This English translation of Shamcher’s first book, Distribute or Destroy, was first released in 1936, after the success of the Norwegian version. Now republished in paperback and kindle, the book is an overview of the economic theories popular in the Depression, as the western world looked for answers to the dire economic problems. For more info go to the Book Website.
DISTRIBUTE OR DESTROY
Experimental Economic Theories: An Energy Theory of Wealth, Technocracy, Social Credit, Stable Money and Barter Systems
by Shamcher Bryn Beorse (Brynjolf Bjorset)
Now, almost 100 years since some of these theories were first drafted, we can look with fresh eyes at the ideas that were emerging in those tumultuous times after the first World War.
Rapidly increasing production power, expanding industrial output and the revolution in electric power met both left- and right-wing political ideologies in an arena of war debt and post-war shock.
The Great Depression caused economists the world over to re-examine the economic cycles of the century past. New fermenting ideas were everywhere.
Combining the work of various “heretical” economists into one accessible volume, this book by Brynjolf Bjorset (aka Bryn Beorse) leads up to a tested Scandinavian economic experiment: Nordic Clearing, which was established during the Depression as a bridge to a new applied economy. Behind it was a radical overview dedicated to rethinking the nature of money, particularly in the climate after WWI.
When asked to outline the basic work of the best known new economists of the day who offered an assessment of the situation of poverty in the midst of plenty, Beorse produced Efter Oss Kommer Overfloden (After Us the Glut), his world economic survey (published by Aschehoug in Norway in 1934.) It was immediately translated into English, and released in Britain and the US as Distribute or Destroy, subtitled A Survey of the World’s Glut of Goods with a Description of Various Proposals and Practical Experiments for its Distribution.
This is the book that brought the young civil engineer, Brynjolf Bjorset, on to the world stage as a firebrand economic thinker who applied radical theories for the greater good.
Page Count: 170
Binding Type: Trade Paper
Trim Size: 6″ x 9″
Color: Black and White
Alpha Glyph Publications
From the Appendix to Every Willing Hand, Shamcher’s book advocating full employment for all which is particularly relevant today.
A concluding word about inflation. If full employment were, as so often alleged, bound to generate inflation, amending the Employment Act to give it real teeth might have little point. But two recent developments have brought that gloomy thesis into the most serious question — first, the ample demonstration that inflation now tends to occur even without full employment, and second, the not unrelated shift of informed public opinion into favoring an incomes policy of some kind to help maintain price stability. Thus full employment need no longer carry such burdens as do not, properly speaking, belong to it.
More than that, however, it is here submitted that a program of guaranteed full employment along the lines suggested would not only not feed inflation but actually be the best cure for inflation. This is asserted for two reasons in combination. First, the ceilings on employment and on consumer spending that would be imposed under this approach would choke off upward demand spirals almost entirely. That is the built-in “mechanical” aspect. It would limit “demand pull” directly, as already emphasized, and indirectly it would also moderate the wage-demand side of the “cost push” by holding down the prices that make up the worker’s cost of living. Second, there is the psychological point that cannot be proved but that should appeal to common sense-a point that would arise from the very fact of the government’s readiness to commit itself in this unprecedented way. An agreement on the part of the government to assure a total market adequate for business prosperity, and to assure continuous full employment for labor, should be enough to persuade business and labor leaders to agree to abide by some reasonable set of price and wage guidelines.
Those who blame inflation on the incurable wickedness of Big Business or Big Labor or both often seem unaware of how far the behavior of both has been caused by the malfunctioning of our economy — its cyclical instability combined with secular weakness — the inevitability of which is precisely what needs to be denied. Once the government stood ready to assure continuously adequate total demand for products and for workers, (1) all businesses would have more chance to spread their overhead costs and hold prices down; (2) management in areas of administered pricing could logically give up planning for extra profits in boom times to cushion losses in future slumps; and (3) union leaders would feel less pressure to demand extreme hourly wage rates on the one hand, or annual pay guarantees on the other, to fortify their members against the return of unemployment.
To put this in context — as these words are being written, the country is deep in President Nixon’s economic Phase II. Whether this experiment with a Wage Board and a Price Commission will, be followed soon by selective permanent legal controls or by some other incomes policy is impossible to say. But what the government commitments proposed in this article would in any case contribute, when it comes to resolving the ultimate hard-core part of the “cost push” phenomenon, is to open the door as wide as possible to achieving essential results by voluntary cooperation.
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