You may, at some time, have come across, in your part of the country, placards bearing the inscription, "Against Taxes, For The Dividend". These are Social Credit posters. They express, I believe, an idea shared by most people.
Taxes are, as you know only too well, money taken from your pocket by school commissions, and federal and provincial governments. Some, like the income tax, are taken directly from your pay envelope; others like the sales tax, are added to the prices of your purchases; and some are hidden in prices like the taxes charged manufacturers. But nobody likes taxes. They diminish purchasing power. Those taxed cannot buy what they could were they not taxed.
And the dividend? It is the contrary of the tax. It puts money into the citizen's pocket. It is money unattached to work. It comes from capital invested in an enterprise. The enterprise pays the worker for his labor and this is known as a salary. But the enterprise also pays the capitalist who put his money into it. It pays him even were he loafing in Bermuda while the workers remain at home working on the enterprise. This payment to the capitalist is known as dividend. If he works on the enterprise he gets two revenues, his salary and the dividend. No one denies the capitalist a dividend proportionate to the money he has placed in the enterprise.
Well, Social Credit teaches that we are all capitalists and that we have a right to a periodic dividend regardless of whether or not we are employed. Those employed would get, in addition, their salary. But all, employed and unemployed alike, would receive a dividend as capitalists.
To clarify this assertion, we must realize that there is another capital than that of dollars only.
If you supply a manufacturer with some property or an invention that belongs to you, this is not money, but it is nevertheless, real capital. It permits the manufacturer to make something. And you have a right to some recompense, even if you personally did not work in the factory, even if others have worked to put your property or invention to use.
So Social Credit asserts, quite justly and no one will deny it, that there is something else to production besides money and the labor of workers. If production can today produce more things more quickly than hitherto, it is not because workers are toiling harder or longer. In fact it is quite the contrary. Workers' hours are shorter, their week is shorter and their labor is considerably less, thanks to machines.
Take away machines, suppress modern techniques of production, and production would dwindle rapidly, no matter how hard or how long workers toiled and no matter how much money financiers poured into production.
The superabundant production of today is due to the perfecting of machines, to the refinement of techniques, to the evergrowing power of applied science — in other words, to progress.
So we arrive at the key question. Who is the owner of all these refinements brought about by one generation after another? Who owns inventions that have followed one from another in a never-ending series? Who owns applied science? Who owns progress which is the greatest factor in production, the one real capital of modern production?
Social Credit replies: Every individual of the present generation is owner of that which has been bequeathed to us be preceding generations. This is a community capital. No single individual living today can say: "This is all mine. It is l who invented the lever and the wheel. It is I, who invented the steam engine. It is I who found the way to develop electricity from the waterfalls." He can no more make that assertion than he can assert that he nourishes the waterfall by evaporating the water from the seas and causing it to fall into the river. Nor can he assert that it is he who invented the internal combustion motor that permits autos to roll along the highways and aircraft to wing through the heavens. He cannot assert that it is he who placed chemistry at the service of industry. No! All of these things are the fruit of generations of researchers, inventors, engineers, artisans, making use of the natural forces and resources which were given to all by the good God.
This is an immense heritage of which no one person is the sole owner and of which everyone is co-inheritor. Logically then, everyone should derive some benefit from this capital. Everyone should draw from this common capital a dividend in the measure that this capital becomes productive.
Everyone? — Certainly! For is it not a community capital of which as we have said, no one is the exclusive owner?
But, then, this will be money which will not be earned! Not money earned in the sense that a worker earns his salary — that is true. But it is money to which he has a right by the same title that a capitalist has a right to his dividend.
We use the word "heritage" and "heir". You know what an heir is. A father leaves to his son a quantity of money. Perhaps the boy has never had to earn his living. He maybe hasn't earned a cent in his life. Do we for that reason deny him the right to this heritage? By no means. He has every right to enjoy it. And the law, protects this right.
In like manner, applied science, inventions, technical progress, all the things that make up the principal factors in modern production, were not brought about by you and me. But they were produced for you and me by previous generations which have passed them on to ours, just as our generation will improve on them and pass them on to the next. Why then should progress and its fruits be denied us on the grounds that we are not responsible for it? Why should the industrialists, the employees and the dollar capitalists be the only ones to profit from this heritage? They certainly have a right to some recompense for what they are actually doing. But the recompense for what previous generations have accomplished certainly pertains in some way to everyone, in a measure, of the present generation.
The fact that there are today people who are absolutely destitute is proof that we are being refused a just share in the revenues from a capital which belongs to all. This is an injustice. No one should be born destitute in a world which has been enriched by all the acquisitions which have been accumulated and which are not the product of anyone living today. It is a heritage in which we are all co-heirs. It is so true that in spite of the present system which denies this grand truth, we call the poor, "the disinherited". In order to be the disinherited they must first of all have been heirs.
Everyone deplores today the concentration of wealth into the hands of a few. It is not surprising when we disinherit the members of society and allow the stronger and more cunning to devour the weaker and simpler.
Enter a factory. There you see the employees. We recognize their right to their salaries. We see machinery paid for by the money of the investor. We recognize his right to a dividend from the profits. But in each of these machines there is an invention without which the machine would be nothing more than a piece of iron or steel. This invention which we can call the soul of the machine, is an acquisition which has been passed down to us. It could never have come into existence or have been handed down without the existence of society, without the existence of various methods of education, without having had come before it other inventions.
The dividend which is passed on to the investor is decided on by the company which benefits from his money. The dividend which Social Credit proposes should be determined by society itself since it is the fruit of a community capital placed at the disposal of the productive system.
Thus would you have a distributive system of production more enlightened than that which is causing so much harm in the world today. This would be a system which is as generous as the production is. It would be a system which would forget no one, assuring to all as a minimum, whatever is needed to meet the necessities of life. And it would progress in the same measure that production progressed, at the same time leaving an equitable recompense to those who would directly participate in making this common heritage benificial to all.
Such a system of economics, based on the principles of solidarity and generosity, based on the notion of co-heirs, has not been acclaimed and demanded by all because it is yet unknown, or misunderstood. The world has too long been hypnotized by the narrow, baneful philosophy upheld by the financiers who are more concerned with dominating, with holding others within the narrow confines of privation or downright poverty.
It is to bring forward this new economy, to instruct members of society in their rights to a share in the benefits of a common heritage, to teach men to fight for this right, that this paper is pledged and that active members of the Union of Electors are devoting themselves to the propagation of Social Credit.
Translated by EARL MASSECAR