Veritas est una et error multiplex; Brief Item #93

[5/4/2021] It is an old saying that veritas est una et error multiplex. Truth is constructed and apprehended as a unity, but error takes many grotesque shapes. … The worst of truth’s enemies is the one in one’s own household that so spontaneously and so naturally tends to adjust and color the truth which one knows to the hue of one’s temperament and to the exigencies of one’s socio-cultural milieu – the milieu of one’s tribe, political party, income stratum, macroeconomic “school” or “ism”, etc. One must courageously meet the challenges of one’s intelligence and of truth, goodness, unity, and order and, by meeting them, rise above one’s blind instincts of egoism, ressentiment, and tribal loyalty to the light of truth vs. falsity, good vs. evil, love vs. hate, and order vs. disorder. (Adapted for paraphrase from CWL 3, 682-83/705) [#93] (Click here for previous Brief Items)

A Scientific Generalization of Macroeconomics; Brief Item #92

[5/1/2021] It is, we believe, a scientific generalization of the old political economy and of modern economics that will yield the new political economy which we need. … Plainly the way out is through a more general field. [CWL 21, 6-7]

Generalization comes with Newton, who attacked the general theory of motion, laid down its pure theory, identified Kepler’s and Galileo’s laws by inventing the calculus, and so found himself in a position to account for any corporeal motion known.  Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galilei, and Kepler had all been busy with particular classes of moving bodies.  Newton dealt in the same way with all.  He did so by turning to a field of greater generality, the laws of motion, and by finding a deeper unity in the apparent disparateness of Kepler’s ellipse and Galilei’s time squared. … Similarly the non-Euclidean geometers and Einstein went beyond Euclid and Newton. … The non-Euclideans moved geometry back to premises more remote than Euclid’s axioms, they developed methods of their own quite unlike Euclid’s, and though they did not impugn Euclid’s theorems, neither were they very interested in them; casually and incidentally they turn them up as particular cases in an enlarged and radically different field. … Einstein went beyond Newton by employing the new geometries to make time an independent variable; and as Newton transformed the formulation and interpretation of Kepler’s laws, so Einstein transforms the Newtonian laws of motion. … (Again) It is, we believe, a scientific generalization of the old political economy and of modern economics that will yield the new political economy which we need. … Plainly the way out is through a more general field. [CWL 21, 6-7] [#92] (Click here for previous Brief Items)

The Labor Theory of Value Debunked

As there exists such a thing as absolute value, there can be relative value by which “excellence may belong to an object in its relativity, its utility, its aptitude to excel in serving ulterior purposes … only some of them relative to man.”  Economic value is the human relative value that regards abundance or scarcity.  Economic value is specified by both the proportion of a product relative to the effort of producing it, and by the exchange value that results from any decision to strive for an object, even when the decision is independent of either the striving or the effort involved in producing it.  Adam Smith and all the proponents of the “labor” theory of value were never able to clarify the relationship between exchange value and “toil and trouble” as the measure of value.  Lonergan shifted the issue entirely by explaining that an “economic value relates an object to human effort, but an exchange value relates objects among themselves.”31 (CWL 21, 31) [Fred Lawrence; “Money, Institutions, and The Human Good,” in Liddy, 2010, 183-84]

However, like Smith, Locke, Ricardo, and Marx later on, Aristotle did not seem to understand money in terms of exchange value, and therefore as relating objects among themselves in relation to the concomitance or lack of concomitance between “the real flow of property, goods, and services and the dummy flow being given and taken in exchange for the real flow.”39 CWL 21, 40 Still less did they grasp that in an advanced industrial society, the real flow and the money flow are channeled within two separate circuits of production and circulation functionally distinguished into producer goods and consumer goods, and operating in real time in accord with distinct phases of expansion.  Besides misunderstanding money of account, they misunderstood the relationship of money to time. [Fred Lawrence; “Money, Institutions, and The Human Good,” in Liddy, 2010, 186] Continue reading

Controlled Media – Brief Item #90

[4/26/2021] As healing can have no truck with hatred, so too it can have no truck with materialism.  For the healer is essentially a reformer; first and foremost he counts on what is best in man.  But the materialist is condemned by his own principles to be no more that a manipulator.  He will apply to human beings the stick-and-carrot treatment that the Harvard behaviorist B.F. Skinner advocates under the name reinforcement.  He will maintain with Marx that cultural attitudes are the byproduct  of material conditions, and so he will bestow upon those subjected to communist power the salutary conditions of a closed frontier, clear and firm indoctrination, controlled media of information, a vigilant secret police, and the terrifying threat of labor camps. [CWL 15, 104] Continue reading

Jamie Dimon’s Challenges to Himself and to the Nation

4/7/2021:  Yahoo Finance today featured an article by Julia La Roche entitled ‘The fault line is inequality’: J.P. Morgan’s Dimon calls for fixing America’s ‘self-inflicted’ problems.  La Roche was reviewing the Public Policy section of Dimon’s 67-page Chairman and CEO Letter to Shareholders.  Mr. Dimon seeks to end the nation’s self-infliction of problems threatening the culture, the economy and the polity.  He particularly regrets “false arguments of fanatics, the certitude of ideologues and cycles of intolerance.” Continue reading


In the mid-70’s, economists were mystified by stagflation, the combination of stagnant production and rising prices. According to the Phillips Curve, the correlation of inflation with unemployment, stagflation should not happen. Economists could describe the phenomenon, but they could not explain it.

… the U.S. economy was experiencing the phenomenon of ‘stagflation’ – a clearly discernible overturning of the conventional economic wisdom about the tradeoff between inflation and unemployment so neatly expressed in the Phillips curve. So-called ‘Keynesian fine tuning onto the neoclassical track’ was not working; and forms of socialist planning only promised to deepen rather than resolve the anomalies of welfare economics. … (Lonergan) believed he had an explanation for what, in a statement from the essay we are editing, he described as a “situation – sometimes thought mysterious – in which consumer prices continuously inflate, new enterprise is evaded, unemployment becomes chronic, and despite inflation the value of stocks declines.” [CWL 15, Editors Introduction, xli]  (Continue reading)

Bernard Lonergan, Marx, and Liberty

This section, Bernard Lonergan, Marx, and Liberty, is simply a gathering of excerpts from different sources. Careful reading should inspire the reader to consult the sources for the rich context of each excerpt and for a fuller appreciation of Lonergan’s understanding and reasoning about the need for liberty. In brief, Lonergan demonstrates that Marx’s economics is insufficiently abstract and is contaminated by descriptive sociological and political categories; he finds Marx’s summons to class conflict perilous to humanity because it promotes and enforces a drift away from liberty to a totalitarianism culminating in the dreadful conditions of a no-escape frontier, clear and firm indoctrination, controlled media of information, a vigilant secret police, and the terrifying threat of labor camps, – all in the name of a mythical macroeconomics. (Continue reading)

Facing Facts: The Ideal Of Constant Value Of The Currency vs. The Fact Of Inflation


We have recited some aspects of the dynamic economic process:

    • (Dummy) money “must be constant in exchange value.”
    • Prices alone do not explain the economic process. Prices must be interpreted in the light of those significant variables which actually explain the economic process.
    • The economic process of production and exchange always is the current, purely-dynamic process
    • The economic process is an organic whole
    • The process has an exigence for a normative pure cycle of expansion.
    • Equilibrium requires the keeping of pace and balance among interdependent flows of products and money
    • Scarcity is the normal cause of inflation
    • Maladjustment of incomes is the maladaptive cause of inflation
    • Just as the surplus phase of the expansion is anti-egalitarian in tendency, postulating an increasing rate of saving, … so the basic phase of the expansion is egalitarian in tendency; it postulates a continuously decreasing rate of saving [CWL 15, 139]
    • The central adjustment to the respective phases of the process may be formulated as adjustment of I”/(I’ + I”), the ratio of surplus income to total income
    • Interpreters of prices must distinguish between real and relative price increases monetary and absolute changes in prices We have recited some aspects of the dynamic economic process: (Continue reading)