We are not entirely sure of which of the minor deities governs when Friday the thirteenth pops up, but it’s our own fault that it occasionally coincides with the weekly Friday news roundup. As events demonstrate, however, there is no connection between bad luck and what day of the week or even number it is, since there seems to be a number of good things happening:
• Hong Kong Looking to the United States. Protestors in Hong Kong have started looking to the United States to support their efforts to secure their rights against the incursions of the Chinese government. This is all well and good — assuming that the U.S. decides to risk coming into conflict with the growing economic strength of China. It is also assuming that the protestors ask for the right thing. It is not enough to demand freedom and democracy. It is essential to demand the means to sustain justice, the basic building block of freedom and democracy — and that means widespread capital ownership, which can only be achieved as a usual thing by having a properly structured financial system and tax reform to encourage private sector growth instead of government power. This can be found in the Capital Homesteading proposal of CESJ.
|"You mean ALL money has a cancellation date?"|
• Backwards Money Problems. Lack of understanding about money can result in some very odd conclusions, such as the idea that “money” should have a cancellation date, as described in this article. Anyone who understands money will instantly respond, “What? Money DOES have a cancellation date: the date the obligation backing the money matures and must be redeemed!” All money has this feature whether the money is backed by government debt (not a good thing) or private sector assets (preferred in a rational system). The problem is that many people confuse money and currency, and don’t realize that currency is fungible, that is, one unit is legally the same as all other units of the same currency. A debt may be cancelled, but the currency used to cancel the debt is not. It keeps getting reused so that new currency doesn’t have to be issued for each transaction. That can be done, of course. Before the invention of currency, every single transaction was designed to create money when initiated and cancel money when completed. Once in a while the money created would be “negotiable,” that is, used in other transactions, but by and large, most transactions before the invention of currency and even today use “one-use money” that does not involve currency, but are measured in terms of the monetary unit. Money with a cancellation date would only hurt people whose wealth was held in the form of cash, which most rich people don’t do: cash doesn’t make money, while cash used to purchase capital assets makes lots of money. The little saver would work all his life to save a tiny bit of money, only to have all his savings wiped out by cancellation, while the rich man sits in his mansion with his stocks and bonds making more money for him every day that he doesn’t save, but spends or reinvests in more capital. The problem is that people who talk about money that gets cancelled get everything backwards: production of marketable goods and services does not come from money. Money comes from producing marketable goods and services.
|The original worker owners|
• The 1862 Homestead Act. Here’s an interesting video (with some mispronounced words) about the origin and operation of Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 land-based Homestead Act. We don’t agree with everything he says (maybe not even most of it), but it’s a way to get sometimes difficult concepts across quickly, as long as your audience realizes that there may be one or two (thousand) nuances missed or glossed over . . . take his Southern accent . . . please.
• Employee Ownership Foundation New Website. The Employee Ownership Foundation has a new website. According to the information on the website, since its founding in 1991, the Employee Ownership Foundation has operated in pursuit of a single overarching goal: to help more individuals become employee owners. The Foundation has raised and donated millions of dollars to collect data used by academics, encourage objective research, and to facilitate dialogue about employee ownership between thought leaders. Going forward, the Foundation will also place a larger emphasis on raising awareness of the employee ownership model among business owners and to fund more applied research that can further improve the market advantage held by well-run employee owned businesses. Governed by a national 50-person Board of Trustees and an eight-person Executive Committee, the EOF is recognized by the IRS as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and donations to it are tax deductible.
|The little ba . . . gs of pork are everywhere.|
• Chinese Pork Shortage. It is interesting that the Chinese are reporting a severe pork shortage, and yet the western states in the U.S. are overrun with feral pigs that cause immense damage. Perhaps a solution would be for promoters to put together package deals for Chinese people who want to hunt pigs for fun and profit. There are an estimated five to nine million feral pigs running wild that no one in this country wants, but which the Chinese need or at least want. Authorities in the U.S. have pretty much given up on trying to eradicate the pigs, a very destructive invasive species, and are now waging a losing war to control them. Giving foreign sportsmen (and women) the chance to hunt in “the Wild West like the cowboys” could be a big draw, bringing in tourist money and solving a problem at the same time. After all, there were millions of buffalo that were hunted almost to extinction within a decade or so with very little effort. There is not only the meat, the pigskin is also valuable, as are the bones. Changing feral pigs from a problem into a profit center is simply good business — and good for the ecology.
|Learn to think before you think.|
• The Logic of Logic. Judging from the experiences of a friend of CESJ who teaches Thomist philosophy to college freshmen, the first step in learning philosophy or anything else is to take a course in logic, that is, the basic rules of rational thought. Courses in grammar and composition are also good, i.e., applying rules of logic so that something makes sense. Philosophy goes by principles, and the starting point of every philosophy is to state those principles, test them for validity, and then apply them. This requires logic and practice in the use of it. Once you have sound principles internalized then you can start on the specifics of any system and learn it, if not easily, at least in a way that makes sense. Most arguments these days seem to result from people not knowing the fundamental principles of their own systems, or putting an illogical interpretation on them. That is why Mortimer Adler identified the confusion between knowledge and opinion as one of the ten great philosophical mistakes of the modern age.
• Warren’s Social Security Solution. Elizabeth Warren wants to raise the Social Security tax and increase the wage income subject to the tax. This, she believes, will make the program solvent for a few decades and permit an increase of $200 per month in benefits. A few problems, however. It would be better to merge the separate Social Security tax into the general tax rate, thereby exempting the very poor and automatically taxing the rich at a higher rate. As it is, the poor pay Social Security tax from the first dollar they earn with no exemption and only on wage income. The income of most wealthy people is not in the form of wages anyway, which exempts them from Social Security tax regardless how high the rate is. It's a stupid system and badly needs reform in the form of Capital Homesteading.
• 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 https://smile.amazon.com/. 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 31 different countries and 41 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, Philippines, India, and Spain. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “A Few Thoughts on Solidarity,” “News from the Network, Vol. 12, No. 36,” “A Yoke Almost of Slavery,” “An Unbelievable Decision,” and “Norman Kurland on Russell Williams’s The Challenge.”
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.” Due to imprudent language on the part of some commentators, we removed temptation and disabled comments.