Page 7 - A Social Dividend: An Income Guaranteed to Each Citizen
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The Social Dividend

        12.  Can  you  summarize the  3  factors  that  make   I discovered how to make electricity from water-
            up our commonly-owned social capital?            falls. I engineered the internal combustion engine
            1.  Natural resources;                           and now we have cars and airplanes. It is I who
            2.  Progress, resulting                                                   harnessed chemistry for
                                                                                      the service of industry”.
        in  a  shared  cultural  herit-                                               No, these advances were
        age;                                                                          developed by generations
            3.  The benefits  and                                                     of researchers, inventors,
        increment of association                                                      engineers and craftsmen.
        that result from life in so-                                                  Natural resources and
        ciety.                                                                        progress do not belong
        13. What are the benefits                                                     to any one man. We are
            to each of us  as                                                         the equal co-heirs of past
            owners of a common-                                                       generations. They are
           ly-owned social capital?          Life in society is a commonly           everyone’s heritage.
            When this capital bears            -owned productive asset.                  This is the rationale
        fruit it must bring its owners an income without tak-  for each person’s entitlement to a periodic Divi-
        ing away the reward of those who have mobilized      dend from the cradle to the grave.
        the capital, the labour force.                           We do not live in society so that it is more diffi-
        14. Are we the true owners and heirs of this         cult to obtain basic goods but so that they might be
            commonly-owned social capital?                   had more easily. If living together in society made
              Yes!  Every  member  of  this  generation  is  a   it more difficult to access bare necessities, society
        co-owner of the cultural heritage that was handed    would soon disintegrate.  It is therefore society’s
        down to us by previous generations. Improve-         duty to ensure that each of its members be guar-
        ments were made from generation to generation;       anteed the goods necessary to enjoy a decent life.
        inventions followed one another, each serving as a       The agitation and dislocation evident in modern
        stepping stone to the next.                          societies is  because many  people  have difficulty
            Applied science remains the greatest and most    meeting their basic survival needs at the same time
        important  factor  in  modern  production.  No  one   that we are witnesses to an enormous productive
        alive today can say: “This all belongs to me. I am   capacity.
        the one who invented the wheel and the crowbar.
                                    Inheritance and Heirs

        15. What do you mean by the right to claim one’s     It was earned for us by the generations who came
            inheritance?                                     before and who passed it on to us. Why should this
            When a person dies he leaves his possessions     heritage be denied us on the specious grounds that
        to an heir. It may be that the heir has never worked   we have not earned it?
        on his parents’ property; he might not have even         Industrialists and workers have rights to rewards
        earned a single penny in his lifetime. Should he be   for their efforts. But, the recognition of the efforts
        denied the right to inherit wealth from his parents on   and  progress  of  past  generations  must  bring  re-
        the grounds that he has not earned it? Or should he   wards to everyone as well. No one should be born
        be denied his inheritance because he is lazy or that   destitute in a world made rich by what was inherited
        he might squander it?                                from the past.
            No! His parents have earned this for him and     17. Are we truly heirs?
        he is entitled to it. Legislation protects one’s right to   Yes! This is why the poor are called the disin-
        inherit.                                             herited. For them to be disinherited, they first must
        16. Do we, as well, have rights to the cultural herit-   have had a heritage which was subsequently taken
            age?                                             from them.
            Most surely! The greatest factor in modern pro-  18. I concur that machinery increases productivity
        duction, progress, was not earned by you or by me.       and is the result of various technological advan-  u
                                                       Free issue of MICHAEL     7
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