Everyone has seen machinery at work, be it at an excavation or highway construction, and admired the power and speed with which a mechanical shovel bites into the ground and empties dirt into trucks.
But have you calculated that a mechanical shovel can do in one day what thirty-five manual laborers can do in ten? Have you concluded that a machine such as this, with a foreman and a couple of trucks, can do the work of 350 men? Have you asked yourselves what becomes of these men when excavation jobs are no longer available?
If you visit a mine or a quarry, you will see pneumatic drills activated by compressed air. Each one, in the hands of only one man, breaks as many rocks as twenty men working with an ordinary pick. What becomes of these 19 men once their labor is no longer needed?
Go and see the activity that takes place at a port: the cranes, the bagging machinery, the grain-sucking apparatus and other suitable technology that nimbly does work which would otherwise require hundreds of workers. What happens to the men who are out of a job because of this modern technology?
Those among you who are no longer young, remember that each summer, thousands of men from Quebec and Ontario would take the train to work in the harvests in Western Canada. They were able to receive a wage that was well worth the prolonged absence from home. This does not exist today. Now there are self-binding harvesting machines on the big grain farms, each doing the work of 160 manual laborers. What do the unemployed harvesters have to compensate for the wages they are no longer receiving?
We could keep on with this enumeration. The face of the producing world has changed a lot over the last fifty years; mechanized strength has multiplied itself by twenty. In Quebec, harnessed waterfalls alone supply from seven to eight millions worth of horsepower which is the equivalent to more than 70 million men worth of manpower. If this force was equally divided among all the inhabitants of the province, each person – man, woman and child – would have the equivalent strength of 15 men willing and ready to serve each person, 24 hours a day. (This article was written in 1965 so of course the figures for 2011 would be even more fantastic.) This certainly is marvelous progress and one is still very far from having exhausted all the possibilities of production.
But the question always remains: if machines take the place of men, what will these men (who were made unemployed by machinery) live on, seeing that they will not receive any wages?
One could ask: what did they live on during the last few decades? First, the periodical crises made them spend their savings and afterwards they got into debt. Whether one deals with private or public debts; to get into debt means you are utilizing the revenue of another. The populations which technology deprives of revenue necessarily then must live off the revenue of others or they will no longer live at all. When people live off the revenue of others, it encourages begging or the production of useless things. It also encourages useless jobs in a supererogatory business or in bureaucracies that the country could well do without.
We have had two wars in less than thirty years and war is exactly what is used to occupy the population that progress cannot employ; now they can be used for destroying production. After the war is over, employment is found again in rebuilding the ruins. But as the means of production rises from the ashes, the crises begin again.
At the time of the Marshall Plan, the Secretary of State of the United States, Mr. Atcheson, declared: “If we did not have the Marshall Plan to help Europe, production would pile up in America and millions of Americans would be unemployed.”
President Truman told Mr. Gray, the ex-Secretary of the United States Army; to be sure that after the expiration of the Marshall Plan, Europe would again obtain the means of buying products from the United States, otherwise the United States would suffer from the accumulation of the products of their country.
Progress puts technology at the service of man but it should also give a better standard of living to man while relieving him of his labor. Progress, the abundance of production that is assured by the machine, ought to remove the worries of tomorrow because the products abound and will do so even more in the future. So why worry?
In spite of today’s abundant production, no-one has never been as worried about the future as we are now. The population today does not possess anything that belongs to them personally. The family that owned a piece of land a hundred years ago was able to rely on the soil to produce food. Where is this patch of land that three-quarters of the world’s population used to have? This land was taken away from the people and given to the industrial centers.
Ownership is the lot of a small minority. But how many among this minority possess goods that are mortgaged and that they are still paying the taxes on?
What about employment? Employment is the only source of revenue for the majority of today’s families; and it is more precarious now than ever before. Employment is reliable only during wartime, when one destroys the production on a huge scale. However, as soon as the production once again begins to grow massive, the employee feels insecure.
Wasn’t the Government forced into instituting unemployment insurance? Did one speak of unemployment insurance during the era of manual labor?
Unemployment insurance is far from being a security and a good distribution of abundance produced by technology. Besides, it begins by reducing the paycheck of the worker, which is a strange way to let him know that progress is working for him. Unemployment insurance is a ridiculous cure for an illness which should not even exist. It is incredible that the abundance of the world should create misery.
Is progress the enemy of humanity then? Must one give up education, inventions; close the universities and laboratories?
Progress must not be suppressed but should be made the liberator of humanity. For this, one must simply introduce distributive policies which are in harmony with progress. Today, we have the same distribution policies as during the days of manual labor.
The distribution of products is made thanks to the money that is presented by the purchaser to the producer. Now, the present financial regulations still require that only people who are employed should receive a salary. Progress has a tendency of reducing employment: if one makes employment a requirement for a claim on production, this means that progress removes the purchaser’s claim on products.
If wages alone distribute money to individuals and families; then the more machinery will replace men, the less money will reach the individual and to the families. Even if wages are increased, this will not give anything to those who have no jobs. Moreover, the increased wages cause prices to rise, which makes the situation even worse for those who are not getting an increase in wages.
One could say that the men who lose their jobs because of technology will find another elsewhere because new needs claim new services. This is true, more or less. Some are able indeed to find a satisfactory job but how many have to content themselves with work which is not at all suitable to them, in conditions that are imposed upon them? Others find temporary jobs and still others do not find any. Everyone worries and is subjected to losses; and no-one finds the degree of security in progress which modern production ought to (logically) give a natural right.
In order to realize that machinery, science and progress is a blessing instead of a punishment:
In the first place, we must recognize that progress is a common heritage and the product of scientific and cultural acquisitions, transmitted and enlarged from one generation to the next; therefore all have to benefit from it, be they employed or not.
Secondly, without suppressing wages which are the reward for work, we need to introduce an additional source of income that is not tied to employment (such as salaries) but that are in connection with the total amount of products coming out from nature and industry. The more the machine takes the place of man, the more this second source of money has to be, since it is made to buy the fruits of progress and not to reward individual work.
It is this second source of income that the Social Crediters call the national dividend. A dividend distributed to all in order to buy the production of technology. A dividend that would pay for the products that wages are less and less able to pay for or to purchase the products which are more and more often the fruits of technology.
To talk about Social Credit does not mean a new political party trying to come into power but to promote a new way to distribute the abundant goods of modern production. This new way does not suppress the old one but it complements it. The old way, which becomes less and less satisfactory, speaks about wages paid for a job done. The new way is still the wage for the job but above all, it means a dividend for everyone.
The wage has to go to the worker only because this has always been the reward for individual effort but the dividend would go to all people, because this would be the fruit of progress, which is a common good.
However, as much as one will argue against a dividend, this is the only formula capable of regulating the economic situation due to progress. Besides, it is also the only way of preventing unemployment, which has no reason to be as long as there are needs that are not satisfied. In buying the products that are not selling, the dividend would speed up the replacement of production, which is at a standstill today because of the accumulation of products.
Therefore the dividend would increase the total purchasing power of the country and it would democratize purchasing power by diffusing it everywhere, even among the individuals who have no jobs.
How many advantages would result from this, ensuring each and everyone a periodical revenue, a dividend which would dispel the harrowing uncertainty of tomorrow. In supplementing the revenue of the family, the dividend would allow each person to discard many bureaucratic plans, such as State medicine, which puts the individuals into an iron-clad system that includes multiple surveillance and political slavery. The person who has sufficient money in his pocket does not need all of this; he sees to his own business!