan on August 3, 1987 of the work of the bipartisan Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice. This Congressionally-mandated task force issued a report, High Road to Economic Justice, which offered a bold strategy of expanded capital ownership for economic revitalization in Central America and the Caribbean.

The translation and publication into Polish of Every Worker An Owner [published by the Center for Economic and Social Justice], a compendium of writings by leading thinkers in the expanded capital ownership area. Prior to the demise of the Soviet Union, 15,000 copies of this Polish translation were distributed throughout Solidarity channels in Poland. In May 1988 USAID Administrator Alan Woods transmitted the English version of this compilation of writings to every USAID mission in the world.

The development of a "parallel legal system" for Costa Rica to foster system-wide experimentation based on economic democratization.21

ESOP laws established in the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Russia and a growing number of developing and transforming economies.

The Abraham Federation would have an historic opportunity to become the first nation to be launched with a comprehensive and workable program to provide each of its citizens the means to share in the private ownership of all its resources.


Friday, May 20, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 20

The issue that seems to be in the headlines this week is the mounting money crisis, specifically the deficit and the debt. This doesn't mean that things like the war on global terrorism, the distortion of the Constitution by the judiciary, the subversion of the central bank, the looming Social Security crisis, the energy problem, health care, unemployment, the obvious instability of the stock market and about a gazillion other problems aren't serious, possibly even more so. No, it's just what the media decide we should be obsessing about this week. Of course, if they wanted to focus on a solution instead of which problem to wring their hands ineffectually over, we can help there. If they insist on only looking at the problems, sorry, we'd rather be solving them. In fact, that's what we've been working on pretty much all this week:

• Today Norman Kurland, Dawn Brohawn and Michael D. Greaney hit "The Hill" for a "touch base drop-in" with one Senate aide, a scheduled meeting with nearly half a dozen staffers of another senator, and an unscheduled "cold call" with yet another. The subjects covered were the deficit, Capital Homesteading, the deficit, an economic agenda for the Pro-Life movement, the deficit, the Homeowners Equity Corporation, the deficit, the complexities of the tax system, the deficit, the loss of jobs, the deficit, growth of the rust belt, the deficit, and (of course), the deficit. All of the meetings and "drop bys" went very well. That being the case, you ask, why don't we tell you all the gory details, such as with whom we met? Simple. As we've found out many times in the past, a lot of people don't really know how to read, at least as "read" is meant in Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book (1940). They see a word they like or dislike, and immediately assume the best or the worst without finding out what is really going on. They see we met with Senator Rocky Schwartz of West Carokota, or Representative Brunhilda P. Throckmorton of Missitucky, and leap to a conclusion that we're claiming the Senareprative supports the Capital Homestead Act and Aid to Depraved Chickens. No, all we did was talk and present our case for a more in-depth meeting with the Represenator him- or herself.

• The current edition of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen just experienced a big jump in ratings on Amazon. This doesn't mean anything in and of itself, but it is encouraging to see something like that take off suddenly, even if it turns out to be a false alarm.

• A "name" that had promised to review Supporting Life has begged off. We still need you to find other "names" who can review (and get published) reviews of this and other CESJ books. If you can't do that, go to the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, and post a your own short review there. If, instead, you spend your time wondering why more people don't know about this stuff, it might be because you haven't told them.

• In connection with the above item, keep your eye peeled for potential door openers and even prime movers. If you don't do it, who will?

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 47 different countries and 47 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, the UK, India, Canada, and Australia. People in Ghana, Belgium, Barbados, Qatar, and Nepal spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting this past week was once again "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," followed by "Aristotle on Private Property," "The Keynesian Paradox of Thrift," "In the Blink of an Eye," and Finding the Right Negatives.

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.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part XI: The Vehicle for Change, A National "Capital Homesteading" Strategy

Why should a national "Capital Homesteading" strategy capture the attention of those now residing on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? The answer lies in the fact that the universal right to own property (Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is frustrated systematically by every nation today. This is especially true within modern industrial societies where less than 1 percent of their citizens directly own and control most of the industrial capital.

Economic justice in a modern global economy depends on widespread individual access to ownership of technologically advanced agricultural, industrial, and commercial enterprises, and the means to finance their acquisition, operation and expansion. Fortunately, precedents are now well established for creating new enterprises, with skilled management and advanced technologies, whose ownership is shared by all employees.

In the United States, over 10,000 companies with a total of over 10 million employees have adopted employee stock ownership plans or "ESOPs," 1,500 of which are majority-owned by their employees. Most of these have been adopted since 1972. Employees with no savings or credit have used an ESOP to become owners of their companies in some cases with up to 100 percent of equity participation. (See Miller, John H. Curing World Poverty: The New Role of Property, Social Justice Review, 1994)

There are some cases where the ESOP did not work, and many cases where ESOPs are not living up to their potential. This happens when management and labor fail to create a justice-based culture that respects the property rights as well as the ownership responsibilities of worker-owners.14 (Kurland, Norman, "The South Bend Lathe Story: What Can We Learn from an ESOP 'Failure'?" in The ESOP Association, Journey to an Ownership Culture: Insights from the ESOP Community, Scarecrow Press, 1997, pp. 41-49. Available at However, the most successful ESOP companies are world exemplars of "Justice-Based ManagementSM," a leadership philosophy that incorporates social justice in corporate management.

(See "Organized for the Common Good Through Value-Based Management" by William Nicholson, on the successes since 1983 of the ownership system at Western Building Products, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Available at (The term "Value-Based Management" has been changed to "Justice-Based ManagementSM to reflect its governing principles of economic and social justice and to differentiate this new leadership philosophy and management system from what is now referred to as "Value-Based Management" by business schools and Wall Street investment banking firms, which merely seeks to maximize long-term stock values for shareholders.) Where principles of Justice-Based ManagementSM are applied, corporate boardroom and workplace behavior embody and reinforce high moral standards. Loyalty between top management, workers, outside shareholders, customers and suppliers, is a two-way street. And corporate governance is structured to achieve the transparency and accountability that was lacking in Enron, WorldCom and other flagrant cases of executive abuse. Further, executives of the best companies have long-term investment horizons measuring their success by dividend levels for all shareholders, profit sharing distributions for all workers and value they bring to their customers. They avoid trying to manipulate their share prices in public stock exchanges. And the differential in compensation levels between the highest paid executive and the lowest paid worker is generally no more than 3 to 5 times a tolerable level for maintaining a sense of community but not over 500 times as in some American corporations.)

More widespread encouragement of this leadership model by lawyers, accountants and consultants, in this author's opinion, would be far more effective than passing more laws and hiring more government regulators, for preventing future Enrons, WorldComs and similar Wall Street scandals.

Twenty laws have been passed by the U.S. Congress since 1973 to encourage the expanded use of ESOPs, including the reorganization of the Northeast rail system, pension reform, tax reform, trade policy, foreign economic development policy, as well as other measures designed to greatly accelerate the adoption of ESOPs by major U.S. corporations. The credit privileges and special tax advantages that the U.S. government has given to workers who adopt ESOPs, allow workers without savings to purchase shares on credit wholly secured by the future profits of the company. Because employees are directly linked to productivity increases and profits through their ownership rights, studies indicate that firms financed through ESOPs, when combined with participatory management and gain sharing, generally perform better than their competitors.

The ESOP is no longer a mystery in the Middle East. In 1989, the $160 million Alexandria Tire Company was launched in Egypt, creating the Middle East's largest radial truck tire plant, in a joint venture with Pirelli Tire of Italy and other investors. Thanks to the US Agency for International Development, over 600 worker-shareholders are benefiting from this transaction, "earning" their ownership stakes through the most advanced ESOP in the developing world. (See Kurland, Norman and Brohawn, Dawn, "Beyond Privatization: An Egyptian Model for Democratizing Capital Credit for Workers", paper presented to the American Bankers Conference on ESOPs, New York City, June 12-13, 1989, as revised by authors, 1993. Available at

The key to broad-based ownership is the democratization of capital credit, going beyond micro-enterprise lending, as in the Grameen Bank, to macro-enterprise lending. In the case of the Alexandria Tire Company, this was supplied through a unique application of Islamic banking principles. In the future, the discount mechanism of central banks can supply such asset-backed, self-liquidating credit to commercial bank lenders for financing growth of broadly owned productive enterprises. (See Kurland, Norman, "A New Look at Prices and Money: The Kelsonian Binary Model for Achieving Rapid Growth Without Inflation," Journal of Socio-Economics, vol. 30, 2001, pp. 495-515; also available at


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part X: Policy Pillars of a Free and Just Market Economy

The Abraham Federation would offer an economic and legal system based on (1) private property in the means of production, (2) free and competitive markets for determining just prices, just wages and just profits, and (3) a well-defined and limited economic role of the state. But the constitution and laws of the new nation would also be structured to (4) guarantee each citizen with an equal opportunity to become an owner of productive assets.

Each of these four basic pillars of a genuinely "free and just market system" is essential and interdependent for creating an environment for sustainable and balanced growth. They build moral values into the economic environment, without which free markets become unjust and unfree markets. Take one pillar away and the system will become unbalanced, vulnerable to corruption, monopolies and special privileges, and wasteful of human potential. By integrating these four policy objectives, the tax system and the money-creating powers of the state would be restructured so that every citizen has equal access to "social tools" (like a simple and just tax system ("Beyond ESOP: Steps Toward Tax Justice", The Tax Executive, April and July 1977. Available at, a stable asset-backed currency and an ownership-spreading productive credit system — "The Federal Reserve Discount Window", The Journal of Employee Ownership Law and Finance, National Center for Employee Ownership, Winter 1998, pp. 131-155) to acquire and accumulate enough productive assets to meet his or her living needs upon retirement.

In a national ownership-sharing program, citizens would become co-owners of land. In addition, they would accumulate and receive dividends and property incomes from direct equity ownership in new technologies, agribusinesses, industries, and rentable space and infrastructure built upon the land.

Full details of the economic program outlined in the Abraham Federation strategy are given in the report, Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen, prepared for the William H. Donner Foundation by the Center for Economic and Social Justice in December 2002. Free copies of the report (in PDF format) are available at Other writings on Capital Homesteading are also available at For a detailed model "parallel legal system" for broadening capital ownership, see A Proposed Law to Encourage the Democratization of Future Capital Ownership for Citizens of Costa Rica, prepared for the Costa Rican Minister of Planning under a USAID contract, July 17, 1989, available at

Moreover, by the systematic spreading and sharing of ownership power, one of the basic conditions for any future Holocausts and breeding grounds for terrorists alienation of large numbers of workers would gradually disappear.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part IX: Escape from the Wage System

Guidelines for constructing this model for peace in the Middle East involve a radical departure from traditional approaches to industrial development. Neither capitalism nor socialism is adequate for building a successful economy for the Abraham Federation. Neither combines maximum justice with maximum efficiency. Both ignore the need for building economic sovereignty into each citizen. Both leave ownership and control of modern technology, natural resources and business enterprises to a ruling few.

(See writings of Louis O. Kelso, especially the principles of economic justice he developed with his co-author, the philosopher Mortimer J. Adler in chapter 5 of The Capitalist Manifesto, Random House, 1958. This book and other writings of Kelso can be downloaded free on the web site of the Kelso Institute for the Study of Economic Systems at Other writings on Kelso's binary system of economics and his classic critique of Karl Marx's Das Kapital are available at the web site of the Center for Economic and Social Justice at Kelso, a lawyer-investment banker as well as a brilliant economic theorist, was also the inventor of practical ownership-broadening innovations such as the employee stock ownership plan or "ESOP." For an excellent textbook on Kelso's economic theory, see Ashford, Robert and Shakespeare, Rodney, Binary Economics: The New Paradigm, University Press of America, 1999.)

To avoid these dangers, the Abraham Federation would neither own property nor permit future monopolies over the ownership of the means of production. This principle alone would make "sovereignty" in the Abraham Federation uniquely distinct from any nation in history.

The Abraham Federation would recognize that sovereignty connotes power and only human beings, not abstract "collectives", can exercise power. The major issue to be addressed in a democratic world is which people will exercise what kinds of power, either directly, jointly in association with others, or by delegation.

On August 3, 1987 President Ronald Reagan received the report of the bipartisan Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice, which, among other recommendations, advocated expanded capital ownership as a new cornerstone for the future of US economic policy, domestically and globally. President Reagan then declared, "I've long believed one of the mainsprings of our own liberty has been the widespread ownership of property among our people and the expectation that anyone's child, even from the humblest of families, could grow up to own a business or corporation." Citing President Lincoln's Homestead Act as the historic precedent for the economic development proposals of Project Economic Justice, President Reagan observed, "A mightier guarantee of freedom is difficult to imagine."

In a society where all power is supposed to rest with the people, economic sovereignty must start at the individual and family level. Since, in the words of Daniel Webster, "power follows property," if political power is to reside in the people, property must be spread broadly. The best antidote to concentrated power and monopolies is to empower all citizens through decentralized ownership of all of society's enterprises. Only then can those who run government and other social institutions be held accountable to the people. Such an economically classless society would be comprised of highly autonomous, interdependent property owners, capable of associating with other "sovereign" individuals for their mutual interests. Genuine economic democratization serves as the ultimate check on the potential abuse of inherently concentrated state power, and on abuses by the majority against highly vulnerable minority groups and individuals.

What is common to all of today's economies are legal, financial and other institutional barriers that prevent the average worker and his family from escaping from the status of a worker-for-hire and becoming a capital owner. If he is lucky, a worker can get a job under a feudalistic "wage system." If he's not, he must turn to charity or welfare, an institutional form of charity. In any event, most workers live from hand-to-mouth. The non-owning worker is powerless and defenseless against advancing technology and those who control his jobs and income levels. His economic security remains vulnerable to labor-saving technology or workers in the global labor market who are willing to do the same work at lower wages.

Having no ownership stake in modern wealth-producing assets, most workers never gain access to the economic independence and entrepreneurial opportunities vital to a dynamic free market economy. Under such an exclusionary market system, the few are free to own and the many are free to work for them or go hungry.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part VIII: The New Nation's Unique Economy

As a testing ground for a new nation, today's West Bank and Gaza would be transformed into a laboratory for dynamic "win-win" economic change, allowing revolutionary change in the economic culture to precede ultimate change in the political culture. Economic empowerment would thus become the foundation for effective political empowerment in the lives of the people. A basic premise of the new economic culture is the rejection of artificial and disproven assumptions of scarcity.

Today's scarcity could be overcome if West Bank and Gaza residents would work together within a justice-driven free enterprise system to create new wealth that could be traded globally, with profits and ownership shared more equitably. This would shift the primary focus of thinking from how to divide scarce resources of the past, to planning the "open growth frontier" being created by modern science, technology, and global production and marketing systems.

A second premise for rapid growth is that sound moral values, along with sound market principles, must be infused at all levels and within all institutions of the economic process. (See "Justice-Based Management: A System for Building an Ownership Culture," a paper presented at the ESOP Association 21st Annual Conference, May 20-22, 1998 — Washington, D.C., available at

Land, of course, is finite. But as the philosopher-design scientist R. Buckminster Fuller pointed out, creative energy can be channeled into what he called "ephemeralization," the process of doing-more-with-less. This entails the continuing re-design of existing technologies, structures, and even social "tools" like money, tax systems and global corporations and financial institutions. (Zung, Thomas T.K., Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for a New Millennium, St. Martin's Press, 2002; see also Fuller, R. Buckminster, Critical Path, St. Martin's Press, 2002 edition.)

By introducing the world's most sophisticated technologies (particularly in energy and food production) and redesigning methods of participatory ownership, Arab and Jewish settlers could transcend their competing exclusive claims to the "Holy Land." They could complement each other's existing strength's and potentials: Jewish settlement experience and advanced energy and agricultural technologies, Arab financing, and Palestinian self-assertion and drive.


Friday, May 13, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 19

This has been another busy week. Again, we have a number of significant news items to post, but less time in which to post them, and doing them justice would take up much more space than brief news pieces. Our door openers are making great strides. Among the advances are:

• Within the past two weeks through the efforts of the Woodman family, connections have been made to two Senators, with substantive meetings to follow. The initial meeting with Senator Brown of Ohio was very brief, but currently a follow-up effort is in place. Another meeting is scheduled for next week with another key senator.

• In Denver, Wendy Wiesner has been reaching out to local religious leaders, especially Archbishop Chaput, whose background indicates that he might be open to discussing the potential of an economic agenda for the Pro-Life movement that also establishes a possible common ground with Pro-Choice advocates.

• Joe Recinos is back in town after a brief sojourn in Guatemala ("in town" meaning the Washington Metro Area, i.e., the District, Maryland, and Virginia).

• Joe, Norm and Dawn conducted a day-long seminar today for students from Duke University. The students displayed a high degree of intelligence, and seemed to grasp a number of somewhat esoteric concepts after only a brief introduction. The sessions were very productive, and we'll see if we can post a more complete report next week sometime.

• Michael D. Greaney, CESJ's Director of Research, attended the annual ESOP Association Conference Thursday and Friday of this week. Among the many insightful pieces of information gained was that a number of key representatives and senators have accepted "ESOP Pac" money. We take this not so much as outright advocacy of broadened ownership, as evidence of a degree of openness to talk about Capital Homesteading.

• It's a little late, but there is still time to register for the National Lawyers Association Conference in Denver, June 24 and 25. We (the Center for Economic and Social Justice) are working to finagle our way there from Northern Virginia — and only one of us is a lawyer. Both members and non-members can attend, the price sounds reasonable, and the keynote speaker on Saturday to close the event is Christopher Ferrara, founder and president of the American Catholic Lawyers Association.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 48 different countries and 48 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, the UK, Canada, India, and New Zealand. People in Ghana, Kenya, Belgium, Barbados, and Nepal spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting this past week was once again "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," followed by "Aristotle on Private Property," "Was the Federal Reserve a Conspiracy?" "The Keynesian Paradox of Thrift," and "Why Own the Fed Not End the Fed?"

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.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part VI: The Point of Reunification: Abraham

The Arab-Israeli dispute over land is a classic illustration of a "zero-sum" game. In a zero-sum game, one side can gain only at the other's expense. It is a "win-lose" situation, or (more often) a "lose-lose" in most circumstances, where the only tangible result is envy and resentment.

The two sides have fought over this land for centuries. The land is holy to three major religions. It is the symbolic crossroads of the world community as it is strategically set between the East and the West, as well as the North and the South. Everyone, therefore, has a stake in a peaceful and just resolution of the dispute not just Palestinians and Israelis.

Two obviously important points must be faced before we consider the creation of a new nation. First, present hostilities must not be ignored. This should be obvious. But any proposed solution would rest on political quicksand unless it recognized existing hatreds and fears of Jews and Arabs, as well as their legitimate hopes and aspirations. To overcome these hostilities to the point where Arabs and Jews can work out their differences, we must look to the past for a common bond.

Arabs and Jews have a point of unity both can understand: Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch.

Arabs trace their ancestry to Abraham through Ishmael, whom he fathered through his wife's servant Hagar. Jews trace their bloodlines to Abraham through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, who, according to the Bible, God later renamed Israel. The name "Abraham" literally means "father of many nations." Having once separated the descendants of Ishmael from the children of Israel, 3,800 years later, Abraham could fulfill the biblical prophecy not only of their unification but also of the eventual unification and harmony of all nations and peoples.

Symbols of the past often serve as useful symbols for charting the future. A federation of the spiritual and blood descendants of Abraham could offer a bold political framework for taking small steps in a new direction. Thus, rather appropriately, the new nation could be named the "Abraham Federation."

With this philosophical common thread, the question is: Where do we start? The answer is: In the historic region of Judea and Samaria the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where Arab and Jewish settlements exist today under Israeli military control.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part V: Finding Common Ground

By decentralizing access to economic power and economic independence, citizens would control government, not vice versa. Everyone's faith, spiritual life and political beliefs would be respected and guaranteed by the rule of law. National "sovereignty" would be built from the ground-up, based on securing the inherent sovereignty of every individual and the sanctity of the family unit. With "ownership-sharing" economics surpassing politics in the daily lives of its citizens, economic power would be widely diffused and the power of the state would be subordinated to the power of the people.

This would institutionalize the main purposes of a just government as expressed by George Mason, the father of the American Bill of Rights, who authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which declared that "all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights . . . namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."

A critical omission in Jefferson's authorship of the Declaration of Independence was Mason's (following John Locke) heavy emphasis on access to the "means of acquiring and possessing property" as the ultimate source of personal economic sovereignty and all human rights. This omission, some suggest due to Jefferson's moral ambiguity over slavery, can and has led every nation since the beginning of the industrial revolution away from broad-based ownership of wealth-producing assets as the source of personal self-determination and the ultimate check against the potential abuses of concentrated public and private power. The constitution of the Abraham Federation can correct this flaw.

The proposal for an Abraham Federation, first offered in 1978, is today more timely than ever.

Is it possible to create a nation in the Middle East that accommodates Arabs and Israelis? Could a state be structured to avoid becoming either a "Palestinian state," or an "Islamic state," or a "Jewish state," or simply an extension of Israel or any bordering Arab state? Could such a state offer a new form of sovereignty to stir the hearts and dreams of Arabs and Jews? Could it avoid, on the one hand, the anarchy, tyranny and injustices of other states in the world, and, on the other, the totalitarian regimes and genocidal societies from which Jews escaped to what is now Israel?

In short, could a new country be created that could guarantee peace through justice for all?

The idea for such a country may first seem far-fetched. But with a re-examination of the conflict, it becomes surprisingly workable. And with the added boost of a dynamic economy focused on creating new wealth and new owners of that wealth, the idea of a new nation becomes downright irresistible.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part IV: What Was Missing

The proposal for an Abraham Federation makes a case against outdated land-for-peace proposals for negotiating future control over the Holy Land, as under the Oslo Agreement. It also makes a case on moral grounds that the recent rush to recognize a "Palestinian State" by the US State Department and many European leaders, though well-intentioned, is unlikely to achieve a lasting peace through justice for Palestinians, Israelis and other persons living in the disputed territories. Who wants to be a non-Jew in a "Jewish state," a non-Muslim in an "Islamic state," a non-Christian in a "Christian state" or, for that matter, a Jew in a "Palestinian state"?

On the other hand, past President Bush's call to the Palestinian people to select more democratically responsible leaders was a wise move. It bought some time for President Bush and his advisors to explore "Peace through Justice" strategies that had the potential to stir the hearts and minds of Palestinians as well as Israelis. Unfortunately, the initiative was allowed to peter out.  What is needed now is a much bolder vision to stop terrorism and bring all parties into a new framework to begin negotiating beyond zero-sum politics.

What was missing in past peace initiatives to bring justice and stability to the Holy Land? Are there different approaches to nation-building that could turn hate into hope and rage into creative outlets for those who see themselves victimized by Western military and financial might? Can the future be guided by the unifying moral values of the American Revolution and the redemptive spirit of such visionary world leaders as Abraham Lincoln, Anwar Sadat and Nelson Mandela? Is there a way for leaders like President Obama to harness the moral power of the West to begin to heal the wounds of perceived injustices and inspire the creation of a socio-economic model for sustaining peace through justice for all?

To address the previous questions, we should focus on whether "self-determination" and justice can be achieved for persons of all faiths and persuasions wanting to occupy the same land. How can this be done without Israel's jeopardizing its own security during the transition toward a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement? Once the Israeli military withdraws to the borders of Israel, what arrangements will secure the lives and rights of Jewish settlers who, for religious reasons, want to remain on the West Bank?

There is a way. The answer lies in a radically new and inclusionary model of nation-building, where economic justice would become the basis of social and political justice in the daily lives of each citizen. It would offer a modern fulfillment of the biblical concept of "Jubilee". (According to the Bible, the fiftieth year following seven seven-year periods was the "Year of Jubilee", or Sabbatical year, to be celebrated by the freeing of Hebrew slaves, the remission of debts and the restoration of ancestral property to its original owners. Encyclopedia Britannica) But instead of redistributing land, a finite resource, the new nation would redistribute future opportunities for every citizen to become an owner of land and whatever can be built upon the land. Under an "economic bill of rights" every citizen would gain equal access to future ownership opportunities, guaranteeing a level playing field in citizen participation as property owners in future economic growth and profit sharing.


Friday, May 6, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 18

This has been a busy week — which means there are actual news items to post, but less time in which to post them. Be that as it may, you will see that we are coming ever-closer to getting past the gate keepers and on to the prime movers. This has all been due to door opening efforts such as the following:

• Following up on the commitments they made following the CESJ annual celebration, members of the Woodman family — Rob, Jackie, and Monica — have been setting up meetings, telephone conferences, and generally helping remind the powers-that-be just why they are in the position of being "powers-that-be."

• Jackie and Monica arranged a "Meet 'n Greet" for Norman Kurland with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Norm managed to get about five minutes with the Senator, but Jackie and Monica cornered an aide and, with Norm, spent about an hour introducing him to the Just Third Way. As a result, there will be a follow up in a month to see about arranging a more substantive meeting with the Senator.

• Rob has been working on getting Norm a meeting with one of the senators from his state. We don't like to say any more until something has actually taken place, so we won't identify the state, but things are looking reasonably good, both for a meeting, and to interest the senator in what we're saying about Capital Homesteading.

• Some people might look a little askance at targeting pro-choice politicians when we've made such a big deal about Capital Homesteading as a Pro-Life economic agenda. Think about it, however. If your goal is a decent life for everyone, are you going to say "no" to Capital Homesteading? We can understand, although not really sympathize, with someone who believes that abortion is a right and a regrettable necessity, but is willing to do something about removing the presumed necessity. After all, are you more concerned with stopping abortion for any reason, or only stopping it if the people with whom you work to stop it are sufficiently pure in their motives? (At least as you judge them.)

• Pollant Mpofu is putting the final touches on a petition drive in the U.K. to persuade political and financial movers and shakers to pay some serious attention to and in-depth study of Capital Homesteading as a way out of their current malaise across the pond, at least now that the wedding euphoria seems to have died down. He hopes to garner signatures in the millions. We've talked with Pollant, and we're not going to say he can't do it. We know we can't say "no" to someone with his energy and commitment.

• Russell Williams continues to promote the Just Third Way on his radio program The Challenge, and is making great headway in forming a CESJ chapter in Hartford, Connecticut. The Woodmans are also looking at the possibility of a chapter in Cleveland, Ohio.  Assuming that the heavenly Powers-That-Be hold to the classic definition of justice ("to each according to what each is due"), we anticipate that Russell's reward will be great, indeed.

• Today CESJ had the initial meeting with two Fellows (our out-of-school version of an intern) from the Hubert Humphrey Associate Program. Fati hails from Niger, while Oubeid comes to us from Mauritania. Both are very well placed people, and have expressed great interest in the money, credit, banking, and financial reforms of the Just Third Way, especially as a way of getting property (and thus power) into the hands of ordinary Africans.

• Norman Kurland was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the Hubert Humphrey Associate Program for his efforts in introducing a large number of the Associates to the ideas of the Just Third Way.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 51 different countries and 48 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, the UK, India, and New Zealand. People in Ghana, Kenya, Belgium, Nepal, and Ireland spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting this past week was once again "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," followed by "Aristotle on Private Property," "Was the Federal Reserve a Conspiracy?" "Why Own the Fed Not End the Fed?" and Part I of "The Slavery of Past Savings."

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.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part III: Jihad in America

Needless to say (so why are we saying it?) the Wall Street Journal — which seems to be having a bit of trouble living up to its reputation in recent years — did not either publish or acknowledge the letter we sent them earlier this week on an author's confusing revenge with justice. Come to think of it, they also ignored the letter we wrote a while back pointing out that another op-ed piece had egregiously misstated the constitutionality of the income tax and failed to pinpoint the real source of the federal government's ability to incur gigantic deficits: misuse of the Federal Reserve System. (Quick comment: neither the income tax nor the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional. Read prior postings on this blog, or look it up for yourself.)

Believe it or not, a proper response to the death of Bin Laden, justice instead of revenge, the income tax, and the central bank are all related. We can see this in the response to terrorism in general, and that in the Middle East in particular, that CESJ prepared many years ago. We call it "The Abraham Federation," and we will be presenting it over the next couple of weeks on this blog, chopped up into convenient pieces for easy consumption. Of course, if you want the paper in its entirety in one go, simply visit the Abraham Federation paper on the CESJ website.

The Abraham Federation
A New Framework for Peace in the Middle East

Norman G. Kurland

(c) 1978, 1991, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003 Center for Economic and Social Justice

[Originally published in World Citizen News, Dec. 1978. Updated and republished in American-Arab Affairs (now Middle East Policy), Spring 1991, a publication of the Middle East Policy Council. Updated and republished in Curing World Poverty: The New Role of Property, John H. Miller, ed., published by Social Justice Review in collaboration with the Center for Economic and Social Justice, 1994. Available on the web site of the Center for Economic and Social Justice at]

Jihad in America

On September 11, 2001, Jihad came to America. A global terrorist network extended its deadly outreach beyond Israelis in the West Bank and Israel to over 3,000 Americans and people from over 80 other countries trapped in the World Trade Center and Pentagon two icons of America's unparalleled global military and financial power. This violation of America's homeland security cannot be disconnected from America's leading role, along with its World War II allies, in the birth of Israel as a westernized "Jewish state." 1947 marked the UN's "two state" solution to dividing up the former British-mandated territory of Palestine. To America and the West, their influence in creating a homeland for displaced Jewish survivors of the Holocaust was morally justified. To Palestinian settlers and Arab neighboring states in the Middle East, Western military and financial power was being used to jam "Political Zionism" and morally confused Western values down the throats of a predominantly Muslim world.

There have been three major wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973 between Israel and its Arab neighbors, interspersed by periodic Palestinian rebellions against the existence of a "Jewish state." Is it possible that the original formulation for a two-state solution was, in the face of the so-called "clash of civilizations," morally and systemically flawed from the outset?

Western handouts are no longer sufficient to stop the breeding of terrorists. Conventional military power is necessary in this battle but it also is not sufficient. And conventional approaches to economic development have been counter-productive in winning the hearts and minds of people who feel victimized by global capitalism and betrayed by the false promises of socialism. (See "A Quick Comparison of Capitalism, Socialism and CESJ's 'Just Third Way'" at

Pope Paul VI advised us, "If you want Peace, work for Justice." Ultimately it is superior moral force that will uproot terrorism at its source, not merely conventional sources of Western power. More humanizing free enterprise principles of economic and social justice must lead in formulating a more comprehensive vision and launching a more effective strategy for achieving lasting peace in "the Holy Land." (See "Defining Economic and Social Justice" on the home page of the web site of the Center for Economic and Social Justice at Also see Ferree, William, The Act of Social Justice, Catholic University of America, 1943. See also his Introduction to Social Justice, Paulist Press, 1948; republished in 1997 by the Center for Economic and Social Justice and available along with other writings on economic and social justice at the CESJ web site.)

Such a strategy, most would agree, must center on resolving the historic land disputes between Palestinians and Israelis that keep both sides locked in a "zero-sum" struggle. The urgency of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was underscored by President Bush's courageous call for a global "War on Terrorism" following September 11th.

The war against terrorism is properly aimed at defeating a well-organized network of fanatics and suicide terrorists indoctrinated with a perverted interpretation of Islamic principles of justice and a distorted conspiratorial view of the root causes of their rage. Fueled by perceived victimization by Western "infidels" and Western support of a Jewish state in the Middle East, terrorism in months following September 11th escalated into increasingly grotesque displays of barbarism.

Many in the Islamic world, including mothers whose children were turned into human bombs, glorify the "culture of death" that continues to take the lives of innocent Israeli men, women and children as well as Palestinians considered "traitors" for opposing terrorism. The moral and spiritual roots of that Jihad continue to baffle Western and Islamic scholars and were only partially addressed by the otherwise excellent "Arab Human Development Report 2002" commissioned by the United Nations. (Crossette, Barbara. "Study Warns of Stagnation in Arab Societies," The New York Times, July 7, 2002.)


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Universal Declaration on Monetary Justice

As frequently happens, we interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you this important news bulletin.  We've made some changes in the Declaration of Monetary Justice we deliver to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve System each year, and we've also done a little bit of touch-up on a petition drawn up by Our Gallant Man in London, Pollant "PJ" Mpofu.  We'll wait and see if PJ wants us to post the petition after he publishes it (it would a bit of a dirty trick to publish PJ's petition before he has a chance, don't you think?), but we can give you the Declaration today . . . so we will.  (FYI: CESJ and the Coalition for Capital Homesteading are two discrete organizations . . . you knew that, didn't you?)

Coalition for Capital Homesteading

Whereas, the global economy is today plagued by a growing gap between the rich and the non-rich; by a recession and credit crisis; by debilitating waste and under-employment of human talent; by inadequate growth alongside shackled technological potential; by record-level trade and governmental budget deficits; and by promises of future welfare and benefit payments that dwarf the capacity of any nation to redeem; and

Whereas, the sustainable growth and energy self-sufficiency of the global economy in the Twenty-First Century will require vast amounts of financing each year for new and improved, life-enhancing technologies, rentable space and physical infrastructure for producing marketable goods and services; and

Whereas, broad-based direct ownership of the means of production has been recognized by moral leaders for millennia as the only truly sound and sustainable basis of a just economic order; and

Whereas, Section 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has declared that "Everyone has the right to own property, individually as well as in association with others," a fundamental human right that remains an empty and unfulfilled promise for most citizens, especially the poor, within every nation in the world; and

Whereas, the goal of universal and equal economic opportunity has been blocked by artificial investment, monetary, credit and tax barriers to widespread capital ownership, to the advantage only of the wealthiest people or the State; and

Whereas, the central banks of the world have stifled the growth of the world's productive capacity through their monetary policy, by monetizing public-sector growth and mounting government deficits and bailouts of failed companies and stock market, currency and commodity gamblers; by favoring speculation over investment; by shortchanging the capital credit needs of entrepreneurs, inventors, farmers, workers and citizens generally; by increasing the dependency of families by burdening them with usurious consumer credit; and by perpetuating unjust capital credit and ownership barriers between rich people and those without savings; and

Whereas, there is a fundamental difference between asset-backed self-liquidating credit for productive uses and debt-backed non-self-liquidating credit for non-productive uses, consumption or speculation, the first being critical for stimulating private sector investment, savings and the supply of new marketable wealth, and the second being used to give people an inflated currency to chase the same supply of existing wealth; and

Whereas, sound central banking theory is formulated in such a way as to discourage non-productive and speculative uses of credit, to encourage accelerated rates of private sector growth, and to allow and promote widespread individual access to productive credit as a fundamental right of citizenship;

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the legislators of each country of the world amend the charters of their respective central banks (1) to stop monetizing government debt through buying and selling government securities, (2) to begin implementing or re-activating the discount and rediscount mechanism to encourage private sector growth linked to expanded ownership opportunities for all people, and (3) to provide a no-cost, non-transferable, voting, lifetime ownership share in the central bank to democratize money power to every citizen as a fundamental right of citizenship.

To This End, we hereby petition the governors of the world's central banks to adopt a two-tiered money-creation and credit policy that sharply distinguishes between ownership-expanding, productive credit, and ownership-concentrating, non-productive and speculative uses of credit. The upper tier, reflecting the higher market costs of borrowing "old money" from existing domestic and foreign savings pools and existing assets, should continue to be maintained as a source of market-rate credit to public-sector borrowers, consumers, speculators, and for all other non-productive or monopolistic purposes. The central bank discount rate for the lower tier should ideally be reduced to no higher than 0.5 percent as a one-time "service fee" for creating interest-free "new money" backed by sustainable, non-inflationary and broadly owned growth.

This new reservoir of central bank monetized credit should be reserved exclusively for commercial banks served by members of the central bank to the extent they in turn make available in equal periodic allotments to every citizen through "Capital Homestead Accounts" direct access to capital credit at reasonable service charges and risk premiums, with prime rates set by market forces above the discount rate to local commercial banks, with all government securities specifically disqualified from a central bank's discounting, rediscounting, or open market operations, except as required to divest a central bank of its existing holdings of such disqualified securities. Such expanded bank credit should not be subsidized by the taxpayers, and should be backed and collateralized by the newly acquired assets, claims on future earnings on such assets, and private sector capital credit insurance to cover the risk of default.

Such ownership-broadening capital credit borrowed through local banks at the lower tier rates could be invested directly to (1) for-profit citizen-owned Land and Natural Resource Banks organized for large-scale local land acquisition and development of surface and sub-surface rights, leasing to users of land and extraction rights, and infrastructural development in which every citizen has a single, lifetime, non-transferable, full-dividend payout, full voting share, or (2) tax-sheltered Capital Homestead Accounts to enable each citizen to invest in "qualified" securities, such as newly issued, full-dividend payout, full voting shares in a company for which a member of the citizen's household works; companies in which the citizen's household has a monthly billing account; Homeowners Equity Corporations for turning renters into owners; production and marketing cooperatives and partnerships; family-owned and -operated businesses and farms; and mature companies with a history of solid earnings; and

Be It Further Resolved, that a copy of this Universal Declaration of Monetary Justice be sent to the heads of State, members of the legislature, and the governing boards of the central banks of the world.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part II: What is "Justice"?

We were going to start right in on the "Abraham Federation," our proposal to eliminate terrorism by addressing its root causes: economic (and thus political) injustice, but today's Wall Street Journal carried an article that we had to address before we can even talk about establishing justice. The article displayed what can only be described as an egregious misrepresentation of the most basic elements of justice.

To explain, here's a slightly edited version of the letter we sent to the Wall Street Journal. We thought about putting "The Saga of Burnt Obama" on the subject line as an allusion to Njal's Saga, but resisted the temptation. It might be taken as implying criticism of hunting down and killing Bin Laden, and would almost certainly be misunderstood in any event.

Dear Sir(s):

Bret Stephens's op-ed, "Obama's Finest Hour" (Wall Street Journal, 05/03/11, A15) displayed an egregious misunderstanding of justice. Contrary to his claim that, "Justice, as we in the West have come to know it, requires due process," justice only requires that each be rendered what each is due. Due process, a protection against injustice, is only relevant when a question is raised as to what one is due, or a violation of justice is alleged between persons who submit to adjudication to settle their differences.

Nor is revenge equated with justice in the western tradition. Revenge is an inordinate desire for justice, an exaggerated idea of what one is due. Revenge is a vice, not a virtue, and as such is universally condemned.

Mr. Stephens's triumphalism explains why, when people everywhere are demanding justice, America is losing the war of ideas. Instead of mounting a dunghill and crowing how well we have revenged ourselves on others, we might want to offer sound and sustainable ideas of individual, economic, and social justice to ensure as far as humanly possible that every person everywhere has an equal opportunity to enjoy life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.


Blah, blah.

The question that remains unanswered by such rants as that to which Mr. Stephens subjected the reading public, is what can be done to deliver justice — using the traditional understanding, not the ill-concealed blood-lust that ends up destroying the individual, family, or country that demands draconian payment for every injury, real or imagined. A pity Mr. Stephens seems not to have read Njal's Saga, an epic about how insistence on revenge destroyed three generations of a family caught in a system that allowed true justice to be set aside . . . through due process, of course.

P.S. (05/09/11) The Wall Street Journal published the letter 05/07/11) in both the print and the e-version.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part I: The Roots of Terror

The "usual suspects" in the media and the government have not been slow to point out all the negatives associated with the death of Osama Bin Laden. To name a few, 1) Al Qaeda has become decentralized and taking out even a leader of mythical status at this point will do nothing substantive, 2) Bin Laden has become a mere figurehead in recent years, 3) elements in the Pakistani government were almost certainly aware of Bin Laden's location for years, 4) President Obama will use the terrorist's death to bolster his falling popularity, so on, so forth.

There are, of course, reasonable responses to all the objections. For example, 1) the death of a leader of Bin Laden's stature is a great morale victory — an army that is winning tends to continue to win, even against great odds. 2) A figurehead is a symbol, and a very important one. Its (his) loss is beyond cost for world terrorism. 3) If World War I taught us anything, it was that, even with the knowledge of a foreign government's collusion in a criminal act or an act of war, such as the assistance given by the Serbian government to the assassins of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, your government might find it worthwhile to look the other way. 4) Of course the leader in charge when a victory is realized will capitalize on it. President Obama would have taken the blame for an effort that didn't succeed. He can be permitted to take some credit for something that did.

The real negatives as we see them are something more substantive. Personally, this writer finds rejoicing over someone's death, even over someone like Bin Laden, a little out of place. Not as out of place (read "disgusting" or maybe "despicable") as the jubilation over the deaths of thousands of innocent people, as shown by the laughing, clapping, dancing and singing that took place in some countries on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, but still not quite the thing. Bin Laden was clearly guilty, and a sense of relief, and a firm resolution to bring an end to all forms of terrorism is not only reasonable, but commendable. Just tone down the partying.

That's just an opinion, however. The real negatives are 1) the belief that eliminating the terrorist means eliminating the causes of terrorism, and 2) convinced of (1), no one will be inclined to look at the economic justice principles of the Just Third Way as a potential way to remove the root causes of terrorism forever.

We content that the failure of economic justice throughout the world is a root cause of terrorism. If we're right, then it's not only necessary to stop terrorists in their tracks by whatever legitimate means necessary. It's essential that steps be taken to implement a more just and humane future for all in the form of an economically just society embodying the principles of economic justice.

We haven't stated these for a while on this blog, so it might be useful to do so today. Obviously, we've covered the application of these principles at great length, especially in the proposal for a Capital Homestead Act by 2012. In light of the significance of Bin Laden's death, however, today we should look specifically at principles, and the applications in subsequent postings this week.

First, the Kelso-Adler principles of economic justice. As we state in our "Just Third Way Glossary" (we're leaving in the references so that you'll go to the source instead of being spoon-fed):

Economic justice is a subset of social justice. It encompasses the moral principles that guide people in creating, maintaining and perfecting economic institutions. These institutions determine how each person earns a living, enters into contracts, exchanges goods and services with others and otherwise produces an independent material foundation for economic subsistence. The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free each person economically to develop to the full extent of his or her potential, enabling that person to engage in the unlimited work beyond economics, the work of the mind and the spirit done for its own intrinsic value and satisfaction. (See Work, Leisure.) The triad of interdependent principles of economic justice that serve as the moral basis of binary economics are the principle of Participation (or Participative Justice), the principle of Distribution (or Distributive Justice), and the principle of Harmony (sometimes referred to as Social Justice)

As for the "Four Pillars of an Economically Just Society" (assuming you don't have them memorized):

1. A limited economic role for the State.

2. Free and open markets within an understandable, just, and unified body of law as the best means of determining just wages, just prices, and just profits.

3. Restoration of the rights of private property, especially in corporate equity.

4. Widespread direct ownership of the means of production, individually or in free association with others.

The rest of this week (and possibly beyond) we'll look at how these principles might be applied in, e.g., the Abraham Federation, as a way to root out the causes of global terrorism.