At least as of this writing, the stock market is soaring to new heights. Why? According to an article we read yesterday, credit card companies are reporting record earnings as consumers assume a greater burden of debt to buy now and pay later. In today’s hothouse investment environment, this translates into “greater consumer confidence” on the theory that consumers wouldn’t be going into debt unless they thought they could pay it off.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Halloween Horror Special: The Faith that Ate Reason
We used to have an annual series of “Halloween Horror Specials” on this blog for the entire month of October. Then we shortened it to a week. Last year we didn’t post anything. Why? The entertainment value of horror (especially if there is an attempt, however weak, at humor, e.g., Army of Darkness) depends on the ultimate conviction that none of it is real. It might make you think (e.g., Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein . . . who was the creator of the monster, not the monster, by the way), or just entertain (H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos . . . not that we’re entertained particularly by horror, especially of that subgenre) but you know, ultimately, that it’s not happening and you can go to sleep safely. After you’ve checked under the bed one more time. Or maybe two. . . .
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Every so often the combatants in the War on Property have another battle. For example, since republishing Fulton Sheen’s Freedom Under God in a Just Third Way edition with a new foreword, we’ve been seeing the idea resurfacing that the “universal destination of goods” (a.k.a., “the generic right of dominion”) means that individual human beings do not have the natural right to own capital, only the collective does, which doles out that right as it sees fit.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Synod on the Family, II: Focus on the Family
As we mentioned yesterday, the discussions reported as taking place in the recent Catholic Synod on the Family seemed remarkably shy about addressing the needs of plain, ordinary, normal families, whatever religion or political system within which the family subsists. There seemed to be an over-emphasis on “hard cases” and what to do about them, and very little attention paid to the increasingly desperate situation of the Just Plain Old Family, everywhere more and more being subsumed into, not merely subsisting within, the State.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Synod on the Family, I: A Few Quibbles
What right does a non-religious organization have to comment on a religious event? Every right, evidently, if you are the media. The problem, of course, is that, even with all the best will and good intentions in the world, if you don’t understand the underlying principles of reason that support a religious organization’s faith, you’ll probably get a lot of things wrong, and misinterpret or misunderstand what you get factually correct.
Friday, October 24, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 42
The important Just Third Way news this week is the Synod on the Family in Rome . . . at least, the distorted views of it we got from the media. Few people seem to be aware that such gatherings are merely for discussion. They are not planning sessions for a Crusade or to plot the overthrow of Religion As We Know It. We’ll weigh in with a few thoughts, below, but (aside from the fact that an interfaith group has almost as little authority to be commenting as the media on internal affairs of the Catholic Church) we have to keep in mind that, however high or low the level, it’s just talk, folks.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
The Importance of the Frontier, II: Politics Follows Power
As we noted in yesterday’s posting, quoting Daniel Webster, “Power naturally and necessarily follows property.” Not surprisingly, then, politics naturally and necessarily follows power, which follows property, so that people who have property are going to dictate politics. The obvious thing to counter political corruption, then, is to ensure that as many people as possible have property.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
The Importance of the Frontier, I: Power Follows Property
Recently we received an e-mail from one of our readers who was concerned about the moral decay of society. Specifically, he was concerned about how the United States Supreme Court keeps making decisions that are in clear conflict with humanity’s natural rights, especially life, liberty, and property. In our opinion, the basic issue is power. Once people have power, the Supreme Court will no longer be able to force its morality on others.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Economics for Ecclesiastics, II: Another Problem
Yesterday we looked at what we believe to be the main problem with offering a course in Keynesian economics to religious leaders: Keynesian economics is based on unproved — and un-provable — assertion. Keynes built a towering and complex superstructure on a foundation not merely of sand, but of quicksand.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Economics for Ecclesiastics, I: A Problem
Recently a regular reader of this blog sent us a copy of Michael Severance’s article, “Economics for Ecclesiastics.” Severance is Operations Manager of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Rome, and can see first hand some of the problems that crop up when religious leaders do not have a sufficient grasp of economics.
Friday, October 17, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 41
Is the stock market still plunging? Or is it rising? Is this the beginning of the end? Or is it the end of the beginning? Are you pro or antihistamine? Is it colder in New York than it is in the summer? What’s the difference between a duck?
Thursday, October 16, 2014
A short time ago we got a question about Ayn Rand’s “objectivism.” Cutting out all the adjectives that made it rather clear that the questioner didn’t care for Rand’s philosophy, we had to ask, what, specifically, did the questioner object to? All we had been asked was what we thought about it.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Love Is Our Mission?
A few weeks ago we got an “advance review” from Dcn Joseph Bernard Gorini of the orientation book for the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 22 through 27, 2015: Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive, A Preparatory Catechesis for the World Meeting of Families (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2014).
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
“Little Moral Progress”?
Last month, the Wall Street Journal published a letter to the editor from a Mr. Anthony Crebbin to which we responded with a letter to the editor that they did not publish, shame on them. Evidently the editors of the venerable financial newspaper remain unaware of the gems of wisdom that we impart so freely are worthy of publication at all times. Hence our publication of the gist of the letter today on this blog.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Natural or Supernatural?
Last week’s brief series on whether or not “the rich” are automatically criminals based on mere unproved assertion and faith caused a minor flurry of commentary. The cause of the tempest in a teapot was the implication that humanity can only enforce human law. Divine law is God’s business. This upset a couple (okay, we’re “under-exaggerating” here) of people. There just seems to be a visceral reaction with some people that if God just can’t or won’t enforce His law to our satisfaction, we must take up the burden and start acting as judge, jury, and executioner until the poor, old, Divine Duffer finally wakes up and starts doing His job.
Friday, October 10, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 40
The fluctuations in the stock market are increasing in magnitude, which ought to concern people more than it does. It doesn’t, but that won’t stop us from offering what we believe to be the best solution to the problem that many people simply refuse to acknowledge exists. Financial trivia: most financial panics have taken place in the Fall, around September and October. Just sayin’.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Are “The Rich” Criminals?, III: By What Authority?
Back in 1904, Robert Hugh Benson published his lengthiest novel, By What Authority?, a fictional account of England under Elizabeth I. It’s so long that one purchaser claimed he bought it but never read it, and so gave it a “one star” review on Amazon without knowing what the book was even about. It was just too big and cumbersome, according to him. (His loss.)
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Are “The Rich” Criminals?, II: Innocent Until PROVEN Guilty
Yesterday we raised the obvious question that arises when people claim that coerced redistribution of existing wealth belonging to “the rich” is the working of God’s law: how do we know that what we’re demanding is actually God’s law? We concluded that, in accordance with reason, we cannot prove, that is, know, that something is, in strict fact, God’s law. We cannot, therefore, claim to be enforcing God’s law when we cannot prove that it is, in fact, God’s law.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Are “The Rich” Criminals?, I: God’s Law
Recently we had a short essay on “distributive justice” accepted by Light and Heat Ministries. You can find the piece here. The point was one we’ve made many times in this blog: that “distributive justice” does not mean redistribution of existing wealth on the basis of need, but that each participant in a common endeavor receives output in strict proportion to the relative value of his or her input. Redistribution may be essential as an expedient in an emergency, but it is not a solution to growing wealth and income gap, or to widespread poverty.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Some Thoughts on Money and Credit
Recently we had a reader ask a few questions about monetary policy under CESJ’s proposed Capital Homesteading program. This is understandable, as the vast majority of experts in money, credit, banking, and finance are locked into “Currency School” assumptions, while the Just Third Way is based on “Banking School” assumptions. Trying to understand the Banking School from the perspective of the Currency School is virtually impossible, as the Currency School takes some assumptions from the Banking School, but not all.
Friday, October 3, 2014
News from the Network, Vol. 7, No. 39
The stock market is, as usual, booming . . . which is oddly, the same thing we said a few weeks ago . . . and have been saying for quite some time. That is, when we’re not noting a drastic plunge. Why no one seems to be worried about the increased volatility of the market, and the fact that there seems to be nothing behind the much-touted “recovery” except for tremendous amounts of government debt and toxic assets is a little puzzling.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
“Enthusiasm” and the Act of Social Justice
We’ve decided that the reason Monsignor Ronald Knox, the third member of the Chesterton-Sheen-Knox Reason Triumvirate, has been pretty much brushed aside is that he was a trifle too . . . we’ll say “sarcastic” at times. “Unvarnished” or “uncomfortable” would be a better and probably more descriptive way of putting it, but whatever you call it, those intellectual zingers that Knox kept inserting into his writing seem to make people uneasy, and don’t give them anything to distort or twist all out of shape so they can misrepresent his thought.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Fulton J. Sheen on Natural and Supernatural, Capitalism and Socialism
A lot of people remember that the late Fulton Sheen had a “thing” about socialism. He was agin’ it. He didn’t like the way that the communist form of socialism tried to abolish God. He also didn’t like the way that socialists played fast and loose with the truth, accusing others of the very thing of which they were guilty. Not that he was all that enthusiastic about capitalism, however.
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