The Ever-Elusive Economic “Third Way”

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Man, great weather heading our way.

And I just got a big pile of wood chips dumped in my driveway.

Wood chips might be the magic bullet for the garden. They look nice, they suppress grass and weeds, they help plants retain moisture and block out freezing cold, they provide a great habitat for worms, they decompose and leave behind a great tilth.

When I die, I want to be buried in wood chips. Well, maybe not, but I’m pretty enthusiastic about them. Regardless of whether you’re getting your garden ready for next year like I am or enjoying fall golf (the only kind of golf that much tempts me anymore . . . golf courses in Autumn are lovely), be sure to enjoy this great Indian Summer.

Is there an economic third way?

Everyone is always seeking a third economic way. They don’t want “unbridled capitalism” and they know Socialism kills, but there must be a third way.

National Catholic Register recently released an analysis of Biden and Trump’s economic plans, in an effort to figure out which is more Catholic. Brian Burch from Catholic Vote said Trump’s policies seek that third economic way.

He meant it as a good thing.

And it is a good thing. It is a Catholic thing. The Distributism of G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Vincent McNabb and others is perhaps the “Catholic Third Economic Way” Exhibit A. The economics of Wilhelm Roepke is a similar third way (though he wasn’t Catholic).

The problem is, there is no third way without violence.

Now, this is one of those truths that settles nothing but should inform everything. It’s like saying “God is good.” Okay, true enough, but how does that tell me what the top marginal income tax rate should be?

But even though such truths settle nothing, they need to be a part of our mental furniture because they do make a difference.

When it comes to the economic truth that any third way requires violence, I’m simply pointing out that any legal system to implement a third way is violent because it relies on the government’s ability to shoot, arrest, imprison, etc. A person could respond, “Well, so do parking laws. Are you saying there should be no parking laws?

Nope, not at all.

And I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any legal tools to help implement a third way.

But I am saying those legal tools ought to be used with a great deal of caution, as opposed to the trend that has been in the ascendency for hundreds of years: using legal tools like a gardener uses hand tools: constantly.

When you’re dealing with economics, powerful forces are unleashed, ranging from the urge for survival to the lust for power. No one ought to be given an edge by utilizing government power, even though that has been western culture’s modus operandi since at least the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which made it standard fare for the British government to favor its cronies in big business, a system that spread to other parts of Europe and continues to inform the U.S, to this day.

It needs to stop. It’s resulting in ever-increasing inequality, as the rich take advantage of the government’s guns to get richer, and the poor get poorer.

But it is a third way, which, ironically, is what Catholics want. Using government to meddle in economic matters is the sine qua non of the ever-elusive third way and it results in alarming inequality and a degree of economic exploitation of everyone who is not favored by the government.


It is, incidentally, also the systemic oppression that the BLM types are rebelling against, even though they don’t know it.

Well, the honest BLMers know it; they want to socialize everything so the rich can’t manipulate the system (i.e., obtain favors from the government) to get richer and further oppress the poor. The thing is, we know that merely makes the problem worse. Instead of Big Business getting on top, a handful of politicians will be on top, getting filthy rich, while everyone else is poor.

COVID wars

Well, the COVID wars continue. Bloomberg points out cases have been spiraling, as dis the New York Times in its daily email this morning.

But where are the deaths?

The point of locking down was supposed to be to “flatten the curves,” to allow hospitals to get a handle on upticks. We did that. Months ago. What’s the point of locking down now? De Blasio, Cuomo and their hysterical media allies keep talking about “cases” without mentioning that cases don’t mean deaths or even hospitalizations. On reopened college campuses, for example, the explosion of cases is just that: positive test results not ­associated with any serious illness.

Karol Marcowicz, New York Post


BTW: I obtained the 11-deaths-per-day figure by typing “How many people died from covid yesterday” into the Google search bar. It brought up a graph that shows daily deaths. I then did the math.

Be careful if you use vague searches, like “Covid deaths” or the like. Ask exactly what you want, or else you’ll probably get the worse possible stats Google can muster.

Wow. Scientists against lockdowns

Signed by epidemiologists from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford. Not exactly bastions of Trump support.

I’m just going to quote this verbatim:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. 

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. 

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza. 

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity. 

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. 

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals. 

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.