• Rethinking Poverty. It’s a little misleading, to say the least. As the headline read, “Government Stimulus Kept Millions of Americans Out of Poverty Last Year.” Of course, a lot depends on how you define “poverty.” The U.S. government defines poverty as, “Following the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive 14, the Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. If a family’s total income is less than the family’s threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty.” The dictionary does it a bit differently, “1) the state of being poor, 2) a lack of something, 3) the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. The “Investopedia” defines poverty as “Poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living.” Common to all these definitions is the idea that lack of income defines poverty. From a Just Third Way perspective, it would seem more accurate to define poverty as including some aspect of lack of access to the means of generating an adequate and secure income. Doing that would mean that mere adequacy of income is still a form of poverty if that income is not secure. A welfare or stimulus check would thus not keep someone out of poverty, but relieve need without eliminating poverty as it either is temporary or depends on creating a condition of dependency in which income is not inherently secure, but relies on the goodwill of others. We can see, therefore, two types of poverty: 1) Destitution, in which material needs are not met, and 2) Dependency, in which material needs are met, perhaps even abundantly, but continuance depends on others, e.g., a politician or an employer.
• The Real Solution to Poverty. Back in 1994, CESJ and Social Justice Review published a compendium, Curing World Poverty: The New Role of Property. The concept was simple: restructure key institutions to make it possible for every child, woman, and man to own a capital stake sufficient to provide an adequate and secure income. A program of expanded capital ownership, such as the Economic Democracy Act, would remove the causes of systemic poverty ion the most efficient and just way possible.
|It's not under any of them.|
• The Stock Buyback Scam. According to the Wall Street Journal of Thursday, September 16, 2021, Microsoft is planning a large “buyback” of its own shares (“Microsoft Plans $60 Billion Stock-Repurchase Program,” WSJ, 09/16/21, B-1). What’s wrong with that? By right of private property, those profits already belong to the shareholders of Microsoft. Essentially what Microsoft proposes is buying shares from its owners with money that belongs to them in the first place! It’s as if I borrow money from you to buy your business, then claim I owe you nothing because I paid you the money. The net effect is obviously that I stole your business from you by paying for it with your own money.
• El Salvador and Legal Tender Bitcoin. Not too long ago El Salvador made the Bitcoin cryptocurrency legal tender, the idea being that it would bring stability and allow Salvadoreans working abroad to send money home more easily. Over the last couple of days, however, the country has erupted in violent protests over the move, with people fearing that the cryptocurrency’s noted volatility as a virtual commodity with no real assets behind it would further destabilize the country and possibly lead to national bankruptcy. As reported on Euronews and the BBC, people demonstrated in the streets holding signs reading “NO al Bitcoin!” and similar sentiments. Of course, the noted problems and others could easily have been solved by rebuilding the domestic economy and financing it with an asset-backed currency issued through El Salvador’s own banking system and backed up with its central bank. The Economic Democracy Act would work well in El Salvador, not to mention the United States, and would let people build decent lives in their own countries instead of immigrating, especially when the motives to do so are entirely or primarily economic.
• Robert Bellarmine. Four-hundred years ago today, Robert Cardinal Bellarmine died. Why should we care? Well, for one thing, Bellarmine was most noted in his day for his support of democracy and his opposition to the so-called “Divine Right of Kings,” stated in its most extreme form by Sir Robert Filmer, chief theologian to James I/VI of England/Scotland. Based on Aquinas, Bellarmine’s political theory as detailed in De Laicis, his treatise on civil government, was that sovereignty resides in the human person, supported by the natural rights God built into human nature. He erred in thinking that God grants certain social rights (such as the right to tax and wage war) directly to the collective, an abstraction created by human beings, not by God. John Locke and Algernon Sidney based their theories on those of Bellarmine (with a few errors of their own, such as the state of nature being outside society). Sidney acknowledged his debt to Bellarmine, but Locke could not. Locke’s patron was Lord Shaftsbury, the prime mover behind the Titus Oates conspiracy, and it would have been fatal for Locke to do anything other than ridicule and distort Bellarmine’s theories. George Mason of Gunston Hall, the “forgotten founding father,” appears to have been familiar with Bellarmine’s theories and may have read him directly instead of being filtered through Locke and Sidney (that was the theory of Fr. John Clement Rager of Evansville, Indiana). Mason’s theory was that God grants all sovereignty to actual human beings who in turn delegate them to the State via a revocable grant, and this ended up being the constitutional theory of the United States (nullified in Scott v. Sandford, the Slaughterhouse Cases, and Roe v. Wade). In his social doctrine, Pope Pius XI developed Aquinas’s concept of “legal justice” to specify that social rights are vested in individual human beings as individuals, but they can only be exercised by individuals as members of organized groups. He then “renamed” particular legal justice “social justice” and left the term “legal justice” for the general virtue. Social justice does not deal with individual good, but with the common good, viz., correcting institutions so that individual virtues can function. Pius XI’s development of doctrine corrected Bellarmine’s error of inserting the collective between God and man, and is the basis for what Pius XI termed “the Reign of Christ the King” in opposition to the socialist and modernist “Kingdom of God on Earth.” He then beatified Bellarmine, canonized him, and a year later named him a “Doctor of the Church.” Pius XI’s social doctrine is outlined in a 1948 pamphlet by Fr. William J. Ferree, Introduction to Social Justice, which is available as a free download from CESJ.
• Hortense and Her Whos. In case you’ve been wondering how you might advance the Just Third Way by introducing it to legislators at any and all levels of government, we’ve made it easy for you, with the “Hortense Hears Three Whos“ initiative. Visit the explanatory website, and consider downloading the postcard to send to people in government. Don’t worry if you think they won’t be open to it, as the postcard is intended to get them to open their eyes.
• Economic Personalism Landing Page. A landing page for CESJ’s latest publication, Economic Personalism: Property, Power and Justice for Every Person, has been created and can be accessed by clicking on this link. Everyone is encouraged to visit the page and send the link out to their networks.
• Economic Personalism. When you purchase a copy of Economic Personalism: Property, Power and Justice for Every Person, be sure you post a review after you’ve read it. It is available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble at the cover price of $10 per copy. You can also download the free copy in .pdf available from the CESJ website. If you’d like to order in bulk (i.e., ten or more copies) at the wholesale price, send an email to email@example.com for details. CESJ members get a $2 rebate per copy on submission of proof of purchase. Wholesale case lots of 52 copies are available at $350, plus shipping (whole case lots ONLY). Prices are in U.S. dollars.
• Sensus Fidelium Videos, Update. CESJ’s series of videos for Sensus Fidelium are doing very well, with over 150,000 total views. The latest Sensus Fidelium video is “The Four Pillars of a Just Market Economy.” The video is part of the series on the book, Economic Personalism. The latest completed series on “the Great Reset” can be found on the “Playlist” for the series. The previous series of sixteen videos on socialism is available by clicking on the link: “Socialism, Modernism, and the New Age,” along with some book reviews and other selected topics. For “interfaith” presentations to a Catholic audience they’ve proved to be popular, edging up to 150,000 views to date. They aren’t really “Just Third Way videos,” but they do incorporate a Just Third Way perspective. You can access the playlist for the entire series The point of the videos is to explain how socialism and socialist assumptions got such a stranglehold on the understanding of the role of the State and thus the interpretation of Catholic social teaching, and even the way non-Catholics and even non-Christians understand the roles of Church, State, and Family, and the human person’s place in society.
• 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 39 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Did C.S. Lewis Approve of Socialism?” “Those Whacky Socialists,” “News from the Network, Vol. 14, No. 36,” “Reply to a Relativist, Part I,” and “The Purpose of Production.”/“Reply to a Relativist, Part II” (tie).
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.#30#