The Morality of Work

   The issue of work is always a sticking point with people trying to comprehend the Social Credit position. When it’s all boiled down all we are saying is that when it comes to work people should be allowed to exercise the choice that progress would undoubtedly make possible if it weren’t for a financial setup that prohibits it.


   We take a neutral positon on work in that we believe there is good and bad work. If you’re a bulldozer driver chain clearing rainforest we would all be better off if you could stay home and paint pictures, compose music, glug beer or do nothing at all. It is difficult to argue against the statement that there is a hell of a lot of work that shouldn’t be done but those who do bad work will fight bitterly to continue to do it for the sake of the income it provides. As Oliver Heydorn wrote ‘there is nothing irreducibly positive about paid work.’

   With respect to the non-economic advantages of work; avoiding depression, status and social connections, these things can be obtained in other spheres outside the economy. I agree that being a useful person is an edifying condition. But if in a Social Credit society somebody felt depressed or isolated they would be free to work if they thought that the best way to deal with their malaise. There are plenty of jobs to do. Actually, it is fair to say that is it largely financial arrangements that make us so time poor resulting in much necessary work remaining undone. Social Crediters don’t propose stopping anyone from working, but we do object to an organisation like the Reserve Bank of Australia manipulating the money system in pursuit of a policy of full employment which they are bound to fail at in increasingly spectacular fashion. An objective, I should add, that comes before ‘the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia.’ Check it out for yourself at their website http://www.rba.gov.au/about-rba/our-role.html.

   Despite a persistent call for work if we are honest it is actually money people want, not work. If you asked people whether they would prefer five hundred a week gratis or a job that paid five hundred a week I am confident in the prediction that the majority would choose the former. The point is that people don’t involve themselves in work in the first place to feel good. People work because they consider it the best way to get for themselves the physical necessities for living and then, if they’re lucky, some luxuries. The startling contradiction that these things are getting easier and cheaper to produce and the average person is having to work harder and longer to secure them is an indictment on an economic system that continues to paternalistically maintain as a priority the insistence on work as a moral principle.

   Present financial arrangements ensure we are a long way off being serious about a ‘just’ economy. There exists very real, degrading poverty and insecurity amidst the plenty of the industrialised nations and it is the intention of Social Credit to deal with it directly. I think it is an egregious diversion when leadership and the media moralise about employment instead of addressing the suffering of people.

   Morality aside the failure to distribute the product of the machine is having catastrophic effects and it is this destructive disorganisation that Social Crediters object to first. Quigley reports that in 1830 United States industry expended six million BTU per capita. A hundred years later it was 245 million BTU. Lord knows what it is today. Of course the increase is due to the utilisation of inanimate sources of energy and the result is a lot of stuff for sale and an edging out of labour as a factor in production. Far from abating, this trend has accelerated.

   I have recently read Veroufakis’ book The Global Minotaur and he makes some interesting points relevant to this discussion. At the end of the Second World War the United States pursued what he describes as The Global Plan. Its twin pillars were the economic restoration of Germany and Japan through means of massive finance and industrial assistance. The planners did not decide on this course out of the goodness of their hearts. Veroufakis says they did this in order to build in what he calls a Global Surplus Recycling Mechanism (GSRM). The realisation after the war was that there could never be enough demand generated in the United States to consume America's post-war industrial output. The solution was to build Germany and Japan as a marketplace for the output of American heavy industry. Additionally, the farsighted (or short-sighted) planners understood that to maintain this GSRM Japan and Germany would require similar zones in which to sell their product once they were up and running.

   If Veroufakis is right, and it stands to reason, the economic design for the post war world came out of the disequilibrium unavoidable in industrial economies that create money like we do. As I said the US didn’t do this out of sympathy for their recent enemies. They did it because they couldn’t imagine a system that would allow the Americans an extra day off and be paid for it. They couldn’t see how they could at the same time increase effective demand (get people incomes) and not do work.  Or, perhaps more precisely, they couldn’t imagine the banks allowing them to make credit that wasn’t attached to debt and therefore didn’t require an ongoing obligation to make things.

   The truth is that we can’t keep running industry at full tilt and avoid catastrophe, both social and environmental. Douglas said ‘if you put all the men to work on all the machines you get a surplus that only the organised destruction of war can deal with.’ Furthermore, the mechanical and polluting power of industry to do damage to the natural world makes it vital that we only use it carefully. Seriously, we are at the point when knocking off early is becoming a matter of survival of the species.

   In his essay In Praise of Idleness Bertrand Russel once wrote ‘the morality of work is the morality of slaves and the modern world has no need of slavery.’ Just think about it.

 

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