Daily Archives: October 5, 2011

Brian’s Links 5 October 2011: Religion, Freedom, Science, and Abortion

How to get light in your dark shack? With a soda bottle and some ingenuity.

A post-natural history museum.

Apparently not even Jesus could run a religious organization according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

A debate on free will in the journal Nature.

The militarization of America’s police. And more and more crimes and less and less proof needed to convict you on them.

Dinosaur feathers! In amber, just to make them extra-amazing. Discover and National Geographic.

Dinosaur Feathers in Amber (from National Geographic)

Wrongful birth lawsuit wins Florida couple $4.5 million. They would rather their child be dead, so give them money.

Kiryas Joel, a curious place where 70% of the population is below the poverty line but no one is poor, there is no crime, and everyone is educated and well-fed. Why? Because they care for each other. Because their religion tells them to.

It’s a “fourth trimester abortion.” Fordham professor Charles Camosy comments.

Italian scientists on trial for failing to predict earthquake. Yes, they could not tell the future, so curse them to jail.

The Return of the Elwha, in the NYTimes. This is the most significant dam removal so far in the US.

When intense belief kills. Yikes. Sleep paralysis + belief in nocturnal spiritual attack = death.

The city of San Juan Capistrano fines couple for having friends over to read the Bible. How to respond… Free exercise clause? Privacy? Property? Anything? And don’t think that just because you’re in Canada you can get away with it, eh?

Finally, fly over the Americas in the space station. Amazing.


Dear Occupy Wall Street: Your Message Is Distributism

Dear Occupy Wall Street: the media complain that you have no message. But you do, and you know it. The message is just not clear.

You want the economy to serve the people, and not the reverse. Pretty clear, pretty simple, I think. But you say that and your opponents call you simplistic. So the message needs to get less abstract, more concrete. It’s doable – because it’s already been done.

You might not know your message has a long history in Western ethics and economics. It’s called distributism.

Distributism simply says that private property ought to be distributed widely. It should not be eliminated as in communism, nationalized as in socialism, or concentrated in private hands as in capitalism. (Really these economics systems all concentrate wealth, either in the state or private hands – distributism opposes this.)  Distributism is a “third way” economic theory (or fourth, or more, if you are counting).

Distributist ideas are old. They can be found in Aristotle’s Politics from 23 centuries ago, where Aristotle argued that the middle class should be protected and encouraged to flourish (they are the virtuous social mean, after all).  Distributist ideals are currently mostly strongly presented by some groups of Catholics, but the message has no innately religious component. This is economics, not metaphysics. Anyone can be a distributist, and many people are and just don’t know it.

Plus distributism is just common sense.

Concentrating wealth concentrates power and facilitates injustice (like injustice needs facilitating). So distribute power more widely. Injustice becomes more difficult.

The current distributist movement is small and idiosyncratic. Don’t let that scare you. Let that encourage you: they need and want your voice! The idea is too good to be kept to a few people. Good ideas are to be shared.

Plus, like I said, you may already be a distributist and just not know it. Just start using the word.

So this is the distributist message to the Occupy Wall Street protesters: your message is distributism. Now you have a clear message. Problem solved. You may now inform the media.

Here is the Distributist Review on the subject of the protests.

And here’s the Occupy Wall Street website.

(And don’t forget the distributists are on facebook!)

UPDATE: Follow-up post here on the secular/philosophical aspects of distributism.