This week we cover news items from Japan to the Vatican, and that span nearly a century . . . but that you can still read quickly. Don’t be worried, however. The only controversial thing we cover is expanded capital ownership, which is very upsetting to the increasing numbers of democratic socialists:
|Not entirely correct, but not entirely wrong, either.|
• Get to Work, Senators. On Monday of this week the Wall Street Journal ran an article, “Get to Work, Senators” by Dave Brat, U.S. Representative from Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District (07/30/18, A15). Brat’s idea is that welfare recipients should be required to work in exchange for receipt of benefits. This is one of those ideas that sounds better in print than in practice. First, welfare is (in theory) a backup to individual production and private charity. It’s based on need, not on exchange. Since the criterion is need, it would be unfair to impose additional criteria, such as a work requirement. Second, even under the current system there are people who otherwise qualify for benefits but who are denied due to a bureaucratic decision. Imposing additional criteria simply adds more reasons to deny benefits. Would all welfare, for example, be contingent upon working, or would people who are physically or mentally incapable of working be able to receive benefits? What if there really are no jobs of any kind available? The real solution to the increasing cost of welfare is not to figure out ways that fewer people qualify for welfare, but to make it so that more people qualify for capital ownership and access to the means of doing so. Being an owner means that someone gets the income from capital while the capital works. The more people who own capital, the fewer people will be on welfare. It’s as simple as that.
|Prime Minster Shinzo Abe|
• Japan’s Conglomerates Streamline. In an effort to give a boost to the economy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is calling for more focus on shareholder returns and greater accountability of management to shareholders and boards of directors. In an article in the Wall Street Journal (“Japan’s Conglomerates Streamline,” 08/01/18, B1, B12) the goals are presented, but without any effective means suggested of attaining them. In particular, a program of expanded capital ownership financed by full payout of dividends on voting shares tax deductible at the corporate level would force boards to be accountable to shareholders and give boards more incentive to hold management accountable. It would also dramatically increase the tax base and start paying down the massive government debt accumulated.
• Pope Francis and the Death Penalty. Calm down. This is not a comment for or against capital punishment, but on how papal teachings manage to get misunderstood or twisted at lightning speed — a matter of concern to adherents of the Just Third Way when discussing the distortions and misinterpretations forced on to the natural law social teachings of the Catholic Church. If what Pope Francis wrote is read carefully, it becomes obvious that he changed no doctrine of the Catholic Church. This is a little complex, but an objective reader will instantly see that the “admissibility” of capital punishment is conditional on there being alternatives available, as Pope Francis clearly stated. Now, whether you agree or disagree with what he said, this is not a change in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Rather, it is a change in the application of the teachings of the Catholic Church — something completely different. A “doctrine” cannot be changed, or it ceases to be a doctrine, a fundamental principle — by definition. If a thing is conditional or contingent, then it is — by definition — not a doctrine! That being the case, why would so many people declare so quickly that there has been a change in Catholic doctrine, even non-Catholics? Because if one doctrine can be shown to have changed, all doctrines are up for grabs . . . such as the condemnation of all forms of socialism, the right to life, liberty, and so on. The Catholic Church would change from what G.K. Chesterton called the last bulwark of common sense, into a farrago of nonsense, a social club in which anything goes.
|Farmers need markets, not handouts.|
• Hidden Minimum Wage Expense. Another hidden cost of linking compensation and increases in benefits exclusively to wages. As the minimum wage rises, increases to older and more experienced workers slow down or disappear — the shortfall has to be made up somewhere, and if not in costs passed on to the consumer, then in fewer new workers hired or reductions in pay increases to long term workers. None of this would apply if, as the late Walter Reuther pointed out, increases in compensation came from capital ownership, as profits are the residual after sales, not an increase in costs before sales.
• U.S. Agricultural Commodities Pile Up. With the beginning of the Trump Trade Wars, U.S. agricultural commodities from dried beans to meat are beginning to pile up. Promised subsidies will only make the problem worse, much as Thailand got stuck with megatons of overpriced rice from a subsidy program. The fact remains that imposing trade barriers in defense of the free market is counterproductive. If President Trump is serious about wanting to “Make America Great Again,” he should get behind a Capital Homestead Act and the accompanying tax and monetary reforms.
|Chesterton: Left the C of E to escape socialism?|
• G.K. Chesterton’s Conversion to Catholicism. This is ostensibly another “so what?” type of item. Chesterton, however, was an advocate of expanded capital ownership (although he drove George Bernard Shaw crazy by not explaining how it could be achieved), and the Just Third Way is in large measure based on the natural law social justice teachings of the Catholic Church. We have located material suggesting that Chesterton may have left the Church of England and converted to Catholicism because of the Church of England’s drift into socialism and the increasing subordination of doctrine to popular opinion. We will know more when we obtain the actual article Chesterton wrote, but it appears that the “democratic socialist” model of Christian social teaching — derived from the tenets of “New Christianity” — may have become just a bit more than Chesterton could stomach when the 1919 “Enabling Act” that permitted parliament to legislate on matters of religious doctrine was passed. It also appears that William Hurrell Mallock may have been considering converting when he died in 1923.
|Don't be a greedy little pig! SMILE!|
• Shop online and support CESJ’s work! Did you know that by making your purchases through the Amazon Smile program, Amazon will make a contribution to CESJ? Here’s how: First, go to Next, sign in to your Amazon 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..
• Blog Readership. We have had visitors from 25 different countries and 36 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, France, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and India. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were, “News from the Network, Vol. 11, No. 30,” “The Just Third Way Podcast #27,” “Democracy in America,” “A Quintessential Individualist,” and “A Different Kind of Liberalism.”
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.#30#