On May Day we composed a letter to the Wall Street Journal about Representative Paul Ryan's budget proposals. We haven't heard too much about that subject lately, what with President Obama and Probable Candidate Romney sniping at each other over who's worse. (Choosing between them is a little like asking someone if he'd rather be shot or hit with an ax.) No one is looking at the obvious, that profits are okay, great, in fact . . . but everybody should be in a position to be able to make profits, not rely on redistribution of what belongs to others, either directly through the tax system, or indirectly through inflation.
Anyway, on May first we took pen in hand and fired off yet another missive to the Wall Street Journal that we thought just might get through. Since they haven't published it by now, we're assuming that they have no intention of doing so — and, since we hate to waste any of our immortal words (especially when coming up against a deadline), here's the letter as today's posting. So it's a month late . . . .
In Rerum Novarum Leo XIII challenged the belief that the State has responsibility for every citizen's individual good: "There is no need to bring in the State. Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body." (§ 7.) His Holiness explained that State provision for the poor "save in extreme cases" (§ 22) is a demand not of justice, but of charity, "a duty not enforced by human law." (Ibid.)
As William McGurn states in "Paul Ryan's Cross to Bear" (WSJ, 05/01/12, A13), you best help the poor by "breaking down barriers to ownership and opportunity." The pope concurred: "The law . . . should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners." (RN § 46.)
How to do this is the real question facing Mr. Ryan. Louis O. Kelso and Mortimer Adler proposed in The Capitalist Manifesto (1958) and The New Capitalists (1961) that ownership of new capital be spread out among those who currently own no capital, financing capital acquisition by monetizing the present value of future increases in production, not past cuts in consumption. As the subtitle of the latter book put it, "A Proposal to Free Economic Growth from the Slavery of Savings."
By financing capital acquisition by the poor with "future savings," the rich can be secure in their accumulations of past savings. "Capital Homesteading" is a proposed package of monetary, tax and legal reforms designed to accomplish this goal in a financially sound manner that is also consistent with the social teachings of major faiths and philosophies. Capital Homesteading has the potential to eliminate the basis of "Welfare Blackmail," by means of which people are persuaded to trade their birthright as free citizens for State entitlements and welfare.