What is Wealth ? - The value of sufficient

Who wrote;

"Wealth that exceeds morality can be built - 
if daily bread for all is deemed dispensable." ?

Or - Why I think my Grandfather was a spy !

Read on to find out...

Yalta summit in February 1945 with (from left ...
Yalta summit in February 1945 with (from left to right) Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Also present are USSR Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (far left); Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, RN, Marshal of the RAF Sir Charles Portal, RAF, (both standing behind Churchill); Field Marshal Alan Brooke and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, (standing behind Roosevelt). Note ornate carpets under the chairs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Back in 1949 my grandfather David Ferguson wrote a book A measure of corn: the key to world economy  

This was at a time when the world economic system was at the point of collapse and nothing seemed reasonable as a replacement for the Gold Standard. 

He worked in various European economic research institutes in German, Italy, Belgium and Sweden between the world wars and foretold the inevitability of war with some clarity.

Some find it is fascinating to know a little of the background of an author, and in this case I think it is relevant. 

This grandfather of mine, who I never knew, was a Cambridge economist and pretty well connected to some bizarre & even famous historical characters.

Quoting from: http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/08/15/walter-johannes-stein-and-homeopathy/
In 1937, Walter Johannes Stein published King Leopold‘s Plan in The Present Age, purportedly at the behest of Winston Churchill, and Stein and Eugen Kolisko travelled to Brussels to meet the King (Leopold III) at the home of Walter Morse Rummel. Stein and the King became close and it was decided that a Research Institute for World Economy would be set up in Brussels run by David Ferguson, a long standing colleague of Stein’s from his days working with Daniel Nicol Dunlop, and J K Montgomery from the Roman Agricultural Institute. 
In 1937, Leopold III visited London as part of a Peace Mission. 
In 1938, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands invited Walter Johannes Stein to visit him to ‘discuss the new economics‘. Stein had been able to establish connections with politically authoritative personalities through his publishing activities, and he knew Winston Churchill and Roger Keyes,...
Roger Keyes‘s diary picks up the story:
After nightfall, an unexpected visitor, who proved to be an emissary from King Leopold arrived at … (Roger Keyes house in Chelsea)… and told him what the King wanted to know.”
I cannot establish the accuracy of these details beyond doubt, though I have cpies of letters from all the above who were communicating with my Grandfather. 

I know he was picked up by a British Naval battleship from the coast of Belgium during WWII departing on the personal instruction of King Leopold III  at the time of the German invasion of Belgium, this suggests at least that he had something interesting to say.

The "emissary" (who we cannot name with certainty)  communicated with both Churchill and Roosevelt and carried the plans for  Operation Sea Lion .  to the Allied powers in 1941.

My father (Ron) and Grandmother (Sarah) went to their deaths with their lips sealed on the subject - I suppose my grandfather may have been a courier of some importance. 

Exciting as speculation has been to me since I was a young boy, it is now clear from his memoires that my Grandfather saw the question of how we measure wealth as the key to world peace. 

He saw this as far more significant, than his role in either war so, further to Fred Wilson (a fascinating blogger who I greatly respect and who seems to explore the relationship between wealth and social good with some clarity) - here are some thoughts on sustainability, by a one-time world authority.

I hope we can learn the value of "sufficient".

David Ferguson argued that the ultimate scarcity in the human condition is "Our Daily Bread". He showed using available trade statistics that (until that point in history) wealth could only be stored (in a moral society)  to the extent that bread, corn or grain production exceeds necessity and could be warehoused.

Note that what is economic is not necessarily compatible with what serves humanity

 In those days we could not economically convert food-crops to ethanol for power. 

I can only think he would have been horrified, that we now can. This provides the opportunity to invert his observation and trade in life...

Wealth that exceeds morality can be built if daily bread for all is deemed dispensable.


By extension, the ultimate price that can be paid for energy is life - so if we are wanton with our use of energy we are surely guilty of waste, but if conducted as national or cultural policy, it is no less than warmongering.

I do not know if my grandfather would have accepted my deductions, I hope so.

I think it a fitting memorial to transcribe a poem (found amongst his papers, and we suppose by him) from the First World War trenches "Somewhere in France" - where he was a signaller.

Here he "caught the bullet" that lead to his death, decades later.  

He concluded his life with these words to my father: "Do not hate the man that shot me, rather the system that made him do it". 

I believe we must work to better the system...

Battle Echoes 
Somewhere in France - 1914

Over the top; - never a stop,-
Into a hail of shell;
Glaring wild skies,- blooded eyes,
 into the midst of hell.


Into the valley with a glorious rally, 
on with a maddening dash;
daring undaunted foemen flaunted, 
Over the wire they crash.


Front-line taken, enemy shaken,
onward again at a run;
bayonets crinching, enemy flinching, 
spitting out death from a gun,


Cursing and urging, wavering, surging,
Stabbing and fighting for life,
Screaming growling, snarling, howling 
in furious maniac strife.


enemy packing supports for attacking,
Men hanging up on the wire;
Shrieking and groaning, helpless, moaning,
 riddled and shredded by fire.


Old pals stopping, - dying, - dropping, 
twisted and torn, and still;
Writhing in pain, 'mogst the heaps of the slain,
Companies missing, howitzers hissing,
"Kill: Kill : KILL"


Wounded and dying, bleeding and crying;
Dead lying stiff where they fell.
Bloody and battered, tortured and tattered, Few will there be to tell.


Of what death stricken valley, the fierce, frenzied rally;
They who had loved love so well.
but HE above knows, they've won their repose They're promoted to Heaven from hell.


And deeply we pray, for the Dawn of the Day,
as sadly we turn o'er the sod.
For the End of the Night and the Gleam of the Light
Of the Spirit and City of God.
 Signaller.

Rest In Peace
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