Friday, March 10, 2017

News from the Network, Vol. 10, No. 10


Things are still a little quiet around CESJ, but there have been a number of events and situations in the world that highlight the need for Just Third Way-type solutions.  We are, of course, fully away that the Just Third Way is not a panacea for all the world’s ills, but it is based on natural law assumptions that do apply to every human situation.  We will never have a perfect system, but we can have one that is perfectible and consistent with the basic principles governing human behavior:
Hjalmar Schacht, "The Old Wizard."
• Infrastructure in the United States has been given a “grade” of D+.  The price tag for bringing things up to par is (according to the experts) trillions and trillions of dollars.  Naturally, nobody knows where to get the money, but that’s only because they’re not looking at making actual people owners of the infrastructure and putting things on a for-profit basis.  With modern technology, it should be relatively easy for regular users of roads, bridges, airports, and so on, to be billed regularly for their actual use, while others pay at the point of use, as is the case with many toll roads today.  Commercial banks could extend financing and rediscount the loans at the Federal Reserve, creating new money backed by the infrastructure itself.  Hjalmar Schacht halted the hyperinflation in Germany in the 1920s by doing something similar, but without the direct citizen ownership, and still managed to create the strongest currency in Europe for the next twenty years.
"So, if I'm doing all productive work, humans need to own me?"
• Bill Gates’s idea about taxing robots has been getting a lot of play recently.  The problem is that it would create more problems that it solves.  The solid foundation of any economy is whether it can produce what people consume, and whether every producer is a consumer, and vice versa.  To put it more simply, if you want a sound economy, you have to produce what you consume, and consume what you produce, one way or another.  Thus, if only labor is productive, then everybody needs to own his or her own labor — which, unless you’re a slave, is always the case.  If only land is productive, then everybody needs to own land.  If only technology (“robots”) is productive, then everybody needs to own technology.  Obviously, claiming that only one factor is productive is wrong; in a perfect world, everyone needs to own each factor of production, whether labor or capital, in the same proportion as it is used in production.  This is not usually feasible, especially when people take advantage of their social nature and specialize, but it gives a good rule of thumb to follow.  For example, if technology is ten times more productive than human labor, someone has to own technology that will produce ten times what his or her labor would produce just to have a decent income (absent distortions such as minimum wage laws and redistribution, of course).  The bottom line is that only by owning — not taxing — robots will ordinary people gain enough income and restore Say’s Law of Markets so that all production is for consumption, and people have enough production to be able to consume.
Money, Power, and Justice
• Plans have been proceeding for a conference at the end of April on the Just Third Way and leadership, focusing on the role of money, power, and justice (which just happens to be the tentative title of the event).
• CESJ’s latest book (makes a great pre-Easter gift . . . obviously), Easter Witness: From Broken Dream to a New Vision for Ireland, is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as by special order from many “regular” bookstores.  The book can also be ordered in bulk, which we define as ten copies or more of the same title, at a 20% discount.  A full case is twenty-six copies, and non-institutional/non-vendor purchasers get a 20% discount off the $20 cover price on wholesale lots ($416/case).  Shipping is extra.  Send enquiries to publications@cesj.org.  An additional discount may be available for institutions such as schools, clubs, and other organizations as well as retailers.
If you'd rather see this cat without a grin, sign up for Smile.
• Here’s the usual announcement about the Amazon Smile program, albeit moved to the bottom of the page so you don’t get tired of seeing it.  To participate in the Amazon Smile program for CESJ, go to https://smile.amazon.com/.  Next, sign in to your 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.
• We have had visitors from 39 different countries and 42 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past week (Google “improved” their analytics, making it impossible to see trends longer than a week instead of the previous two months). Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Australia. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,” “Good as Gold, I: What’s Good About Gold?” “Leading With Excellence in a Changing World,” “Philosophies at War, XII: Vatican Letters, Part One,” and “The Purpose of Production.”
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.”  If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you.  All comments are moderated, so we’ll see it before it goes up.
#30#

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