The purpose of this essay is to give an explanation of the economic crisis which afflicts Australia and much of the world. By economic crisis I am referring to the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the ever rising cost of living, sinking wages and the crushing power of the private banking monopolies who control and restrict the use of money thus impoverishing the masses. This rapacious and corrupt financial system has engineered the world economy into a state of artificial scarcity much to the ignorance of the general masses. And it is this culpable ignorance which maintains this international financial oligarchy which includes the banks, multi-national corporations and the politicians who support them. To begin this article, I will explain the nature and purpose of economics and what the Catholic Church has wisely taught on this subject. Then, I will outline a solution to this crisis that is based on Christian principles that I believe is the most practical and just solution for our modern age of technology and industry.
There is a view commonly held today that the Church’s purpose is entirely spiritual and thus should not speak on social and economic matters. This idea is false. The Catholic Church teaches on matters pertaining to faith and morals and since economics involves morality so she must speak on it. Pope Pius XI explains this in his 1931 social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno:
“there resides in Us the right and duty to pronounce with supreme authority upon social and economic matters. Certainly the Church was not given the commission to guide men to an only fleeting and perishable happiness but to that which is eternal. Indeed ‘the Church holds that it is unlawful for her to mix without cause in these temporal concerns’; however, she can in no wise renounce the duty God entrusted to her to interpose her authority, not of course in matters of technique for which she is neither suitably equipped nor endowed by office, but in all things that are connected with the moral law.”
As Leo stated, the Catholic Church’s divine mandate to preach the Gospel to the world for the salvation of souls is central to the Church’s mission, but it also involves, as part of that mission, a desire to improve economic conditions and alleviate physical poverty. The reason for such a desire is that people should have available to them all that is required for healthy existence such as food, water, clothing, shelter, security and leisure time in order to properly develop their spiritual lives and grow in holiness. Being in a state of severe want prevents one from taking the necessary time to contemplate the existence of God and thus grow in faith because he is kept too busy trying to work out how he is going to get his next meal or where he will sleep the next night. Also, having access to all of one’s needs is essential for maintaining one’s dignity as a human being. Such dignity is endowed by God.
Since the fall of mankind from grace in the Garden of Eden, the economic structures amongst human societies have more or less functioned on the basis that all able bodied men in the population worked to produce goods and services that are required for that population to survive and flourish. These goods and services are then exchanged between individuals for other goods and services which they require such as food and water. This was done with gold, silver and later notes or coins where one’s goods are exchanged for the currency amount equal to its objective and physical value. However, with the commencement of the industrial revolution, the old agrarian worker and owner economies were replaced by factories and mass production lines in crowded cities where wealth and property became focused in the hands of a few and the individual workers were reduced to wage slaves with little freedom or dignity. Wealth and property became concentrated amongst a few merchants and bankers who effectively control the flow of money itself. Pope Leo XIII responding to this social and economic crisis in the late 19th century with his landmark 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum declared:
“In any case we clearly see, and on this there is general agreement, that some opportune remedy must be found quickly for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the ￼working class: for the ancient workingmen's guilds were abolished in the last century, and no other protective organization took their place. Public institutions and the laws set aside the ancient religion. Hence, by degrees it has come to pass that working men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition. The mischief has been increased by rapacious usury, which, although more than once condemned by the Church, is nevertheless, under a different guise, but with like injustice, still practiced by covetous and grasping men. To this must be added that the hiring of labor and the conduct of trade are concentrated in the hands of comparatively few; so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.”
And again over half a century later, Pope Pius XII echoed similar concerns in an address he gave to Catholic women’s associations in 1945 declaring:
“And what of a regime in which capitalism is dominant? Does it offer a prospect of real welfare for woman? We have no need here to describe the economic and social consequences of this system. You know its characteristic signs and you yourselves labor under the burden it imposes: the excessive crowding of the population into the cities; the ever-growing and all-invading power of big business; the difficult and precarious condition of other industries, especially the crafts and even more especially agriculture; the disquieting spread of unemployment.”
In response to the growing widespread economic injustice and poverty as a result of unrestrained capitalism that dominated the 19th century, various remedies were sought to address these abuses. One of the most radical proposals was Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. While Marxism was right in its acknowledgment of the abuses of unrestrained capitalism, it sought to instead abolish all private property and production so that nobody could own anything. All property and the means of production was to be owned and administered by the state as a system of common ownership but in reality was a form of state capitalism where wealth is focused in the hands of a political party instead. Such a system has caused great suffering and poverty for those same people it intended to liberate. Marxism is also by nature, atheistic and secularist and has committed brutal persecutions of Christianity especially under Soviet Communism.
There is strong evidence to support that the destructive Communist revolution in Russia was secretly backed by bankers and financial oligarchs on Wall Street as a way to manipulate and control the impoverished masses under the guise of Marxist socialism. But against both those extremes, the Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI with their landmark social encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno, condemned both unrestrained capitalism and Marxist socialism and advocated a fairer distribution of private property and wealth, just working conditions and support for the poor and disadvantaged and it was thanks to these efforts that living standards improved greatly throughout the Western world, especially in Australia in the later part of the 20th century. But since the 1980s, these fair economic conditions have been declining again with the revival of ruthless free market economic policies which has led to the erosion of working conditions and the focusing of wealth increasingly in the hands of a few rapacious financial oligarchs with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
However, there are deeper causes of this social and economic crisis that has been present since the advent of the industrial revolution but is now accelerating and that is the technological automation of industry and the monopoly of money which Pius XI referred to in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno as a “deadly and accursed internationalism of finance or international imperialism”. We are led to believe today by those in control of industry and finance that living costs are so high because there is a scarcity of goods and services available. This belief is utterly false, the scarcity is artificial in nature. There is more than enough to go around for everyone and it is becoming ever more so the case with the advancement of technology and the automation of ￼industry which has increased the rate of production of goods and services enormously. The problem is that there is a lack of money or purchasing power being distributed to the individual consumers. The amount of money that there is in circulation is meant to reflect the amount of physical goods available but a great portion of this money is being restricted by private banks who hold a monopoly over the creation and flow of money and credit who then issue it with loans that have enslaved entire populations with debt that must be paid back with interest. This is historically referred to as usury. This forced scarcity of money is being exacerbated by the automation of production which is replacing humans in jobs. Whilst the rate of production has increased requiring less and less human labour, machines and computers are replacing humans in the processes of production. As a result, stable full-time jobs are declining and it is becoming no longer possible to keep all of the able bodied population fully employed. This does not bode well for society because employment in servile work is still viewed as the only legitimate means of acquiring money which is essential for acquiring the goods and services necessary for survival. As less and less purchasing power is being distributed to the individual through wages, salaries and dividends, poverty and stress is growing as people are forced to brutally compete with each other for fewer and fewer available jobs. It is estimated that as much as 40% of all current jobs in Australia could be replaced by robots by 2030. It is in this new situation that mankind (at least in the developed world) is now at a pivotal cross-roads. Now such a situation can either be a blessing or a curse, depending on which direction we choose to go in.
There is a solution however to this dilemma: we could establish a permanent universal income so that those who can no longer find full employment can acquire all the essential goods and services they need without necessarily having to be employed full time in the workforce. Such an idea is controversial but it may be the only just solution in an age of technological unemployment. While it is true that new jobs will be created from new technologies, they will not be sufficient to replace all the jobs lost and these new jobs will require certain talents or skill sets that not everyone has. Otherwise, if we continue to cling to the increasingly unsustainable policy that employment and servile work is the only means to acquiring one’s needs, the poor and disadvantaged will inevitably be forced into poverty and destitution. This direction will have catastrophic consequences and will result in political chaos, social instability, wars, violent revolutions and the eventual collapse of civilization. One might suggest we just prohibit and destroy all the machines, computers and other labour saving devices and return to pre-industrial conditions. Then everyone would be guaranteed full employment although at great cost to their artistic and cultural lives which require leisure time. However such a direction would be very hard to achieve and even harder to maintain in perpetuity. Barring a nuclear holocaust or a catastrophic global disaster, I believe there is no going back from the technological and industrial revolution, so we should instead take advantage of it and cultivate ourselves with the abundant leisure time it can provide.
The solution I was referring to is called “Social Credit”. The Social Credit theory was originally proposed by a British engineer named Clifford Hugh Douglas in the early 20th century. Douglas explains the philosophy behind it: "Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self-development, is above all systems”. The Social Credit movement gathered great interest in Canada and Australia in the early 20th century and was adopted by an organization of Catholics in Quebec, Canada called the “Pilgrims of St. Michael”, which undertakes social and political activism and distributes magazines to promote the Social Credit movement as a method of implementing the Catholic Church’s social and economic teachings in society. Social Credit proposes the regulation and control of the monetary and financial system by the public and that a National Credit Office be established. Its nature is similar to a banking institution except it is publically controlled and not profit motivated. The purpose of this credit authority is to create and issue debt and interest free money in the form of a National Dividend to individuals and is a form of distributive justice that is undertaken by the public power as prescribed by St. Thomas Aquinas in his work, the Summa Theologica (Ethica, Volume 5, Lesson 4). This system of social credit will break the power of the private banks and liberate us from their oppressive financial monopoly by transferring the power of creation and control of money back to the public via the government sanctioned national credit office.
The national dividend is a sum of money issued to every citizen regardless of employment status so each may be provided basic economic independence and purchasing power to acquire one’s necessities such as food, water and shelter. The dividend would be received in addition to one’s wage or salary if one is employed so there is still an incentive to work. The amount of money issued is calculated exactly to the rate at which the whole country is producing material wealth and the dividend would rise and fall depending on the rate of national production. This is based on the philosophy that all citizens are beneficiaries and shareholders of their country’s production of goods and services. Pope Pius XII echoes this philosophy in his 1941 Pentecost address: “Every man indeed, as a reasonable gifted being, has, from nature, the fundamental right to make use of the material goods of the earth, though it is reserved to human will and the juridical forms of the peoples to regulate, with more detail, the practical realization of that right. Such an individual right cannot, by any means, be suppressed.” Such a dividend that is tied to the rate of the country’s total production will not cause hyper-inflation because it has effectively replaced the function of the compensatory debt money that would be borrowed from private banks as it is currently. The difference is that the dividend is debt and interest free. Also, to help prevent any resulting inflation from increased purchasing power, the credit authority will also issue what’s called a national discount to producers and businesses which is a rebate aimed at compensating for their capital expenses thus reducing their retail prices to a more just level.
The increased purchasing power provided by the national dividend will encourage small business enterprises and bring about a fairer distribution of wealth and private property amongst the population and thus close the gap between rich and poor. The tax funded welfare state which was intended to provide a social safety net for the poor and disadvantaged has become complex, inefficient, impersonal and expensive so it should be replaced by the national dividend which would require no means testing, bureaucracy or policing that is required by modern welfare systems.
One of the greatest blessings of the dividend is the abundance of leisure time and that does not mean we all become idle layouts. If too many people loafed, then the dividend would diminish thus forcing them back to work. What it means is that we are freed up to pursue activities and professions that we love and have a passion for including artistic and cultural pursuits. The Chinese philosopher Confucius says: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Humans have an inclination to want to do something and will get bored if they don’t. But by not having to constantly fight for survival by forced scarcity we can make full use of our creative impulses and develop ourselves spiritually and culturally for the benefit of God and civilization. Abundant leisure time will also foster marriage and family life. Children will be able to be raised by their mothers and parents at home rather than by commercial child care centres. Marriage and family breakdown is most often due to economic insecurity and poverty especially amongst the poor so the dividend will provide all marriages and families with the financial stability that is essential for them to form, grow and prosper regardless of their socio-economic status. The importance of leisure to the development and fostering of civilization cannot be overstated. Such past examples of leisure societies are those of the ancient Greeks who produced the great philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle or the European royal and aristocratic classes who fostered the classical music of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.
However, many are those who would object to the dividend asking why should one receive something for doing nothing, saying there is “no such thing as a free lunch” or they even quote the Biblical verse in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 saying that “if any man will not work, neither let him eat.”￼Contrary to these critics, this free dividend does not contradict that scriptural teaching and it is totally consistent with it because the dividend is intimately linked to the work and productivity of the citizens and if too many able bodied citizens were to stop working then national production would decline and with it, the dividend, eventually diminishing it altogether and thus forcing those same citizens back into the workforce. I will also recall our Lord’s words in the book of Genesis: “In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said: Let there be light. And there was light... And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done. And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good...” These first words of the Bible tell us that the earth and all that is contained within is given as a free gift from God to humanity, His principle creation, without demanding anything in return except with prayers and thanksgiving through the offering of animal sacrifices in the Old Testament and later through the offering of the un-bloody sacrifice of the Mass through His son Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The free access which all of mankind has to the abundant riches of the earth is granted unto us by our Lord as an unearned grace and this applies to the economic sphere of activity of human beings as well. But as a result of original sin, mankind was condemned to toil in servile work and deprived of leisure time which is necessary for cultivating one’s intellect, creativity and spiritual life. But God, through the coming of His son Jesus Christ, sought to save us from the effects of original sin. In His new covenant, the Catholic Church teaches that the primary end of the economic life is the production and delivery of the goods and services people require to survive and flourish with the least amount of trouble to everyone and it is to be at the service of humanity and not the other way around as it is now. Pius XI explains this in his 1931 social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno:
“For then only will the economic and social organism be soundly established and attain its end, when it secures for all and each those goods which the wealth and resources of nature, technical achievement, and the social organization of economic affairs can give. These goods must be sufficient to supply all needs and an honest livelihood, and to uplift men to that higher level of prosperity and culture which, provided it be used with prudence, is not only no hindrance but is of singular help to virtue.”
Servile work is a means to an end and not an end unto itself. As previously stated, as technology and automation continue to replace human labour, not all able bodied persons can be employed so a universal income is becoming a moral imperative. The popular aversion and opposition to the free dividend has its historical roots in Calvinist Protestantism and Puritanism which dominates the Anglo Saxon Western world. The heretical Calvinist doctrine of total depravity holds that humans are intrinsically evil, in a permanent state of sin and incapable of choosing good so we must be kept constantly busy with servile work so we have no time to stop to contemplate and supposedly get into trouble. Such a doctrine is false and is in practice like cutting the head off to save the body. But there is an even more sinister and deliberate reason for the opposition to free distribution of money and that is the multi-national financial and banking oligarchs on Wall Street and the world over who are manipulating and arbitrarily controlling the world economy by artificially restricting the distribution of money and goods thus forcing everyone into a state of financial insecurity with constant struggle and competition for survival so that we don’t bother to question their rule. Douglas stated that: “if you can control economics, you can keep the business of getting a living the dominant factor of life, and so keep your control of politics – just that long, and no longer.” Such conditions foster the vices of envy and lust for power, worldly goods and sinful pleasures thus destroying spiritual tranquillity, civility and family life. Much of this worldly materialism today is driven by scarcity because we’re so focused on fighting for what we need that we’ve become selfish, decadent and greedy as a result. The financial oligarchs subtly maintain their rule through various popular movements and institutions. For example, the delusion of liberal democracy, unrestrained ￼capitalism and the false promises of Marxism and feminism all work towards enriching the power of these malicious oligarchs by forcing both men and women to work and savagely compete with each other as slaves and are left to perish if they don’t or cannot find available jobs to serve them all the while deceiving the masses with the mantra that they live in a “free” and “equal” society. This economic structure of sin has created the popular aversion to the free dividend and can be explained succinctly by an old Irish Proverb which says: “The well fed do not understand the hungry.” The mentality of resentment and downward envy especially towards those who are disadvantaged or unfortunate is based on a Darwinistic dog eat dog view of the world that is clearly the opposite of what a civilised Christian society envisions. It is the policy of Mammon, the father of lies and the prince of this world, namely: the Devil.
But our Lord Jesus Christ has a different plan and that is that the vast resources and goods of the earth are free gifts and an unearned grace and it is with social credit that these Christian principles are applied to economic life. Christ proclaims this beautifully in John 10:10: “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” And Christ demonstrated this when He miraculously multiplied loaves of bread and fish and distributed them to the hungry multitudes in Matthew 14:19. So the natural affinity between social credit and the Catholic Church’s social and economic teachings is clear and was apparently demonstrated in 1950 when a group of businessmen in Quebec asked Bishop Albertus Martin of the diocese of Nicolet in Canada to go to Rome and ask Pope Pius XII to formally condemn the social credit economic model. The Bishop did exactly this and returned to notify the businessmen that: “If you want to get a condemnation of social credit, it is not to Rome that you must go. Pius XII said to me (the bishop): “social credit would create, in the world, a climate that would allow the blossoming of family and Christianity.”” So thus it is with social credit as a practical means to implementing and extending the social reign of Christ the King into the economy and society that we Catholics are called to do what we can even against such overwhelming odds. While it may seem impossible in our time, might does not make right and neither does this situation negate the call of Christ. Although it can’t be denied that the transition from a servile labour focused society towards one of mass leisure would be difficult for some, it is a necessary and worthwhile journey despite whatever hick ups may happen along the way there. It is a terra incognita which means “an unknown land” and an undiscovered country waiting to be explored and developed. The puritanical aversion to receiving anything for free and the deceitful financial oligarchs who rule by artificially enforcing material scarcity must be overcome. One must always seek the truth in all things because as John 8:32 says: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. Qui fecit Caelum et Terram.