Oct 2, 2008

Your Church and the Financial Crisis

An anonymous reader wrote very good comments to my post Credit, Debit, Cash and BARTER. Please read about his/her solutions to the financial crisis that can come through the Catholic Church.

"I've always wondered if Catholic parishioners could do far more for each other than most of them typically do. As the times continue to get worse, I'm willing to bet that the Catholic Church in America will only get stronger.

For example: Pot-luck dinners could become a nightly or perhaps a thrice-weekly affair, which would certainly cut down on most folk's grocery bills. Work on parishioner's homes could be done in return for gas and oil bills; and parishioners could get together to homeschool each other's children.

A rotating staff -- some, perhaps, with CNA or RN backgrounds -- could be put to use to watch over the elderly in the parish, and could also be used to watch each other's kids while the parents are still at work. Also, a parish or a group of parishes could request group rates from the local hospitals for medical care, and group rates from the local pharmacies and medical equipment businesses.

Also, if a family has a particular need for something or some service, they could post a 'ticket' on a bulletin board, and when someone has some thing or some trade they need in return that the first family can provide or perform, their 'tickets' could be exchanged and taken off the bulletin board.

And if all that sounds too good to be true, or if it doesn't sound like that would ever happen in your parish, you might want to take a look at how the Mormons, or the Baptists organize themselves. All of these things are already being done in other faith communities.

Catholics, I believe, need to start acting like family more often. It should be a source of a very strong identification to belong to a certain parish. Once that happens, all of these things are possible.

I have witnessed far too many ugly things happen amongst Catholic parishioners than I care to mention here; and I'm afraid that it is true that most of us have a long way to go before ever realizing such things in most of our parishes. But it can be done; and as the crisis in the economy worsens, our parishioners should really start looking out for one another, to the point that we begin to act like a very strong, united community."

Sep 29, 2008

Credit, Debit, Cash and BARTER

I've never taken an economics class, but seventy years on God's good earth gives me a little knowledge of how things work. So let's rank them from worst to best, from apparent moral and economic standpoints:
  1. Credit means borrowing, with a promise to pay later. The result is that someone is a debtor and another is the debt holder. This system facilitates greed that motivates consumption. Clearly, most borrowers spend more than they should. The sin of usury may be involved (although reasonable interest is allowed because of money inflation and taxes on savings).
  2. Debit means paying with a card that automatically subtracts money already deposited to a bank account. A key reason for debit cards appears to be ease of payment and fear of theft of cash. Debit cards involve more risk than credit cards and also mean the buyer pays more for goods and services. Both credit and debit cards can lead to a totalitarian society where the state keeps track of who purchases what.
  3. Cash means paying with money/currency. This medium allows the easy and anonymous exchange of many different kinds of goods through an intermediate value established and valued by the government. Virtually every country in the world robs its citizens of their cash by printing more and more money and causing inflation.
  4. Barter means directly exchanging/trading goods and services, without the use of credit, debit, or cash. Barter establishes the true value of material, because both sides agree on what and how much to exchange. Barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange in times of monetary crisis.
Comparisons can be made with our current economic problems and bad economic situations in the past that were followed by a barter economy. The first barter exchange system was the Swiss WIR Bank. It was founded in 1934 as a result of currency shortages after the stock market crash of 1929.

In the difficult 1990s, Russians reacted by using barter (veksels and zachety were the main money surrogates). As a percentage of industrial sales, bartering steadily increased from 5% in 1992 to nearly 55% in 1998. For more information on the relatively recent Russian barter experience, see here.

I also recommend that the reader examine "Barter" in the Wikipedia Encyclopedia. You'll learn that:
  • Organized barter has grown to conduct third party bartering throughout the world to the point now where virtually every country has a formalized barter and trade network of some kind. A barter exchange provides the record-keeping, brokering expertise and monthly statements to each member. "Barter dollars" are the exchange medium.
  • Complex business models based on the concept of barter are today possible since the advent of Web 2.0 technologies.

Sep 28, 2008

Bailing Out of the Stampede

Dear Friends,

Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike.

The bailout package that is about to be rammed down Congress’ throat is not just economically foolish. It is downright sinister. It makes a mockery of our Constitution, which our leaders should never again bother pretending is still in effect.

It promises the American people a never-ending nightmare of ever-greater debt liabilities they will have to shoulder. Two weeks ago, financial analyst Jim Rogers said the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made America more communist than China! “This is welfare for the rich,” he said. “This is socialism for the rich. It’s bailing out the financiers, the banks, the Wall Streeters.”

That describes the current bailout package to a T. And we’re being told it’s unavoidable.

The claim that the market caused all this is so staggeringly foolish that only politicians and the media could pretend to believe it. But that has become the conventional wisdom, with the desired result that those responsible for the credit bubble and its predictable consequences - predictable, that is, to those who understand sound, Austrian economics - are being let off the hook. The Federal Reserve System is actually positioning itself as the savior, rather than the culprit, in this mess!

• The Treasury Secretary is authorized to purchase up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets at any one time. That means $700 billion is only the very beginning of what will hit us.

• Financial institutions are “designated as financial agents of the Government.” This is the New Deal to end all New Deals.

• Then there’s this: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” Translation: the Secretary can buy up whatever junk debt he wants to, burden the American people with it, and be subject to no one in the process.

There goes your country.

Even some so-called free-market economists are calling all this “sadly necessary.” Sad, yes. Necessary? Don’t make me laugh.

Our one-party system is complicit in yet another crime against the American people. The two major party candidates for president themselves initially indicated their strong support for bailouts of this kind - another example of the big choice we’re supposedly presented with this November: yes or yes. Now, with a backlash brewing, they’re not quite sure what their views are. A sad display, really.

Although the present bailout package is almost certainly not the end of the political atrocities we’ll witness in connection with the crisis, time is short. Congress may vote as soon as tomorrow. With a Rasmussen poll finding support for the bailout at an anemic seven percent, some members of Congress are afraid to vote for it. Call them! Let them hear from you! Tell them you will never vote for anyone who supports this atrocity.

The issue boils down to this: do we care about freedom? Do we care about responsibility and accountability? Do we care that our government and media have been bought and paid for? Do we care that average Americans are about to be looted in order to subsidize the fattest of cats on Wall Street and in government? Do we care?

When the chips are down, will we stand up and fight, even if it means standing up against every stripe of fashionable opinion in politics and the media?

Times like these have a way of telling us what kind of a people we are, and what kind of country we shall be.

In liberty, Ron Paul