When one first hears about the Social Dividend, or even a basic guaranteed income, one hears one of two objections: People will have no incentive to work and that it sounds like a communist scheme whereby some people would be supported by redistributing tax dollars. The latter would be true if a national dividend was financed through conventional taxation but this accusation does not stand since the Social Credit Dividend would be financed using new debt-free credits that would not impoverish anyone.
Economists, such as Milton Friedman, insist that there is no such thing as a free lunch; that everything has a price. Nature says otherwise. The air we breathe and the sun’s rays are freely given by the Creator. God bestows upon us goods of all types: natural resources and an abundance of food. The Dividend issued to all would simply reflect God’s abundant generosity.
Critics of the Dividend quote St. Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians:
“If any man will not work neither let him eat” (2 Th 3, 10).
Listening to them, one would think that no financial help should be given to those affected by the recently imposed economic lockdown. Pope Pius XI, in Quadragesimo Anno, published on May 15, 1931, refuted this charge in paragraphs 57 and 58:
57. We must not pass over the unwarranted and unmerited appeal made by some to the Apostle when he said: “If any man will not work neither let him eat.” For the Apostle is passing judgment on those who are unwilling to work, although they can and ought to, and he admonishes us that we ought diligently to use our time and energies of body, and mind and not be a burden to others when we can provide for ourselves. But the Apostle in no wise teaches that labor is the sole title to a living or an income.
58. To each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods, and the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is laboring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice.
What everyone is entitled to, and is owed, is a Social Dividend. In Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI visits anew the idea that work alone cannot be the only source of income (n. 37):
“Economic life undoubtedly requires contracts (wages in exchange for work), in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics, and what is more, it needs works redolent of the spirit of gift.”
In Deus Caritas est (n. 25-26), Benedict XVI added:
“The Church is God’s family in the world. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life... The aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community’s goods.”
Today’s social security regulations discourage work: generally, aid is offered if one does not work. If a person wishes to earn additional income their social security payment is affected. Furthermore, social security is financed using tax dollars taken from those who work, and who, though they work, might earn less at month’s end than the person who received a cheque, creating discontent and social division in the process.
The Social Credit Dividend is given to all, without conditions, whether one is employed or not. All are heirs to their country’s advancements over the generations and to God’s given natural resources. The Dividend is not financed by taxing workers. No one is penalized; everyone wins. Employed persons are paid their wages in addition to their Dividend.
The following is taken from “Le Syllabaire du Crédit Social” (an ABC of Social Credit), written by Louis Even in which he dismisses both objections:
— Social Credit will make people lazy.
— Because it will issue money to each person and free money will make people lazy and unwilling to work.
— It is precisely when there is money in circulation that goods sell. It is when goods sell that industry is able to offer jobs to the population. It is not work, but being condemned to inactivity, which tends to make a man lazy.
Moreover, laziness is a vice, one of the seven deadly sins. Vices are not corrected by economic activity and finance cannot assume the roles of institutions like education, the church, morality, prayer and the sacraments.
— Yes, but you are proposing money be given for nothing, and guaranteed to everyone!
— It is not money for nothing. It is an income from a capital that belongs to everyone. It is not ‘for nothing’; it is for the purchase of available goods.
The assurance of a minimum income, instead of making man lazy, puts him in a position where he is able to select in accordance with his taste and ability — which ultimately works to the greater good of the community.
There are no better workers than those who work at a job they enjoy; a job of their own choosing; not hard labour, not a career imposed dictatorially, but work freely chosen.
The Dividend makes up purchasing power to buy products. Therefore it requires workers and mechanization to meet this demand. It is obvious that if production ceased, no amount of money could be used as purchasing power, since there would be nothing to buy. The creation of money under such circumstances would not at all be a reflection of reality and Social Credit monetary policy is based on reality.
The Dividend would be, like the wages and salaries of workers, a stimulant to production since it would increase as production increased.
The Dividend would not eliminate the wages and salaries of those employed in production. There would still be the same difference in income between the person receiving only the Dividend and the person receiving the Dividend and wages.
— Giving everyone the same amount of money will place everybody on an equal footing; that’s communism!
— The Dividend will not even out fortunes. Peter has $100,000. Paul has $100. If I give each of them $40, will they be equally wealthy? Each is better off than he was before, but the poor man feels the improvement more.
— Something for nothing, that’s communism!
— Not at all. What does communism want? When communism demands an economic lot equal for all, it is wrong. But when we ask for each human being the right to the basic necessities of life, because God created material goods for the whole of the human species, this is not communism but Christian teaching. It is the law of “usus communis”, which affirms the right of every human being to the use of temporal wealth. The law of private property is also just, and the capitalists are right to hold on to it, just as the communists are wrong to deny it.
Social Credit, like the Church, wants the observation of both laws. Social Credit, by its Dividend to all, recommends a method to guarantee to each person a minimum share of the goods created for all men. By balancing global purchasing power with prices, it makes the selling of production easier and thus consolidates private property.
Communism wants every person dependent on the state. Social Credit, by guaranteeing a basic minimum to all, allows them to find jobs in accordance with their aptitudes. In making production profitable it frees citizens from recourse to state intervention and to the concessions to freedom always demanded by the state.
Moreover, a committee of theologians, appointed by the Quebec bishops, studied Social Credit in 1939 and were unanimous in recognizing that neither communism nor socialism had infiltrated the economic policy. The report provided interesting comparisons between Pope Pius XI’s encyclical letter and the monetary propositions of Social Credit. It is a worthwhile report to read. (https://www.michaeljournal.org/articles/social-credit/item/social-credit-and-the-catholic-doctrine)