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Published on May 13, 2008
The Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice In 1985, Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) members initiated and mobilized bipartisan support for Congressional legislation which established the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice under President Ronald Reagan. Project Economic Justice, which was first conceived in a strategy paper authored by CESJ, offered a revolutionary economic alternative to military solutions to regional conflicts in Central America and the Caribbean. Enacted as part of the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985, this legislation created the first presidential task force to be totally funded with private donations and supported by both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. Former Ambassador to the Organization of American States and the European Community, The Hon. J. William Middendorf II, served as Chairman. CESJ's president, Norman G. Kurland, served as deputy chairman. The task force's 1986 report, High Road to Economic Justice, was America's first official endorsement of "expanded capital ownership" as a means for achieving economic democracy as the foundation for sustaining a stable political order. Some of the task force's recommendations were adopted into U.S. foreign policy and were included as one of the World Bank's "market based" options for debt-equity conversions through employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). In 1987, CESJ representatives delivered the Presidential Task Force report directly to President Ronald Reagan at a White House ceremony and Pope John Paul II in a private audience at the Vatican. In 1988, CESJ members and friends funded the Polish translation of Every Worker an Owner. This CESJ compendium on the concepts, techniques, and policies of expanded share ownership served as the orientation book for the Presidential Task Force. Forty thousand copies of the Polish translation were distributed throughout Solidarity channels in Poland prior to the dismantling of the Soviet Union. CESJ's Every Worker an Owner was sent under cover letter in May 1988 by USAID Administrator Alan Woods to every USAID mission around the world.