Minimum Security, Maximum Freedom

Written by Louis Even on Friday, 19 January 1945. Posted in In This Age of Plenty (book)

In this age of plenty - Chapter 20

Security and freedom

Social Credit proclaims that society must exist for all citizens; it proclaims that each and every one must be able to find, in the political and economic organization, the means to get more easily what all of a common accord want for themselves.

But, what is it that all mutually want — even if all have not gotten into the habit of realizing and expressing their desires publicly? All certainly want at least a minimum of economic security, with a maximum of personal freedom.

The basic necessities of life

A minimum of economic security means at least the basic necessities of life. There is no normal individual who does not want at least that: the basic necessities of life. And one does not live in society for these basic necessities of life to be more difficult to get, but for them to be easier, for them to be a guarantee, in a country where exists all, and even more than what is needed, to satisfy the basic necessities of life. It is therefore the duty of a well-organized society to see to it that each of its members is ensured of at least the basic necessities of life.

Pope Pius XI even went much beyond this notion of basic necessities; he requested for each and every one the guarantee of the means for an honest livelihood. For the economic and social organism to be good and soundly established, he said, it must secure for all and each of its members a share in the goods of nature and industry; and this share must be sufficient to supply them with all of their needs and an honest livelihood.

The negation of economic security

Our present society does not achieve this. Millions of witnesses could stand up, in all parts of the country, to declare that, during the ten years in which we were not fighting for democracy (or for a practical joke), during the ten years in which products accumulated and rotted under their very eyes, their country's social organism did not at all ensure them of their share of these goods for an honest livelihood.

At least 400,000 Canadian families can make this accusing testimony. Yet, it is not against this social deficiency that we waged war in 1939!

The negation of freedom

But it seems that after all the killing, one has learned that one must make postwar social-security plans. Unfortunately, while one talks about a better tomorrow than yesterday, one continues to fortify the money monopoly which regulates unrestrainedly man's standard of living. Unfortunately too, each time one talks about economic security, it is at the expense of freedom. Now freedom is as essential to the human person as is security.

Economic security, the assurance of the basic necessities of life, is one thing. The human person's freedom of choice is another thing. An animal can be satisfied with the first. A human being needs both. Economic security can exist without freedom. Example: the cowshed, the stable, the barracks, and the system promised by the Socialists.

Freedom, to be real, first implies a minimum of economic security. Those who were unemployed from 1930 to 1940 did not have freedom, because they did not have, first of all, the basic necessities of life. If somebody received some form of social security, it was under conditions that began with cutting off his freedom. Likewise, how many wage-earners have to accept employment or working conditions which are not at all suitable for them! Their bread is bound to conditions contrary to their choices. They are not free.

The man who would first of all be guaranteed the basic necessities of life, without condition, from the sole fact of his having been born in the midst of an organized society, would not so absolutely be required to accept such and such a job or conditions; he would be able to act more in harmony with his aptitudes and desires; then his wage or salary would no longer be bound to the sacrifice of his freedom of choice.

The dividend, an instrument of freedom

It is here that we depict the unique feature of the national dividend as a social-security measure. It is, in fact, the only social-security measure which does not bind nor humiliate anyone.

At the same time, it is the sole economic measure which ensures the permanency of production by complementing the consumers' inadequate purchasing power. It is the sole supplementary distribution method which is in step with progress in production processes. It is the sole economic proposition which recognizes the existence of a social heritage, transmitted to the bosom of organized society, from one generation to the next; just as with wealthy families, there is a heritage transmitted from parents to their children.

But some might ask what is meant by a national dividend. They know what a company dividend is; it is the distribution to shareholders of an amount which represents the clear profits of the company during the past term. Does a national dividend mean an amount of money distributed to all citizens every month, every three months, every year?

By a national dividend, we mean the distribution of the country's production surplus to all members of society, who are equally entitled to this surplus, which otherwise would not be distributed.

Whether this distribution is made in the form of an amount of money or otherwise, it is essential that each citizen is given a claim to his share of the production, which really represents a surplus; and the production which is not distributed without it is certainly a surplus. Has it not been thrown before into the fire or into sewers?

The dividend, the fruit of progress

The national dividend does not take anything away from wages and salaries. It is modernization that affects wages and salaries when machines replace wage-earners. It is then that products accumulate. But the dividend would come precisely in the proportion needed to make up the deficit. The more progress would replace manpower by machines, the less wages and salaries would be distributed to the workers, and the more, direct or indirect, the dividends that would be distributed to everybody.

Yes, they would be distributed to everybody, and to everybody equally, because they are the fruit of progress, and not of individual work. Individual work is rewarded in various ways, according to the value which it brings to production. But progress is a collective good, to which all are entitled equally, as members of an organized society.

Progress decreases the necessary contribution of individual work, but it does not decrease — it actually increases — the production of goods. This is what the dividend would represent.

Little thing, great effect

And it is this very simple little thing — which does not disturb anything in personal initiative nor in private property — that would make all the difference between having a society starving in front of plenty, or enrolled to have a ration, and a society that sets plenty at the service of all, and which favours the free blossoming-out of each person.

Nothing is disturbed in the economic structure that is familiar to all people. The farmer continues to cultivate, but sells better, if his products respond to real needs. The industrialist continues his private enterprise; he even improves it, because he sells his products, if they respond to real needs. The wage-earner continues to draw his wages, and his job is more secure because the products are sold, if he is in the service of an enterprise that responds to real needs.

The dividend orients the production

For production to respond to real needs, it is necessary that needs be expressed by the consumers. Now the consumers express their needs effectively when they have money in their hands. For orders to really come from the consumers, and not be the effects of publicity pressure from people who are first interested in profits, money must begin on the consumers' side, and not on the side of sources of profits by promoters.

This is precisely what the dividend does. The dividend, actually representing the country's progress, generates a corresponding increase in purchasing power in each and everyone's hands. It is new money that will pass into circulation by indicating the consumers' individual needs to those who are capable of supplying the products.

It would no longer be, as it is today, new money coming into circulation in the form of a debt to be paid with interest, by individuals or governments, to the monopoly of monopolies, to the monopoly of the manufacturers and destroyers of money, to the bankers.

The national debt is the opposite of the national dividend. Both represent progress in the country's production capacity. But the national debt expresses progress robbed by a few who exploit society; whereas the national dividend expresses progress divided among all, in a society which exists for the good of each and every one of its members.

Death to monopolies

As you can see, the national dividend, a very simple but strongly equitable mechanism, which is also very logical and social, does not change anything in the economy, except that it finally puts the consumer first and breaks the money monopoly.

By breaking the money monopoly, you would shatter the teeth of the other monopolies. Money, upon becoming a social service, an economic blood being circulated continuously in the veins of the body of production and satisfying the needs of consumers, loses its vice of being a power instrument. Enterprises, big or small, continue to provide goods, and consumers have access to these goods.

Then, if certain sizeable industrial monopolies still wish to carry a lot of weight, the government in charge of the common good is there to stop them. Not having any longer to appear humbly at the door of the money monopoly, with its debentures, and possessing, automatically, all the necessary financial means to accomplish what is physically possible and commonly wanted, the Government would be able to do with any monopoly that wants to sabotage the economy, exactly what it does with a housebreaker or a public criminal.

Besides, Social Credit cannot become an economic achievement without first effecting a stabilization of politics. This is the subject of the next chapter.

 


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