As the last month of the year approaches — it’s only a few hours away as of this writing — it’s easy to get depressed about the number of people who have not heard about the Just Third Way rather than satisfied about the increasing number of people who have. That’s understandable, because until a determinant number of people even know about the Just Third Way and start urging their leaders to do something positive instead of the Same Old Thing, things are going to stay pretty much right where they are. There are, however, signs of hope:
|You never call, you never write, would it kill you to pick up a phone?
• Catholic Social Media Bishop? In today’s Wall Street Journal there is an interesting piece about Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, “The Bishop of Catholic Social Media,” A-17. According to the article, only Pope Francis has more media followers than Bishop Barron, although it is hard to say which has the more attacks . . . probably Pope Francis wins that, hands down. Be that as it may, what His Excellency is reported as saying is very close to the Just Third Way, with one exception: the implicit assumption that a political party that embodies Catholic social teaching would necessarily be a “Catholic political party.” Our contention is that as Catholic social teaching is based on and derived from natural law, it is common to every human being. In that sense, there is no such thing as Catholic social teaching distinct from Protestant social teaching, Jewish social teaching, Islamic social teaching, Hindu social teaching, or anything else. The natural law is “written in the hearts of all men,” and thus applies to every human being regardless of faith, philosophy, or lack thereof. That being the case, we have good news for Bishop Barron . . . if he’s not afraid to hear it. There is a “political party” (if you want to call it that) that has a platform with everything he says he wants: the “Unite America” platform, which can be found here. So to address Bishop Barron directly, and with all due respect, Your Excellency, are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? After all you did say, “If you can espouse all of those positions, you’d be in the party I’d happily be involved with.” There it is. Pick up the phone and give Dr. Norman Kurland, president of CESJ a call, contact information is here on the CESJ website. What are you waiting for? You were serious, weren’t you? It’s relatively safe. We haven’t bitten anyone, at least lately. And other readers, what’s stopping you from asking His Excellency to check out the Just Third Way? Suggest it to him. He can be reached here (it’s a general email and mailing address, but might get to him, you never know).
|Reuther: "Sorry, guys, that's not what I had in mind."
• GM Plant Closings. The big news this week in the non-expanded capital ownership world is that General Motors, which just announced it was closing five plants in the United States and Canada and laying off a few thousand workers. This is after getting a rather large tax break to retain jobs, which the company apparently spent on a stock buyback and increasing executive compensation. For some reason we doubt whether the adage that what’s good for GM is good for the country. Also, we were wondering whether the plants would have been closed had workers owned shares and what was left was spread out among the public rather than a few capitalists. It would have been interesting to see what the reaction of, say, the late Walter Reuther would have been . . . Oh, wait, we already know. As Reuther said in his testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on the President’s Economic Report, February 20, 1967, “Profit sharing in the form of stock distributions to workers would help to democratize the ownership of America’s vast corporate wealth which is today appallingly undemocratic and unhealthy. The Federal Reserve Board recently published data from which it is possible to estimate the degree of concentration in the ownership of publicly traded stock held by individuals and families as of December 1962. Preliminary analysis of these data indicates that, despite all the talk of a ‘people’s capitalism’ in the United States, little more than one percent of all consumer units owned approximately 70 percent of all such stock. Fewer than 8 percent of all consumer units owned approximately 97 percent—which means, conversely, that the total direct ownership interest of more than 92 percent of America’s consumer units in the corporation-operated productive wealth of this country was approximately 3 percent. Profit sharing in a form that would help to correct this shocking maldistribution would be highly desirable for that reason alone.… If workers had definite assurance of equitable shares in the profits of the corporations that employ them, they would see less need to seek an equitable balance between their gains and soaring profits through augmented increases in basic wage rates. This would be a desirable result from the standpoint of stabilization policy because profit sharing does not increase costs. Since profits are a residual, after all costs have been met, and since their size is not determinable until after customers have paid the prices charged for the firm’s products, profit sharing as such cannot be said to have any inflationary impact upon costs and prices.”
|Henry Carter Adams
• Chinese Monetary Imperialism. According to a report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the Republic of the Maldives and a number of other countries have discovered a downside to Chinese largesse: creditor conquest. As has been known for a few thousand years or more, the easiest way to conquer or control another country is to get them in debt to you. This, incidentally, is also why it is a very bad thing when governments figure out ways to stay in power without taxation: it takes away the ability of the citizens to cut off the flow of funds by withholding taxes. That is also why Henry Carter Adams (1851-1921) noted, “The facts disclosed permit one to understand how deficit financiering, carried so far as to result in an interchange of capital and credit between peoples of varying grades of political advancement, must endanger the autonomy of weaker states unable to meet their debt-payments. Provided only that the interests involved are of sufficient importance to make diplomatic interference worth the while, the claims allowed by international law will certainly be urged against the delinquent states, and the citizens of such states may regard themselves fortunate if they succeed in maintaining their political integrity. (Public Debts, An Essay in the Science of Finance. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1898, 28-29.) Just because Keynes said you could increase debt without danger doesn’t mean it’s true.
|"And best of all, reading is 100% kosher!"
• 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 39 different countries and 37 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Brazil, India, Canada, and Australia. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “News from the Network, Vol. 11, No. 47,” “Stranger Than Truth,” “A Change in Tactics,” “,” and “The Feast of Christ the King?!?!?!?(!).”
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.