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Heritage and Heirs

Written by Louis Even on Sunday, 16 October 2016. Posted in In This Age of Plenty (book)

In this age of plenty - Chapter 13

“Science and industry are the nations' intellectual inheritance.”[1]

Science applied to agriculture, industry, trade, and communications, has made enormous progress, especially in the last one-and-a-half centuries, and more particularly in the last fifty years.

By using simple machines, man learned long ago how to multiply the strength of his muscles and that of animals; he has also learned to use inanimate power such as that of wind and water. But ever since he learned how to exploit solar energy fossilized in the form of coal or oil; ever since he began to distribute the power of waterfalls hundreds of miles away through simple metallic wires; ever since chemistry has gone from the laboratory to the workplace, progress has grown beyond measure. The problem of how to make production has been solved.

Blind or obstinate?

There are people who do not understand this and who believe that man must remain poor and suffer much hardship at earning a living. When you speak of a heritage accumulated by past generations, of the earth having been conquered by man's labour and by man's intelligence, they retort that we are born in debt. Wealth is overflowing, but a false, absurd, fallacious financial system, diametrically opposed to actual facts, changes the heirs into debtors.

Ho! Their logic... It seems that Champlain and the valiant settlers who planted the Cross, the plow and civilization into Canada's forests, followed by their successors who, during three centuries, have improved agriculture, have built cities and industries — this long line of workers have left, to the Canadians living in the middle of the twentieth century, nothing but a heritage of debts? And twenty-five years from now, what will this debt have become, a debt for which we cannot hardly pay the interests today?

A courageous pioneer begins to clear new land. His task is to change a tangle of birch and other lesser species of trees into a productive farm. The good timber is long gone, having been burnt by fire or having been removed by lumber merchants or by paper mills. This man, his wife and children, will toil hard for thirty, forty years, before passing down a mortgaged farm to the oldest son and to the other children nothing but the memory of their virtues. Out of our forests, out of our lands, out of our factories, there seems to come a voice that repeats endlessly: “You shall create debts at the sweat of your brow”.

A child has just been born; baptism has not yet made him a son of the Church, but he is already a debtor. Federal, municipal, school, and parish debts fill the atmosphere around his cradle. He is born into debt. He will grow in debt. He will work —if he has the chance to do so — to pay accumulated debts while nibbling on a few crumbs, which support his earning capability and prevent him from revolting totally, until he dies in debt.

And you speak of heritage! Some heritage that is!

When stupidity holds the reins

Under today's illogical system, the more assets a country acquires, the more its “financial” debt increases. The worker creates wealth, while the parasite manages finance. And, in spite of all the beautiful speeches to the contrary, finance is placed above man; the parasite is master, the worker is a slave. Tell the worker that he is an heir and the parasite will make him say that you are a Utopian, a trouble-maker, a destroyer of morals.

A system which exists for the profit of a few individuals and the enslavement of nations does not want to acknowledge the real heritage, the great asset bequeathed to a generation by previous generations.

But Social Credit, which has lost all respect for the old idols and their high priests, proclaims high and wide the existence of this heritage and the rights of its heirs.

Social Credit cannot be bothered by bookkeepers who reward you with a forty year debt after you have succeeded in building a bridge across the St Lawrence River. Such farces have done so much harm that they must now be thrown down as dirt.

The cultural inheritance

Social Crediters define cultural inheritance as being “the vast heritage of discovery and invention, of culture and learning, of organization whether social, political or industrial, of education and religion, of aspirations and ideals which have been handed down and developed by generation after generation... Collectively these form the Common Cultural Inheritance of humanity, or more shortly, Civilization.” (This Age of Plenty, by C. Marshall Hattersley, p. 232.)

It is a COMMON asset, and that is why every member of society is entitled to a share of production, all the more large since this asset becomes an ever increasing factor in production. Surely, the worker who exploits this asset is entitled to a reward and no one will deny this. Nevertheless, the owner of this common cultural asset, that is each member of society, keeps his entitlement and his rights.

It was often said that capital and labour must work hand in hand, because labour without capital cannot do much and capital without labour can do absolutely nothing. But what can both do together if you exclude the cultural inheritance, the contributions of inventions and progress throughout the ages?

Thanks to the contribution of applied science, of the cultural asset, products multiply and improve with less raw material and less labour being used. Is it not fair for the heirs to get their share?

The heirs

And who are the heirs?

We have said it, this cultural inheritance is a common asset that belongs to all members of society. Suppress the community, the association, and you will suppress abundance. Abundance is much more the fruit of the common cultural asset than it is the fruit of individual effort. Physical effort remains, no doubt, but the cultural heritage is also present.

Because the inheritance and its heirs are ignored, the world is filled with injustice and nonsense. Production, once made, is not sold and is at times prevented from being realized, because the heirs are not given the claims to this production; a production they are entitled to, due to the common asset which is a major factor in today’s production.

The national dividend

It is the income derived from this inheritance which Social Credit wants to distribute to all members of society, under the name of “national dividend”.

It is a dividend since it corresponds to surpluses.

When an enterprise makes extra profits, it does not complain about the situation, but it simply distributes the surplus to its shareholders. If Canadian agriculture and industry have surpluses, why not let the shareholders, every Canadian, share in the benefits, as members of an organized society?

Let no one see in this theory the shadow of either Communism or Socialism. Private industry remains private. Private property remains private. The owner of property continues to draw the full value from his property. Private capital that is truly invested, continues to command reasonable dividends. The worker keeps receiving his wages or salary. But the heirs are made to receive an annual income derived from their inheritance.

Everyone, young or old, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, sick or healthy, are entitled to this dividend since it is not earned by anyone in particular; all direct contributors to production have already been rewarded and surpluses are due to the cultural asset only.

This cultural asset is the common property of everyone. If you only give a dividend to some and not to others, you are favouring one over the other. If you deny it to everyone, you are allowing production to go to waste or to be restricted in face of glaring needs, and you end up with the unjustifiable situation of poverty in the midst of plenty.

Nothing for nothing?

— But this is like giving something for nothing?

— This is giving titles to wealth so as to distribute existing wealth. This is granting the members of society a dividend on the capital accumulated by their fathers, which capital they themselves will continue to increase, to the benefit of their sons.

In closing, read this quotation from a great Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain:

“We think that, in a system where a (more social) conception of property would be in force, this axiom ('nothing for nothing') would not be able to survive. Quite to the contrary, the law of usus communis would lead us to establish that, at least and foremost, what regards the basic material and spiritual needs of the human person, it is proper for people to get, for nothing, as many things as possible... The human person being served in his basic necessities is only, after all, the first condition of an economy which does not deserve to be called barbarous.

“The principles of such an economy would lead to a better understanding of the profound meaning and the essentially human roots of the idea of inheritance, in such a way that... all men, upon entering into the world, could effectively enjoy, in some way, the condition of being an heir of the preceding generations.”[2]

 


[1] The Twentieth-Century Larousse Illustrated Dictionary

[2] Maritain, Jacques, Humanisme Intégral. Éditions Montaigne, Paris, 1946, p. 197.

 

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