Once we have agreed that giving people money in line with Social Credit technique is possible without bringing down upon us financial ruin, we must deal with the idea that if you paid people for doing nothing, they wouldn’t do anything. That many subscribe to this obviously false notion indicates the success of financial propaganda. It is, however, useful to point out that this broadly held idea is suggestive of the crucial role that finance plays in society. That is, we believe it a way of getting people to do things they wouldn’t do for any other reason. In other words, it is government.
It seems the fear is that without the present arrangements of financial compulsion, necessary work would not get done. There is little doubt that bed and board would be taken care of in much the same way as societies have always taken care of these problems – by bringing into reasonable association people, ideas and tools. The physical needs of humans are, from one to the next, both limited and similar, and there is no reason to believe that compulsion is required for people to cooperate to see these needs are met.
Another way the problem is expressed is, ‘who would collect the rubbish?’ the collection of rubbish apparently being the readiest example of undesirable work. This is a good example of the nature of association described above. Rubbish collection in industrialised countries is carried out by trucks. The truck, the robot arm, the standardised plastic bins are the culmination of applied knowledge and process developed over thousands of years, what Douglas referred to as the cultural heritage. Two things should be noticed about this modern method of rubbish collection. Firstly, one man can collect a lot more rubbish than he was previously able to. Secondly, who we call the rubbish collector is more a manager of the machinery that collects the rubbish. This is the trend across the whole industrial landscape. Due to technological and process developments the industrial machine is capable of ever greater output with less labour. The application of the accumulated body of knowledge and technique has for quite some time been the most effective factor in the industrial system. It was Keynes, writing in 1930, who concluded in the light of these facts that ‘in quite a few years – in our lifetimes I mean – we may be able to perform all the operations of agriculture, mining and manufacture with a quarter of the human effort to which we have been accustomed.’1
In any case someone does need to manage the rubbish truck. A community (associations bound by common place) innately knows that dealing with its waste is vital to health and wellbeing, and any community worth sustaining will set its mind to dealing with this problem as a matter of priority. Does any man suppose that he could expect a peaceful domestic life while rubbish gathered stinking on the curb? I suspect a nagging sense of duty would stimulate the making of a plan for dealing with the problem, and would arise from a more legitimate source within the family. The imposition of a coercive financial system would not be required to get the trucks going with willing managers.
Social Credit arrangements do not naively propose that people would work for nothing. People who collect the rubbish would be paid in addition to their share of the National Dividend received by everybody. Most people who have the choice work more than is required to keep them in food and shelter. Many work more so they can enjoy some of the benefits offered by modern production. There is no reason why this motivation for doing extra work, when it was available, would suddenly disappear. The National Dividend would enable the individual to decide whether or not to support with his labour any project placed before him without depriving him of what he and his family need to live. It is critical that people are free to refuse work they disagree with, that is not conducive to their health or they think unnecessary, a state of affairs which could rightly be called an economic democracy.
A gradual withdrawal of dependence upon wages as the sole means to survival would give back to people their own lives. While they would be free to decide how to use this freedom, it is reasonable to assume that many would seek opportunities to serve in their community. Rubbish collection, even with the truck, must be a mundane way for a person to spend 40 hours a week, but it wouldn’t be an unpleasant way for 8 people to each spend 5 hours a week. An added advantage should be pointed out with this work sharing arrangement. The fulltime rubbish collector, while not particularly liking his job, will, for the sake of his income, resist any innovation that threatens his performance of it. This resistance would be retired were he to be provided with the means to support himself outside of his wage. The protection of ‘jobs’ has led to immeasurable suppression of real progress and inefficiencies as people fight to retain their incomes. The fact is that wasted time and resources are not just an unfortunate by-product of present organisation but a critical part of an economic system whose primary objective is full employment rather than the adequate provision of goods and services.
Under a job sharing scheme like the one described above, a natural incentive exists to improve the conditions and efficiency of rubbish collection; more leisure. Free time is the basic luxury without which no other luxury is of any use. A comfortable chair mocks its tired owner if he has not the time to sit in it, and a library is of no use to a person without the calm time to read. We are a society in the unfortunate circumstance of being saturated by items produced for our betterment and enjoyment, but with no time to take advantage of them. We are so exhausted by the treadmill economy that the most popular leisure goods are those designed to make unconscious the exhausted.
Douglas brings these factors into a coherent whole in Credit Power and Democracy:
Therefore the more this maintenance of life can be shifted from the backs of men on to the backs of machines, the more certain is it that a considerable portion of this energy will, without compulsion, be devoted to the improvement of the industrial machine. That is to say, if a practical policy based on these considerations be pursued there will be a fall in the man-hours required for routine or operating work, and a consequent rise in the man-hours available for design and research work. The industrial machine is a lever, continuously being lengthened by progress, which enables the burden of Atlas to be lifted with ever-increasing ease. As the number of men required to work the lever decreases, so the number set free to lengthen it increases. It is true that, owing to the defective workings of an outworn financial system, the lengthening of the lever has been offset by obstacles to its beneficent employment, but these very obstacles, by raising up a worldwide unrest, will secure a rectification of the means of distribution, which is the first step to a better state of things.2
Most urgently, the granting to people of the power to withdraw from unnecessary and dehumanising work is the only remedy to environmental catastrophe. The will to live is stronger than the will to preserve a liveable world for future generations or for its own sake, and any plan to save the environment without the release of people from wage slavery is doomed to fail. The economic order sets human activity against life. To continue to insist on an economic model that, on the productive side, enlists man’s ingenuity to increase the power of automatic machines then, for the purpose of distributing the product, endeavours to put ‘all the men to work on all the machines’, is to perpetrate mechanised war on the planet itself.
Bertrand Russel said ‘The morality of work is the morality of slaves and the modern world has no need for slavery.’ We must discard the mental rubbish that keeps us tied to the puritanical ideology of work. The insistence by careerist politicians and economists that employment constitutes the only legitimate claim to goods and services is a false absolute that is driving the world and its life forms to the brink. As machines increase productivity and displace workers, widening the gap between prices and consumer purchasing power the method of government-by-money-for-work is increasingly perverse. Proponents of full employment make their case in connection with broadly held misconceptions about money. As Douglas said ‘you do not make money by making goods or by working’. Money is made by bank lending, and banks lend when we promise to work, and that is why everybody has to work and why everybody is in debt. There is nothing inevitable about debt. It is simply a device by which the powers that be retain control of the social credit*, and the virtue of toil is the key message of their propaganda. The Social Credit technical proposals offer the possibility of a gentle transition from the conditions we know to those we hope for.3
*Social Credit defined in Elements of Social Credit as ‘the power of individuals in association to produce the result intended measured in terms of their human satisfaction.’
- Keynes, J, M. 1930. Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren, Available from http://www.econ.yale.edu/smith/econ116a/keynes1.pdf [Accessed 21/06/2015]
- Douglas, C.H. 1931. Credit Power and Democracy. Kemp Hall Press Ltd, Great Britain.
- Monahan, B. W. 1957. Why I am A Social Crediter. Available from http://www.socialcredit.com.au/uploads/2612949381.pdf [Accessed 21/06/2015]