Monday, October 02, 2006

A Reply

Blogodidact, whom I normally read regularly (see my blogroll) seems to have really missed what I was talking about in my Primer of Distributionism. BD seems, somehow, to believe that Distributionism (and/or I) think money is the root of all evil, or that I believe that there is a finite amount of wealth so it must be taken from those who have it to get some for those who don’t. He also seems to think that I have some idea about ‘too much’ money, or profit, or something. All I can say is – either I wrote very badly or he jumped to conclusions. Also, I can definitively say he has missed just a few of my blog posts from the past.

The Catholic Church, Distributivist theorists, and I all agree – money is not the root of all evil. Indeed, I know that BD did not read Rerum Novarum where he would have seen that the Catholic Church officially promotes the ownership of private property as a Good Thing. It also promotes hard work, thriftiness, and being able to quit when you darn well please. The Catholic Church, Distributivists, and I also speak about the great boon of private property is that it generates more wealth than public property or collective property. This is a dead giveaway that none of the people on that list think that economics is a zero-sum game.

Just to be clear, we are all certain that economics is not a zero-sum game.

I did mention ‘too much money’ once – in the context that there is no such thing and that the Catholic Church and Distributivists oppose the redistribution of money, land, or other capital! I do not know how I placed such a clear statement into my work and BD missed it.

BD also spends quite a bit of time taking me to task for opposing the moneylender and the middleman. I hope he can go back to my writings and see what I really said – avoid high interest rates (that’s just good business) and prefer actual partial ownership over ‘pure’ lending. If you share the risks you are both more likely to make ‘good’ loans (i.e., profit-earning), you are less likely to invest in a lousy idea (always embarrassing). And as a businessman myself, I can tell you this – avoiding middlemen is good business! They usually add overhead, complications, time, and (often) make resolving problems more difficult. If your value-added reseller is adding enough value to overcome their cost, bully for you! But I bet they aren’t.

Let me sum up a bit: the goal of Distributionism is to encourage actual investment over ‘pure’ loans; to avoid high interest rates on loans you acquire; avoid middlemen when possible to reduce costs; to prefer cooperative ventures (like credit unions) where you are a part-owner of the services you use over ‘pure’ third party services (like banks); prefer professional associations like guilds over unions; oppose all mandatory membership associations; minimize the power of central governments; and state governments; and county governments; and local governments; prefer suppliers and vendors that you have a personal relationship with over impersonal ones; build more personal relationships with businesses. This is all just sound business, folks!

Just to be clear again, I stand by my assertion that you should avoid high interest rates on loans.

BD wrote this,
“Property that is private property is cared for, is improved, and also serves to establish value and regard amongst (rational) individuals in a society. Respect for your own property, requires a reciprocal respect for others property, else how could anyone manage to keep property private, unless all agreed to respect another’s claim to their own property? A society whose economy is based on money requires a society that understands and respects the rule of law”

This is almost a better paraphrase of Catholic social teaching on private property than the one I wrote – so why is he using it in an attempt to refute what I wrote? Beats me.

His emphasis on avoiding government regulation and his charges that Distributionism wants such laws lead me to a simple conclusion – he skimmed what I wrote. Otherwise, how do I understand that I spent so much time explaining subsidiarity (that you should avoid as much government regulation as possible) and he didn’t get it?

As I said again and again, Distributionism isn’t about getting rid of Capitalism, it is about making as many Capitalists as possible. It rejects redistribution of wealth in favor of distribution if capitalists – in hopes of a world so chock-a-block full of Capitalists there is no room for silliness like Socialism anymore.

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