We who live in the year 1955, under an economy dominated by debt and taxation, the fear of unemployment and insecurity, are apt to lose sight of our real wealth and assets. For we who live in the year 1955 A.D. rather than B.C. have fallen heir to a rich inheritance — an inheritance so real and vast that, if we fully claim it, even the most humble might live in freedom and plenty.
Let us examine this inheritance. Shall we call it part of our cultural heritage. That we may have a clearer view, let us fade back into history for a few moments — about 5 thousand years back... long before the time of Christ.
To begin with, in those early days, machines, electric power, factories — these were unknown. Even the wheel-and-pulley were centuries in the future. And the crude axe and spade had not yet dawned in the mind of the inventor. Man had to spend most of his time grubbing with his hands for enough food to keep his body alive. He had no machines, no mechanical servants to help him in his labours; he had to grub his existence with his own physical energy and bare hands.
Then one day something momentous happened. A bright mind conceived the bow-and-arrow, another crude instrument which became known as an axe. And it was found that by using these simple tools, it was possible to gain an existence — yes, a little better existence — with a little less expenditure of time and energy. Although our forefathers didn't realize it, and although they still had a long way to travel, they had started us towards the machine age, and the nightmare of most politicians and 'economists'— leisure time, misappropriately called "unemployment." And our ingenious ancestors, using their implements, now had a few hours a week to devote to thinking up still more ways of increasing their productivity and lessening their manual labours.
And so the bow-and-arrow and the axe passed on from father to son, generation to generation, along with the knowledge of how to make and use them. And then a creative mind invented a great labour-saving device which developed into the modern spade. What fantastic development! And, yet, in all seriousness it was. And then followed the simple plough and the sickle.
We are now on our way, knifing swiftly through history. Generation after generation is inventing and developing new tools ond techniques to increase production and decrease manual work, and thus have more time for other pursuits! And, of course, the more time they were free from the drudgery of seeking an existence, the more time they had to dream up and invent new labour-saving implements and techniques. And so the process quickens. The wheel-and-pulley; and the lever, were invented; and they, together with the knowledge concerning their use, were handed down with the other accumulated machines and knowledge to the next generation... yes, as a heritage... a heritage of tools and machines, knowledge and skills, accumulated through past generations and handed on down, increasing with each generation.
Then another remarkable discovery was made. Man discovered that in many undertakings, if two worked together in association they could accomplish more than the sum total of their accomplishments working individually. In other words, there was an increase or increment resulting from their association.
And then it was found that often two men working together could do something which even a thousand men could never accomplish working individually. A few good men in association could lift a thousand-pound rock which a hundred men could not budge working individually.
And then one day in the year 1776 a man by the name of James Watt discovered how to harness steam, and we had the idea for the steam engine. The power age had dawned; the industrial revolution was underway with man now beginning to hitch solar energy to his tools and machines in place of human and animal power. Until today great power-driven machines do the burdens of production for us. Solar energy has largely replaced human energy in turning the wheels of industry. And these great power-driven factories, now becoming more and more automatically controlled, roll the goods off the assembly line in an ever-increasing abundance, while at the same time the machine more and more displaces man and relegates him to "unemployment.'
.. Of course, wars conveniently start at ever-shortening intervals to put us all back at "employment" again, making goods to be destroyed, pulverizing countries to be rebuilt, and slaughtering off the cream of our manpower in the process.
In chemistry when we want two elements to react more favourably upon each other, we sometimes introduce a third element which does not itself take part in the reaction, but which causes the other elements to react more favourably. Such an element is called a "catalyst". Today, less and less man-power is required in the process of production. Power-driven machines do most of the physical labour; and man acts as the "catalyst," adjusting and directing these mechanical Samsons.
This is so very obvious in the modern factory, and even on the farm where today we see the farmer sitting at the controls of a tractor directing a Goliath of a thousand manpower.
And even in the farm home the woman listens to her favourite program while the electric washer does her work; and the young lad turns the switch in the barn and adjusts the cups on the power milking machine.
Stop for a moment and observe the great construction and road-building machines today, and note that the operator does no more than watch the gauges and press the buttons — and even these are becoming more and more automatic.
And remember: one machine usually does the work which used to require dozens, if not hundreds, of men. Truly, we are moving towards "unemployment."
What is the result of all this accumulation and heritage of machine, power and knowledge which have been handed down to us? The most obvious result is that our ability to produce has tremendously increased — doubled, tripled, quadrupled — with an ever-decreasing expenditure of human labour.
Consider Canada's demonstration during the War. During these war years our standard of living rose at least 40 per cent. At the same time, nearly two million of our people were engaged in the armed forces and in munition production, and were therefore a pure drain on the resources of the country. The munition production reached an almost incredible volume, and consisted of a considerable proportion of highly elaborated production, including complex new inventions. And in addition to this, tremendous industrial resources were devoted to research into and production of atomic energy.
The meaning of all this is that it was an impressive demonstration of the fact that a small proportion of the population could provide the requirements for a high standard of living of the WHOLE population — THANKS TO THE HERITAGE of the Machine, Power and Knowledge which is ours in this year of 1955.
This demonstrates beyond doubt that the Age of Scarcity is behind us. We have entered the Age of Abundance. Simple facts, figures, personal experience and common sense tell us that this is so.
Where we have scarcity or poverty in this Western World today, it is not natural; it is not decreed by God. It is usually the result of some man-made war or destruction, man-made 'financial' depression, controls and restrictions, or socialistic, bureaucratic 'planning'. But without 'planners', 'politicians', and would-be 'economic experts' balling things up, our heritage today is ABUNDANCE FOR ALL, with ever-increasing leisure time.
The last question to consider is: To whom does this heritage belong? Does it belong to any one class? or to any one group? Certainly not. This heritage of Abundance is the direct result of the accumulated work, genius and co-operation of our forefathers... all our forefathers, not just those of any group or class. Generation after generation worked and invented, and passed their inventions, skills and know-how on down to the next generation. Until today, not by our own merit, this productive machine has been inherited by us. Surely this blessing is the inheritance of all.
It is the firm contention of Social Credit that every individual has a God-given right to share in the benefits of this heritage of Abundance.