Frank Girard, reply to Labor Time Vouchers or Chaos

Frank Girard comment
Reply to the
De Leonist Society of Canada
From the Discussion Bulletin
Sept.-Oct. 2001 #109, page 17


It strikes me that unless we regard Marx's writings as Holy Writ, Dr. Who is right. The idea of Labor Time Vouchers must be tested by the evidence available today, 125 years after Marx wrote the Gotha Program. In 1875 the material incapacity of society to satisfy human needs -- in other words scarcity -- was the fact that made LTVs a logical part of a program for a socialist society. Clearly the socialist revolution alone wouldn't solve the problem of scarcity immediately. A system of rationing or allotting goods or services would have to be developed for use until society had succeeded in raising production to the point where goods and services could be produced in excess of needs. We know how capitalism solves its problem of scarcity: Those with money to buy what they need and want can do so; the rest go without in proportion to their lack of money.

LTVs were an idea for an equitable system of rationing. It made sense in 1875, but it makes no sense in 2001. Not only do we have the material resources for producing plenty today; we have the human labor. In fact, the supply of labor available to a socialist society in the year 2001 seems almost boundless. Five years ago we were being told that the global unemployment figure was one billion! 1,000,000,000! And this doesn't take into consideration the millions who today are counted as employed but whose labor is unproductive so far as social usefulness is concerned: bankers, stockbrokers, politicians, drug peddlers, insurance company employees, military personnel, lawyers and all their secretaries and others who assist the unproductive. And we still haven't gotten into the hordes whose "work" is counter-productive: people in advertising, the police, economics, much of education, and on and on.

In my opinion the danger is not that the administrators of an LTV system would conspire to undermine working class control of the system but rather that it would so evolve naturally as time passed. The question then becomes why -- if it is not needed -- create the beast that might grow to destroy the socialist society?

-- Frank Girard