While world leaders seem to flail about with no idea what to do about world problems — or, worse, know exactly what to do to gather ever-increasing amounts of power into their own hands — we have been seeing signs that word of the Just Third Way is starting to spread. Recently we had a number of people remark to us that were it not for CESJ and the Just Third Way, they would have given up hope. And there are some good things not only to hope for, but to work for:
• This week the big news seems to be political bankruptcies and related difficulties. The financial kind, that is. Politics, along with Academia, has been morally and philosophically bankrupt for some time. The situation of Puerto Rico and Illinois, however, bring to the fore the desperate need for real reform along Just Third Way lines.
|Puerto Rico: Beautiful Gateway to the Caribbean
• The Puerto Rican debt restructuring — tantamount to a Chapter II bankruptcy — could result in privatizing the port facilities, airports, and so on. The Just Third Way position on this is, anything that is owned by government can (and should) be owned by the citizens. All the citizens, though, not some ultra-rich plutocrats who will use what should be regarded as the public patrimony for personal benefit. With the “magic” of corporate organization and modern finance, it is entirely feasible for every citizen in a city, state, region, or even the entire world to be a direct owner of any and all infrastructure, and to receive dividend income generated by user fees and the profits from development. If Puerto Rico wants to divest itself of its infrastructure — and the Commonwealth is in a key position for world trade as the “Gateway to the Caribbean,” it can do so both profitably and for the public interest by doing so in a way that makes every Puerto Rican a capital owner.
|Lincoln's solution: an updated Homestead Act
• The situation is a bit different in Illinois. The state’s economy is still relatively sound. Its revenues are ten times the annual service on its debt. So what is the problem? The legislature can’t seem to pass a budget. A possibly superficial analysis suggests that the state and the people of Illinois are being used as pawns in a political struggle. And even if it did, there are underlying problems having to do with unfunded pension liabilities and the hostility to non-government action. The solution? Why not take a page from the book of Illinois’s most famous son, Abraham Lincoln? Lincoln oversaw what many consider one of the greatest economic initiatives in history, the 1862 Homestead Act. Land, however, is limited, and by 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner could, with a great deal of justification, declare the closing of the land frontier. What is needed today is the opening of the effectively unlimited industrial and commercial frontier with a “Capital Homestead Act” — an initiative in which Illinois could lead the way.
• Before there can be a Capital Homestead Act, however (or as an integral part of the Act), there needs to be a complete reform of the monetary and tax system. The tax system should have a single rate for ALL income above a level needed to meet ordinary living costs, plus a deferral to accumulate capital up to a level of capital self-sufficiency. The tax system should not be used for “social engineering.” New money should be created in ways that help ordinary people become owners, and must be asset-backed, elastic, and uniform and, above all, stable. It is monetary and economic insanity to have a currency that fluctuates in value constantly. It makes as much sense as having a yardstick that changes length from day to day. The banking system should not be used to finance government; that is the job of the tax system.
• Ms. Barbara Olson took the bit between her teeth last week, and hand-wrote a letter to Bernie Sanders. She let him know that supporting the ESOP was nowhere near enough. If he truly wants to benefit all the people of the United States, he should get behind a Capital Homestead Act.
|"Now . . . that's a grass-roots movement!"
• The Australian CESJ Team has been making a great deal of progress. A primary goal is to present the Just Third Way to well-placed individuals in Church, State, and Academia, and to that end there has been discussion of the elements that would be included in meetings, at such time as they can be arranged. A number of potentially valuable contacts have been made that could very well result in meetings, and there has been outreach to the media in Australia and in Europe. Some activists in Asia were very interested in the possibility of a system that allows for non-inflationary growth, especially with the rise of China as the major economic player in the region. Outreach has continued to Australian labor unions, while a young engineer and entrepreneur recently joined the Australian CESJ Team. The effort to foster a grass-roots movement Down Under is clearly making great strides.
|"I can't even. Or odd.
• Here’s the usual announcement about the Amazon Smile program, albeit moved to the bottom of the page so you don’t get tired of seeing it. To participate in the Amazon Smile program for CESJ, go to https://smile.amazon.com/. Next, sign in to your account. (If you don’t have an account with Amazon, you can create one by clicking on the tiny little link below the “Sign in using our secure server” button.) Once you have signed into your account, you need to select CESJ as your charity — and you have to be careful to do it exactly this way: in the space provided for “Or select your own charitable organization” type “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington.” If you type anything else, you will either get no results or more than you want to sift through. Once you’ve typed (or copied and pasted) “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington” into the space provided, hit “Select” — and you will be taken to the Amazon shopping site, all ready to go.
• We have had visitors from 33 different countries and 43 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and Poland. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “De Lamennais Excommunicates the Pope,” “News from the Network, Vol. 10, No. 25,” “The Forgotten Encyclical: Mirari Vos,” “Who’d Have Thought It?” and Taking Shortcuts.”
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.