Friday 31 August 2012

Social Credit and the New Home Economics Part II

Practical proposals, such as a National Dividend based upon a Just Price system, have been put forward by ‘social crediters’, and can be justified once the relationship between the real and the financial economies is fully understood. Such proposals have their strengths and their weaknesses. The main strength is that they accord with no political faction, whether of the left or of the right, where party leaders can be subjected to external pressures. For example, a National Dividend paid as a right to all citizens could be a means to strengthen civil liberties, the theory being that an independent income would offer the individual the right to refuse to be exploited at work. (Yes, it is true that, in theory at least, there are laws about minimum wages and conditions of employment. In practice, however, in the UK as I write, workers in care homes are being hired for, say, 15 hours per week, but expected to work any number of extra hours unpaid if asked to do so, under threat of losing the job.) The main weakness is that, as things stand, the administering body offering the National Dividend could be centrally controlled, hence would itself potentially threaten civil liberties.

In a sane and sensible world, it would be possible to face the fact that, throughout the twentieth century, ‘the economy’ has veered from crisis to crisis, with bouts of war, and bouts of depression alternating seemingly beyond rhyme or reason. ‘It’, i.e., mainstream economic thinking, plainly is not working. Or, to put it another way, it is serving to produce increasing uncertainty. As finance grinds from crisis to crisis, it leads to military conflicts, environmental degradation and poverty on hitherto unprecedented scales. Yet ‘it’ – mainstream theory – is the only show in town. Whenever alternatives are raised - merely for the sake of discussion, as a way to think laterally - they have been silenced by being labelled ‘heretical’. Most notably, all discussion of Social Credit theory, of the history of this massive popular movement, and of its success as a democratic political alternative to the corruptible party system, all discussion has been banned in the academy. A tenured economist at a university cannot even raise the subject for free and open discussion and retain any chance of security of tenure, let alone promotion (See my Understanding the Financial System for details.) As a result of the stultifying of debate, economist jokes abound:

Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They all assume it doesn’t need changing.
Economist jokes are humorous because, like all forms of jest, they contain a crucial element of truth. And the truth of the matter is that mainstream economic theory is not designed to relate to economic practice. In economic theory there are invisible hands, divisions of labour and a quest for general equilibrium. In economic practice there is a banking system based upon debt, taxation and employment laws passed by governments and backed by the full forces of law and order.

Economist jokes abound wherever economists congregate, because, deep down, economists know that they are employed to create plausible illusions about how the financial economy works. Like Christopher Columbus, they need lucrative government grants to ply their trade.

The New Home Economics distinguishes between the facts of the real economy and the fictions of the financial economy. All that glitters is not gold. See the New Home Economics Study Guide in the current issue of The Social Crediter, available on .

Thursday 30 August 2012

Social Credit and the New Home Economics Part I

“Christopher Columbus was perhaps the first economist. When he left to discover America, he didn’t know where he was going. When he got there, he didn’t know where he was. When he returned, he didn’t know where he had been. And it was all done on a government grant!” Economist Jokes, www.

Ever since I started to research and write about Social Credit, the reaction has been, “Yes! Sounds fine! But would it work? How would it work?” And I heartily sympathise with Clifford Hugh Douglas in his frustration as he first presented his analysis of the economics of the First World War in 1918. What do people mean when they say, how would it work? What is ‘it’? Social Credit is not in essence a set of proposals for reform. Rather, it is an analysis of the relationship between the real, tangible, material economy and the elusive, will o’ the wisp of the financial economy. Once that is clear as a starting point, all manner of schemes could be dreamed up. Social Credit analysis can be used right across the political spectrum, from far left to far right, and all the gradations between. Before proposing practical institutional change, it is essential to grasp how the existing system works. Only then can discussion of particular reforms be soundly based.

The New Home Economics distinguishes between the facts of the real economy and the fictions of the financial economy. All that glitters is not gold. See the New Home Economics Study Guide in the current issue of The Social Crediter, on  

Monday 27 August 2012

Diversity of Income Streams?

In Cottage Economy (1822), William Cobbett argued the case for hand-crafting within the household as a means of supplementing the family income. He saw the teaching of practical skills at home as providing sound learning opportunities for children. He deplored the mounting economic pressure for parents and children to sell their very souls into wage slavery in a factory, mill or coal mine:

“One of the great misfortunes of England at this day is, that the land has had taken away from it those employments for its women and children which were so necessary to the well-being of the agricultural labourer. The spinning, the carding, the reeling, the knitting; these have been all taken away from the [cottage out-workers], and given to the Lords of the Loom. But let the landholder mark how the change has operated to produce his ruin. He must have the labouring MAN and the labouring BOY; but, alas! he cannot have these, without the man’s wife and the boy’s mother, and little sisters and brothers. Even Nature herself says, that he shall have the wife and little children, or that he shall not have the man and the boy. But the Lords of the Loom, the crabbed-voiced, hard-favoured, hard-hearted, puffed-up, insolent and bloody wretches of the North have, assisted by a blind and greedy Government, taken all the employment away from the agricultural women and children. This manufacture of straw [Cobbett was describing the ease with which fine straw hats could be produced for the local home market] will form one little article of employment for these persons. It sets at defiance all the hatching and scheming of the tyrannical wretches who cause the poor little creatures to die in their factories, heated to eighty-four degrees. There will need no inventions of Watt; none of your horse powers, nor water powers; no murdering of one set of wretches in the coal mines, to bring up the means of murdering another sort of wretches in the factories, by the heat produced from these coals; none of these are wanted to carry on this manufacture. It wants no combination laws [by which trade unions were made illegal so that workers were rendered powerless to negotiate their terms of paid employment]; none of the inventions of the hard-hearted wretches of the North.” (Cottage Economy p181)

Cobbett’s basic argument holds true to the present day. Instead of going out to a place of paid employment, it could ‘pay’ to make a cost/benefit, time and motion analysis of the real value to each household of seeking paid employment in a place of work. Going out to a place of paid employment engenders costs, in terms of time, money and the real resources of the earth. Weighed, measured and balanced up, much of that expenditure could prove, on reflection, to be a waste of time, money and resources.

Going to work (i.e., into paid employment outside the household) normally involves travel and other costs. Be it car or public transport, that means money is spent by the worker, fuel and means of transport have to be produced by other workers, and the whole costs in terms of environmental wastes. Similarly, suitable clothing has to be bought, housing, leisure, sports, holidays and so on paid for, produced and consumed. The task is to evaluate the total ‘satisfaction’ gained within an individual household, when the total ‘disutility’ (dissatisfaction, waste) is taken into account.

Moreover - and this comes out elsewhere in Cottage Economy – children given responsible tasks to perform in a well-managed home derive lifelong advantage from acquiring practical skills, with their inherent satisfactions. Such benefits are denied the inmate of the formal school classroom. Cobbett himself was living proof of the argument that book-learning can come later, to great advantage.

However, for parents of today, the big question is how to put a roof over the head of their family. And that means going to work to earn the money to provide the necessities of life so that their children can go to school in their turn to learn how to go to work … etc, etc, etc.

See Home Economics Study Guide, by Frances Hutchinson (forthcoming).

Saturday 25 August 2012

To be free or to conform?

“We all need at times to discover again what is beautiful about ourselves. We stultify our beauty by trying to model ourselves on the images that are set for us by others – the way we think we should look, the way we should feel, the way we should dress, walk and talk.

“If we are to nurture our own particular beauty, we must nourish our bodies with healthy food and drink; nourish our minds with literature, art and good company; nourish our spirits with silence, stillness and prayer. This way we can rid ourselves of anxiety, anger and negativity, and replace them with peace and joy and positive energy.” Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, Gardening the Soul.

In all aspects of our lives today, the pressure to conform is all but overwhelming. It is just not worth the hassle to break conventions of dress, procedures or modes of thought in our places of work. At home at our leisure we are constantly drawn into the stories of politics, economics and personalities as they are presented to us by the electronic media. Even the seemingly spontaneous informality of Facebook and the like has its codes and conventions, offering the illusion of freedom. But it is all illusion. With our iPads and mobiles we are everywhere – and nowhere.
It is, perhaps, through children that we catch glimpses of the truth. As their bodies, minds and spirits are crammed into the classroom of electronic gadgetry the whistle blows – but nobody takes any notice. As parents and grandparents, who dares to hint at the possibility of saying “NO!” on behalf of the child’s future quality of life?
To be free is to claim the right not to conform. But to claim that right one needs more than a passing sense of unease.

To find out why things are the way they are, see the New Home Economics Study Guide (forthcoming).

Monday 20 August 2012

On William Cobbett

By seeming chance, last year I came upon William Cobbett’s A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland. It completely changed my understanding of the political economy of the twenty-first century. Although written in the 1820s, apparently on the subject of the religious changes following from the reign of Henry VIII, it is in fact an economic history of the Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions of the modern era. In turn, seeming chance led Cobbett, in his early youth, to study read Swift’s Tale of a Tub. At that time, two centuries ago, the enduring relationship between faith positions and political economy was more clearly understood. This is what Chesterton had to say in his 1926 biography of Cobbett:

“The critics were all wrong about Cobbett. I mean they were especially wrong about what he represented. Cobbett was not what they have always represented him as being; not even what they have always praised him as being. Cobbett was not merely a wrong-headed fellow with a knack of saying the right word about the wrong thing. Cobbett was not merely an angry and antiquated old farmer who thought the country must be going to the dogs because the whole world was not given over to the cows. Cobbett was not merely a man with a lot of nonsensical notions that could be exploded by political economy; a man looking to turn England into an Eden that should grow nothing but Cobbett’s Corn. What he saw was not an Eden that cannot exist but rather an Inferno that can exist, and even that does exist. What he saw was the perishing of the whole English power of self-support, the growth of cities that drain and dry up the countryside, the growth of dense dependent populations incapable of finding their own food, the toppling triumph of machines over men, the sprawling omnipotence of financiers over patriots, the herding of humanity in nomadic masses whose very homes are homeless, the terrible necessity of peace and the terrible probability of war, all the loading up of our little island like a sinking ship; the wealth that may mean famine and the culture that may mean despair; the bread of Midas and the sword of Damocles. In a word, he saw what we see, but he saw it when it was not there. And some cannot see it – even when it is here.” (William Cobbett by G.K. Chesterton, p5).

That was written nearly a century ago. And still, to this very day, Cobbett is dismissed as a dreamer longing for a bygone age that never was, rather than the prophetic figure of the times to come, if the trends he noted towards resignation of the powers of self-determination to the powers-that-be were to continue apace.

Monday 13 August 2012

Working for Godot

 A series of pictures of a brand new prison gave rise recently to comparisons between the prison environment and that of the workplace.

In Prison you spend the majority of your time in a 10X10 cell.

At Work you spend the majority of your time in an 6X6 cubicle/office.

In Prison you get three meals a day fully paid for.

At Work you get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it

In Prison you get time off for good behaviour.

At work you get more work for good behaviour.

In Prison the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you.

At Work you must often carry a security card and open all the doors for yourself.

In Prison you can watch TV and play games.

At Work you could get fired for watching TV and playing games.

In Prison all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required.

At Work you get to pay all your expenses to go to work, and they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

In Prison you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out.

At Work you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

In Prison you must deal with sadistic wardens.

At Work they are called line managers.

When one considers that “Poverty, wars and environmental desecration continue unchecked because people are paid to produce those results” (Blog motto, top right hand of screen), one must ask WHY do people voluntarily enter into contracts of employment?

It would seem we are all content to continue working for Godot, beyond rhyme or reason.