New Economics

Along with the newly emerging democracies of the world, a new economics is desperately needed. The current economic model is at the end of its road and that is readily apparent to many savvy observers.

There are two factors driving the need for a new economic model:

  1. The desperate need for social and physical infrastructure investment
  2. The crisis of monetary management

We can see a new economic model by reconnecting with the truth of our existence: individual humans, born in relationship and seeking purpose – in that order. Understanding that sequence and priority, we can place our economy in its appropriate context: our economy is a client of our society. In so doing we can shed the delusion of “total economic valuation” (in which everything has a price tag), and clearly see that there is much activity that is not, and cannot be, valued in monetary terms.

In the new economics, social value is not accounted for with money. Demonetizing social value immediately transforms our economics; it makes investments affordable, protects the value of money and creates sustainable social structures.


We need to make some massive investments. The demographics of the developed world demands social infrastructure to manage the changing ratios of contributors and dependents. The demographics of the developing world requires economic infrastructure to support the burgeoning youth population. And the demographics of the entire world requires physical infrastructure for transitioning to a sustainable energy supply.

Among the recognized investments that we all need to make are:

  • education – life long, civic and skills
  • energy – replacing stored & extracted with renewable & sustainable
  • transport – leveraging the new energy infrastructure
  • water, food and health
  • shelter and sanitation
  • information, democratic accountability and transparency
  • investment in research, innovation and development

These investments are not only large, they are essential! We have to find a way to make these investments, and no one in the current economic modus has got a clue, let alone a practical path to their accomplishment. The most significant reason why none of the current practitioners has advanced any concrete ideas is because they are mired in the current morass that is modern monetary policy.

Monetary Mess

The worldwide crises in monetary management of fiat currencies has exposed the fundamental flaw of attempting to visualize all human activity as economic activity: the debt burden is unreasonable and unsustainable. This is resulting in the need to bankrupt national societies just to try and maintain a delusion of currency rectitude.

The economists and economic policy makers of today are stuck between what seem to them to be unreconcilable problems:

  • massive public debt
  • unbalanced budgets
  • unaffordable social security systems
  • currency credibility issues
  • inflationary pressures
  • massive investment deficits

Central bankers across the world, in the vacuum created by political inaction, are trying to balance the credibility of their currencies and budgets with massive debts and the need for growth and investment. In a world where prosperity is seen as a gift to the people from the bounty of commercial enterprise, these problems cannot be resolved. But they can, if we just pause for a moment and observe the reality.

New Economics is the only option

Into this world of monetary and investment crises arrive the newly emerging democracies of North Africa and the Middle East. The need to replace decrepit, crony economies with sustainable economies is a parallel requirement of the arrival of freedom and dignity. The demands of the protests are overtly political, but they are subliminally economic as well. What do they see when they look around the existing economies for inspiration for their new world?

None of today’s dominant economic models are providing a sustainable path to a future for their current adherents, nor would they for any new arrivals. Read this collection of essays from some of the preeminent economic experts of the day, and you will see that no one has a solution to the debt v. investment conundrum we are facing. The Western capitalist models cannot balance their books without forever pushing their debts out to the next generation. The Eastern capitalist models are mired in inefficiencies, corruption and environmental degredation that do not deliver sustainability, while also being dependent on the suppression of freedom and dignity.  Neither of these offers a model worthy of adoption.

The new, sustainable economics seats the economy firmly within the context of society and generates growth out of untapped micro-economic capacity. The new economics provides the wellfair necessary to support aging populations, enables affordable infrastructure to create a new energy platform and delivers vibrant growth for coming generations.

New Economics is the result of a three step process that yields sustainable prosperity, affordable investment and sound monetary management:

  1. Understand the economy as a client of human society
  2. Take responsibility for society by delivering social value through Universal Services instead of welfare
  3. Unleash the total potential for growth using modern communications to enable micro-enterprise

To preserve the peace we have, and move forward to sustainable prosperity, we all have to take the first step. Ask yourself: “Am I a human being, or an economic asset, first and foremost?”. I think you will agree that you are a human first; and so it follows that your economic value and activity is a subset of your humanity. That too is the valid order and construction for human society. The economy is a subset of our humanity and it is an illogical and impossible task to try and value all human activity in monetary terms. When we assimilate this understanding and stop trying to “pay” for our social needs, we can liberate our economy to fill its natural role in the firmament of human existence.

The structure of New Economics is laid out at in full. The principles that reconcile the seemingly intractable problems of today’s economic systems are also discussed extensively in this blog – select the Economics category to see a full list of articles.

Infrastructure has never been commercial

Great civilizations require great infrastructure, and great infrastructure has never been a commercial endeavour. It’s time to face reality and get on with the job.

The great societies, those that have spawned the great advances in learning and development, have been built on great infrastructures. Those infrastructures have never been built by commercial enterprises operating in competitive markets. Great infrastructures (like the Egyptian, Chinese, Roman, Indian, Euro-colonial and American) have been built with public funds subsidized by socialized labour.

The greater Los Angeles area has over 20 million people, with less than 20 days’ food supply – if it were not for the roads and other infrastructure, built with public funds and socialized labour during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the entire LA basin could not survive for long: no food, no water, no power. There would be nowhere in the world to land a jumbo jet, if it were not for publicly funded infrastructure.

Now the world needs to move to a new energy infrastructure that complies with our planet’s laws of thermo-dynamics. This infrastructure, where it does get built in time, will get built by the societies that leverage public funds and socialized labour.

What is “socialized labour”? Socialized labour is labour that is provided at below market rates of monetary compensation, and it is available in three varieties:

  • forced – involuntary labour coerced by violence and manipulation, such as slavery and prison labour
  • reluctant – marginally motivated by meagre rewards and the threat of ostrification
  • cooperative – willing labour provided as part of a mutually recognized common purpose from which all will benefit

Which one of those models for socialized labour is likely to yield the effort required to build our new infrastructure?

Some version of forced labour was the choice of ancient civilizations, and some version of reluctant labour is the option provided by today’s social and economic structures. What we will need is a cooperative effort, and that will require social and economic structures akin to those proposed in the Standards of LIFE.

Our current preference for giving public money to commercial organizations, that operate using market-priced labour, will NOT deliver the infrastructure we need at a price we can afford. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for the infrastructure we need – this is a fact that would be much more obvious to those of us sitting on infrastructure built by our forebears, if we weren’t. Think about it: we’re broke and we haven’t even invested in maintaining the infrastructure we inherited. This is serious and immediate, we must act now.

Option 0: do nothing

Option 1: fantasize about a different future

Option 2: implement Universal Services and start building our 21st C infrastructure

The Path to a Future: Setting Out

The first part in the serialization of the The Path to A Future. A new section will be posted every 2 weeks during 2011. Enjoy!
If you want to get a free PDF of the book go to

So here we sit on the third rock from the Sun, in an otherwise basically lifeless solar system, living in a gloriously beautiful, paper-thin atmosphere that has the capacity to support and nourish us all. We have copious quantities of energy streaming into and around our planet and the technology to harness it. We have oodles of delicious food and the capacity to grow and distribute it. There is nothing standing between us and global peace.

And yet, as we enter our 41st Millennium, our economies are degrading our atmosphere and pillaging the planet, leaving vast swathes of desolation in our physical and social environments. We are diminishing our capacity to sustain life and are in danger of placing the solutions beyond our reach. Our democracies are perilously dysfunctional, and our grasp of the consequences almost suicidally absent. Only by harnessing our collective wisdom to our course of actions can we make the fundamental changes to our economies and societies necessary to achieve sustainable prosperity.

So, are we really just going to let it all go to ….?

For want of a plan, and the courage to follow it? Because it requires hard choices and hard work? Those are not good enough reasons for inaction.

Now is the time to act. Now is the only time we have. Today we can have evolution before revolution, tomorrow maybe not. Change is inevitable, but what changes is up to you and me.

The truth is that there is a path we can take, a path that leads to sustainable prosperity, but we will not choose what we cannot see. We do have the choice. There is a realistic, practical option for coexistence and prosperity. We have only to grasp the opportunity, to understand that this is the right time. This is a time pregnant with potential, and we are the ones alive in this time! All that is required is for us to see a path that will lead us to where we want to go. A clear, simple and achievable path.

Such a path of change must be so rooted in common sense that it is self evident on receipt, and so simple in application that it is realistically achievable by all. It will have to be hewn from the universal nature of humanity, and flexible enough to be shaped by the diaspora that adopts it.

This book shows you that such a path is available.

In the chaos and confusion of these times it seems that we are a little lost as to what to do differently, what to change or how to change it. I am convinced that by starting with simple observation of ourselves we can arrive at a clear understanding of what we need to change, and what it should look like after we’ve changed it. In these pages I explore natural principles which can guide us in reformulating the structures of our societies. If we start simply and are honest in observing ourselves, we can see these principles at work in our own lives.

Using these principles to formulate a path, we will have a rallying point, a banner around which all who are interested in change can gather together to promote the issues they feel are most important, in concert with everyone else and their individual motivations for seeking change.

This is about getting our act together, about focusing on the strategy and channeling our energy and enthusiasm for a better future into a common purpose. Whatever your specific concerns, there is little chance of any of our issues being resolved without a strategic, over-arching framework. We need a construct that serves those that are seeking change, as well as others who don’t know what to change, and even those who haven’t decided to change anything.

While many futures are available to us, individually and collectively, this is a story about one path that leads to a future in which we live in sustainable prosperity. There are other futures available to us. There are futures full of the same struggles, violence and waste that have characterized much of human history to date. Those futures are indisputably possible, and if we don’t choose differently they are our default destination.

The choices we face between peace and war, respect and hubris, love and hate are not new; we have faced them since the dawn of our times. The difference today is that our choices will affect everyone, everywhere, because they will affect the nature of the planet we all live on. Whatever we do, we are headed for massive changes to our cultures and our climate. The difference is whether we choose our own path through those challenges, or wait for chaos to be thrust upon us.

Indeed, the evidence of human history does not support the notion that we will make the choices that will lead us down the path proposed in this book. These choices have been heralded and recommended by our wisest sages over and over again, but rarely adopted and never fulfilled. But they were never as possible as they are now, because for the first time in human history we can truly act globally in unison. As seems uncannily often the case, we are presented with opportunity, at exactly the moment of necessity.

Our religions and our literature have long extolled the value of seeking our higher natures, of reaching for our destiny rather than settling for our fate. We have been told by the wise since the dawn of our ages that love is the manifestation of good in us and that we have the capacity to be the lights in our own creation. However, as a species, we have yet to fashion a working model for this practice. We see the lofty ideals espoused by our sages and prophets as just that: ideals, but not practical solutions. We look around us and see a world full of others who we think will not honour a mutual contract, let alone reach inside themselves for love and peace.

Realizing that appeals to our better natures or our faith in humanity have not proved successful to date, this book lays out a path of action that is intensely practical, realistically achievable and in our self-interest. Rather than asking you to have faith in the primacy of good intentions, this book describes changes that make sense, even if you don’t trust your fellow humans to reach for their better natures.

The purpose of writing now about this path is not to promote it as the only option. I, and no doubt you, are only too plainfully aware that we have many options and that we can quite easily follow our fate to our grave, without the courage to reach for our destiny. The reason to write this book, and for you to read it, is to envision a clear path that gives us the chance to choose our destiny.

It is a choice. We have to actively make the choice, if we are to reach a different destination. That means that we have to be able to see the path, to feel it in a very personal way. After you have read this book, I hope that you too will see and feel The Path.

Continue reading “The Path to a Future: Setting Out”

Forest-re and REDD

The lazy lack of principled rigor in the immature scheming of self-infatuated Westerners and fin-dustrialists needs to be confronted with straight forward thinking based on simple principles, before we all disappear down the evolutionary chute of stupidity.

“Poor, ignorant natives are cutting down our forests and if we expect them to stop we need to start paying them to leave the trees alone.” That is the reason given by the good and the white to introduce a forest-carbon trading program (REDD) that will allow us to buy their forests from them, so we can stop them from destroying their forests, while we continue to destroy the planet. Because this brings “markets” in to the solution (“the way the world works today”) it is automatically brilliant and practical while being eminently sensible.

The reality is that the forests are being destroyed by commercial concerns and need to be protected by the people who live in them from those that would commodify them. The way to save our forests, and all their attendant flora and fauna, is to charge commercial interests an appropriate surcharge for their use of our common resource: the planet. Money raised from these taxes could be ploughed back into the indigenous communities to sustain them as Mother Nature’s protection force, and remediate the damage caused.

The incredible short-sightedness of well meaning but imperially minded white people like Saros and Goodall should not distract us from the obvious illegality of claiming someone else’s land and resources as our own, to do with as we wish. The forests belong to the people who live there and if they want to exploit them then they will have to pay the surcharges necessary to remediate the damage caused to our common habitat: the atmosphere. The politicians at the head of a nation cannot make agreements in their capitals to sell the contents of the trees growing on the land in their communities to some far off entity, and then pocket the money and impose restrictions on the lives of those who live in those communities.

Much better would be BLUU (Bluddy-well Leave Untouched and Uncommercial). The lazy lack of principled rigor in the immature scheming of self-infatuated Westerners and findustrialists needs to be confronted with straight forward thinking based on simple principles, before we all disappear down the evolutionary chute of stupidity. Stop painting the planet REDD and let’s have some BLUU sky thinking – that’s the way forward!

See for details on principled self-determination and practical carbon loading.

Our Story

A proposal for a new, progressive, common narrative.

In response to Amitai Etzioni’s call in action in The Nation magazine for progressives to find a common narrative that tells the story behind our intentions, we offer the following as a starting point.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~

The combination of science and enterprise over the last century has created a potent force for good, but which has lost its context within human society.

This has resulted in an unbalanced relationship, a disintegrated society, in which the engine of growth has become disconnected from the passenger cabin that it is supposed to transport.

Reintegrating our economy with our society will allow us to improve our standard of life and balance our relationships with each other and the planet we live on.

An Analogy
The engine belongs in the body of the car, controlled by the pedals at the drivers’ feet and steered by the wheel in their hands. The car cannot move forward without the engine, so the driver and the passengers must take care of the engine, ensure it has fuel and vital lubricants, as well undertaking any necessary maintenance to keep it running smoothly, cleanly and efficiently. The passengers decide who amongst them will drive and steer, and the drivers have responsibility for keeping the passengers free of unnecessary dangers.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~

Through the fusion of science and enterprise, we have created the most powerful force in the history of the planet: the force of business and commercial enterprise. This force has the power to destroy the planet and human society, to obliterate species and make vast swathes of the planet uninhabitable for humans and others. The same force has the power to deliver a higher standard of life for every human, an achievement not even conceived of as possible a century ago.
At this time the pros and cons are pretty much equal. The damage done thus far has been in proportion to the benefits delivered; but to reap greater benefits using the current construct, we would have to damage our societies and our planet even further, and that ways lies self-destruction.
To bring the force of enterprise into service we have to reorientate our relationship with it, so that we care for it and nurture it in harmony and in balance with ourselves, and the pursuit of a decent standard of life for all on this planet. Unifying our individual liberty, our collective societies, our knowledge of science and our entrepreneurial drive will allow us to reap the rewards of life on this beautiful planet.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~

Integrating the force of enterprise into our societies means respecting it for what it delivers by taking responsibility for our social needs independently. To do this we must deliver basic universal services, paid for exclusively out of income taxes – this removes the constraints of minimum wages and makes taxation of enterprise a discretionary activity. In so doing we liberate the tremendous force of micro economics and instantly “green” our economy.
In order to achieve this reorientation and integration we need to devolve power down through a fabric of communities, regions and states so that decisions can be taken at the most appropriate level, because delivering basic universal services requires local delivery systems, managed and staffed by local providers, and controlled by local democracy.

Tell me again, how is this all going to work?

The rationales for austerity and expansion fly in the face of the facts. We need solutions, not reasons to carry on doing the same things all over again.

We’re going to cut expenditures so that we can use more of our tax revenues to repay debts, that were based on projections of future growth we are not, and probably cannot sustainably, achieve? We need to do this because we cannot possibly repay our massive debts because they are equal to the total output of our society for about a year?

If we don’t repay the interest and this year’s maturing debt, we won’t be able to borrow more to repay next year’s maturing debt? The only way out is if, by some miracle, we manage to produce and consume more with a less healthy, worse educated, less transported and less informed populace? And even that assumes we can actually grow without causing a global environmental crisis – which would only be possible if we were to invest heavily in retooling our industry and energy infrastructure for a low or zero carbon future?

So, tell me how this works again?

We borrowed so much to buy the house we’re living in that we can’t afford to pay the mortgage without canceling our health insurance? On top of that, the roof is leaking and we’re burning the doors to stay warm. If we all pull together and work really hard for the next month, we will be able to make next month’s payment. Is that it?

“No! No!”, you say?
“It’s really not that bad because you own the mortgage on your neighbour’s home, and so long as everyone just keeps paying their mortgages, it’ll all work out in the end.”
“You should even consider printing some money and giving to the banks, so you can borrow some more to buy a car. That will stimulate the economy!”

Now wait a minute! Tell me how this is going to work, again!?

… It doesn’t look like this is going to work out at all, if we keep doing what we’re doing now. Everyone has borrowed more than they can repay. The growth that would theoretically make repayment possible is either unachievable or unsustainable or, most likely, both. Forget what the money was spent on, it’s gone now and whether we gave it to bankers, spent it on war or funneled it into the pockets of those who already had too much is irrelevant – this is everyone’s problem now.

Carrying on down the path we’re on now will simply lead to the disorderly and bloody breakdown of the current system, causing misery and chaos to most of us. Most likely the expenditures will get cut further and further, resulting in social unrest and without engendering further economic growth. The debts will eventually be defaulted on or inflated away. In the meantime environmental degradation will accelerate, and the necessary investments for a clean energy future will not be made. Is this where anyone wants to go?

So if that won’t work, what will?

Two moves. Socialize the social infrastructure and price in the environmental costs.

Just two moves? Really?


The first, stunningly simple, change is to confine the expenditure of income tax to social infrastructure. The only things income tax revenues can be spent on are: shelter, sustenance, education, healthcare, transport, information and legal services. No debt repayments, no incentives, no foreign aid, no military spending – those all have to be paid for out of sales and corporate taxes. And no borrowing to pay for social costs, you have to raise enough income taxes to pay for all the social costs.

Step two: add a carbon or environmental tax to everything that degrades the environment sufficient to mitigate the environmental damage that thing causes. Not a penny more, not a penny less. Spend that money on mitigating the environment.

Not hard, not difficult. All within the existing capabilities of government accounting, taxation systems and market economics.

There’s more, but that will do for just now. Digest those two simple steps, think about how those two changes would impact your life, your society and the world we live in.

Then, when you’re ready for more, go to

Oh yes we can (afford it)!

The Economic Effects of Universal Services

In addressing the assumption that providing universal services will (unaffordably) increase the tax burden (compared to the traditional benefits system) it is worthwhile to consider the actual impact on the economy of universal services, because this will reveal that assumption to be false.

Providing universal services actually has the following effects:
– Reduced waste
– Increased efficiency
– Increased output
– Broader tax base
– Reduced unit service costs
– Reduced labor rates
– Reduced pensions burden
– Increased resource efficiency

Let’s look at each of these impacts in a little more detail so that we can understand why it is that universal services are not as unaffordable as may at first appear to be the case.

Reducing Waste
Universal services, as opposed to benefit payments, do not allow for same degree of diversion of social spending to other than intended targets, reducing the wasteful misappropriation of public resources and eliminating the budget back-fill that is inevitably required to replace diverted and wasted funding.

Increased Efficiency
Very significantly, because universal services are not means tested, the administrative overhead, compared to means tested benefits systems, is much lower. This is amplified by removing the need to police the system – an economic efficiency and a social benefit.
Because core and essential services are delivered as public services by public agencies, at least that portion of the costs that would otherwise have been absorbed by the profits of commercial providers are retained to increase the quantity or quality of services for the same budget. For instance a Community Center kitchen can deliver healthy nutrition at cost.

Increased Output
The removal of poverty and benefit traps allow all universal service recipients to work and contribute without penalty, thus increasing production using otherwise immobilized resources. (Current benefits systems effectively force recipients not to work because the marginal benefit of earning small amounts is often negative.)
Further increasing output is the increased provision of marginal services and greater availability of marginal employment opportunities resulting from the reduction in basic labor rates (see below). 

Broader Tax Base
Because otherwise non-contributing resources are able to make marginal contributions to output, the monetized value of their output adds to the available income tax base (as well as wealth to the economy).

Reduced Basic Labor Rates
Universal services allow for the socialization of a significant portion of the basic labor charge, because market participants only value, in monetary terms, the marginal value of their contributions. They accept the value of the universal services as socialized income which delivers the same value to them as they would otherwise have had to demand in monetary form. This effect is most pronounced at the unskilled labor level, but continues to have some effect further up the skill ladder as well.

Reduced Unit Costs for Universal Services
The materialized cost of delivering a unit of universal services is reduced by the socialized value of labor inputs into the universal service delivery mechanisms. Because a significant portion of the labor content in universal services is more demanding of social skills, which are already often socialized (e.g. caring), the impact of reduced labor rates on the labor content of the cost profile of universal services is more marked than it is in the commercial sector, where enhanced skills always have, and will continue to, command very large premiums over basic labor rates.
Any necessary extensions of service will be absorbed by the reduction in the unit cost of delivering universal services that result from the reduced materialized cost of labor inputs, negating any need for increases in tax rates.

Reduced Pensions Burden
Pension recipients accept the value of the universal services in place of their market value without impact to their standard of living. The efficiencies of universal service delivery (see above) allow for the delta between the cost of service provision and the market value of those services to be removed from the tax burden.

Increased Resource Efficiency
The beneficial effects on resource efficiency resulting from the delivery of universal services come from three consequential outcomes:

  • Increased use of resource efficient mechanisms through the aggregation of demand, driven by the removal of barriers to adoption (pricing) and widespread accessibility, increases the scale, efficiency and penetration of those mechanisms, such as mass transport and efficient public housing.
  • The extension of manufactured goods’ useful lifetimes and significantly higher rates of reuse resulting from the wider availability, greater accessibility and low monetized costs of micro-services in local markets for repair, restoration and recovery. By reducing the cost of labor to its marginal rates, the repair of goods becomes a much more competitively priced option in the marketplace and the relative cost of material replacement is significantly elevated in comparison.
  • The wider availability of human energy makes it an attractive replacement for manufactured energy, reducing resource consumption.

Taken together the overall impact of universal services is to socialize some labor costs that would otherwise be monetized, and in so doing to reduce the tax burden of universal service delivery, because the tax burden is expressed in monetary terms. Consequential effects include deeper penetration of services, greater efficiency in service delivery and of resource use.

Astute fiscal observers might wonder what will happen to tax receipts if the basic rate for labor is reduced. The answer is that it will have a negligible, if any at all, impact on tax receipts because revenues from tax payers with incomes at or near today’s basic labor rates (minimum wages) are minimal, due to the current system of “allowances”. In fact the increased output resulting from the motivation of currently immobilized resources will likely result in larger increases in tax revenues than any revenues lost through the reduction of prevailing basic labor rates.

Ultimately the monetized burden (i.e. tax) on the economy of delivering universal services is likely to be similar to that of the benefits system, except with more effective outputs and substantial social and environmental advantages.

See also

BIG problems need small solutions

Effective and successful human societies are based on trust, cooperation and contribution. The balance between trust and cooperation is the key to unlocking our contribution. The social structure must provide sufficient protection of and benefit for the individual, to balance the necessary curtailment of individual liberty in the public space within which cooperation happens.

If I was to tell you that to fix our biggest problems we need only do three things: protect individual rights, devolve political power down to our communities and guarantee everyone the bare necessities of a productive life. What would you say?

Would you say that those three things do not address climate change, immigration, food sovereignty, trade, Middle East peace or some other issue?
Would you say that these changes are impossible, or impractical?
Would you say that changing the structure is futile or irrelevant if we don’t change ourselves first?

You’d be mistaken, if you did. We are faced with a veritable bevy of very serious and very significant problems: climate change, poverty, war, nuclear proliferation, demographics, corruption, water shortages and food insecurity, to name but a few. In seeking solutions to address these problems we are easily aware that we need big changes, but we tend to slip into looking for one or two big solutions for each problem. This is our pitfall, it leads us to see solutions in competition with each other and it does not deliver results.

Big solutions to big problems are easy to describe, to capture in a soundbite and put in a manifesto, but they are not reality. The solution to hunger in Africa is not aid, the solution to climate change is not carbon sequestration nor is it a carbon tax nor any other “magic bullet”. The big news about all of the big solutions we need is that they are made up of thousands of millions of little solutions acting in concert.

The most radical principle we must adopt if we are to solve our problems is devolution: we must empower individuals, communities and affected populations of all sizes to develop the specific solutions that befit their situations. Poverty, food supply, peace and environmental balance will not be fixed from above by beneficent leaders (even if we had any). The problems are too complex and the appropriate solutions too varied by locale to be effectively articulated in a grand plan from above.

The only grand plan we need is to empower people to develop their own solutions.

Such a grand plan of devolution must build the framework that will enable a thousand million solutions. The framework requires first that we trust one another. Next we must harness the value of collective, effective and coordinated decision-making. Finally we must free ourselves to make our maximum contributions. Those are the reasons why we need a new constitution, effective democracy and universal services, and why only this approach will actually result in solutions to our big problems.

Effective and successful human societies are based on trust, cooperation and contribution. The balance between trust and cooperation is the key to unlocking our contribution. The social structure must provide sufficient protection of and benefit for the individual, to balance the necessary curtailment of individual liberty in the public space in which cooperation happens. A clearly defined set of rules that formally incorporates these protections and benefits is a necessary precursor to full-throated cooperation.

Cooperation is as simple and as complex as it looks. We cooperate personally with our family and friends, communally in our neighborhoods, regionally for our utilities, nationally for our standards and internationally for peace; and even that is only a thin slice of the total reality. The only reason to constitutionalize freedom is to enable cooperation, and that makes cooperation to constitutional corollary. We need to be able to describe and incorporate our framework for cooperation just as we describe and incorporate our freedoms and protections.

Constitutionalizing cooperation requires a rationalization of our social framework, contemporaneous with the incorporation of flexibility that acknowledges and accommodates the inevitable inaccuracy of a universal application of that rationalization. The model of multilayered representation ( reconciles the needs of rationalization and flexibility by providing for local variability and tempromorphism without threatening the structural integrity of the cooperation that it enables. By using anthropologia as its source, MLR’s structure is universally applicable, concurrent with its malleability to local circumstances.

Having established the basis of trust and cooperation through the instrument of a constitution, the remaining ingredient is facilitating universal contribution. Anthropology reveals a natural human inclination to make contributions, once the threats to survival have been overcome. So the first step to enabling everyone to engage in developing and enacting the many small solutions we need to our big problems, is to do what we can to annul the distractions of personal survival. This requires a social commitment by all to the provision of the bare necessities of life to all. The reorientation of our societies toward more fundamentally democratic principles must be accompanied by a revisioning of the social contract to include not only the freedom and security of members but also their basic survival needs.

Universal services are the embodiment of the social contract and are delivered to all as a right of citizenship. As the foundation stone of our society it is right and proper that our tax revenues are used first to deliver these basic services. Beyond the manifestation of principle, the delivery of universal services fosters a cornucopia of opportunity for contribution from all. The cooperation built on trust will direct contributions to develop and implement the solutions to our biggest problems at the lowest marginal cost, because the revealed market for contributions values everything, however small, but only at its marginal value-added. Every service can find its place in a marketplace relieved of the competition of survival. Transaction volumes, wealth, efficiency, resilience and innovation are all increased dramatically. So are the opportunities for unique and enhancing contributions that can improve our standard of life, open gateways to personal growth and bring fun and joy into our existences. Plainly put, there are many more activities worth doing once your food and shelter are guaranteed for life.

So I say again that there are only three things we need to change to develop the solutions to our biggest problems: adopt a constitution protecting freedom, devolve political power and deliver universal services. Three things that, for different reasons in different countries, will be strongly resisted by the rich and the powerful elites; but their resistance does not for one moment tarnish the necessity or imperative.

The scale of the challenges we face and the universal implications of failing to address those challenges points us most assuredly at the vitality and importance of coordinated, cooperative contributions to meet those challenges. The universal adoption of a universal constitution and the provision of universal services do address our problems, they are practical (if not pragmatic), they are intertwined with the opportunity for personal growth and they are absolutely, unequivocally necessary for our survival.

Green Is a Secondary Colour

Green is what we need, but we must paint with a broader palette to achieve that goal.

In the same way that the colour green is an output of mixing yellow (sunlight) and blue (water), green politics is an outcome not a cause. As Gus Speth laid out clearly in his book “The Bridge at the Edge of the World”, the environmental movement has seen itself as an input into the political process, a component of right strategy and an agitator desiring influence; rather than focusing on the desired end result, the total solution.

When we look at environmental concerns as the output, the results of political movement, we immediately understand our phraseology differently. We are forced to consider what are the inputs that will result in environmentally sustainable outcomes. In this perspective we see that achieving green goals requires a more fundamental attention to all of the inputs that drive our societies. We see that green is a secondary output resulting from the right combination of primary inputs.

The increasingly common use of the word “sustainability” betrays a movement toward consideration of the actions that must change, but we need to go further back than that. We must focus on the context within which actions are taken, on the factors that shape what actions are plausible and the intentions that proceed those actions.

In drilling back through the layers that are between the outcome and the root we soon come to realize that it is necessary to act on the causes if we are to affect the results. The roots, in this case, are the fundamental structures of our society, governance and economics. Only by addressing these root issues will we achieve balanced environmental outcomes, resulting from sustainable actions intentioned within sound social structures.

The required restructuring of our social fabrics to align ourselves to produce sustainable results will test us to the core, and this is why cohesive mutual interest must be a central feature of the changes we introduce. The global reach and indiscriminate impacts of environmental change exempts no one from its direct or consequential fallout. Concepts that drive, laud or emphasize individual survival will only result in collective failure for all. Changes that reward and reinforce social unity will help us all succeed individually.

One facet of the need for this increase in social cohesion is the now commonly acknowledged fact that remediating our energy use will have a disproportionately disadvantageous impact on the poorest members of our societies, because they already have to devote the largest portion of their resources to the basic staples of life. Even relatively minor increases in energy costs will have a substantial impact on their ability to do everything else for themselves. Directly affected are shelter and transport costs, but those have immediate secondary effects on sustenance and education. Only the provision of universal basic services can ameliorate these impacts and maintain social cohesion.

Another requirement for achieving sustainability, and a direct result of increasing energy costs, is an urgent drive for greater efficiency, primarily in shelter and transport. While private economic units can be motivated into efficiency investments through simple pricing mechanisms, public infrastructure requires intentional and proactive public investment to increase efficiency. Efficiency in transport and housing also necessarily require collaborative effort serving mass needs.

Further amplifying the need for publicly intentional intervention is the dramatically compacted timescales within which changes must be affected. Markets rely substantially on behavioral changes to redistribute resources efficiently, and human behavior is naturally inclined toward consistency and against the destabilization of change. The proactive stimulation of change ahead of lagging behavioral tendencies requires intentional intervention driven by public will in advance of market motivated reallocation. In short, by the time market forces are effective in motivating change it will be too late, we must act on what we know now about the future consequences of today’s actions if we are to act in time.

The final fundamental causal factor at the root of sustainable survival is the evident efficiency of small, local processes. Small-scale farming, energy production and microeconomic activity are fundamentally necessary features of our future because they alone can produce the sustenance, energy and wealth that is in balance with our natural environment. This requirement for local, micro-production predicates the devolution of political and social structures to empower local communities. Reinvigorating our local societies without losing the cohesive benefits of our wider national and trans-territorial infrastructures requires that we adopt multilayered representational democracies to maintain unity while we enfranchise communities.

If we are to achieve the movement of our world into alignment with our Earth we must act on the fundamental structures in the context of our societies. The provision of universal services and multilayered democracies are not merely the right things to do, they are the necessities at the heart of achieving environmental sustainability.

Green is what we need, but we must paint with a broader palette to achieve that goal. Comprehensive, fundamental changes to our democracies, social structures and economies are necessary precursors to achieving environmental balance and it is on these basic elements that we must act. Our environmental goals are going to be met by the ministries of housing, social security and healthcare along with the devolution of our politics. Paint our politics first and then the picture will be green.

Still don’t think it’s an emergency?

Half the world’s top climate scientists think it’s technically impossible to hold global warming below 2C, and 80% of them think that it is very unlikely that we will get it together to meet that target, even if we can. See the survey here.

The “civilized” societies of the West are starting to use their anti-terrorism laws to crack down on climate change activitists, demonstrating the machine’s momentum for sustaining the status quo. Old men in grey suits think they’re protecting the better half, while they fiddle.

Still don’t think it’s an emergency? Not really for radically evolutionary change? If that’s you, you’re taking the great gamble.

It is time. Now. Not in ten years, when it’s even more obvious and even more too late. Now.

We can do it. It won’t be that chaotic or disturbing. It will be fun and exciting. Let’s go! Real change that is acheivable in your lifetime is possible, we just have to start now; or face the consequences.

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