Pope Francis has surprised many with his strong words in his latest encyclical Laudato Si, to raise awareness of the urgency for an “integral ecology”. An integral ecology would take care of human beings and nature – both of them being currently sacrificed on the altar of Mammon, the money-god of profit at all costs, regardless of the consequences to the environment and on people. Several had even gone as far as to condemn the encyclical before it was published, claiming that global warming or climate change is not caused by human activity, but is due only to natural causes. These people are also worried that the Pope is playing into the hands of the promoters of a one-world government that exaggerates on purpose the state of deterioration of the earth to impose drastic measures, such as a radical reduction of the population of the planet by abortion, contraception, wars, diseases, etc.
Pope Francis is well aware that there is such a current of ideas and people who are promoting it, but he is not playing their game. He mentioned very clearly in his encyclical that the reduction of the population and abortion are not the solution to environmental problems. He rather directs the debate from a truly Christian perspective and principles.
As for whether global warming is due to human rather than natural causes, the Pope surely does not make this a dogma, saying that the debate remains open on this topic in scientific circles. Pope Francis wrote in paragraph 61 of Laudato Si:
“On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair.”
In other words, even if one does not believe in global warming, no one can deny that there are still many examples of damage to the planet and totally unnecessary waste of natural resources, leading to piles of toxic waste.
The Pope also uses strong language to denounce the current financial system , where everything is subject to the “money-god”. If some are scandalized by these words of the Holy Father, going as far as to accuse him of having Marxist tendencies, it is because they themselves have turned the current financial system into a god and a dogma, claiming that it is perfect and that anyone who dares to question it is a communist! They ignore the teaching of the Popes on capitalism, which makes a distinction between the producing system ( free market, private enterprise) that works very well, and the financial system, which is the root of all problems. They ignore these very strong words of Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno in 1931: “Those who control money and credit control our lives, and no one dare breathe against their will.”
In paragraph 203 of Laudato Si, the Pope spoke about the financial system that “tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending.”
One example of this is what is called, in technical terms, “planned obsolescence”: goods are conceived and manufactured to last as shortly as possible, to force consumers to replace them as quickly as possible. Other times, even though the product is still working or usable, publicity campaigns will convince you that it is now unfashionable, and that you need the latest stuff on the market. As long as people consume, everything will be fine!
One only has to think about inkjet printers: when the ink cartridge is empty, it is cheaper to buy a whole new printer than just replacing the cartidge... The same reasoning applies to most electronic devices: stores do not repair them, it is cheaper for you to buy a new model, even if your old device just needs a small piece to operate again.
If one examines the problem from up close, one sees that it is the “laws” of the present financial system that cause such a useless degradation of earth’s resources – especially the rule that ties the distribution of purchasing power to employment. This leads us to situations such as: Pro-environment groups want to stop a plant from polluting the environment, but the Government replies that it would cost the company too much money to do so and would force it to close its plant, that it is “obviously” preferable to keep those precious jobs even if this is done at the expense of the environment. The environment, something real, is sacrificed, abandoned for a symbol, money. Jobs are created to keep people employed, at the very expense of the survival of our planet. Never mind if people are poisoned, as long as it is profitable!
As Pope Francis wrote in paragraph 195: “The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment,“
There is a Cree Indian elder saying that goes like this: “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.”
What about all the artificial needs that are created for the sole purpose of keeping people employed, of all the people kept busy doing paper work in offices, of goods manufactured to last the shortest time possible in order to increase sales? All of this leads to the useless waste and destruction of the environment while degrading the human person.
The basic cause of environmental pollution and of the waste of natural and human resources is the chronic shortage of purchasing power which is inherent to the present financial system. That is, consumers, at any given moment, do not have enough money to buy all of the existing products; people cannot afford to buy the products their community has produced. Artificial needs have to be created to distribute wages and salaries to be able to purchase the goods already produced.
From there, you can imagine all the effects these disastrous economic policies have on the environment. For example, one always hear about the need for economic growth, the need for nations to be more competitive and always increase their Gross National Product (GNP). In reality, since the real purpose of economics is to satisfy human needs (at least the basic ones), a country should be able to increase, stabilize, or reduce its production, according to the needs of its population — and in many cases, a decrease in production would be more appropriate.
If, during two years, a nation was able to supply to every household a washing machine that could last twenty years, it would be totally insane for this country to continue to produce even more washing machines! Henry Ford once said that the goal of a good car manufacturer should be to build a family car that lasts a lifetime. This is technically feasible, but if such cars were to be produced, it would bring about economic chaos: what would we do with all these auto workers now unemployed?
If one thinks in financial terms only, economic growth seems to be a must, butconsumer buying power. Environmentalists routinely denounce exponential economic growth as folly. Unfortunately, without a precise understanding of what makes such growth imperative, they cannot suggest anything very practical in the way of alternatives.
“Office complexes must be built and maintained to house the “fully employed”; mountains of supplies must be manufactured for them to “work” with; systems for moving them to and from the workplace must be installed; great amounts of fuel must be extracted and refined and transported and burned to get them to and from work and keep them warm once they are there; and so on.
“Really, the only way to deal with the problems of pollution and spoliation is to remove the incentive for abuse. The principal engine of economic waste is the emphasis on production as an end in itself to deal with an inherent defect in the system of income distribution. It follows that correction of this defect would take the pressure off people to build capital that is redundant and that nobody wants in itself. It would allow a rational and balanced assessment of our environmental situation and open the broadest possible range of options for contending with it.
“The first step towards economic and environmental regeneration is to increase the flow of income to consumers. Of course, by ‘income’ is meant real buying power – not recycled debt for which the people are already responsible in their roles as consumers and taxpayers. The banks create billions of dollars daily against the real wealth produced by the population, and the upshot is that the country is wallowing in debt. These same institutions could be instructed to create credit on a debt-free basis and, to equilibrate the flows of production costs and ability to liquidate them, distribute it in the form of dividends payable to all citizens.
“Against the wishes of virtually every conscious person, our beautiful earth is being intensitively ravaged and polluted, and, in a kind of Reichstag fire manoeuvre, power-hungry persons are using these environmental problems for self-serving political ends. When we trace the causes of the present situation to their source, we find a flawed financial system. We need not destroy the money system – indeed, to do so would be a grave error – but it is crucial that we reform it so it becomes the servant, not the master, of our aspirations.” (End of the excerpt from “The Social Crediter”.)
At the very end of his encyclical , the Holy Father wrote about the need to change our lifestyles and reduce our consumption. But talking about voluntary simplicity, consuming less, goes against the current financial system, and leads to the closure of factories and laying off thousands of workers. Besides, Pope Francis himself admits that to make the changes he is calling for in his encyclical, a change of the financial system must first take place, to adapt to the real economy and the common good .
We fully agree with the Holy Father, and we claim that the Economic Democracy or Social Credit system, as proposed by C.H. Douglas and Louis Even, would make feasible whatever is desired by Pope Francis in his encyclical, while putting an end to the waste of resources and promoting the development of the human person.
Our whole environment would be changed if the financial system was adapted to the needs of the population. We would not need huge factories nor people leaving the countryside to the cities in search of employment. (Douglas observed that large plants are not necessarily more productive than small ones, and if they exist, it is simply because banks prefer to finance large firms instead of family businesses.) We could go back to producing at a human scale, in local communities.
The Pope is not against the use of machines, of progress, but man must come first, before profit. For example, he wrote, in paragraph 114: “Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.”
A few lines before, one can read in paragraph 112: “Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral... for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people’s concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering.“
What place should be given to the machine, when should it replace human labour, and when is it better to have human persons instead of machines? What constitutes the dignity of work, and when does a job become dehumanizing and no longer respect the dignity of the worker? Some jobs require a human touch: a doctor, a teacher, care for the elderly, the education of children, whereas other jobs can be better done by machines, especially in work requiring repetitive movements on the assembly line, where human creativity cannot be expressed.
Pope Francis wrote in paragraph 128: “We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment... The broader objective should always be to allow the poor a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves.“
Robots are not an end in themselves, they exist to accomplish difficult tasks, to help human beings, giving them some time off. The problem is that when the income is linked solely to employment, the introduction of a machine means the loss of all income for a worker who loses his job. As it has been explained many times in this magazine, Social Credit would provide for this problem by allocating a dividend to all, based on the double legacy of the natural resources and progress, which would put the individual in a position to choose the activity that appeals to him most. Under a Social Credit system, there would be an outburst of creative activity.
Societal choices must be made, but the fact is that, under the current economic conditions, all the basic goods can be made despite unemployment rates of 10, 20 percent or more. Moreover, large companies move their factories to countries where labor is cheaper and where environmental regulations are less stringent. (This is called offshoring.) How can a country in Europe or North America compete with countries like China, Bangladesh or other Asian countries where salaries for the textile industry are not 38 dollars an hour , but $ 38 ... per month! ... and on top of that, with working conditions that make them literally slaves.
The introduction of a dividend to all does not mean that people would stop working or all be replaced by machines; on the contrary, this additional purchasing power would stimulate personal initiative and the creation of local jobs . Pope Francis wrotes in paragraph 129 of Laudato Si:
“In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing.” The Social Credit dividend would allow this “business creativity”.
To be freed from the necessity to work at providing the necessities of life does not mean becoming lazy. It simply means that the individual could choose to participate in the type of activity that appeals to him most in providing real services to others. Under a Social Credit system, there would be an outburst of creative activity.
All those who care for the environment, and consequently for the future of mankind on earth, all those who want to “save the planet”, should therefore study and spread Social Credit, a system that would put money at the service of the human person while putting an end to the waste of resources.