As we plan on starting our annual two-part news roundup next week, this is the final “real time” News from the Network for this year. As you can see, not too much is going on that is any different from prior weeks, making it increasingly obvious that we need the Just Third Way of Economic Personalism and the Economic Democracy Act:
• Help Joe Walk Again for Economic Justice. Just a reminder, if you haven’t already done so, to visit the GoFundMe campaign and consider making a contribution and spreading word out among your social media networks. It’s off to a good start, but it’s still just a start.
• Defined Contribution v. Benefit Plans. Dave Richardson, head of the “TIAA Institute,” the research arm of one of the country’s leading providers of retirement plans, the TIAA — a for-profit financial institution that provides pension, insurance, and investment services, mainly for teachers and their families, has come down on 401(k) plans as they do not provide for fixed payments to participants. His idea is that the 401(k), which (like the ESOP) is a “defined contribution plan” should be reformed so that it is a “defined benefit plan,” an entirely different form of retirement plan. The 401(k), ESOP, and IRA are ways that workers can save and
accumulate assets for retirement on a tax-deferred basis. Richardson objects to this. He thinks that all 401(k)s — and presumably ESOPs, IRAs, and SEPs — should be converted to defined benefit plans to ensure the presumed absolute security of a traditional pension plan . . . like those the PBGC has been taking over as more and more of them go bankrupt. From 1975 to 2017, the number of defined benefit plans dropped by more than half in the U.S., while over the same period defined contribution plans increased by over 300%. In 1975, there were an estimated 103,000 defined benefit plans and 207,700 defined contribution plans, while in 2017 there were 46,700 defined benefit plans and 662,800 defined contribution plans . . . most in companies that could not afford a defined benefit plan. By demanding that defined contribution plans become defined benefit plans, Richardson would likely force the termination of hundreds of thousands of retirement plans in the U.S., potentially leaving millions of workers with no retirement benefits, or at least no easy way to save for retirement.
• China, In Reserve. According to an article in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal (“Chinese Economic Activity Bogs Down,” WSJ, 12/16/12, A-10), a reduction or lag in consumption in China is the result of declining investment and economic activity. This could be a serious problem . . . for China as well as everyone else caught in the trap of Keynesian economics. As has been known for a few millennia, it is not the demand for new capital or production that drives an economy, but consumers’ demand for marketable goods and services — consumer demand drives the demand for new productive capacity, not the other way around. By engaging in massive spending on productive capacity and infrastructure for which no demand exists now or in the foreseeable future, China could be setting itself up for a massive downturn.
• Looking Glass Land. In almost exactly the opposite case from China, the United States continues to stimulate demand . . . for all the wrong things. This is in many respects as bad as what the Chinese are doing, but the U.S. is still in a better position to pull out of it. The Chinese problem is to turn people who are producing into consumers without changing the very power structure that prevents them from getting effective consumer power into people’s hands, while the U.S. problem is how to make ordinary people who are consuming but not producing into producers. As some of the legal framework and the financial infrastructure to do just that already exists in the U.S., it would actually be a relatively simple matter to implement reforms like the Economic Democracy Act that has the potential to turn the entire picture around in (opinion) less than two years, while China’s whole system could take decades to shift gears and ideology.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 155,000 total views. The latest Sensus Fidelium video is “The Five Levers of Change.” 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 33 different countries and 38 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week. Most visitors are from the United States, India, Canada, the Philippines, and Germany. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “News from the Network, Vol. 14, No. 49,” “Ryan v. Sheen,” “Social Justice IV: The Characteristics of Social Justice,” “The Purpose of Production,” and “Did C.S. Lewis Approve of Socialism?”
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.