Economic security means simply that one will be assured of having one’s “daily bread”. And this, in turn, means having not only today’s bread, but being assured as well of having tomorrow’s bread. Economic security means that; just as long as there is wheat, there will be bread for you. And when we speak of “daily bread”, we mean not only the food to nourish our bodies, but the material with which to clothe them and the buildings in which to shelter them from the elements.
Today in our modern society, especially in those countries which are advanced and highly developed, production is so abundant that everyone’s needs can physically be cared for without the necessity of having to deprive certain individuals in order to provide for others. This is true, beyond any shadow of doubt, in the case of basic needs — food, clothing, and shelter.
There is absolutely no need to deprive anyone of their possessions in order to provide for others, at least in the matter of the three vital needs, and also in regard to many other items, not so vital, but equally abundant. If goods and products were allowed to flow freely instead of being piled up in warehouses and on merchant’s counters, no one would be despoiled, and yet, everyone would have what they needed.
Major Douglas, the founder of the Social Credit school, made this quite clear in testifying before the Banking and Commerce Committee in Ottawa in 1934. He stated quite explicitly 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, he said, was to monetize the riches which existed in order to give to the needy.
It is quite obvious also that the rich, all together, are not capable of eating all the food, wearing all the clothing, and living in all the houses which we presently produce; even less could they do so if we did not leave all the willing hands unemployed, or did not turn them to forms of production which are merely superfluous or downright harmful.
The fault lies in the fact that our existing financial system is not adapted to the realities of the distribution of this abundance of goods, nor to the proper sharing of it among the people. The time is long since past when it could be distributed through the means of simple bartering between producers. The money system was invented to expediate the flow of goods freer between producers and consumers: we have a product to sell; we receive money for it. In turn we use this money to buy what we want from other producers.
But today, more than half of the population receives no money from the production system, but who, all the same, must live, have a right to live, and philosophically and socially speaking, is entitled to a share of production. Production today is being more and more accomplished with less and less use of human labor because of the perfection of techniques and machines, which progress has made possible through the cultural heritage that has been 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 totality of the present generation.
However, the financial system has not been designed in accord with this reality. It continues to distribute the means of payment only to the part of the population that is actively engaged in the field of production.
Major Douglas, speaking before the same committee mentioned above, remarked that the existing financial system existed only for the benefit of that system; but that if it functioned as it should, it would become the reflection of the reality of production, and would become an instrument of distribution of production. For Douglas, an ideal financial system was made up of two elements: it functioned as an accounting system and, secondly, as a system for the distribution of production. Unfortunately, he said, at present the financial system in no way reflects the realities of production and is defective and irregular in functioning as a system of distribution for products.
To be a good distribution system, the financial system ought to furnish purchasing power to all individuals, to all consumers. For, after all, production is realized for consumers; and it is suffering today, precisely because products are not reaching the consumers for whom they were intended.
All consumers, all citizens have a right to share in this wealth. They have this right precisely 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 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 be done in such a way that no one should be forgotten. And furthermore, it should be done in such a fashion that no individual should be humiliated or degraded. In respecting this fundamental right of the individual, one must never lose sight of his freedom and dignity.
This is what Social Credit proposes. It not only seeks that there should be a total purchasing power equivalent to the total price of the production on hand; but it does more than that, for this purchasing power might be an exact reflection of the production system, but it does not, by this fact, necessarily guarantee the distribution of production to all. It still lacks a social characteristic.
Social Credit therefore proposes the necessary step to attain the correct balance. It provides for a periodic dividend for each individual. And this periodic dividend comes to the individual by right of his being a human being; it has no link with employment. As the individual has a right to goods by reason of being a human being, so too is he entitled to this periodic dividend. This is the true social characteristic of authentic Social Credit. Whosoever rejects the universal dividend, might very well be a monetary reformer, but he is most certainly not a Social Crediter. Rather, he would tend to be a Socialist.
Under Social Credit, no one would ever suffer humiliation. There would be no inquisitions to find out what the means of living were for an individual, to discover whether or not he deserved purchasing power. Social Credit considers each individual as a capitalist inasmuch as he is the co-heir of progress and the cultural inheritance handed down from previous generations, and a co-owner of this progress — which is the great factor in modern production.
Social Credit always places the emphasis on the ihuman person. If it concerns itself at all with groups, with organizations, it is to remind men that groups exist for each of the individuals who compose it; that associations must, from their very nature, distribute to each member the benefits which result from the fact of their being related in an organization.
Unfortunately, the end for which organizations exist, is all too often forgotten. Not only is it forgotten, but the very purpose of organizations is distorted and changed, so that the individual comes to exist for the organization, is subordinate to the organization; the Socialist ideology takes over, bureaucracy reigns supreme; State supremacy is preached and the State comes to the point where it desires and legislates to the end that every detail of the individual’s life — even the most intimate and personal details — come to be organized by the State. In reality, it is each individual, each family, that is best equipped to decide what is best for him or it, and to decide what he or it wants from the production system. And it is the purchasing power possessed by each individual that permits, in the measure that he possesses this purchasing power, each individual to dictate to the production system what he wants. And so production finds its true direction — the direction which will lead to the fulfillment of the needs of the individual.
It is the economic security of the individual that will bring about the economic security of all. This is quite different from the overall security of the whole, sometimes called general prosperity, which we have preached at us. This type of security takes no heed of the individual’s economic security, even when the State produces plans and measures of regimentation which go under the name of “social security”.
Let us end this article with other quotations of 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 past master not only in the field of economics but in that of sociology as well. And he was a master as well in the field of politics, and knew to remind people that they should demand results from their government and not lose sight of the end because of arguing over means.