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.
Of course, there might be a few rose-colored assumptions built into that theory. Suppose consumers are incurring more debt because they need necessities and can’t pay for them. Consider, after all, the fact that we can expect sales of consumer durables to start increasing simply because people have been putting off replacing things since 2008, and they can’t wait any longer. Or people might be expecting things to collapse, so they figure to spend now and not pay at all. Or (most likely) people have no income but are hoping things will turn around, not realizing that paying later for what you’re buying now decreases your ability to buy in the future and pay in the distant future.
The bottom line? People are borrowing not to produce themselves, but to purchase what others produce. This is a virtual guarantee of institutionalized poverty. It's also the wrong thing to do. As Maimonides Eighth Order of Charity has it, if you really want to help the poor, help make them productive so that they no longer need your help.
How to do that? Well, the Just Third Way suggests itself:
• Sales of CESJ’s latest “Paradigm Paper,” The Political Animal: Economic Justice and the Sovereignty of the Human Person, are off to a good start. The Political Animal, like all CESJ publications, is available in bulk at substantial savings. With the 20% discount applicable to bulk sales (i.e., ten or more copies of a single title), a full case of 50 is $400, plus shipping. Enquire at “publications [at] cesj [dot] org” for details and cost of shipping bulk/wholesale orders. Individual copies are available now on Amazon, and on Barnes and Noble. Please note: CESJ does not sell retail.
• This past Monday, the CESJ Core Group attended a "Justice University" presentation given by Dr. Norman G. Kurland, president of CESJ, at the National War College in Washington, DC. A number of key faculty attended the session, which took place during the lunch break. While there was not enough time to cover the full relevance of the Just Third Way to the war on terror, the outline Norm gave was sufficient to provoke serious commentary and questions, and justify follow-up for future, more in-depth sessions. Most of the participants agreed that a course on economics would be useful if integrated into the curriculum.
• A paper on the business cycle being prepared by CESJ’s Director of Research for The American Journal of Economics and Sociology has passed the initial review by the editorial boards of both the Journal and CESJ. The reaction is that the paper represents a significant contribution to the understanding of binary economics. Minor adjustments, clarifications, and some formatting changes are the next step in the process, which should be completed before the deadline in November.
• A “blockage” in the revision of CESJ’s bestselling (in small press terms) 1994 compendium Curing World Poverty has been removed. Recent advances in CESJ’s understanding of Say’s Law of Markets and money and credit, banking, and finance are now being incorporated into the existing text, and a new article is being added to stress the importance of a stable and elastic asset-backed reserve currency in the elimination of widespread poverty.
• The revision of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen is also proceeding apace, with another run-through scheduled as soon as the current phase of the revision of Curing World Poverty is completed.
• The Campaign for Distributive Justice is getting ready for the next phase of preparation with the completion of an informal survey of high school students. According to the survey, nearly 95% of high school students are not even aware that something called “distributive justice” exists. CESJ expects to produce a short video to launch the project shortly.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 52 different countries and 44 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, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The most popular postings this past week were “Aristotle on Private Property,” “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “The Purpose of Production,” “Response to Professor Shakespeare, I: CESJ’s Position,” and “Economics for Ecclesiastics, I: A Problem.”
Those are the happenings for this week, at least those 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, so we’ll see it before it goes up.