21 November, 2016

Tsunami headed for Japan

I would like to request that our readers take a moment to pray for Japan and all those in the path of the tsunami.

18 November, 2016

Why Unemployment is a Pseudoproblem - Part 1


Unemployment a pseudoproblem? By calling it that, I do not mean that unemployment does not exist, or that it is not a very serious concern for the unemployed, their families and for society as a whole. What I mean and will argue here is that unemployment is not something natural to economic life, but is a problem created almost entirely by the capitalist arrangement of our economy, one that would largely disappear under a distributist economy, and that is taken for granted by the academic discipline of economics only because that discipline has long been captive to the ideology of capitalism.

01 September, 2016

What is the purpose of our economic activity?

Based on a talk given at
The American Chesterton Society Conference
5 August, 2016

When we look at the economic conduct of mankind and ask ourselves why the human race engages in such activities, I suppose that everyone would admit that we do so in order to produce goods and services for our use. So far, so good. But I submit there are two contrasting ways of looking at this activity and the products that result from it. This contrast can become clear if I juxtapose two quotations that exhibit two very different attitudes toward the economic activity of mankind. The first is from St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote that "...the appetite of natural riches is not infinite, because according to a set measure they satisfy nature; but the appetite of artificial riches is infinite, because it serves inordinate concupiscence...." (1) St. Thomas was here contrasting real economic goods - "natural riches" - with "artificial riches" - money and other surrogates for real wealth. The former serve us, they "satisfy nature," and we desire only enough of them as we can reasonably use, for there is only so much stuff which any person can actually use, and if we acquire more than that, we must resort to devices such as renting storage bins in order to keep our extra and unnecessary possessions, something which in St. Thomas' time happily did not exist. But even in the thirteenth century it was easier to store up money than actual physical things, and today this is incomparably easier, since bank statements and stock certificates take up very little space. But these sorts of goods can serve "inordinate concupiscence," for there is a constant temptation to acquire and retain more than we really need or that can possibly serve any genuine human need.

18 August, 2016

Reasoned Voting - Part 2

In their attempts to convince others to vote for a particular candidate, many people are using arguments that invoke the fundamental principles of reason from the philosophical sciences. Unfortunately, many of these invocations use these arguments in an improper way. I addressed some of the most common in a recent article titled Reasoned Voting. I recently came across another use of a principle of reason in support of voting for a particular candidate which, in the interest clear reasoning, I would like to address in this follow-up to that article. The principle is known as "Double-Effect."

04 August, 2016

The Process of Subsidiarity

Many critics of distributism claim that what we want to achieve would require the expansion of state power and that we really want an all powerful state. What we actually advocate is the decentralization of government power. We want to distribute the various powers of government as close to the local level as can be practically achieved. This is because we promote the principle known as "subsidiarity." Subsidiarity states that,
"A community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view of the common good."                                      - Pope St. John Paul II
That sounds great, but how would it work?

25 July, 2016

The significance of the choice for Vice President of the United States of America

After many months of fear mongering and mud-slinging, the two major political parties in the U.S. have chosen their candidates for President, and those candidates have announced their choice of "running mate." The narrative in each party is now to set aside internal differences and band together to defeat the other party. Given the role of the Vice President when in office, it is interesting to consider the possible reasons behind the choices made by the presidential candidates about whose name will be alongside theirs as the election process moves forward.

21 July, 2016

Distributism vs. Globalism


There has been a tendency over the last several decades toward globalism. This goes beyond the so-called "global economy,” with its free trade deals favoring international banks and corporations. This trend has resulted in the formation of international bureaucracies imposing standards, if not laws, on otherwise sovereign states. While there was always some resistance to this tendency, it has nevertheless progressed to the point that there is now a growing movement of outright rejection. What was initially presented as a path toward peace and harmony is increasingly viewed by common citizens as a growing threat to their freedom and way of life. What is the position of distributism in relation to the idea of globalism?

07 July, 2016

Brexit: One Distributist's Perspective

On Thursday, 23 June, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted on whether or not their country would remain a member of the European Union. Those who chose to leave won, 52% to 48%. While they are starting the process of separation from the international governmental structure of the EU and establishing trade agreements and national policies that are currently governed by EU law, I wanted to consider this decision from the perspective of distributism.

27 June, 2016

Futures Markets and the Absurdity of Capitalism


Capitalism is often celebrated by its supporters as the only economic system that can really deliver the goods, the only way of arranging our economic activity that has or that can lift mankind out of its supposedly otherwise inevitable poverty. And it is the case, one must admit, that capitalism does act as a remarkable spur to the manufacture of stuff, all kinds of stuff, sometimes useful, but just as equally useless or even harmful - anything, in fact, that the producer thinks can be marketed. But production of goods, even useless goods, is not the hallmark of capitalism. Rather capitalism, understood as the separation of ownership and work, has as its unique attribute not production, but selling, even, as we are about to see, selling of things that really do not exist.

16 June, 2016

Reasoned Voting

Keeping in mind that this site does not engage in party politics, I still feel prompted to share something in the context of the up-coming election in the U.S. Although most of this will discuss the political climate in the U.S. I also send this out to any readers "across the pond" in the U.K. as they approach the very important vote on whether or not to remain in the E.U. Distributism is based on certain philosophical principles which originate in a scientific view of philosophy. It has become all too common in our political environments to use fear tactics to try and convince people to vote a certain way. These tactics can sound reasonable, but are truly an attempt to get you to abandon reason. Therefore, I want to present certain principles of reason as I think they apply to deciding how to vote.

01 June, 2016

Apologies for the absence of new articles

Readers,

This has been a rough year so far. Once one thing has passed, another has risen in its place.

I am working to get back on track and start publishing articles as soon as I can.

As always, thank you for your support and for sharing Distributism with others.

David W. Cooney

07 April, 2016

Distributism and Large-Scale Industry

Thomas Storck's recent article about the antagonistic relationship between owners and workers prevalent in capitalist enterprises included the following statement. "The activity of the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain proves that there is no reason why large-scale and highly technical industrial operations cannot be worker owned." This sentence prompted a reader to respond with a request.
"Please provide a follow up article showing how this system works for Mondragon, their profit, employee take home, growth, etc..."
This response to that request will address two things. I will first provide the information requested, then I will address the case of Mondragon and how it does, and does not, relate to distributism.

28 March, 2016

The Planned Dependent Community

"Walmart didn’t kill the once-vibrant cluster of shops next to a railroad and a creek in the faded old coal town of Kimball, W. Va. — the disappearance of the mines had pretty well taken care of that already. But now that Walmart’s leaving, too, as one of 154 U.S. stores the company closed in January, the town might be snuffed out for good."

This quote is from a Washington Post article on the circumstances some small towns were facing when Walmart recently decided to close 269 stores and lay off more than 16,000 employees. This prompted one reader of ours to ask how we can reach these types of communities. How can we present the idea of distributism to the people living in these situations as solution to their economic problems?

Distributism and the Local Organic Farm Community

The following is an article by Douglas R. Fox, director of the Center for Sustainability and Global Change at Unity College. This article is reprinted from the Fall 2013 edition of Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener. We thank Professor Fox and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association for their permission to reprint this for our readers.

21 March, 2016

17 March, 2016

Owners vs. Workers: An Eternal Law of Nature?


A few years ago (November 2, 2013) The Economist magazine, that reliable organ of neo-liberalism that makes few bones about its idolization of material growth as the summum bonum of human existence and its consequent dismissal of anything, such as family life or cultural traditions, that might get in the way of such material growth, ran some articles about labor's diminishing share of national income.
Over the past 30 years, the workers' take from the [economic] pie has shrunk across the globe. In America, their wages used to make up almost 70% of GDP; now the figure is 64%, according to the OECD. Some of the biggest declines have been egalitarian societies such as Norway (where labour's share has fallen from 64% in 1980 to 55% now) and Sweden (down from 74% in 1980 to 65% now). A drop has also occurred in many emerging markets, particularly in Asia.
Even these figures of 70% to 65% for the U.S. are misleading, for as the magazine notes in another article in the same issue, "among wage-earners the rich have done vastly better than the rest; the share of income earned by the top 1% of workers has increased since the 1990s even as the overall labour share has fallen." So that, "the share of national income going to the bottom 99% of workers has fallen from 60% before the 1980s to 50%." That is to say, the workers whose job title is CEO are gobbling up not just more money but a greater percentage of it.

06 February, 2016

Catholic Social Teaching and Conventional Economics

by Thomas Storck

Anyone who has spent much time trying to promote Catholic social teaching has probably met with a response something like this. "What you say is very fine and certainly evidence of good will.  But, you see, most of what you are asking for is simply impossible. Society would break down.  For there are economic laws which it is as foolish to try to circumvent as those of gravity.  We certainly ought to try to eliminate poverty and all that.  But this can only be done if we obey the laws of economics.  If you study economics a bit, you'll soon see why you're barking up the wrong tree."