As politics, economics, and religion continue to mix (being the same thing to an increasing number of people), the world picture becomes increasingly confused and confusing . . . unless you come over and take a walk on the side of common sense. Analyzed from a Just Third Way perspective, it’s astonishing just how much of what is going on starts to make sense . . . and the right thing to do becomes more obvious:
|Yes (surprise, surprise) socialism has always been "democratic."|
• Democratic Socialism. A blog posting this week on “democratic socialism” seems to have a number of adherents of democratic socialism baffled. They know that it must be wrong because they disagree with it, but . . . damme, sir, they can’t dispute the facts (all of which are cited as to source), and they can’t refute the argument, which is logical . . . but . . . but . . . but . . . it must be wrong!! They just can’t figure out why! As a result, a number of them have “shared” the posting on FaceBook, begging and pleading with their fellow democratic socialists please, please, please to find something wrong with it! If they do manage to find something wrong with it, we sincerely hope they tell us what it is . . . so we can fix the flaw(s) in our argument. Simply telling us it’s wrong without specifying the problem is less than helpful. As a side note, it was particularly interesting that twice as many democratic capitalists complained about the post, although one or two might actually have attempted to give a reason for their disagreement. They were not able to, but at least they tried.
• Media Outreach. Work has been advancing on CESJ’s prototype instructional video as well as a number of publications, including compendia of the writings of CESJ co-founder Father William J. Ferree, S.M., Ph.D. and Judge Peter S. Grosscup. We are also looking at reformatting the CESJ podcast and restarting the CESJ newsletter. We have also been experimenting with producing video “book trailers” to spread the word about CESJ’s publications, both the free e-books and the more traditional bound books.
|Jean-Baptiste Say ("Say's Law")|
• Amazon, Whole Foods, Sears, K-Mart, and Say’s Law. According to the “Buzz on the Street,” Whole Foods, a subsidiary of Amazon, is looking to take over the vacant buildings left by the Sears-K-Mart meltdown. While the disappearance of what people used to call “affordable” food, clothing, and shelter naturally has us concerned, and although we’re not really averse to “big” business per se, what we do find troubling is the concentration of ownership of the means by which most people are supplied with the necessities of life. After all, it doesn’t really matter if a cartel controls diamonds (unless you’re talking industrial diamonds) but it matters a great deal if a small number of owners or the State (capitalism and socialism, respectively) control that which people need to live on. Of the two, State ownership or control is worse, because annoying some bureaucrat means you are cut off, possibly even imprisoned or killed, while a capitalist might be persuaded to lower prices or give charity. This is where the wisdom of Say’s Law and Kelso’s addition come in useful. In order to ensure that supply generates its own demand and demand its own supply, the means of production should be as broadly owned as the needs of consumption are felt. That is, every consumer should be a producer, and vice versa, either through labor or capital.
|Pius XI: the State should not be overburdened.|
• Government Shutdown. The government shutdown raises some interesting questions about just how big government has gotten and how far it has strayed from the original concept of the tool of the State. The State is an essential social tool, but like all tools should be used only when it is needed, and for the purposes for which it was designed. After all, you wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to open a can of beans, especially when it isn’t even lunchtime, and you’re having a bologna sandwich in any event, would you? The idea that the government is shut down except for “essential services” is a concept that should alarm us far more than it does: why should a government be providing non-essential services? We start to get into the situation against which, e.g., Pope Pius XI warned in § 78 of his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno,
When we speak of the reform of institutions, the State comes chiefly to mind, not as if universal well-being were to be expected from its activity, but because things have come to such a pass through the evil of what we have termed “individualism” that, following upon the overthrow and near extinction of that rich social life which was once highly developed through associations of various kinds, there remain virtually only individuals and the State. This is to the great harm of the State itself; for, with a structure of social governance lost, and with the taking over of all the burdens which the wrecked associations once bore, the State has been overwhelmed and crushed by almost infinite tasks and duties.
|Irving Fisher (Quantity Theory of Money)|
• Bad Assumptions = Baffled Analysts. In today’s Wall Street Journal James Mackintosh opines that “Investors Can’t Figure Out Fed” (01/11/19, B-1, B-10). The problem, of course, is that both the Federal Reserve and the investors are using an erroneous assumption, one that has increasingly taken over both private and public understanding of money and governed monetary and fiscal policy of the world since the early 1930s. And that is? That the amount of money in the economy determines the “velocity” of money (the average number of times each unit of currency is spent in a year), the price level (how much things cost), and the number of transactions. This is stated mathematically as the Quantity Theory of Money equation: M x V = P x Q. Anyone who has taken high school algebra, however, will instantly see the problem: you can’t have three “dependent variables” and only one equation! In other words, you can’t fiddle with M (the quantity of money) and expect V, P, or Q to mean anything. Of course investors can’t figure out what’s going on, because the Federal Reserve doesn’t know what’s going on. They haven’t caught on to the fact that V, P, and Q should determine M (that is, M should be the dependent variable), not the other way around, or all you will have is chaos.
|Is it twilight or dawn for energy stocks?|
• Violating the First Principle of Reason Department. Also in today’s Wall Street Journal, in the Finance section, there are two headlines on the first page, B-12. One is, “Energy Stocks Go From Drag to Leader.” The other one reads, “Don’t Bet On Oil’s Bounce To Continue.” The problem here is that people think that the prices on the stock market actually mean something other than reflecting the emotional state of gambling addicts. The editors of the Journal might be excused for trying to have their cake and eat it, too, by predicting both a continued boom and a downturn on the same page, but readers should be a little more savvy and possibly start to use their own brains for something.
|"Aha! Another one who didn't sign up!"|
• 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 29 different countries and 44 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Russia. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “About That ‘Democratic Socialism’,” “Just Third Way Broadcast,” “News from the Network, Vol. 12, No. 01,” “We Agree With Alan Greenspan,” and ““.”
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.