Direct Credits for Everybody
By Alfred Lawson

CHAPTER 5

Capitalism Can Be Made to Work

Capitalism is a system that makes lawful private ownership of land and industries. It is opposed to Socialism which advocates public ownership of both land and industries.

By the acts of man a system is made and by the operation of a system man's actions are caused.

Capitalism, a man made system, is responsible for man's present actions and conditions because the world has been under capitalistic rule for many generations past.

Those satisfied with present conditions must be satisfied with capitalism, while those not satisfied with present conditions, cannot, of course, be fully satisfied with capitalism—as it is.

It is the system that must be altered or abolished if improved conditions are to be had, not merely a change of men as managers, for no matter how bad the system is, men can always be found willing to manage it. Throw out one bad man and another will take his place and help to continue a bad system.

A bad system makes bad men, while on the other hand, a good system will make good men, just as bad food will make men sick and good food will keep them well.

Wolves are bred under one system and sheep under another. A well balanced system will breed neither wolves nor sheep.

There is little use condemning individuals for faults bred into them by the system they are forced to live under. If the system makes degraded men then it must be changed or the breeding of degraded men will continue.

Capitalism must be blamed for the bad conditions bred under its rule.

On the other hand, to be consistent, capitalism must be given credit it deserves for the good that has been accomplished under its rule. For with all its imperfections, everybody must admit, capitalism has done much good.

So if the bad features of capitalism are eliminated and better and more modern methods are incorporated in it, capitalism can be made to work. Yes, actually work for everybody instead of just a few money owners. At least it can be improved if purged of its worst faults.

Some political economists would finish capitalism with one stroke of the ax in an effort to improve things for everybody.

My book, "Born Again," published in 1904, opposed capitalism entirely. But practical experience gained in many ways during the past quarter of a century causes me to look very carefully into the matter from all of its different viewpoints before introducing Direct Credits for Everybody.

Although the author’s ideals are the same now as when he wrote "Born Again," still he has learned from experience that it is better to retain the benefits that have come through capitalism, and merge with them the greater benefits of improved economic humane methods, than to condemn everything in connection with capitalism and advocate the hasty extermination of the whole system, which if executed, would throw the entire machinery of mankind out of order and cause terrible suffering for everybody for many years to come.

To try and socialize land and industry in America, as radical economists advocate, would be impractical right now, unless the money masters completely strangle the government, manufacturers, merchants, and workmen, with closed manufacturing plants, bankrupt stores, and unemployed and hungry millions. The American people will suffer much before they will turn against their masters. They would much rather take half a loaf peacefully than to try and get the whole loaf through turmoil.

The worst feature of present day capitalism is the financial system whereby privateers are allowed to legally collect a tax from everybody in the form of interest charged on money loans. If this monstrous racket were abolished, it would not be hard to put up with capitalism. In fact, ideal conditions can be established under capitalism if this, its deadliest sting, is taken from it.

Interest is the thief of everybody. It robs the government, it robs the manufacturer, it robs the merchants, and it robs workmen. It robs everybody except a few financiers who control the money, and by its control, gain the power to stifle governments, industry, trade and employment.

The human race has stood for many slick schemes during the past that made slaves of everybody, but the scheme that allows those with money to tax those without it, is the worst that people have ever had to put up with.

There is no sound reason why governments, manufacturers, merchants, and workers should be charged a tax for the money they use, and as long as this scheme is continued there will be business depressions, humiliated governments, bankrupt manufacturers and merchants and unemployed people.

Money is a medium of exchange, endorsed by a government for the convenience of everybody. It has no intrinsic value and if everybody refused to take it in exchange for labor or products it would be absolutely worthless.

The government, a number of persons put into office by everybody to manage its affairs, stamps its approval on money and then everybody accepts it as convenient payment. It is everybody, therefore, through their governmental managers, that makes money interchangeable, and the intention of its practice is to give equal benefit to everybody.

As everybody, through their governmental managers, makes money interchangeable, and as it has no value unless everybody sanctions it, there is no logical reason why enough of it cannot be furnished everybody for all trading purposes.

But the masters of finance will not sanction that, for enough money in circulation for all purposes would make impossible their control of money and the power to charge a tax for its use.

These all-powerful masters have built up a complicated system which requires experts to manipulate and which is not understood by everybody who are absolutely helpless while being gypped of the fruits of their labors.

One factor of the financial scheme now in force is, that less money is issued for trading purposes than is needed, so that manufacturers, merchants, workmen and governments are forced to go to those who have money for loans, upon which a tax, or toll, or interest, or graft, or whatever you may choose to call it, is charged.

Another factor is the credit system, through which business is carried on many times larger in amounts than there is money to pay for, and from which privateers collect taxes through so many different channels that everybody's cooperative wealth is mostly absorbed by a few big schemers while the majority of people are left in want for common necessities.

So with a shortage of money and the establishment of the credit system we find-persons who own the money and charge a price for the use of it.

Before the manufacturer can make useful things for everybody, he must go to privateers, borrow money and pay a price for it. The manufacturer adds the price to the cost of his product, plus his own profit, and sells it to the merchant. But before the merchant can buy it, he too must go to privateers, borrow money and pay a price for it. The merchant also adds this price, plus his own profit, to the cost of the product. And finally, when everybody wants to buy it, they too must go to privateers, borrow money for the purpose and pay a price for it.

The money owners actually extract several tolls on the same product; one for the use of the money for its manufacture; one for the use of money for its sale, and one for the use of money for its purchase. In the end it is found that everybody pays all of the tolls when buying the product.

When an automobile is assembled from parts made by different manufacturers, all of whom borrow money and pay a price for it, many different tolls have to be paid to the money owners as interest on the car before it is completed. So when the purchaser gets the car all of these tolls must be paid for as interest on money borrowed by the different parts manufacturers as well as the manufacturer's and merchant's profits.

As if enough damage had not already been done to everybody through taxing every dollar they used many times over, there are times when the financiers will not lend manufacturers money to run their plants, notwithstanding they are willing to pay the price. They become very arbitrary in their dominating position and tell the manufacturers how they must run their business. At times they force the manufacturers to cut wages of their workmen before they will lend them money, and in many instances they force them to throw their workmen out of employment. Thus again everybody has to pay the penalty, because money, the medium of trade, is controlled by privateers and interest charges are made to bleed them.

And then, as the straw that should break the camel's back, the government, who puts everybody's stamp of approval on the money to make it acceptable for labor and products, is also forced to pay a price to the privateers for the use of it when making public improvements, and once again everybody must pay the final costs through a government tax collected from everybody for that purpose.

It is no wonder that everybody staggers under such loads. If the people were not trained to take plenty of punishment and made to like it, they could never stand up under the weight of it.

There is no end to this interest-paying game. It is a series of circles running around within circles. It would require a lifetime to explain, so that everybody could understand, how it keeps people struggling for a pitiful existence; to explain how the money masters, who produce nothing, are overloaded with wealth and power, while everybody, who produces everything is reduced to beggary.

Capitalism can be made to work, yes, but not before this undermining parasite called interest is exterminated.

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