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The Planned Dependent Community

This article is part of my posts on the economic system of distributism.  This is from practicaldistributism.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“”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?”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Tactical Retreat: Frequent Flyer

My friend and co-worker Brian M. Lambert has founded an online sketch comedy project called Tactical Retreat which you can find here on Facebook and here on Youtube.

As Tactical Retreat releases new videos, I will post them here.  So far, I have found them rather funny and clever and they seem to get better with each release.

Here are the links to Tactical Retreat‘s previously released sketches:

Tactical Retreat‘s latest sketch is entitled “Frequent Flyer” can be viewed below.

Why is no one talking about Alabama’s frickin’ awesome marriage bill?

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Conservative Review which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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A state-level marriage bill in Alabama is showing a potential way forward for balancing marriage and religious freedom in post-Obergefell America.

It’s been nearly two years since the Supreme Court issued its Obergefell ruling. Since then, Kim Davis went to jail, was released, and finally ended her lawsuit just a few months ago, but that really doesn’t give an answer the serious questions about the nature of marriage and the power of the government to redefine.

Last week, the Yellowhammer State’s Senate passed a measure that would abolish marriage licenses altogether while removing ceremonial requirements for obtaining marriage.

Instead of the state issuing documents and requiring that agents of the state take part in the marriage process, the state would simply record affidavits of marriage between two consenting parties.

The measure’s sponsor, Sen. Greg Albritton, (R), introduced similar legislation last year, which never became law. It’s also similar to a measure that was introduced in the Oklahoma legislature in 2015.

“When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties,” Albritton told the Associated Press in regards to his efforts last year. He continued, saying:

Early twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.

This would eliminate situations in which conscientious objectors to same sex marriage in the government could be forced to directly cooperate with something contrary to their faith, while not blocking access to marriage contracts for same-sex couples. More importantly, it gets the state closer to its appropriate level of involvement, which should be close to nothing.

Whether you believe that marriage is a covenant from God (in which case your church should be the primary arbiter) or a simple contract between two people with happy feelings (in which your interest in equal application of the law) this arrangement looks like it would work out for everyone.

Firstly, marriage is something that is rightly handled by institutions and communities to begin with, not by bureaucrats and politicians. Sure, the government has abiding interests therein, but — in a system where the institution has been reduced as Scalia put it “to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie” — those should be limited to little more than property rights.

The idea that the modern state should act as a barrier between free people and that institution has created a crisis of federalism between the states and the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the government’s involvement provided the legal track for Obergefell to happen in the first place. In other words, if marriage is the government’s business it only made sense that government would redefine it once the cultural winds shifted.

The only reasons to preserve the current state of things is if you either 1. Entertain the idea of states being able to uphold natural marriage (which didn’t work pre-Obergefell) or 2. Want to continue treating the state as an arbiter of a pre-political institution, which doesn’t make sense either.

Which is precisely why this new Alabama marriage bill could be the solution for everyone.

Nate Madden is a Staff Writer for Conservative Review, focusing on religious freedom, immigration, and the judiciary. He previously served as the Director of Policy Relations for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. A Publius Fellow, John Jay Fellow, Citadel Parliamentary Fellow and National Journalism Center alumnus, Nate’s writing has previously appeared in several religious and news publications. Follow him @NateMaddenCR and on Facebook

By Nate Madden and originally published in Conservative Review on March 15, 2017 and can be seen here.

 

Allegedly called a ‘sow:’ 2 flight attendants sue American Airlines over online harassment

The Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin cases against American Airlines, cases currently being litigated by my firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., have been featured in an article entitled “Allegedly called a ‘sow:’ 2 flight attendants sue American Airlines over online harassment,” on World News Network b and published on March 29, 2017, which can be found here.

Owners vs. Workers: An Eternal Law of Nature?

This article is part of my posts on the economic system of distributism.  This is from practicaldistributism.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“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.

All this is bad, opines The Economist, it’s politically dangerous “and it is producing a lot of predictably polarised debate.” Perhaps The Economist is concerned that such instability might derail the engine of wealth redistribution for the rich that doubtless is working well for so many of its readers. So what’s the cause and what can be done? The Economist calmly discusses certain explanations that have been offered – the “weakness of unions” for example – and rejects them, and suggests that “the likeliest culprit is technology” although “[s]ome economists also emphasize the role of globalization….” As for the remedy, well, let’s be sure that we “strengthen workers without ham-stringing firms. Growth, rather than employment protection is the priority.” Of course, “education and training” – that’s needed too. And don’t forget, a “cut in corporate tax rates” and “pension reform” [read: privatizing pensions and turning them over to the good people on Wall St.] and “more privatisation” generally. To its credit, The Economist does note that “income from capital…is often more heavily taxed” than labor income, and suggests that this difference be narrowed.

So here you have it, the world according to The Economist. What can a distributist say in response? In the first place, the fact that since about 1980 it’s been precisely the kind of neo-liberal policies which this magazine generally champions that have suspiciously coincided with the decline in labor’s share of income – this is never so much as suggested as a possible cause. Lower the corporate tax rate, lower taxes on the rich – these are still the neo-liberal catchwords and constitute nearly the entire economic program of many American politicians, despite the fact that doing so has produced exactly this kind of income inequality and been in part responsible for numerous broader social problems. Apparently it’s all because the rates haven’t been lowered enough. Eliminate corporate taxes, make the rich pay the same percentage of their income in taxation as the middle class – the flat tax – and, according to them, voilà, all our problems will be solved.

While no distributist I have ever heard of favors perfect equality of income or wealth, it is a fact that too great disparities of either not only lead to social problems, but are probable signs of injustice. The best way of eliminating such disparities is not via government transfer payments, necessary as those sometimes are, but through better access to well-paying jobs and the possibility of ownership of productive property.

Actually, for a distributist these two points, good jobs and property ownership, are not two separate issues, but the same thing – or at least should be. The defining note of capitalism is that some people will own the means of production and will hire others to work for them. (See Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, no. 100.) Even if such a division can in theory be just, a distributist wants to ask, Why must this be so? Why must there be this divide between owners and workers? Why cannot workers and owners be the same persons, either individually or collectively?

Under the capitalist model labor is always an expense for the owner. Even if an owner has the best of intentions to pay just wages (and one can wonder how often this is the case), there is always subtle pressure to reduce labor costs. Especially in an economic downturn, this is often considered the obvious thing to do. But consider an alternative model. A firm that is owned cooperatively by its workers will naturally face the same difficulties in a recession that other firms face. But instead of looking upon its workers as a expense to be lessened, the workers are themselves the owners, the ones who will decide the fate of the company, which is also the fate of themselves, their families, their children’s futures, and their communities. Whatever hard choices such a firm must make will be made with an entirely different set of priorities from a firm in which workers are simply an expense to be eliminated as much as possible.

There is no eternal law written in the nature of things that mandates the structural opposition of owners and workers. There is absolutely no reason why policies cannot be devised to promote widely dispersed ownership of productive property. It is doubtless true that not everyone is capable of managing even a small business well, but surely everyone is capable of being part of a cooperatively-owned enterprise. Today’s laws often favor concentrations of ownership in corporate hands. But there is no reason why these laws cannot be changed to promote producer-owned cooperatives and other types of small businesses. 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. Can an economy in which cooperatives and small businesses predominate be achieved overnight? Certainly not, but over time there is no reason why such an economy cannot be created. The obstacles to distributism are neither theoretical nor practical – they rather consist in the stubborn conservatism of those afraid to risk any change or, even worse, in the vested opposition of those who stand to lose their opportunities to exploit both their employees and their customers for their own gain. These are the chief reasons why more progress has never been made toward an economically just society.

There is no better way of ending than by quoting Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum, “The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many people as possible to become owners” (no. 46).”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Get Writing! Find the fire…

Here is the latest post by Angela and Daz Croucher to their blog A.D. Croucher! They are up-and-coming young adult authors. Check them out!

A.D. Croucher

Sometimes you throw a log on the fire and it surges; flames reach for the sky and you’re basking in its glow. Other times you throw that log at the wrong time or wrong angle and suddenly you’ve extinguished the flame. It gets dark. Real dark.

The same is true for writing. Some ideas send your word count skyrocketing and others have you TBD-ing all over the place. You get lost in the darkness and find yourself ending every paragraph with the dreaded ellipses.

No wants that. No one…

This is where you have to look hard at each of your characters. After all, if plot is the blood of your story, then characters are the heart that keeps it moving. To get momentum, you need the heart to start racing. You have no choice but to turn up the pressure. Basically, you’ve gotta ask yourself: What would George RR…

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The United Shapes of Arithmetic: This Time

Nathan Rudolph, my friend and fellow parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, has started a comic strip which I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated.  With his permission, I will repost them here after he posts them.  I think my readers will appreciate them as much as I do as they are rather insightful with a snarky edge.  Enjoy!

Here are the links to the previously posted strips:

Here is the latest strip:

https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/19511607_1233595363413742_3375576866953854976_n.jpg?oh=3d10717a78d12a155a6ae07d7680bc6c&oe=59CA370A

Flight Attendants Sue American Airlines Claiming They Were Called ‘Sows’ and Prostitutes

The Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin cases against American Airlines, cases currently being litigated by my firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., have been featured in an article entitled “Flight Attendants Sue American Airlines Claiming They Were Called ‘Sows’ and Prostitutes,” on CBS8 San Diego b and published on March 14, 2017, which can be found here.

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Two flight attendants are suing American Airlines, claiming they were called “sows” — and worse — by male colleagues on Facebook and other social media sites.

The federal lawsuits were filed in Pennsylvania and allege the airline failed to enforce its policies barring online slurs and insults by employees, including on private accounts.

The women claim the bullying and harassment occurred on Facebook and online accounts where thousands of airline workers talk to each other.

American Airlines has denied the allegations.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages.

One flight attendant, Laura Medlin, said the bullying began after she resigned from a union position. A group of male employees began calling her names including “sow,” she said.

The other, Melissa Chinery, said she was harassed after announcing she was running for a union slot. Male flight attendants posted online comments calling her a “flipper,” a synonym for prostitute, as well as “c***,” her lawsuit claims.

Both allege they reported their abuse to the airline’s human resources division, but that no action was taken.

Tactical Retreat: Guilty Pleasures

My friend and co-worker Brian M. Lambert has founded an online sketch comedy project called Tactical Retreat which you can find here on Facebook and here on Youtube.

As Tactical Retreat releases new videos, I will post them here.  So far, I have found them rather funny and clever and they seem to get better with each release.

Here are the links to Tactical Retreat‘s previously released sketches:

Tactical Retreat‘s latest sketch is entitled “Guilty Pleasures” can be viewed below.

YA novels to read while you wait for WESTWORLD season 2

Here is the latest post by Angela and Daz Croucher to their blog A.D. Croucher! They are up-and-coming young adult authors. Check them out!

A.D. Croucher

Yes, we know Westworld was a show with very deliberately slow burn pacing… but did they have to make the wait for S2 such a slow burn too?! Apparently, yes, they did, so here are 5 YA novels to help you achieve God Mode while you wait for the storyline to be rebooted.

Caraval cover

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