Last week it was the Twinkies. This week it's the Brownies. Not the cookies or the girl's group, but the Kodak camera. It's been a bad year so far for companies with defined benefit pension plans. As today's Wall Street Journal stated, "Here's one way of understanding Eastman Kodak Co.'s problems: The company has twice as many retirees drawing benefits in the U.S. as it has active employees world-wide." ("Retirees' Benefits In the Cross Hairs," WSJ, 01/20/12, B1.) In other words, for every active Kodak employee in the entire world, there are two retired employees in the United States. Add to that the Kodak retirees outside the U.S., and it starts to get a little frightening.
All of this was predicted in the 1930s by Goetz Briefs, the labor economist and student of the solidarist philosopher, Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J., in Briefs's book, The Proletariat: A Challenge to Western Civilization (1937). As more and more people are without capital ownership, States either force private companies to start picking up the welfare tab, try to do it themselves, or both. We see the result around the world today, with massive government debts and private companies going headlong into bankruptcy, all floundering under a burden of debt based on anything except what can redeem the debt: production of marketable goods and services. To reverse this trend, here's what we've been doing this week:
• We don't have a report yet from the Economic Justice Summit that took place last week in Hartford, Connecticut. We expect to have details next week. Early verbal reports indicate that things went very well, and it was well worth the effort.
• Lydia Fisher, a blogger for the Huffington Post and author of Cinderella of Wall Street, wrote an interesting piece this week, and even mentioned CESJ and the Just Third Way. Here's a link to the article, so pass it on to your network.
• Michael Greaney was able to place a notice about A Plea for Peasant Proprietors in the e-mail version of Notre Dame's Class of 1977 Class Notes, and the editor of University of Evansville magazine said a notice will appear there as well in the next issue.
• We sent an e-mail to the "Orestes Brownson Council," a student group at the University of Notre Dame formed to discuss the classics of Catholic thought, giving them links to the recent blog series on "Orestes Brownson and Socialism."
• We also sent an e-mail with the same information to "Calvert House" at the University of Chicago, a group that started in 1903 as the Brownson Club, then merged with the Newman Club to become the Calvert Club. At least, we think we got that straight. We didn't send anything to the Orestes Brownson Study Club No. 3 in Fargo, North Dakota, a club for women interested in the Catholic intellectual tradition founded in 1923. As far as we can tell, the club folded in 1977. (If you're a member of the club and the club is still in existence, let us know and we'll correct that. And then try and get you interested in the Just Third Way.)
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 53 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, Canada, Australia, and the Philippines. People in Croatia, Germany, Australia, the United States, and the UK spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular postings this past week were "It's the Academics v. the Politicians . . . v. Economic Reality, Part III: Finance," "Raw Judicial Power, Part I: The Assault of Legal Positivism," "Ron Paul and Creating Money," "News from the Network," and "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property."
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.