Can anyone explain to us why, when the economy has been shut down, unemployment is at an all-time high, cities are being torn apart by rioting, looting, and burning, that the stock market is rocketing skyward? We just checked: as of a moment ago as of this writing, the Dow was up 750 points. No, you read that right, it’s not a typo. And yet:
|Yeah. We need a second round of this?|
• Stock Market Irony. In the Washington Post of Thursday, June 4, 2020, there were two articles that the editors evidently didn’t realize “anti-complemented” each other (i.e., contradicted in a rather surreal manner). On pages A-1 and A-24, there was a piece proclaiming “Biden Now Envisions an FDR-Like Presidency.” The idea seems to be that what America needs now more than ever is a more intensive application of failed Keynesian solutions. Pumping trillions of dollars backed only by government debt hasn’t worked to turn the economy around and “create jobs,” so what we need is more, more, MORE, MORE!!!! [cue maniacal laughter] trillions of worthless dollars . . . with a world war to bring the country out of its economic slump! Absolutely brilliant!! But wait! There’s more!! On page A-20 (which the reader might miss while turning from page A-1 to A-24 to see the finish of Biden’s Brilliant Bid), there is a piece reporting, “U.S. Stocks Cap Off Best 50-Day Run Since 1933”! Yee-Haw! The country is saved!!! Of course, if you actually knew a little history, you’d be more than a little worried. The failure of the Keynesian measures in the first phase of the New Deal led to the second phase beginning in 1935, viz., a more intensive application of previously failed measures (i.e., printing billions of dollars backed only with government debt). The second phase of the New Deal resulted in the “Depression Within the Depression” of 1937-1938, from which the country only emerged as a result of ramping up production in light of the threat of war.
|Rodney Hood: a man with a good idea.|
• Part of a Good Idea. In today’s Wall Street Journal there is an opinion piece by Rodney E. Hood, Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, charged with oversight of the country’s federally insured credit unions, “How Banks Can Help America Heal” (WSJ, A-15). As Mr. Hood says, “I have called upon regulators to make inclusion a major priority in the financial industry.” Nor is that all. He also states, “Private industry should support inclusive growth.” Bravo! Right on (the mark)! He then lists the sort of things that financial leaders should be doing: “giving more working class families access to tools that help them achieve financial independence, providing more young people with the educational and vocational they need to succeed, and nurturing the material conditions that allow people to prosper and thrive.” Modified rapture! This is all very well, but while Mr. Hood’s intentions are clearly good, and what he says is necessary is critically needed, he left out widespread capital ownership as the surest way of establishing and maintaining inclusive economic growth. True, Mr. Hood’s expertise and position relates to banks of deposit that cannot create money, but his connections and position could easily open the door to politicians interested in reform of the whole financial system for the benefit of everyone.
|A man with an even better idea.|
• Too Prosperous to Hate? Another piece in today’s Wall Street Journal opined (or op-eded, since it was on the presumably “opposed editorial page” opposite the editorial page . . . we bet you didn’t know that’s what “op-ed” originally meant, did you) that working on making America prosperous would heal racial and other tensions. (“Let’s Make America Too Prosperous To Hate,” A-17). Another good idea. Bravo . . . but still no bravissimo. The author of the article, Peter Navarro, assistant to President Trump and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, speaks only in terms of jobs for all that make other people prosperous. If Dr. Navarro really wants to make America prosperous, he should focus on making Americans prosperous . . . and that means making Americans — all Americans — into capital owners. If Dr. Navarro (or even President Trump) really want to “Make America Great Again,” they might consider urging Congress to pass the Capital Homestead Act. After all, Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 land-based Homestead Act resulted in one of the greatest economic expansions in history . . . and it only directly benefitted a relatively small proportion of the U.S. population, and had some flaws. A Capital Homestead Act would benefit every child, woman, and man in the country directly. Forget about making America great again. We need to make Americans — and everyone else — great again.
|De Lamennais: wealthy socialist|
• Socialism and Christianity. As a result of our research into the roots of socialism, we discovered the surprising fact that socialism did not develop initially as a reaction against capitalism, although the conditions created by capitalism certainly led to the rise of socialism (it’s complicated). No, in strict fact, early socialists loved, admired, courted, and at times were themselves capitalists! Two of the most influential early socialists, Robert Owen and Friedrich Engels, were wealthy factory owners. Others came of wealthy or upper-middle class backgrounds and inherited wealth. Three of the most influential, Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon, François-Marie-Charles Fourier, and Hugues-Félicité-Robert de Lamennais, inherited their money, but spent it trying to implement socialism, whereupon they sought out rich patrons to fund their proposals. Fourier even established an office and regular hours in Paris where he spent most of each day for years waiting for a rich capitalist to answer his ad in the papers and give him money. Saint-Simon married wealthy women for money, divorcing them when a better (and richer) prospect came along. The real (and explicitly stated) target of the early socialists was the abolition or “reform” of Christianity. (Socialism seems to have started turning against capitalism in the 1830s; Étienne Cabet may have been the first with his “Icarian socialism.” Cabet also claimed Jesus was the first socialist.) Interestingly, the capitalist socialists like Owen and Engels called for the abolition of organized religion, while Fourier, Saint-Simon, and de Lamennais at first called for a “New Christianity” modeled along more materialist and less transcendent lines, then started their own religions (“Associationism,” “the Church of Saint-Simon,” and “the Religion of Humanity,” respectively) when the existing churches (usually Catholic) didn’t go along with the program. Now, in today’s Wall Street Journal (“The Gospel According to Xi,” A-15), Matthew Taylor King reports that the Chinese Communist Party wants to “create a new version of Christianity shorn of its transcendent visions and values.” In addition to intimidating (a mild way of putting it) believers of all “foreign faiths” and wrecking or vandalizing places of worship, the latest idea is to rewrite what Jews, Christians, and Muslims regard as Sacred Scripture. Authorities recently assembled “scholars” who “discuss[ed] ‘making accurate and authoritative interpretations of classical doctrines to keep pace with the times’.” In other words, altering what believers accept as the Word of God to conform to the Party line. The only real news here, of course, is that people think this is something new.
|Shop 'til you drop.|
• 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 54 different countries and 53 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and India. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “ ‘A Time of Great Trial’,” “Interlude: A Short History of Social Justice,” “How Fulton Sheen Viciously Attacked Msgr. Ryan (Not),” “The Living Wage and Social Justice,” and “News from the Network, Vol. 13, No. 22.”
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.