Chapter 6 — Poverty amidst Plenty
abundance of goods introduced into the world, since man discovered the
means of transforming energy and harnessing the forces of nature to his
service, ought to be reflected in economic security for all — which
means, at the very least, modest material comfort in every home, in an
era of good, joyful, and peaceful social relations among individuals and
the picture that meets the eye in all the civilized countries of the
world is quite different. In front of an abundance of goods that pile
up, except when they are destroyed in wartime, destitution takes place.
and warehouses are full to overflowing; shop windows, newspapers, radio
and TV announce everywhere a wide range of products, while people in
their homes have to do without food, and use their rags and old
furniture longer than ordinary.
percentage of our population is merely existing rather than enjoying the
use of available and sufficient wealth to live in reasonable comfort? At
least three-fourths of our population.”
(Rev. Charles E. Coughlin, Money,
quotations are hardly necessary. Most readers have only to examine their
personal situations and that of their neighbours. So who, today, is
ensured of a reasonable comfort for tomorrow?
one doubts that tomorrow Canada can continue to supply in plenty what is
needed in terms of food, clothing, and housing. But how many people are
assured of having a sufficient share for themselves and their families
tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, next year?
number of unemployed and laid-off workers should, logically, show an
overabundance of goods, and that consumption has reached saturation
point. This number means, above all, sufferings, destitution, and
goods are there in front of human needs. So why is it that these goods
do not fill these existing needs? What prevents the economy from
reaching its end?
is it that consumers, who have so many unsatisfied needs, cannot use
these goods made for them?
existence of widespread poverty, in front of so much production and
unused production capacity, is a terrible accusation against the
has supply been so great. In front of this supply, is there actually no
exists. But the claim on supply, the right to have it, is wanting; this
claim is money.
demand, effective demand
should make a distinction between real demand and effective demand.
demand ensues from real needs. As long as there are people who are
hungry, there exists a real demand for food. As long as there are people
without proper shelter, there is a real demand for housing. As long as
there are sick people, there is a real demand for medicine and medical
this real demand becomes effective only if it presents the claim to
demand exists only where money is united to needs.
the present economic system, one usually notices a lot of real demands
without the claims that would make these demands effective. The
producers, forced to recover their expenses, look for places where there
is still some money left, and then do everything possible to create a
demand. This is to sell under pressure, which no longer answers the
needs of the consumers, but the needs of the producers.
is a reversal of the economic order. The consumers become exploited
victims, and no longer the masters to serve.
humane solution would be to put money where the needs are, thus making
the real demand effective; and not to create artificial needs where the
real demand does not exist.
Douglas points out that to reconcile the real demand and the capacity to
pay, the will-to-power will have to be defeated by the will-to-freedom,
and that this reconciliation involves a modification of the distributive
system. (See Economic
Democracy, page 90.)
adds, with a sound conception of the end of economics:
if there is any sanity left in the world at all, it should be obvious
that the real demand is the proper objective of production, and that it
must be met from the bottom upwards, that is to say, there must be first
a production of necessaries sufficient to meet universal requirements;
and, secondly, an economic system must be devised to ensure their
practically automatic and universal distribution; this having been
achieved it may be followed to whatever extent may prove desirable by
the manufacture of articles having a more limited range of usefulness.
All financial questions are quite beside the point; if finance cannot
meet this simple proposition then finance fails, and will be
production exists to satisfy the needs of the consumers, and since,
according to regulations generally accepted, the consumer must present
money to be able to draw upon production, the money in the hands of the
consumers must be in keeping with their needs, combined with the
country's production capacity. If this is not so, money works against
the consumers, therefore against man. In this case, a change is
is because the present monetary system hinders the satisfaction of the
consumers' needs, that certain people propose the abolition of money.
According to them, the State would then seize all of the production that
is not consumed by its authors, and would itself distribute it to all
the members of the community.
is the Communist solution, which nobody wants in our country. Yet, one
cannot approve of the immobilization of goods and production in front of
will not even consider the dictatorial solution, in which it is no
longer the consumers who express their needs: A superman dictates to all
what they should have, and to production what it should do. In such a
system, guns may well be produced at the expense of bread.
is another solution — the solution which, in putting money in the
hands of the consumers, of ALL consumers, gives them ALL the right to
choose products. Then the consumers really orient production. It is the
Social Credit solution. It brought a sociologist to write:
if you want neither Socialism nor Communism, bring Social Credit in
array against them. It will be in your hands a powerful weapon with
which to fight these enemies.”
(Rev. Georges-Henri Lévesque, O.P., in Social
Credit and Catholicism.)
But one must first study this money question, to understand whence the shortcomings of the monetary system, and how to make the system work and fulfill its role.