If you’re worried about the increasingly wild stock market fluctuations, President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the Bitcoin brouhaha, or the cold weather, don’t worry, we’re on it. All except for the cold weather. Today, however, we’re concentrating on this week’s news items, of which there are a couple of some significance:
Friday, January 31, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
How to Save Your Sixteenth Century Mansion
A week or so ago we came across a plea for contributions so that some group in the United Kingdom could purchase a near-pristine example of sixteenth century “recusant” architecture. A “recusant” was a Catholic who refused to conform to the legally established Church of England, thereby becoming subject to fines or imprisonment.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
“Raw Judicial Power” V: A Pro-Life Economic Agenda
In yesterday’s posting we pointed out what we think are a few technical flaws in the legal opinion rendered in Roe v. Wade. If we’re correct, the Court’s opinion may have been unconstitutional, that is to say, illegal. Frankly, whether you’re Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, the reasoning behind the decision has got to make you a little queasy.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
“Raw Judicial Power” IV: Roe v. Wade, 1973
In yesterday’s posting we saw how in 1857 and in 1873 the U.S. Supreme Court managed to change the meaning of the Constitution by the simple expedient of asserting an effective change in the source of rights from human beings to the State. Exactly a century later the Supreme Court used that change (which nullified the Fourteenth Amendment it was allegedly upholding) as the basis for the decision in Roe v. Wade.
Monday, January 27, 2014
“Raw Judicial Power” III: Slaughterhouse, 1873
The United States Congress enacted two “Reconstruction Amendments” after the Civil War. The first of these, the 13th, abolished chattel slavery, that is, human beings owned as private property by other human beings. (If you read the amendment carefully, you’ll see that it didn’t abolish slavery altogether. People convicted of crimes can still lose their rights; a slave is legally defined as a human being without rights.)
Friday, January 24, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 04
The freezing temperatures here around Washington, DC, and the currency spectacle in Argentina (and pretty much everywhere else in the world) do have something in common. Not much, but something. I’ll explain.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
“Raw Judicial Power” II: Scott v. Sandford, 1857
As we saw in yesterday’s posting, the “issue behind the issue,” that is, the true significance of Roe v. Wade, was not the particular decision of the United States Supreme Court in 1973. It is, rather, the fact that the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade reflected a prior bad resolution to a serious problem: the question as to what, exactly, is a human person, and who decides who or what is a person?
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
“Raw Judicial Power” I: “The Beginning of the Quarrel”
Given that today is the annual “March for Life” in Washington, DC, and that the Just Third Way as applied in Capital Homesteading can (at least in one sense) be described as a “Pro-Life economic agenda,” it seems appropriate to post a few comments about what, from a natural law point of view, must be regarded as a fundamental human right, that of life.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
The cornerstone of the English common law on which the United States legal system is founded is the presumption that every single person is innocent until he or she can be proven guilty. You may “know” in your heart that someone is guilty of everything of which you accuse him or her, or of the vague rumors you thought you heard somewhere or other, but if you cannot prove that someone has done something, then (as Mortimer Adler pointed out in Ten Philosophical Mistakes) all you have is opinion.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Income Inequality and Capital Homesteading
Two weeks ago in the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker asked for suggestions on terms to replace “income inequality” in her column (“Language Inequality,” 01/07/14, A17). We suggested “Capital Homesteading.” Capital Homesteading, after all, embodies “the four pillars of an economically just society,” and the income gap is generally framed as an issue of justice:
Friday, January 17, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 03
Things seem to be gaining momentum in the Just Third Way. Those who are open to new ideas are starting to investigate with more seriousness, while those who are not seem to be “circling the wagons,” so to speak, and repeating disproved claims in an effort to discredit anything they don’t understand.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
The Incredible Dollar, II: The Number One Rule for a Reserve Currency
As we noted yesterday, we got an e-mail a short time back expressing concern over the declining “credibility” of the dollar, and the refusal of a currency exchange in a remote area of Brazil to accept U.S. dollars any more. The response by Norman Kurland, president of CESJ, was pretty good, but we thought it left out a few things, so here goes:
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The Incredible Dollar, I: The Situation
A couple of weeks ago we got an e-mail from a correspondent in Brazil, an American clergyman who has retired there. The clergyman (we’ll call him “HH”) made the following comments (anything in brackets is something we inserted for clarity):
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Faith and Reason Again, II: The Thomist Just Third Way
Yesterday we looked at the respective roles of faith and reason, and how they are complementary. We also emphasized the fact that, while faith and reason go together, neither one can substitute or fill in for the other. Today we will apply the basic principles we looked at yesterday, with emphasis on the natural law basis of the Just Third Way.
This is because the current movement to eliminate “exchange” based on justice and base economic life on “gift” based on charity — the so-called “logic of gift” that rejects the gift of logic — is, ultimately, both wrong-headed and anti-human. It implicitly denies the humanity of those who do not have charity, making them less than human. It also strokes the ego of the ones attempting to impose gift in place of exchange, for it turns them into a spiritual and material elite with gnostic knowledge not available to hoi polloi.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Faith and Reason Again, I: “What is Man?”
Right after the New Year another discussion popped up about the respective roles of faith and reason. Both have their place. It’s just not the same place. As we might have mentioned once or twice on this blog with respect to how the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, has been egregiously misused, you don’t use a tool designed for one thing to do another.
Friday, January 10, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 02
Confusion over the Affordable Care Act seems to be increasing. Getting a straight story or response from anybody seems to be impossible. This may be because of the imposition of political goals on what should be medical, ethical, and religious issues, a danger against which Dr. Leo Alexander warned in 1949 in his landmark article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Medical Science Under Dictatorship.”
Thursday, January 9, 2014
A Brief Course in Banking Theory, IIIb: Central Banks
At its most basic, a central bank does only two things. One, it rediscounts bills of exchange originally discounted by its member commercial banks. Two, it purchases mortgages and bills of exchange issued by non-member banks, businesses, and individuals on the “open market.”
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
A Brief Course in Banking Theory, IIIa: Central Banks
Yesterday we promised to take a look at central banks. Today we’re keeping that promise. This is singularly appropriate, because issue banking and central banking (a type of issue banking) run on promises. If people don’t keep promises, banking, even money and credit, simply don’t and won’t work.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
A Brief Course in Banking Theory, IIb: Banks of Issue
In the previous posting in this mercifully brief series, we described how, simply by making promises to deliver marketable goods and services in the future, people can start with absolutely nothing and end up with something they want. The system we described, however, relies on everybody in the system knowing and trusting everybody else. What happens when the system gets too big for everyone to know and trust everyone else?
Monday, January 6, 2014
A Brief Course in Banking Theory, IIa: Banks of Issue
In the previous posting in this short series we covered what money is, and how a bank of deposit operates. As we promised, here’s a brief explanation of how a “bank of issue” operates. Believe it or not, although “bank of deposit” is what most people think of as a bank, “banks of issue” (also called “banks of circulation”) are thousands of years older.
Friday, January 3, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 01
It’s the most chilling headline you could read if you know anything about defined benefit plans and the way the stock market really operates. This morning’s Washington Post blithely declared “Corporate Pension Plans at Strongest Funding in Years” (Economy & Business, Friday, January 3, 2014, A11). So how is this “chilling”? Isn’t this a good thing?
Thursday, January 2, 2014
A Brief Course in Banking Theory, I: Banks of Deposit
As 2014 is the centennial of the first year of operation of the Federal Reserve System, we thought it appropriate to start off the New Year with a brief dissertation on commercial and central banking, and how they are supposed to be used — as opposed to how such banks are being used or, more properly, misused these days.
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