As is usual in the summer, this has been something of a slow week for news . . . unless you’re big on Hollywood fluff (which is pretty much the same as Washington fluff these days). On the Just Third Way front, matters in Cleveland seem to be chugging along, which ought to please Drew Carey because, after all, Cleveland Rocks.
• Last Friday Pope Francis issued his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, “On Faith.” Why would a non-religious organization like CESJ think it is important enough to include in its weekly news roundup? Aside from the fact that you can’t exactly ignore the natural law-based teachings of the head of a religion with over a billion members (especially when you claim to base your policies and programs on that same natural law), there’s the small matter that we find support for our position in what Francis says. To summarize very briefly, let’s get shut of all this moral relativism. Faith cannot contradict reason, any more than reason can contradict faith. If it’s true, it’s true. If it’s false, it’s false. If you think something is both true and false . . . you’ve got more problems than we can help you with.
• The outcome of the Senate hearing on the Chinese purchase of Smithfield Foods was . . . equivocal. A number of people sent e-mails to their representatives and senators, but no one reported any replies. Hope is not yet dead, however. That is a good thing, because a worker buyout of Smithfield Foods could be a model of how to stop the export of American jobs and the transfer of capital out of the country without manipulating the currency or engaging in unfair or self-defeating trading practices. It could also demonstrate how, without nationalization, Americans could buy out foreign investors at a just price — and how domestic investment could be significantly more profitable than foreign investment, especially using future savings supplied by a country’s central bank instead of existing savings or increased government debt. An interesting side note: an Orthodox Rabbi is working to arrange a meeting between CESJ president Norman Kurland and some influential Jewish politicians to discuss getting behind a worker buyout of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest processor of pork.
• There is talk of a “new” Glass-Steagall Act to make Wall Street speculation less risky. The problem is that what they’re talking has nothing to do with the original Glass-Steagall Act. The proposal is to encourage banks to start lending again and discourage the more risky forms of investment in securities. The original Glass-Steagall did not merely “encourage” or “discourage” certain acts. It prohibited them; commercial banking and investment banking were separated, and commercial banks were forbidden to invest in any securities other than their own shares. Investing in securities other than your own shares is a matter of fact, while whether or not a particular security is “too risky” is a matter of opinion. All this proposal does is make matters worse by doing nothing, and setting the stage for endless future litigation.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 50 different countries and 46 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 United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, and Australia. The most popular postings this past week were Response to Professor Shakespeare, III: Shakespeare in His Own Words,” “News from the Network, Vol. 6, No. 27,” “Aristotle on Private Property,” “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “The Dictatorship of Money, IX: Catholicism and America,” and “Why Did Nixon Take the Dollar Off the Gold Standard?”
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.