and found this: Pope Benedict XVI and the Failure of “Oinkonomics” by Rupert J. Ederer
And a related piece by E. Michael Jones: The Weber Thesis: Capitalism and its Myths of Origin
1 hour ago
ZENIT: Most people believe that the battle for the soul of capitalism is between the followers of Keynes and the followers of Hayek. But you believe both theories lead to what Hilaire Belloc called the "servile state." Why is that? What are they and their followers missing?
Medaille: Capitalism and socialism are really not opposed realities; one is just the continuation of the other, and distributism is the opposite of both: it is the free market.
Capitalism tends to concentrate property in the hands of a few, thereby choking off the market, and socialism continues this by concentrating ownership in the hands of the state. In practice both systems end up with control of the most important resources of the nation in the hands of a few bureaucrats -- über-managers who claim to represent the interests of the nominal owners, be they the shareholders or the general public, but who actually control these resources for their own benefit.
Further, in concentrating economic power, they also concentrate political power, and the large corporations are able to obtain vast privileges and subsidies for themselves, as we saw in the recent meltdown. Thus, between the gargantuan state and the gargantuan corporation, the individual is reduced to a situation of servility.
What both capitalism and socialism are missing is the willingness to admit that power follows property. Both systems claim to create freedom by concentrating capital, but because this also concentrates power, what is left for the mass of men is powerlessness.
Distributism, on the other hand, seeks to build an ownership society of free men and women, conscious of their rights and with the means to defend them against the centralizing tendencies of both the state and the corporate collectives.
ZENIT: What is distributism? Isn't it just redistributionism, or splitting the difference between capitalism and socialism? How could such a philosophy, which relies on a certain amount of government intervention, create a truly "free" market?
Medaille: Actually, it is not so much a question of what the government should do as what it should stop doing.
In truth, the accumulation of property usually depends on government power; the higher the piles of capital, the thicker the walls of government necessary to protect them.
There are, of course, positive things that government can do, with tax policy, for example, or simply by enforcing its own laws against monopoly and oligopoly. And there are cases where the title to land or other resources is questionable to begin with.
But in general, a distributive society requires a smaller government with powers properly distributed throughout all levels of society.
In contrast to a system of concentrated economic and political power, distributist systems rely on a variety of forms of small ownership to distribute economic power: proprietors for property that can be easily used and managed by a single person or a family, cooperatives for larger enterprises, local public ownership for resources like water or sewer systems, employee stock ownership systems, when that is appropriate, and so forth.
In this way, both economic and political power is distributed throughout all levels of society. There are really only two choices when it comes to property and power: concentration or distribution.
The former leads to servility, and the latter to liberty.
|US President Barack Obama reads his speech to photographers after delivering an address to the nation on the end of combat operations in Iraq from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on August 31, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)|
While the mainstream media is debating whether Iraq can be declared a victory or not there is virtually no discussion regarding this surge in contractors. Meanwhile, serious questions about the accountability of private military contractors remain.
In the past decade the United States has dramatically shifted the way in which it wages war – fewer soldiers and more contractors.
Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce has 19% more contractors (207,600) than uniformed personnel (175,000) in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the wars in these two countries the most outsourced and privatized in U.S. history.
According to a recent State Department briefing to Congress’s Commission on Wartime Contracting, from now on, instead of soldiers, private military contractors will be disposing of improvised explosive devices, recovering killed and wounded personnel, downed aircraft and damaged vehicles, policing Baghdad’s International Zone, providing convoy security, and clearing travel routes, among other security-related duties.
Worse, the oversight of contractors will rest with other contractors. As has been the case in Afghanistan, contractors will be sought to provide “operations-center monitoring of private security contractors (PSCs)” as well as “PSC inspection and accountability services.”
Have economists made themselves irrelevant? If you have any doubts, have a look at the current issue of themagazine, International Economy, a slick publication endorsed by former Federal Reserve chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan, by Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, by former Secretary of State George Shultz, and by the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which declare the magazine to be “ahead of the curve.”
The main feature of the current issue is “The Great Stimulus Debate.” Is the Obama fiscal stimulus helping the economy or hindering it?
Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi represent the Keynesian view that government deficit spending is needed to lift the economy out of recession. Zandi declares that thanks to the fiscal stimulus, “The economy has made enormous progress since early 2009,” an opinion shared by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and the Congressional Budget Office.
The opposite view, associated with Harvard economics professor Robert Barro and with European economists, such as Francesco Giavazzi and Marco Pagano and the European Central Bank, is that government budget surpluses achieved by cutting government spending spur the economy by reducing the ratio of debt to Gross Domestic Product. This is the “let them eat cake school of economics.”
Barro says that fiscal stimulus has no effect, because people anticipate the future tax increases implied by government deficits and increase their personal savings to offset the added government debt. Giavazzi and Pagano reason that since fiscal stimulus does not expand the economy, fiscal austerity consisting of higher taxes and reduced government spending could be the cure for unemployment.
If one overlooks the real world and the need of life for sustenance, one can become engrossed in this debate. However, the minute one looks out the window upon the world, one realizes that cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing subsidies when 15 million Americans have lost jobs, medical coverage, and homes is a certain path to death by starvation, curable diseases, and exposure, and the loss of the productive labor inputs from 15 million people. Although some proponents of this anti-Keynesian policy deny that it results in social upheaval, Gerald Celente’s observation is closer to the mark: “When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it.”
The Krugman Keynesian school is just as deluded. Neither side in “The Great Stimulus Debate” has a clue that the problem for the U.S. is that a large chunk of U.S. GDP and the jobs, incomes, and careers associated with it, have been moved offshore and given to Chinese, Indians, and others with low wage rates. Profits have soared on Wall Street, while job prospects for the middle class have been eliminated.
If we were serious about carving out an actual empire in the Middle East–for our own benefit and not for the benefit of our gallant democratic ally etc etc– I might, grudgingly, be able to see the point of all this loss of life and waste of money, a waste that is bringing our economy down for a long time. But we are not. The American people does not have the stomach for empire. We can bomb some poor devils to hell and blow their country up and set off civil wars. But what we cannot and will not do is to impose a Pax Americana on the Middle East. We won’t even do it in Mexico and Central America.
By definition, anything anyone does in a situation where there is a choice between more than one alternative is the "best available alternative." The question you should be asking is: why is the range of available alternatives so crappy in the first place? And a big part of the answer is the role of Third World states in carrying out land expropriations on the model of the English Enclosures, to drive peasants off their land and coerce them into the wage labor market. Third World states also play a major role in enforcing draconian restrictions on labor organization, tax their own people to provide subsidized road and utility infrastructure to offshored foreign industry, turn the peasants' confiscated common lands into industrial parks, and enforce the anti-market "intellectual property" [sic] laws without which the Nike model of outsourcing everything but marketing and finance would be impossible.
And Western capital is engaged in no small collusion with Third World states in guaranteeing a set of conditions under which workers accept employment on whatever terms are offered as the "best available alternative."
Western employers are engaged in parasitic activity, profitably selling crutches to people whose legs were broken by their partners in crime -- Third World states. (Never mind the role of the American state in backing death squads and military dictators to stop land reforms and make the world safe for corporate power, to subsidize the export of capital with World Bank loans for infrastructure, and to impose stuff like the Uruguay Round TRIPS Accords on the rest of the world).
You should be asking yourself how labor and capital would be directed in Third World countries if it weren't for all those broken windows.
I don't always agree with Dahlia Lithwick, but I do appreciate this short essay on the feminism of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and how her contributions to the law helped make the public and professional careers of women like Sarah Palin more feasible. Can Palin express appreciation for Ginsburg's achievements without endorsing the entire legacy of those achievements? Maybe Palin has, in fact; I don't know, but I do know that there is a tendency to demonize categorically entire worldviews and the folks who hold them, whether they be labeled "radical feminists" or "the religious right." It seems to me that one valuable contribution of Catholic legal theory is its embrace of nuance and complexity; in its refusal to be captured by any particular ideological or partisan political position, CLT should have the capacity to stand back and applaud figures coming from a wide array of perspectives, even while speaking out about where those figures have lost sight of foundational values and/or the fundamental reality of the human person. In other words, what can make CLT seem frustratingly elusive equips it to reach across today's sharply drawn lines and affirm the good, wherever it is found.1. Sarah Palin is a feminist who owes a lot to feminism, there is no doubt about that, I don't think. The question is whether the achievements of feminism are actually positive contributions to Western society. Does Sarah Palin repudiate feminism? One sort, but she is touted as a symbol of a "new feminism." Still, even if it is not hostile towards men and claims to be "socially conservative" it is still rooted in liberalism and radical egalitarianism. It is like how "conservatives" and "liberals" may differ on specifics but share assumptions about the nature of society, freedom, and so on. The old school and new school feminists may disavow her as one of their own, but it is merely a question of who is less "wrong" and I do not see any indication that Sarah Palin is anything but a political opportunist who has failed to take care of her family properly, rather than a principled "conservative."
Budiansky spends the rest of his editorial illustrating a larger perspective on American agriculture. Although today’s farms are responsible for supplying three times the populace and exporting ten times the product, he explains, total farm acreage is essentially the same as it was in 1910. Growing and raising food where it most flourishes, he says, makes the most environmental sense. Not only does it save us additional soil erosion, added chemical usage, and vegetable greenhouse heating costs, it spares countless acres of land for wilderness. In other words, geographically suitable trumps the proverbial “sustainable” message that circulates through the locavore movement.
One of the more interesting things he did was to question whether most Catholics need any theology at all, let alone philosophy. Rather, what they need is catechesis and spiritual formation. He contrasted the "learnables" with the "developmentals," suggesting that the latter have been overly neglected in our culture -- especially (but not only) secular culture. Of course, he added, seminarians need the "learnables" too, and even theology and philosophy -- but perhaps not in the way they're often taught, where they are taught apart from the practical concerns of the "developmentals."
But wait, this last part isn’t what I meant to say. That was a critique of how the Leviathan- machine could be abused. In fact, there is a downside to the Leviathan-machine itself. Human beings can’t have human political or social relations with more than a few thousand people over a few dozen miles – I’m reminded of Aristotle’s striking claim (to us) in the Ethics that it is obviously impossible for a city to have 100,000 people. But the Leviathan gives powerful incentives for a human being to live within the machine- city: we get our news from national sources, we see politics as primarily national if not international, we entertain ourselves with shows that are watched by million and billions, we admire celebrities that are celebrities to billions, etc. All of this places us in a context where we are no longer having human relations with others. We live within a world consciousness where we cannot do anything but see. There is no smells, physical contact, need to express oneself, etc. There is no interaction. If not for television, we would all be speaking to our neighbors and acting within our communities: not because of any great civic virtue or love of neighbor, but simply because it would be the only way to keep from going insane.
Sounds strikingly close to a form of yoga called Kentro Body Balance. My wife studied it, and there are two main sources in the US: Jean Couch at the Balance Center in Palo Alto, and Angelika Thusius who has a book The Secret Pleasures of Posture. As an engineer, I was impressed by the structural integrity of the positions, and especially the research which based it on the postures of peoples who have very few postural problems.A cursory look at these websites does reveal similarities in the postures and the stories behind the research. Are there significant differences, or is it just (self-)marketing? There seems to be a greater connection between the study of posture and yoga with these other teachers. (Esther Gokhale also does yoga, but it is not an important component of her book or classes.) The same commentor writes:
The root of the Body Balance art comes from a woman in Paris, Noel Perez. One of her main students... for years... was Angelika Thusius. From things I find on the web [http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2010/02/posture-more-from-kathleen-porter.html] apparently Esther Gokhale studied under Perez for years too, and Jean Couch studied under Perez for a year. Couch studied under Thusius for some time. Couch had independent cache with the yoga world from a running book she had written prior to her learning Body Balance. Now they have all written books (Couch has a video). (BTW, my wife studied to be a Kentro trainer under Thusius, took lessons from Couch, and took a seminar from Perez. She recalls she met Gokhale around the time of the Perez seminar.)