The end or goal of something means it has an objective, a goal to attain.
When one loses sight of the goal, it is as if a mariner had lost course; he goes this way and that, without knowing where he is going, or which course he should set, in order to reach his predetermined goal.
When it is the economy that “loses its course” or loses sight of its goal, the effects are felt in the lives of each and every individual.
Yet, it is not difficult to find out what the goal or purpose of the economy is. Ask a school child why one grows wheat or builds houses and he will reply: “To make bread and to provide lodgings.”
But ask a contractor why he builds a house, and he will reply: “It is to make money.” One thus begins to wander from “the course”, from the true purpose of building a house.
Now ask a professor in economics what is the purpose of industry. Chances are, he will answer: “To provide employment.” According to him, industries must be multiplied and diversified in order to give a job to everyone. This is exactly what trade unions are asking for and what politicians are constantly promising: jobs, jobs, jobs, full employment.
If one listened to them, one would believe that the true purpose of the economy is to hire people and to have workers serve employers whose only goal is to make money.
Well, the unions, economists and governments have in fact “lost the course”. So have producers, for they no longer produce in order to fill the needs, but to make money. If there is money to be made, they stay in business; if there is not, they close down, regardless of how pressing the demand is for their products, regardless of the human needs that remain unfilled.
Goods are produced to meet the needs. What those needs are is best known by those who are in need. Hence, they are the ones who should have a say on what is produced.
But the contrary currently takes place. Those who are in need, who have little money, are those who have the least to say in what is to be produced. Scan the pages of our big newspapers. Do you see the consumers telling the producers what to make? Not at all! It is the producers who tell the consumers what they are to buy.
If the economy was adjusted to needs, these needs could easily be met because today’s production is very efficient and can provide everything: a cradle or a coffin, a hairpin or a house, bread to feed the people or bombs to kill them.
However, when the economy loses sight of its purpose, everything is turned upside down; the economy is completely off course. Everyone is running after money and those who control it make pawns of those who are busy fighting one another, snarling and snapping, like dogs quarreling over a bone. A classic example of a dog-eat-dog world.
The true purpose of the economy is certainly not to supply employment; it is to produce and deliver the goods that are needed. And the more quickly the economy does so, the more perfect the economy is: of course, with the least waste of materials and energy possible.
Progress directs the economy to this fulfillment, namely, to produce as much as is required, with the minimum of time and labor.
The first and most direct fruit of this progress should be to liberate man while still feeding him; to permit him to devote himself to other human activities than purely economical activities. But because producers, economists, unions, and even sociologists, have lost their course, progress fails to liberate them; it only creates new problems. It creates, above all, the so-called problem of unemployment, because all of these supposedly “great thinkers” maintain that people must be hired to get the right to live, whereas progress causes people to be freed from labor.
Employment, which was once a means to an end (when machines did not replace human labor), has become an end in itself. However presently, it is no longer a real necessity. One makes it a necessity, because one makes it the condition of having a share in goods which are overflowing from production with less and less human participation.
“The course”, the goal of the economy, was the satisfaction of human needs. We have lost sight of this. The compass of the present economic system has now gone completely wrong and makes people call for more jobs. Full employment has become the new “course” that everyone must aim for. The economy has really lost sight of its goal.
Victor Brantz (who was a professor at the University of Louvain, Belgium), wrote in 1913:
“Political economy is the science that deals with the efforts made by mankind to ensure its material existence, and improve it in accordance with the common good.”
Victor Brantz had not “lost his course”. He knew not only how to respect the purpose of the economy but also how to subordinate it to the final goals of man.
In October of 1920, Clifford Hugh Douglas (the engineer who conceived the Social Credit economic proposals) wrote in the preface of his work, Credit-Power and Democracy:
“The end of an economic system is to deliver goods when and where they are needed.”
Speaking at Swanwick in 1924, he said: “The economic system is simply one of the functional activities of men and women in the world. Furthermore, the economic organization is the most efficient when it can most easily and rapidly supply economic needs without infringing on other functional activities.” (Warning Democracy, p. 38.) Douglas never lost sight of the course.
Pope Pius XI defined the goal of the economic organism in his Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno (in 1931):
“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.”
And he adds, “These goods should 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.”
Wisdom in the use of temporal goods depends upon the individual, once he is able to procure them. But the production and sharing of these goods, so that each and everyone will have a large enough portion, depends upon the economic and social organism.
This is the true goal of the social and economic organism. If it does not attain this purpose in our world today, with the current abundant production, it is because it has lost sight of this goal; it has gone off course.
Pope Pius XII reminded Christians often of the purpose of the economy. He stated in his June 1, 1941 Pentecost radio address:
“National economy, which is the fruit of the activities of men combining their work in the national community, tends to do nothing but to ensure, without interruption, the material conditions in which the individual life of the citizens will be able to develop fully.”
Now we will sum up the words of this quotation:
National economy: not nationalization or collectivization, but the sum of all of the economic activities of all of the citizens and organisms of the nation, the fruits of the work of people who are united in a national community forming a nation;
Tends to do nothing but: it has no other goal; it is its own end, and if it does something else, it loses its objective;
To ensure: not only to promise but to ensure or guarantee, under conditions that exclude those citizens who are unable to fulfill these conditions;
Without interruption: to ensure continuity in prosperous times and in times of catastrophe, because human needs are constant and do not change because, of economic cycles or crises; they do not stop when workers have to move from one region to another.
The material conditions: it is the purpose of the economy to make sure that proper material conditions exist, not to impose austerity nor to preach resignation to those who are left deprived in’ front of plenty. A flawed economy cannot be redeemed by sending starving people to church instead of giving them the means to purchase the existing abundance of goods in stores and warehouses;
In which the individual life of the citizens will be able to develop fully: not conditions that allow faulty development but the prosperous development of the individual life of every person; not the prosperity of an abstract community but the material wealth of each person, allowing each to receive more than just material bread, to have each mind free for the full development of every individual life.