Monthly Archives: April 2009
To follow up my last post on the Papal defense of Distributist ideas, I think it is also time we cleared up this notion of ‘what can work’ and what actually does work.
Distributism, if it is practically defined as a set of social or political initiatives that encourage greater ownership of property, and specifically, worker ownership of the means of production, does exist and does work.
Here are some regional facts to consider:
“In Canada, there are distinct trends in worker co-operatives in Québec and the rest of the country. From 1993 to 2003, there was 87% growth in Québec and 25% growth in the rest of Canada.”
The United States
” In 2004, there were 300 worker co-operatives and 11,500 ESOPs covering over 8.5 million participants and controlling about $500 billion in assets.”
“Spain is home to the world’s oldest and most famous worker co-operative, the Mondragon Corporacion Cooperativa (MCC), established in 1956. In 2004, this group located in the Basque County, had sales of 10.4 Billion euros, 10.0 Billion euros of administered assets, with a workforce of 71,500.”
I have been meaning to post on the torture memos since last week, but have not had time. For now, I’ll point you to a post of Blackadder’s, which highlights the unconvincing arguments currently being floated to justify the Bush Administration’s use of torture:
The latest meme running through these sites is that while it may be honorable to be opposed to torture on principle, we ought to be reasonable and just admit that torture works. Here, for example, is Jonah Goldberg:
I have no objection to the moral argument against torture — if you honestly believe something amounts to torture. But the “it doesn’t work” line remains a cop out, no matter how confidently you bluster otherwise.
With people focused on the economic downturn, many have found it a good time to give a little extra thought to whether other people are making more than they ought to. The president has spoken out several times against “excessive compensation” of executives, and a number of people have floated the idea of adjusting the top marginal income tax rate to effectively cap total compensation at ten million dollars a year. MZ tackled the question somewhat humorously here.
Beyond question, $10 million is a lot of money. Most of us will never see anything like that much money, and so it seems entirely reasonable to demand: Why should anyone be paid so much? What’s so special about CEOs and actors and baseball players that they deserve tens of millions of dollars? Aren’t they running off with the money that we should be getting instead?
I certainly wouldn’t claim that executives are not often paid more than they are worth. A board of directors is still a group of people with emotional commitments (including wanting to assure themselves that they made the right pick in choosing the current CEO) and they will certainly not always do what is in their own best interest. Though we may be comforted that in a free economy the incentives are in place to automatically punish them for not doing so.
I can’t seem to go to any Catholic website or forum and talk about Distributism without at least one person accusing me of being a communist.
So, I post this not only for myself, but for anyone reading who is also sympathetic to the idea of spreading, by voluntary means, greater workers’ ownership of the means of production throughout society. Keep these in mind if you ever find yourself backed into a corner.
Rerum Novarum, 46 & 47. Excerpt:
“We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.”
Quadragesimo Anno, 65. Excerpt:
“Workers and other employees thus become sharers in ownership or management or participate in some fashion in the profits received.”
Mater et Magistra, 75-77. Excerpt:
“[I]t is especially desirable today that workers gradually come to share in the ownership of their company, by ways and in the manner that seem most suitable.”
Laborem Exercens, 14. Excerpt:
“We can speak of socializing only when the subject character of society is ensured, that is to say, when on the basis of his work each person is fully entitled to consider himself a part-owner of the great workbench at which he is working with every one else.”
If this is communism, then the Church is the original communist international, and the Bolsheviks were just wasiting their time. Or, maybe, the people who call these ideas ‘communist’ don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s probably that.
Salvete AC readers!
Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:
1. The HOT rumor of the day is that “Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, is in Washington today (Tuesday) for an unannounced meeting at the White House.”
Is he personally visiting with President Obama to offer his sincere apologies for rescinding the invitation to speak at the commencement? Rescind the honorary law degree? Ask for a job after he gets fired?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Phil Lawler of Catholic World News received a report from a reliable source of Fr. Jenkin’s unannounced visit to the White House and they cannot confirm this report yet.
In other news, this past Monday Fr. Jenkins expressed his profound pride in honoring the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history.
2. Have you seen Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s updated and revised blog? It is awesome!
3. Even though the 2012 U.S. presidential elections are three years away we can dream and speculate who we would like to run for office between either a Democratic or Republican candidate (or even a legitimate third party candidate). One name that has become quite intriguing to me is the former U.S. Representative from Georgia, Newt Gingrich. His mea culpa of his previous marriages, his incredible intellect, speaking skills, and his recent conversion to our beautiful Catholic faith makes him my favorite for now.
Hattip to Instapundit. The Heritage Foundation supplied the above graphic which compares Obama budget “cuts” of $100,000,000.00 to the appropriations bill for fiscal 2009 of $410,000,000,000.00, the Bankrupt the Nation Act of 2009, sometimes erronously called the “stimulus” bill, which has a price tag of $787,000,000,000.00 and the estimated bill for fiscal year 2010 of $3,600,000,000,000.00. How ludicrous is all this? Ludicrous enough that the Obama supportive Associated Press makes fun of it. Ludicrous enough that even Paul Krugman is chuckling.
I have been quite troubled by the endless stream of abuse that has been directed at Pope Benedict XVI over the course of the last year. Now it may be reaching new lows. A friend of mine sent me this link to a German news site that tells of a mock “trial” in a “virtual courtroom” to be held for Benedict over his alleged role in the deaths of millions from AIDS, as well as his alleged support for anti-Semitism. Unfortunately my friend did not include a link to the translation, which he only copied into the text of the email. Here are the highlights:
“In the second hearing, the top Dutch lawyer Gerard Spong was less fortunate. Three indictments were levied against his “client” Benedict XVI. In addition to his responsibility for the spread of AIDS, the Pope also “legitimises anti-Semitism” – because he did not immediately distance himself from the Holocaust-denier and Lefebvrist Bishop Richard Williamson distances – and finally was also charged with discrimination against women and homosexuals. The indictment was supported with pictures of the Pope in front of a swastika, as well as pictures of concentration camp prisoners and dying Africans.”
Here is something I wrote over at Facebook’s “Dads Protecting Daughters”- Joe and I traded some comments there, and I thought I would open it up to the American Catholic society! Here goes:
A Safer World For All Children
We have touched upon some of the cultural issues relating to the protection and nurturing of our daughters (and sons- really this Facebook cause “Dads Protecting Daughters” directly relates to boys and girls). Now I want to bring up something on the literal street level- this is a political and economic area of concern. I am a huge “root causes” guy- the Catholic social teachings and Hierarchical commentaries are constantly saying in effect- “be courageous, look at the root causes of violence, of terrorism, of war”. I take this very, very seriously.
For something over a year now, I’ve been enjoying the EconTalk podcast, something which Blackadder of Vox Nova turned me on to. EconTalk is a weekly, one hour podcast put out by the Library of Economics and Liberty. It’s hosted by Dr. Russ Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University and regular National Public Radio commentator on economics, and the format is usually one of Prof. Roberts interviewing an economist about his/her recent book, or about an topic of current interest. And generally it succeeds in pursuing that fascinating middle ground of being accessible to the general listener while not shying away from discussing highly technical/academic topics.
I was inspired to post on them at this point because this week’s podcast was of a different format than usual, consisting of an extended interview of Prof. Roberts by a journalist on the difference between wealth and income, and what it means to say that we have “become much less wealthy” over the course of the recession of the last 6-9 months. Roberts also discusses the inexact nature of economics as a science and how the uncertainties of interpreting data play into policy debates.
This Newsweek article about Nobel Prize-winning economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman contained an interesting biographical detail:
Krugman says he found himself in the science fiction of Isaac Asimov, especially the “Foundation” series—”It was nerds saving civilization, quants who had a theory of society, people writing equations on a blackboard, saying, ‘See, unless you follow this formula, the empire will fail and be followed by a thousand years of barbarism’.”
His Yale was “not George Bush’s Yale,” he says—no boola-boola, no frats or secret societies, rather “drinking coffee in the Economics Department lounge.” Social science, he says, offered the promise of what he dreamed of in science fiction—”the beauty of pushing a button to solve problems. Sometimes there really are simple solutions: you really can have a grand idea.”
I normally take great pride in being an American, but there are passages in our history which all Americans should be ashamed of. During our Civil War in many prison camps, both North and South, POWs were treated wretchedly with inadequate shelter, clothing and food. The worst by far was Andersonville.
John Henry and myself are a bit of stats geeks and we’ve been trying to figure out the most accurate way to gauge the number of visits American Catholic has been receiving by our readers. We use WordPress, Sitemeter, and Feedburner to see how we fare and I’ve entertained the possibility of using StatCounter to add to our curious habit. Then John Henry mentioned Google Reader and how it keeps tabs of the number of subscribers each website and blog has. That gave me the idea to add all of my favorite Catholic websites and see which ones have the most subscribers!
Now before you go and see who ranks where keep in mind that Google Reader only keeps track of Google account holders that add websites and/or blogs to their reader. It doesn’t keep track of how many times a site is visited and not all websites such as the Vatican (and yes even a couple of blogs such as Catholic Report) don’t even offer an RSS or Atom feed to subscribe to. If it’s any consolation Google Reader seems to be the most popular reader out there with Bloglines a close second.
Obama has picked Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel for the Department of Justice. Dawn Johnsen was the legal director of the National Abortion Rights Action League back in the eighties.