Possessing economic security would mean that as long as there was wheat growing in the fields each table would have bread, not only today, but also in the future. This would be true for other material needs, such as clothes and shelter.
In our modern societies, especially in countries with advanced and highly developed technologies, production is so abundant that everyone’s basic needs can be met, particularly in the cases of food, clothing, and shelter. This is also true for other commodities.
Clearly, the rich are not able to eat all the food, wear all the clothing, nor live in all the houses which are presently produced and manufactured. Even less could they do so if all willing hands were employed, or were working in jobs which produced goods which were neither harmful or frivolous.
If goods and products were allowed to flow freely, instead of being piled up in warehouses and on merchant’s counters, everyone would have what they needed. No one would do without the basics.
Major Douglas, the founder of Social Credit, made this clear when testifying before the Standing Committee of the House of Commons on Banking and Commerce, in Ottawa, in 1934. He stated that there was plenty for everyone, actually or potentially, and that to deprive some to give to others was simply socialism. This was not his way, he said. His way was to monetize the riches which existed in order to meet the needs of all.
The fault is in the existing financial system which has not acknowledged the need to distribute the abundance of goods to all. The money system was invented to expedite the flow of goods more readily among producers and consumers. There is a product to sell; we sell it and receive money. In turn, this money is used to purchase what we want from other producers. The time has long since past when goods could be distributed through simple bartering between producers.
However, today, more than half of the population receives no money from paid work. Yet everyone has a right to live and survive. Today’s production has increasingly abundant yields with smaller inputs of human labour, thanks to technical innovation. Innovation is the result of a “cultural heritage” passed down from generation to generation. This cultural heritage is not the property of one individual, or one group, but is rather the inheritance of all. It is a common good that belongs to the present generation, and as such, philosophically and socially speaking, everyone is entitled to a share of society’s production.
The financial system has not acknowledged this reality. It distributes money required to participate in the purchase of goods and services only to those working for wages and salaries.
For Douglas, an ideal financial system has both an accounting function and a distribution function. Speaking before the same committee mentioned above, he remarked that the existing financial system only benefited that system. It did not reflect the realities of production and was defective as a system of distribution. If it functioned correctly it would indeed reflect the reality of production and would ensure that production was distributed to the population.
To ensure distribution, the financial system should furnish purchasing power to all individuals. After all, production is for consumption, and hence, for consumers.
All consumers, as citizens, have a right to share in the wealth of production. All have this entitlement simply because they are human beings. Pope John XXIII recalled the words of his predecessor, Pius XII:
“The goods which were created for all men should flow equitably to all, according to the principles of justice and charity. Every man, inasmuch as he is endowed with reason, holds by nature itself, the fundamental right to use the material goods of the earth, although it may be left to the human will or to the juridical institutions of peoples to decide in detail the practical realization of this right.”
To decide in detail the practical realization of this right should be the duty of any government worthy of the name, and it should ensure no one is left out, humiliated or degraded in the process. Under a Social Credit economy, no one would ever endure degradation. There would be no applications or eligibility reviews as society must never lose sight of the freedom and dignity of the individual person.
In order to be completely social, a Social Credit economy would guarantee the distribution of production to all by providing a periodic Dividend to each individual. The Dividend would be issued to the individual because he is a human being and not because he is employed. This is the true social characteristic of authentic Social Credit. Anyone who rejects the universal Dividend might very well be a monetary reformer, but he is most certainly not a Social Crediter. Rather, he would have socialist leanings.
Social Credit recognizes each individual as a capitalist inasmuch as he is the co-heir of the fruits of progress and the cultural inheritance handed down from previous generations. Each person co-owns this progress which is the greatest of all the factors of modern production methods.
Social Credit always places the emphasis on the human person. If it concerns itself at all with groups and organizations it is to remind us that groups exist for each of the individuals who compose them; that associations must, by their very nature, distribute to each member the benefits which result from their affiliation.
Unfortunately, the end for which organizations exist is often forgotten and the individual exists to serve the organization and becomes subordinate to it. Socialist ideology takes over and bureaucracy reigns. The state becomes paramount and controls and legislates every detail of the individual’s life.
In reality, and according to Church teaching, each individual and each family is naturally equipped to decide what is best and, hence, to determine their needs from the system of production. The individual’s purchasing power permits each person to dictate to the production system what he wants, in the exact measure that he possesses this purchasing power. And so production finds its true direction — the direction which will lead to the fulfillment of the needs of the individual.
Economic security of the individual will mean economic security for all. This is different from the overall security of the whole, sometimes called general prosperity, which we have preached to us. This type of security pays no attention to an individual’s economic security, even when the state develops so-called “social security” programs.
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This article will end with some thoughts by Douglas taken from an address he delivered in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on March 9, 1937:
“The first step towards the security of the individual is to insist upon the security of the individual. I hope that is not too difficult to understand. If you place the security of any institution before the security of the individual, you may prolong the life of that institution, but you will certainly shorten the lives of a great many individuals. Institutions are means to an end, and I do not think it is too much to say that the elevations of means into ends, of institutions above humanity, constitutes an unforgivable sin, in the pragmatic sense that it brings upon itself the most tremendous penalties that life contains...
“At the root of the growing danger of Governments and other embodiments of execution is the idea that human beings are all alike. So far from this being the case, I believe that as human beings develop they become increasingly different. But they have common factors, and those common factors are the only part of the human make-up which can be dealt with by a democratic system, and ought to be dealt with by a democratic system.
“We all require food, clothing and shelter; and we can combine, and ought to combine, to get those necessities as a condition for our further acquiescence to combining for any other agreed purpose.
“The primary use of a Government in a sane world would be to make it certain that the greatest common measure of the will of the population, from whom it derives — or ought to derive — its authority, is enough money for decent sustenance.”
Major Douglas was a master of economics and also sociology. He was adept in politics and urged people to expect results from their government, to keep sight of the ends and not get caught up arguing over means.