We had a discussion the week before last about how to understand what the pope is saying. The problem is that it seems everyone from President Obama on up (cf. the inverted pyramid structure for JBM and JBL; the real leader is on the bottom, not the top) hears precisely whatever he or she wants desperately to hear, whether for good or for ill.
Monday, December 30, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
This week is a little week — three business days — as well as a little weak for news. Major holidays tend to do that. One thing that seems to be coming to the fore as the year draws to a close is that people are starting to get a clue that, perhaps, the State might not be the best way of meeting everybody’s material and spiritual needs. Much of this is due to the confusion over the Affordable Care Act, and wondering whether it will survive its implementation.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
The Just Third Way does not guarantee ownership by anyone. The goal is equality of opportunity, not equality of results. The idea that society should be arranged in such a way as to guarantee results is one of the deadliest traps of modern civilization. It leads to worship of the State as the only body that can (allegedly) guarantee results just by ordering people around.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Friday, December 20, 2013
One of the things we’re finding out as we go through old newspaper files of the 1880s and 1890s is that “opinion journalism” is nothing new. It’s probably older than the clay tablets passed around by the ancient Sumerians, letting people know you can’t trust old Mekiajgacer, Son of Uta, because he disagreed with Zamug, Son of Barsalnuna over whether the bills of exchange drawn by Balih, Son of Etana, were better than the promissory notes issued by Ur-Nungal, Son of Gilgamec.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
We have a suspicion (meaning something we’d like to believe, but can’t prove and probably isn’t so, anyway) that William A. Galston of the Wall Street Journal has been reading this blog, or (at least) the CESJ website. Maybe all those letters to the editor (of which we’ve lost count) are starting to sink in by osmosis.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Monday’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting opinion piece on “The Hidden Danger in Public Pension Funds” (12/16/13, A13). The point was that, especially in light of Detroit’s bankruptcy and the decision of the court that public pensions are not sacrosanct, states and municipalities have to rethink the whole pension system.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
In yesterday’s Washington Post, the main article on page 1 was “Companies Pour Cash Into Buybacks of Their Own Stock: A Boon for Shareholders, Executives.” Not unexpectedly, the article did not exactly conform to the principles of the Just Third Way. What was surprising, however (at least from the Just Third Way perspective), was the rather blithe assumption that allowing shareholders to make a one-time profit on selling their shares to the company they (formerly) owned is somehow a good thing.
Monday, December 16, 2013
This past Thursday we were asked a question regarding the “voluntary tax” proposal of Luis Razo of California. Fortunately, the questioner included a link to a presentation Mr. Razo gave on the proposal, for we had never heard of it before. Specifically, the question was whether the plan was capitalist or socialist; the questioner couldn’t figure it out.
Friday, December 13, 2013
The Federal Reserve just announced that Americans are wealthier than ever before! We’re so relieved. We thought the fact that our income keeps buying less and less, and our liquid assets seem to be evaporating like we wish the snow outside would (must be selective global warming that affects only assets, and not ice sets) meant that people as a whole are getting poorer, not richer.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, the editorial, “How to Keep Workers Unemployed,” the editors pointed out that reducing purchasing power for one set of persons for the benefit of another set of persons does nothing to “create jobs.”
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The position of Charles Stewart Parnell and William O’Brien of the Irish National Land League was very close to that of William Thomas Thornton (1813-1880). Thornton suggested as much in 1874 in his revision of his most important work, A Plea for Peasant Proprietors (1848).
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The merging of the missions of Church and State, and the subsequent absorption of one into the other is, not surprisingly, something that Alexis de Tocqueville identified as one of the chief dangers to democracy in America — or anywhere else, for that matter. After describing the proper function of organized religion with respect to the State, i.e., to teach moral behavior and act as a guide to the acquisition and development of virtue, de Tocqueville presciently observed in Democracy in America,
Monday, December 9, 2013
We are now in a position to address the specific influence of Henry George on the thought of Monsignor Ryan. This is not difficult, despite the fact that the first part of Ryan’s Distributive Justice focuses on allegedly refuting George’s theories of the natural right to property, particularly the legitimacy of title to land.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Obviously the big news this week is Nelson Mandela. The media, of course, are full of comments by people who met with him, talked with him, saw him on TV, saw a move about him, or some such thing. Everyone is saying what a great man he was, but no one seems to grasp the essence of his greatness: he was a man of principle.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
As we saw in the previous posting in this series, “modernism” is a form of religious positivism that developed in tandem with the legal positivism that infected American civil society in the latter half of the 19th century. Modernism and positivism are rooted in a rejection of the traditional understanding of the natural law based on human nature and discerned by reason.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
In 1907, the year after Monsignor John A. Ryan published his doctoral thesis, A Living Wage, Pope Pius X, whom the Catholic Church recognizes as a “saint,” issued Pascendi Dominici Gregis: “On the Doctrines of the Modernists.” This was a follow-up to the issuance of Lamentabili Sane, the “Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists” published a few months previously.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
In the previous posting in this series, we looked at how social justice differs from other types of justice: where commutative and distributive justice look directly to individual goods, and indirectly to the common good, social justice looks directly to the common good, and indirectly to individual goods.
Monday, December 2, 2013
As we noted in the previous posting in this series, social justice — often cited by today’s Chestertonians to justify the very redistribution to meet individual needs that Chesterton opposed — is not, in reality, directed to individual goods at all. Rather, social justice is directed to the common good, a specifically social thing.