If you’re worried about the way things are going in the world, you might want to skip the first half of this edition of News from the Network and go down to the good news (qualified good news, anyway) near the bottom. Yes, there actually are a few rays of hope, notably the success of the “Sensus Fidelium” videos about the origins and effects of the “new things” of socialism, modernism (probably not what you think it is), and esotericism, so tolle lege (Latin for “take and read):
• Ownership Giveaway? According to the blog of the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) in Oakland, California, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has introduced H.R. 6851, a bill that would ‘require major corporations receiving Federal aid related to COVID–19 to make annual payments of equity to employees of the corporation while such aid is outstanding.’ The bill applies only to public companies. It would require that a grant of equity be made to all full- and part-time employees. The grant could be directly in shares, restricted stock grants, or an ESOP, and would be allocated to each individual employee.” This would appear to be a step in the right direction, but the problem is that it is linked to an extraordinary situation that — hopefully — will not continue much longer, it does not include everyone, and it does not appear to be a purchase of capital repaid with future profits, but a one-time grant, a tokenistic nod in the direction of the need to move from a wage system, to an ownership system.
• A Better Way? As we said, AOC’s initiative is a tentative step in the right direction, but it’s tokenistic. As an alternative, we suggest something along the lines of the CESJ paper, “Universalizing Capital Ownership.” A short-term or temporary expedient or giveaway is not going to solve the underlying problem, which is characterized by extreme concentration of the ownership of capital in fewer and fewer hands, and the displacement of human labor from the production process by the same capital. What is needed is a way for ordinary people to become owners of capital without taking away anything from the already-wealthy.
• Traditional, or Non-Traditional? Also according to the NCEO blog (and to
continue using question marks in our subheadings), “The House Armed
Services Committee has added a provision to the 2021
National Defense Authorization Act that would add an ESOP company as a ‘non-traditional
business’ eligible for the Department of Defense’s “Other Transaction
Authority” (OTA).” In English, that
means an ESOP company would qualify to get DOD contracts for which it wouldn’t
otherwise be eligible due to already having gotten contracts recently — a way
that the DOD tries to prevent the same companies from always getting contracts
and shutting out others, sort of “sharing the wealth” by making more companies
that they haven’t “traditionally” dealt with have a chance.
|Gee whiz, it was this or another photo of the building.|
• Is the Bubble Ready to Burst?. Some experts, no doubt keeping in mind the inflated stock market of the late 1920s, are worried that the massive money creation by the Federal Reserve — all backed by government debt and most of it pouring into the stock market and inflating stock prices — could come crashing down at any moment, at least according to this article. The difference, of course, is that in the 1920s, the speculative frenzy was caused by massive money creation by private sector commercial banks, which poured the money into the stock market at the same time they also provided adequate credit for the productive sector of the economy, while today the Federal Reserve is creating massive amounts of money that it hands over to the commercial banks that are not providing adequate credit for the productive sector of the economy, but continuing to pour the money into the stock market. The question, of course, is whether the situation of nearly a century ago was any different from that of today in substance, allowing, of course, for the fact that today the national credit is on the brink of disaster along with the productive capacity of the private sector, while in the 1920s the national credit was intact, as was the productive capacity of the private sector. Then along came Keynes. . . .
|"President Xi, we have some good news and some bad news. . ."|
• Chinese Property Bubble?. The Wall Street Journal reports that China’s nouveau riche are bidding up real estate prices to incredible levels (“The $52 Trillion Bubble: China Grapples With Epic Property Boom,” WSJ, 07/17/20, A-1, A-9). Down payments of US$150,000 are common, and “values” are reaching dizzying heights. The risk exposure amounts to an estimated US$52 trillion, or US$37,329.50 per Chinese resident (1.393 billion, per the U.S. Bureau of the Census). In contrast, the 2008 U.S. housing bubble cost US$2 trillion, according to “CNN Money.” That works out to US$6,676.78 per U.S. resident in 2008 (304.1 million, per the U.S. Bureau of the Census). True, “risk exposure” does not necessarily translate into “projected losses” or (worse) actual losses. The actual loss in the event of a meltdown such as the U.S. experienced in 2008 could be less, but at the same time could be much more as the collapse of the bubble sweeps through the rest of the Chinese economy, which in many respects is far more fragile than its current ranking as the second-largest economy in the world would suggest. In any event, the estimated effect is nearly six times greater for China than the reality was for the United States. All it needs is a trigger to bring down a very large house of cards.
|Michael R. Pompeo|
• Return to Original Intent? Someone who has had a significant influence on the Just Third Way was the constitutional scholar William Winslow Crosskey (1894-1968), whose stand on “original intent” in opposition to the “living constitution” theory annoyed some of the greatest names in American jurisprudence. Ironically, the Hon. Michael R. Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, published a piece in the Washington Post (“We Must Ground Our Diplomacy In Our Founding Principles,” WP, 07/17/20, A-20) opining that the United States needs to return to its founding principles in its dealings with other countries. Crosskey would probably say, yes, that’s a great idea (or however he expressed approbation) . . . but what about in its dealings with its own citizens? Americans have unalienable (or inalienable) rights, too, among which (as George Mason of Virginia put it, “[A]ll men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” The U.S. Supreme Court altered the foundation of the U.S. Constitution in an effort to preserve and extend slavery, away from the idea that rights are inherent in each human person, to rights are a grant from the State. Yes, we need a return to our founding principles, and not just for diplomacy, but for our very survival as a nation.
|Expect the Unexpected|
• The Next Pope? Continuing our use of the interrogative subheading, in the Wall Street Journal George Weigel ponders about the problems posed for the next pope, but without the rather pointless speculation about who it could be. In “A Paradox for the Next Pope” (WSJ, 07/17/20, A-13), Weigel declares that “the only Catholicism with a future is a Catholicism in full.” We couldn’t agree more, and would say exactly the same for any other faith or philosophy. We would also say that the danger to the Catholic Church and to all other faiths and philosophies today is not in a general decline in religiosity or a lack of confidence that the Catholic Church or any other faith or philosophy is teaching the truth. There is that, of course, but the real question is why has the Catholic Church (etc.) fallen away from teaching truth? In our opinion (and you probably saw this coming), it’s because over the past two centuries organized religion, civil life, and even family life have all fallen victim to what Pope Gregory XVI and Pope Leo XIII called “the new things” (rerum novarum) of socialism, modernism, and esotericism that divert the foundation and guide of human behavior away from a concept of the natural law based human reason (lex ratio) and go with one based on opinion, that is, the will of the strongest (lex voluntas). As legal scholar Heinrich Rommen explained in his book on the natural law, this leads straight to moral relativism and ends in nihilism. In our opinion it is, as Weigel points out, important for people to be educated in their respective faiths and philosophies, but first it is important to make it possible for them to be educated instead of indoctrinated by whoever has the money and the power by returning power to people. And the only way that can be done is through a program of expanded capital ownership, such as Capital Homesteading. Without that, the decay of all faiths and philosophies will simply continue unabated.
|"On the Road to Rerum Novarum"|
• Are You Guys Serious? A series of videos in which CESJ’s Director of Research is presenting the roots of socialism, modernism, and esotericism from a Catholic perspective — but in a way that should be useful to adherents of other faiths and philosophies — has proved to be more popular than we anticipated. Produced by Steve Cunningham of Sensus Fidelium, while there have been one or two negative comments regarding our “attacking” socialism by relating its development and showing how it differs from Aristotelian-Thomist natural law theory, by and large the videos present a story that was lost and forgotten for decades about how the social doctrine of the Catholic Church and then the religious doctrine has suffered incredible damage through the influence of socialism, modernism, and esotericism . . . and if the Catholic Church has been hit hard, you can imagine the effect on other Christian bodies as well as other faiths and philosophies. So far “Introduction to Communism” and “The Road to Rerum Novarum” (we were thinking of Hope, Crosby, and Lamour, but most viewers assumed Emmaus, which actually works out better. . . .) have garnered thousands of hits between them (as well as more than a thousand for the “book review” of Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know), suggesting that people want to hear the truth about what’s been going on, not just be fed more socialist, modernist, and esoteric pabulum.
|Senator Russell Long (L), Norman G. Kurland (R)|
• A Step in the Right Direction? Concluding our series of subheadings in the form of a question, we respond to George Weigel’s concern expressed in his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by giving him (and everybody else) the news that more help might be on the way. No, not the return of the Fab Four, but the final editing and formatting of Economic Personalism is in process. A few pieces await action, but by and large the text and everything else is finalized. It may even be possible to get it published within a few weeks . . . then you might see some people in Church and State start to question a few of their assumptions, at least if they read it.
|Maybe tone it down a little. . . .|
• 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 32 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, Tanzania, Brazil, Canada, the India. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “How Commercial Banks Create Money,” “Book Review: A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey,” “The REAL Story of the First Social Encyclical,” “News from the Network, Vol. 13, No. 28,” and “An Eternal Question.”
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.