Chapter 13 — Heritage and Heirs



“Science and industry are the nations'
inheritance.” (The Twentieth-
Larousse Illustrated Dictionary)

Science applied to agriculture, industry, trade, and communications has made enormous progress, especially in the last one-and-a-half centuries, and more particularly in the last fifty years.

Man has known for a long time how to multiply, by the use of simple machines, the strength of his muscles and that of animals; he has also made use of some inanimate powers, like wind and water. But ever since he has learned how to exploit solar energy, fossilized in the form of coal or oil; ever since he distributes hundreds of miles away, through simple metallic wires, the power of waterfalls; ever since chemistry has passed from the laboratory into industry, one cannot keep count of all the types of improvements and progress. The production problem is resolved.

Blind or obstinate?

There are some who have not yet understood this; who believe that man has to be poor and endure much to earning his living. When you speak of a heritage accumulated by generations, of the earth conquered by man's toil and mind, they retort that we are born in debt. Wealth overflows, but a false, absurd, and fallacious financial system, which is diametrically opposed to actual facts, changes the heirs into debtors.

Oh! their logic!... It seems that Champlain and the valiant settlers who planted the Cross, and who brought the plow and civilization into Canada's forests, followed by their successors, who for three centuries have improved agriculture, made towns and industries flourish — this whole line of workers have left to the Canadians living in the middle of the twentieth century nothing but a heritage of debts? And twenty-five years from now, how much bigger will be this debt, on which we cannot always even pay the interest?

A courageous pioneer begins to clear new land. His task is to change a jumble of birch and other poor kinds of trees into a productive farm, because good standing timber has been gone for a long time, having been either burnt by fire, or been removed by lumber merchants or by paper-making companies. This man, his wife and kids, will toil hard for thirty, forty years, with a good many chances of leaving to the oldest boy a mortgaged farm, and to the other children nothing but the memory of their virtues. Out of our forests, out of our lands, out of our factories, there seems to come a voice that parodies: “You shall make debts by the sweat of your brow.”

A child has just been born; baptism has not yet made him a son of the Church, but he is already a debtor. Federal, municipal, school, and parochial debts fill the atmosphere around his cradle. He is born in debt. He will grow in debt. He will work —if he has the chance to — to pay accumulated debts, while nibbling on a few crumbs which support his earning capacity and which prevent him from revolting completely, until he dies in debt.

And you speak of heritage! Some heritage that is!

When stupidity holds the reins

What happens is that, in fact, under today's illogical system, the more assets a country acquires, the more its “financial” debt increases. The worker creates wealth, while the parasite manages finance. And, in spite of all the beautiful speeches to the contrary, finance is set above man; the parasite is master, and the worker is a slave. Tell the worker that he is an heir, and the parasite will make him say that you are an Utopian, a trouble-maker, a destroyer of morals.

A system which exists for the profit of the few and the enslavement of peoples does not want to acknowledge the real heritage, the great asset bequeathed to a generation by all those who preceded it.

But Social Credit, which has lost all respect for the old idols and their high priests, highly proclaims the existence of this heritage and the rights of the heirs.

Social Credit does not trouble itself with bookkeepers who reward you with a forty years' debt when you have succeeded in building a bridge across the St. Lawrence River. These jokes have caused us too much harm for us not to throw them all to the winds.

The cultural inheritance

The Social Crediters call cultural inheritance “the vast heritage of discovery and invention, of culture and learning, of organization whether social, political or industrial, of education and religion, of aspirations and ideals which have been handed down and developed by generation after generation... Collectively these form the Common Cultural Inheritance of humanity, or more shortly, Civilization.” (This Age of Plenty, by C. Marshall Hattersley, p. 232.)

It is a COMMON asset, and that is the reason why every member of society is entitled to a share of production, this share getting bigger and bigger as this asset enters more and more into production as a preponderant factor. Assuredly, the worker who exploits it is entitled to his reward, and no one contemplates refusing it to him. But the owner of this common cultural asset, that is, each member of society, nevertheless retains his entitlement and rights.

It was said a great many times that capital and labour must work together, because labour without capital cannot do much, and capital without labour can do absolutely nothing. But what can both do together if you exclude the cultural inheritance, the contributions of inventions and progress throughout the ages?

Thanks to the contributions of applied science, of the cultural asset, products multiply and improve with fewer raw materials and less work. Is it not fair for the heirs to get their share?

The heirs

And who are the heirs?

We have said it; this cultural inheritance is a common asset that belongs to every member of society. Suppress the community, the association, and you will suppress plenty. Plenty is much more the fruit of the common cultural asset than of individual effort. Certainly the latter remains, but the former is there too.

Because we ignore the inheritance and the heirs, the world is filled with injustices and nonsense. Possible production is not marketed and often is not even realized, because the heirs are not given their claims on this production which the common asset, entering into it as an important factor, entitles them to.

The national dividend

It is the income from this inheritance that Social Credit wants to distribute, under the name of a national dividend, to every member of society.

It is a dividend, because it corresponds to surpluses.

The firm which has an income surplus does not declare a crisis, but distributes the surplus among its shareholders. If Canadian agriculture and industry have surpluses, why not let the members of society, all the Canadians, benefit from it, as members of an organized society?

No one should see the shadow of Communism or Socialism in this theory. Private industry remains. Private property remains, as well as profit. Private capital, which was really invested, continues to command reasonable dividends. Labour continues to draw its wages. But the heirs receive the annual income from their inheritance.

All, young and old, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, sick or healthy, are entitled to this dividend, because it is not earned by anyone in particular, because all direct contributors to production have already been rewarded, and because surpluses are only due to the cultural asset.

This cultural asset is the common property of everybody. If you give a larger dividend to some, you favour one over another. If you do not give it to anyone, you let production go to waste or be restricted in front of glaring needs, and you have the unjustifiable situation of poverty amidst plenty.

Nothing for nothing?

“But it is to give something for nothing!” some might say.

This is giving claims on the wealth to distribute the wealth that already exists. This is granting to the members of society a dividend on the capital accumulated by their fathers, which capital they themselves will continue to increase, to the benefit of their sons.

Jacques Maritain

To conclude, read this quotation from the great Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain:

“We think that, in a system where a (more social) conception of property would be in force, this axiom (`nothing for nothing') would not be able to survive. Quite to the contrary, the law of usus communis would lead us to establish that, at least and foremost, what regards the basic material and spiritual needs of the human person, it is proper for people to get, for nothing, as many things as possible... The human person being served in his basic necessities is only, after all, the first condition of an economy which does not deserve to be called barbarous.

“The principles of such an economy would lead to a better understanding of the profound meaning and the essentially human roots of the idea of inheritance, in such a way that... all men, upon entering into the world, could effectively enjoy, in some way, the condition of being an heir of the preceding generations.”


Previous Chapter                   Contents                        Next Chapter