commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

The Individual Freedom Reclamation Amendment

Thinking about how religious people in the US, from diverse traditions, can reclaim our Nation from corporate control, led to a search of Catholic encyclicals.  One thing that keeps popping up in Catholic social justice – identical to things I have heard from many fellow Witches – is the dignity of the human person.  Although not widely known,  several encyclicals starting with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum make it clear that the Roman Catholic Church opposes US-style capitalism just as much as it opposes socialism. In fact, it opposes any economic or political system which violates the dignity of the human person.  Given that many Baptist and Evangelical churches were deeply involved in the civil rights movement, I would think that many Protestants share this belief as well.

As the current pope has put it:

“the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate

One problem in the Western world is that corporations – in legalese, “non-natural persons” – are recognized as persons by the legal system. This enables large amounts of capital to be used in ways no human person could muster: to control media, depress wages, and eliminate the “social security” net (not speaking solely of the US agency called “Social Security”.)

To restore the dignity of the human person as superior to capital – as is the belief of many Pagans, as well as many Christians – I think the following Amendment to the US Constitution might be appropriate:

ARTICLE (?).
1. No Right, stated in this Constitution, shall apply to persons other than Natural Persons, unless specifically granted to persons other than Natural Persons.

2. Section 1 of this Amendment shall not apply to the Powers of Congress as enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of this Constitution.

3. For the purposes of this Constitution, and all laws and regulations made subject to it, the phrase “limited Times” or other like phrases shall be construed as one-third of the average lifespan of a Natural Person citizen of the United States. Said lifespan shall be calculated on a decennial basis by the Social Security Administration or successor agencies; if said agencies cease to exist the national Census shall be modified to determine said lifespan.

4. Sections 1- 3 of this Amendment are curative and shall apply immediately to all treaties, laws, and court decisions now standing.

“Corporate Greed”: a useless simplification

I see a lot of people complaining about corporate greed, as if a legal charter given to a group of people somehow acquires the very human attribute of greed. Corporations don’t have greed. They can’t. As Sir Edward Coke, sitting as the King’s Bench, put it in the Sutton Hospital Case of 1612:

“They may not commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls, neither can they appear in person, but by Attorney.”

Corporations do not have greed. People have greed, which is often more successful when hidden behind a for-profit corporation. Using the phrase “corporate greed” buys into the very denial of the I-thou relationship that the greedy people have. Calling it “corporate greed” aids and abets the glamorie that the owners of the corporation use the corporation for: there’s no people here, it’s just a corporation, it’s freedom, what’s your problem anyway? With a corporation, an individual human can only have an I-it relationship, eliminating any chance of dialogue and real change.

In order to break down the walls in society against I-thou relationships, people opposed to massive accumulation of wealth by individual persons need to initiate such connections, instead of attacking the phantom of “corporate greed”. One philosophical song that I see as addressing the desire to attack the greedy as opposed to the need to first make an I-thou connection with a particular person in hopes of establishing a resonance is T. Thorn Coyle’s “Hey Mister” (from her Give Us a Kiss! CD):

“Hey mister,it’s really not my place to put you down
Hey mister, it’s not in my theology.
Hey mister, I shouldn’t run your name into the ground
But I seem to do it anyway!

Hey mister, I know that I should see the God within
Hey mister, but in your eyes she doesn’t seem to play;
Hey mister, I suppose I ought to listen not defend
Hey mister, but I just don’t see the world your way.

All I see are your big cars,
And the way my neighborhood has changed;
It makes me want to shout you out:
And pull my hair like I’m deranged!
I want to bring salvation back;
I really want us to evolve –
But I don’t know how to see a thing
The money, opposition and false power.”

“Hey mister”: it’s a phrase one-to-one. It derecognizes the phony personhood of the corporation and tries to initiate a conversation with an individual, human, person who wields money and power behind the corporate glamorie.

Attacking “corporate greed” has gotten practically nowhere. Perhaps it’s time to look at another strategy; a humanistic strategy; a strategy of finding connections to those hiding behind “corporations”. Perhaps it’s time to try to see the world the way corporate owners (not managers unless they are also major stockholders) see it; it’s the only way to establish a slow resonance in dialogue to ultimately change the frequency.

Corporations have no souls, no greed, no lust, no passion. Attacking corporate greed is a symbolic action so divorced from the actual people who wield power and money, and an action so divorced from humanistic and social justice I-thou traditions, that it wastes energy that could be better used in addressing the actual people of power and money.

Retailers want a bailout too

In an interview on CNN, Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD group, said that when retailers give discounts of 50-60% they’re about breaking even.

50-60%???

And now they want a bailout because they’ve been making 50% profit on what they sell??

Maybe in this economic climate the government should give them the tax subsidy they’re looking for; but in return the retail czar (like the “car czar”) should make sure they make no more than 20% profit.  This will help consumers and the economy a whole lot more than guaranteeing their fat profit margins by spending Federal tax dollars.

What if food prices spiked like gas did a few months ago?

Monsanto’s trying to make it happen: advertise aggressively, collect the money and to hell with the people.

Ban Civil Marriage

Civil marriage – marriage regulated by the State – should be banned completely in the United States.  Marriage is a matter of way of life and belief, and should be left to the religious and philosophical spheres.  Including marriage as a civil structure simply brings the United States one step closer to a theocracy.

Test all children for parentage at birth (eliminate the “marriage presumption”) and eliminate all governmental monetary ties to marriage.  Have social security cover minor children of decedents, and allow people to designate one and only one adult to receive survivor’s benefits based on a decedent’s work record.

Allow adults living together at one address to either file one tax return for all residents or else to file all singly (single filing required for persons at government institutions such as prison halfway houses.)  Better still, adopt the Fair Tax instead of the Income Tax and there is no problem with filing at all, since there’s no filing.

Of course, this would put a lot of family lawyers out of work, not to mention loophole accountants…

If the House Republicans don’t believe President Bush anymore…

… when can I expect to see the Republican House members introduce a bill for an immediate and total pullout from Iraq?

No abilities, desires, or talents?

A scholar then asked:

“Could you advise me of a proper vocation, Master?”

He then said:

“Some men can earn their keep with the power of their minds.  Others must use their backs and hands.  This is the same in nature as it is with man.  Some animals acquire their food easily, such as rabbits, horses and elephants.  Other animals must struggle for their food, like flamingos, moles, and ants.  So you see, the nature of the vocation must fit the individual.”

“But I have no abilities, desires, or talents,  Master,” the man sobbed.

“Have you ever thought of becoming a stockbroker?” the Master queried.

From The Profit
by Kehlog Albran