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I must oppose the pope on globalism, but not on faith and morals.
August 09, 2009
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Opposing the Pope on Globalism.

Vic Biorseth, Sunday, August 09, 2009

Reading the Pope on globalism recently sent me, and some of you, into a serious quandary. Several of you have contacted me, and all who did insisted that their questions and remarks not be published here, and yet asked for personal private responses from me. Again, the whole reason I shut down the public CONTACT ME option on this website was because I could not (and will not) keep track of multiple individual dialogues on the same issue, and keep saying the same things over and over again to different people. So, here’s my public response to the issue involving the Pope on globalism.

When the Pope speaks in worldly issues – be they fly-fishing, astronomy, hiking, economics, mathematics, or whatever – he speaks as an equal among equals, in so much as any of us lesser mortals could be equal to such a towering intellect. While he may be brighter than most of us, we are free to discuss and argue any worldly points under discussion, and his offered position or argument is automatically granted no more authority than our own.

Of course, when the Pope speaks on faith and morals, and even more particularly when he speaks as teacher or as confirmer of some Revealed Truth, then we Catholics are called to stand in silence and listen carefully, with our very souls, for then he does not speak alone. He is guided by the Holy Ghost, and he speaks as Peter, the holder of the Keys, with the power to bind and to loose, as affirmed by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

First, before the recent G8 summit, Pope Benedict said, in his words, that “There is urgent need of a true world political authority … “ to manage the global economy, aid economies in crisis, and so forth. This worldly global authority would act to bring about global disarmament, food security, environmental protection, migration regulation, and peace. So it’s not just the current world financial crisis that needs a new global authority established over it.

The Pope on globalism further indicated that “such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights.”

Good Lord. Except for his known Catholicity and high morals, we Americans might mistake his position for that of an Obama voter.

His Holiness says, in caritas in veritate, that the Church does not have technical solutions to offer, and does not claim to interfere in any way with the politics of states. She does, however, have a mission of Truth to accomplish, lest states fall into a strictly empiricist and skeptical view of life, and lose all touch with the Holy, and with the guiding moral norms that come from faith.

However, he then calls for a serious reform of the United Nations to make it worthy of world governance, as the best candidate in view for that global task.

I’m sorry, but I take strong issue with every part of the Pope on globalism. First of all, it’s impossible. At least it is impossible as His Holiness envisions it. There is likely no foreign entity on earth that is more corrupt, corrupting and corruption-prone than the United Nations. It’s members represent no one, and are accountable to no one. No one voted for any of them. They are part of an ever growing organization whose sole purpose is to grow and increase its own power and authority. It is loaded down with graft, payoffs, kick-backs, political intrigues, hidden alliances, treachery and deceit. That is the nature of worldly bureaucracy, and the UN is one, big, giant, worldly bureaucracy.

It’s a good thing the UN is toothless and ineffective; if it had real teeth it might become another world menace. Even as a so-called Peace keeper it is so ineffective as to be laughable. The UN periodically, usually too late, sends troops in somewhere to stand around and look important, until a shot is fired, and then they cut and run. Mission accomplished. Drinks all around.

The reason personages such as Gorbachev and Gore gravitate toward the UN is that it provides the next best hope for International Communism, the secret aim of all future tyrants, and the silly hope of all unrealistic utopian idealists. The UN is as flat out immoral as any Marxist ever was.

There is no organization or personage either worthy or capable of running a global government. The world is still ruled by Satan. Perfection is not of this world, but the next; here, the war with evil commences, and social perfection is just not in the worldly cards. Some of us are always going to be evil.

So long as there is such a thing as a criminal element, smugglers, robbers and their ilk, no people or society is ever going to be totally disarmed. Criminals will always find ways to arm themselves. So long as there is such a thing as tyranny and un-freedom anywhere on earth, we are never going to see any such thing as global disarmament among nations. No tyrant is going to disarm himself, and no seeker of global power is going to relinquish any power at all, particularly the power to destroy. Tyrants will only pretend to disarm.

I submit that the United States of America is probably the most religious and the most moral among all highly developed countries and recognized powerful nations. And yet, all you have to do is look at the American Democrat Party’s various platforms to see examples of gross evil and blatant immorality. America – possibly the most moral nation among nations – is not trustworthy enough for world governance.

No one is. No entity is. The Pope on globalism is wrong because it addresses a problem that in fact does not exist. Global governance would make life on earth much, much worse than any human crisis ever imagined by anyone. Look at the 2008 Financial Crisis article to see the root cause of our current world economic and financial pickle. It was government caused, and it was government magnified, and a direct result of government interference with a free market economy.

Government is not the answer. Government is the problem. The globe needs less government, not more.

In the interest of refreshing ourselves with Economics 101 I thought it might be appropriate to reprint an old essay here, which beautifully illustrates Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of Capitalism. Personal, local, international and global economics never work better than when governments and people with authority keep their hands off. Without further ado, here is the essay:

I, Pencil
My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read

Read, Leonard E.

I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.*

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there's some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Innumerable Antecedents

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill's power!

Don't overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation.

Once in the pencil factory—$4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine—each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop—a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this "wood-clinched" sandwich.

My "lead" itself—it contains no lead at all—is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth—and the harbor pilots.

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow—animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions—as from a sausage grinder-cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats.

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involve the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!

Observe the labeling. That's a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black?

My bit of metal—the ferrule—is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.

Then there's my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as "the plug," the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called "factice" is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape-seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment which gives "the plug" its color is cadmium sulfide.

No One Knows

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn't a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field—paraffin being a by-product of petroleum.

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

No Master Mind

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.

It has been said that "only God can make a tree." Why do we agree with this? Isn't it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies—millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

The above is what I meant when writing, "If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing." For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand—that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn't know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation's mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental "master-minding."

Testimony Galore

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it's all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person's home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one's range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—halfway around the world—for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Leonard E. Read (1898-1983) founded FEE in 1946 and served as its president until his death.

"I, Pencil," his most famous essay, was first published in the December 1958 issue of The Freeman. Although a few of the manufacturing details and place names have changed over the past forty years, the principles are unchanged.


* My official name is "Mongol 482." My many ingredients are assembled, fabricated, and finished by Eberhard Faber Pencil Company.

As you can see, when no one seeks to interfere with the process, people who don’t know each other, have never seen each other, who might otherwise even be mortal enemies, who are of divergent faiths and beliefs, cooperate, invisibly, to not only drive the world economic engine, but to individually prosper.

Economics never works so well as when it is left alone. Common people never prosper so much as when government allows them the freedom to do so.

The mission of furthering faith and morality works best when it is driven from the common man up, rather than from the government down. High morality and representative government go together. If the common people gain in faith, and they have truly representative government, everything else will take care of itself.

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