There is an alternative!

There’s some really fantastic analysis of our current situation out there. Take James Galbraith’s analysis of the current US financial system, or George Monbiot’s analysis of the relationship between economic stimulus and the environment. Listen to Robert Frisk’s analysis of Middle East problems, the decay of journalism and the fundamental disconnect between voters and their representatives. In all of these you will find expert testimony to the flaws in the construct of today’s social, political and economic frameworks. And in every case they will end with the recognition that the most basic flaw resides in the political system. In the end, it is up to us to choose political leaders that make different choices than the ones we have today.

Unfortunately, it appears that a comprehensive and realistic alternative to the status quo is missing. The people cannot see it, so they are not demanding it. Politicians cannot see it, so they are not enacting it. Our great thinkers and analysts can see what’s wrong, but they cannot see what to do about it. We are faced, in this time, with the greatest challenge that Homo Sapiens has ever had to face: the limit of our ability to act without constraints. To meet this challenge, and to adapt to living within self-imposed constraints, requires a new paradigm for the frameworks of our social, political and economic systems. This is a big challenge indeed, but it is not out with the wit of mankind to figure out a way forward.

We are children of our planet, and we are as natural to it as the birds and the trees. We have within us the intuitive understanding, and the natural inclination, to be a compatible element of our environment. The solutions that will allow us to meet our challenges are not sophisticated mental constructs that are out there somewhere, their origins can be found within us. If we can pause for just long enough to seat ourselves in our centers, we will find the confidence of our intuition will serve us better than intellectual escapades.

There is an alternative! An alternative construct for our societies, for our political system and for our economies. It is not an ideology, it is not a perspective and it has no belief system. It is as natural as you are real, and based on nothing more complicated than observation. Built from fundamental building blocks of natural principles, that extend beyond the passage of time, any cultural dimension, or any location on the Earth.

The alternative is that we first guarantee each other the bare necessities of life; we add to that respect for freedom and truly representative social organization; finally we allow natural enterprise to reap our harvest in the space that remains. The details of how to implement that alternative, in today’s society, is the purpose and intention of the Standards of LIFE.

We do have an alternative. There is an answer. There is a plan for how to get from where we are to where we want to be. Find out about it, read about it and start asking for it like your life depended on it; because all of ours surely does!

www.StandardsofLIFE.com

The Obama Opportunity?

If it is possible to right the good ship “Human Society” from the inside, without fundamental structural change, then Obama would appear to be the test of that.

Massive investment focused on greening the infrastructure, the pursuit of peace from a position of power and the development of a sufficiently holistic social support system that it liberates the true production capacity of the macro and micro economy are hallmarks of Obama’s proposed agenda. While not undertaken with the same reforming and restructuring zeal at the Standards of LIFE proposes as necessary, the goals are sufficiently closely aligned that it tests the premise that fundamental reform of our basic social, political and economic structures are necessary.

The dilemma intrinsic to the Standards of LIFE is that the changes it proposes are both necessary and seemingly impossible. It is difficult for some to imagine being able to overcome the inertia in the present time based on consequences in the future. To some the changes proposed in the Standards of LIFE seem to be beyond the attainable reach of our generation, at exactly the same time that the outcomes and goals are understood to be vital to the survival of this and the next generation.

If a path to a sustainable future is available by working “within the system” then surely the Obama administration is the embodiment of that option. Formulated within the context of the legacy political process, staffed by the quintessential inside players and blessed by the traditional power centers, the Obama administration appears to offer a road to salvation without upsetting any of the existing norms or disturbing any of the current structures. If it can be done in this way, from the inside, then surely this charismatic leader and his insider team are the ones to do it.

If so, we can rent a villa in Marbella and retire to the sunny beaches of Unnecessario. We’ll see.

Continue reading “The Obama Opportunity?”

Self association addresses key issues at their root causes

The fundamental challenge in the development of human society is to leverage peace for the benefit of all.

Self Association: the legal right of social groups to freely associate themselves within larger groups, as described in the Standards of LIFE for multilayer representation and variable law.

When we look around the world at places where there is conflict and violence, even war, we can distill the root causes into two basic struggles:

  • the right of self-determination
  • control over natural resources

In most ways these two struggles boil down the same issue: the rights of communities to govern themselves. Why is such a basically obvious matter the cause of so much strife? Because the monolithic structures of our outdated political systems have no framework or mechanisms within which local autonomy can be accommodated.

We live in a world where the predominant guiding principles of government have more in common with benevolent imperial dictatorship than with modern democracy. Our nationstates are based on borders defined by cartography more than geography and by control more than empowerment. Having created unnatural and artificial boundaries, it becomes necessary to invoke the appeal of false identities crudely fashioned from a mix of projected ideals, fostered fears and caricatured qualities in order to create any national unity or social cohesion. Because these nationalist identities are so invented, they actually represent no one and are fertile ground for those who would abuse power to satiate their personal foibles.

As rigid, brittle entities our nationstates feel threatened by unique or differentiated identities within their limits and are drawn to suppress their expression lest they lead to separatist intentions. Yet in the very act of suppressing separatism they encourage it by demonizing the separatists while they eviscerate the freedoms of the whole population. The direct negative consequences flowing from these retarded, legacy constructs include: border insecurity, terrorism, migration instability, environmental degradation, inefficient resource utilization and, most significantly, low quality of life for everyone.

Let’s look at these in turn to understand how they go wrong today and how allowing self association would result in better outcomes.

Borders
The current attachments of nationstates to cartographic definitions of their borders is only natural given that those borders are the primary defining characteristic of their identity. The result is a disproportionately muscular attention to border security and, in many cases, actual wars fought over the cartographic definition of the borderline. (Let’s call this “borderline insanity”: the maniacal attachment of ruling elites to remote survey points.)

Now imagine two neighbor nationstates that adopt MLR constitutions and you will see that the two large blocks of color on a flat map will be replaced by a multitude of tiny fragments covering the areas inhabited by both states — each fragment representing a community. The communities will freely self associate into regions and those regions into states. Initially a map that only showed the new states may well look very similar to the nationstates they replaced, but there will be one crucial difference. The borders between the states are now defined by the self association of the communities in those locations, and they are free to change their association from one region to another, and in so doing the border between the states changes by that one small fragment represented by that community. No international treaties required, no wars, no fuss and no one’s business save the citizens of that community.

Now imagine that scenario played out in your conflict area of choice: Israel/Palestine, Kosovo/Serbia, India/Pakistan, UK/Ireland or Russia/Chechnya?

Terrorism
The futility and frustration that spawns the cultures from which terrorism leaps out to thrust insane violence on the innocent are nurtured by the rigid nationstates’ incapacity to accommodate differentiated identities.

Freely associated communities would never harbor the decrepit mentality of terror and anyone disposed to such perspectives would be stifled at their emergence by the lack of shelter, succor and support.

Individual terror is a hazard of the human condition, “terrorism” is the progeny of unnatural social orders resulting from suppressed freedoms.

Migration
Centrally controlled, monolithic societies with rigid borders have a bipolar relationship with migration: they encourage it in good times and demonize it in hard times. Furthermore, the sublimation of community authority makes their migration policies crude at precisely the point where refined and nuanced practice is required.

When migration is managed by the communities that must accommodate it, it assumes the very human dimension that it autonomically has and which larger entities cannot provide. Migration is the movement of individuals between communities and it is at that level but it must be managed. When communities have authority over, and responsibility for, their own configuration migration is rendered moot at any higher level of social structure.

Environment
The control of resources, be it water, minerals, land or energy, is often the driving force behind conflicts between nationstates. The justification used is that the inclusion of these resources within the boundaries of that state will be of benefit to all their citizens.

The actual practice of resource management and exploitation at a macro state level reveals two fundamental flaws in the arguments proffered to support state control. Both of these flaws have their origins in the same characteristic: remote decision-making. The cost-benefit analyses computed by even the most well-intentioned remote actors are based on such poor data that the costs are underestimated and the benefits overestimated. With weak and/or selfish state actors the situation deteriorates further into environmental carnage that results only in the aggrandizement of corrupt central politicians and dealmakers.

The devolution of resource responsibility to democratic local communities results in much more accurate cost assessments and much greater disinclination toward environmental destruction. Local resource management also extracts much greater benefit from the resources at the same time that intercommunity trade, interaction and negotiation are stimulated because full value extraction from the resources requires trade. These trading relationships ensure that the benefits are more evenly and deeply integrated into the societies involved in exploiting the full value of the resource, with lower negative environmental impact.

Efficiency
Large-scale, remote, state actors making poor decisions based on poor data tend to underestimate the true costs of exploitation and so sell the resources at below optimal pricing, resulting in distorted markets where undervalued resources are used inefficiently, because of their low price.

Local ownership that insists on environmentally sound practices and understands the full cost of exploitation will price the resulting resources more accurately, leading to more efficient use. Additionally this fair resource exploitation removes any need to spend money (i.e. other resources) suppressing, repressing and corrupting local populations in the originating region who resist unfair exploitation and may even stimulate separatist ambitions, further exacerbating the cycle of inefficiency.

Quality of life
The fundamental challenge in the development of human society is to leverage peace for the benefit of all. Violence can deliver short-term benefits for the few and if that is only matched by peace, then there is a temptation to gamble on the outcome. Either way, if the benefits only accrue to the few the system is inherently unstable and destined to fail, at which point it is likely to be detrimental to all.

The nationstate is such a system, it subjugates the rights of self-determination in the name of resource control that invariably delivers benefits to the few. Peace is the period during which the few build up resource imbalances and war is the period during which resources are used to protect or enhance the imbalances.

To break out of this destructive cycle it is necessary to adopt social structures which allow for self-determination without social fragmentation. The principle of self association within a multilayered organizational structure that protects local rights while encouraging inter-social cooperation provides the framework for the development of human societies that can exploit the peace dividend for the greater good of all in an inherently sustainable way.

The devolution of the primary organizing structure to our fragmented communities, that then freely self associate into larger and larger social groupings is possible, natural and most likely to ensure our survival and prosperity.

G20: coordinate, stimulate, regulate?

Leaders of 20 nations meet this weekend in Washington, united in their discomfort with their position in the world, their victim status and their common sense that something else is possible.

Together they represent:

  • 100% of the responsibility
  • 90% of world industry
  • 80% of world economic output
  • 70% of the world’s population
  • 60% of the world’s land mass
  • 50% of the world’s resources
  • 40% of the world’s ethno-bio-diversity
  • 30% of the world’s AIDS population
  • 20% of the world’s good intentions
  • 10% of the world’s good ideas

Together, they will produce 0% of the answers and actions capable of leading us all to a sustainable, peaceful prosperity.

On the surface their desires are simple, they want to live long and prosper. They understand in their guts that it would be fair if they could just chop wood and carry water to make ends meet, and have a decent chance at pursuing happiness. Underneath, their goals and ambitions are complicated by a vision tinted by separateness, hearing muffled by unholistic understanding and feeling anesthetized by their knowledge of their own unrepresentativeness.

The features of a group that could deliver solutions would be

  • wholesome representation (integration)
  • common purpose, process and practice (intention)
  • holistic world view (inspiration)

This is a good test run because it represents exactly the kind of coordinated decision-making and action planning that is going to be necessary if we are going to change course from the fate looming over the world in the coming decades, towards our destiny of sustainable peace and prosperity. Achieving the challenging changes that will be required to avert environmental and social degradation, will require inspiration integrated with intention, that stimulates action across the world.

What the G20 leaders could do to start in the right direction:

  • agree to form trans territorial alliances that will allow representatives at the next meeting to represent 100% of the worlds population
  • recognize that national currencies are no longer useful in a globalized economy and yet we are not ready to adopt a global currency, so there must be consolidation towards trans territorial currency units, each managed by an independent central bank
  • define the role of a central bank as an apolitical organization charged with responsibility for management of the money supply, and therefore banking regulation, interest rates and value stability
  • resolve to prioritize their own humanitarian support systems so that coordinated action in the future is about moving forward, not rescuing from past miss steps
  • stimulate microeconomic activity by reforming their tax systems, establishing micro marketplaces, deploying information access networks and implementing basic social security systems
  • advance the Doha round of trade talks by focusing on these two factors:
    • establish the right to food sovereignty
      • remove international recognition of biogenetic patents
      • promote sustainable self-sufficiency
      • ban the export of subsidized agricultural products to stop rich subsidizing blocks contorting the real market for food; if the need is humantarian then give it away
    • establish a carbon tax framework
      • establish unified rates of taxation
      • agree standards governing the use of funds raised from carbon taxes

If Barack Obama was a LIFE Supporter, his agenda would look like this…

The broad agenda is no different that that adopted by the Obama team: stabilize the economy, restore the rule of law and the balance of justice to the people.
To see how the policies and strategies below align with these goals, go to the bottom of this post.

The first thing he would do would be to establish five commissions, each tasked with the development of detailed implementation plans for major policy areas:

  • energy
  • BASE
  • taxes
  • democracy
  • digital identity

The Energy commission
This commission is tasked with the introduction of initial carbon loading taxes starting in January 2010. Commissioners with expertise in the mechanisms of fuel markets, efficiency and environmental impact will have only a few months to determine the initial fuels that will attract a carbon tax and the mechanism by which carbon load will be calculated.
However rudimentary the initial implementation is, it is important that this is started as soon as possible.
All revenues from the carbon tax will be dedicated to the development of renewable energy industries.

The BASE commission
Charged with the assessment costs for the provisioning of all BASE services to all citizens, starting on 1 January 2011. The first task for this commission will be to assess a Shelter Equivalent value that can be used in the housing acquisition program (see below). Mechanisms for the distribution of funds to cover the costs of BASE services are also part of this commission’s responsibilities.

The Tax commission
This commission is responsible for reforming the IRS to allow it to effectively provide income tax collection services on behalf of all constituencies starting on January 1, 2011. Part of this work will be assessing the costs associated with those elements of government that do not fall under the purview of BASE, and will therefore have to be funded from corporate or sales taxes. Using these assessments and the results of assessments by the BASE commission, they will be able to determine the required rates of taxation necessary to cover the existing government budget.

This commission will also be responsible for the establishment of processes by which the tax revenues allocated to BASE services are distributed to the lowest layer constituency appropriate for the delivery of the service.  In many, if not most, cases this will mean distribution to the States until lower layer constituencies are established in 2011 and later.

The Democracy commission
This commission is tasked with reform of the electoral process for federal assemblies (Senate & House) effective 2013, and developing the processes and frameworks that will allow for the development of multilayer representation starting at the community level. Included in the remit for this commission will be the establishment of boundary commission standards and the development of a framework for the election of a world assembly.

The xID commission
Responsible for developing the standards for a xID digital identity system that will be introduced at the beginning of 2012.  Experts in technology infrastructure, digital security and constitutional matters will develop technical, operational and legal standards for the system in compliance with the standards for distributed storage and privacy defined in the xID specification.
 

2009

  • In addition to the establishment of these commissions, during the first 90 days an independent central bank will be created charged with responsibility for the management of the currency and the regulation of banking system.
  • Also in the first three months, the Guantánamo prison and all CIA black sites will be closed and any prisoners deemed to be an ongoing threat to the country brought back to the USA to be tried in courts.
  • Military deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan will start a rapid draw down with the target of returning to a small number of defensible bases within 12 months.
  • Last but not least, draft a constitutional amendment protecting personal freedom of choice in personal space, targeted for ratification in 2011.

Housing acquisition program
As soon as the independent central bank is established and the BASE commission has derived a Shelter Equivalent value (effectively a replacement value for a standardized housing unit), it will be possible for any citizen to sell their primary residence to the public for a payment equal to the Shelter Equivalent. The citizen will retain a 20 year, inheritable, occupancy right to the property but ownership will belong to the community/public. Until BASE services are fully introduced, the tenant will be responsible for the payment of utilities and the costs of maintenance, failure to pay these costs can result in termination of occupancy.
Any mortgage lender will have to surrender their interest in the property in return for the Shelter Equivalent payment.
This program will be in effect until 2011, or the start of BASE services.

Federal legal review
The Justice Department will review all federal laws and rescind any laws on the books that contravene the proposed amendment regarding personal freedom.
The Justice Department will establish a review process for the case-by-case review of the sentencing of all people currently held in custody, or subject to parole restrictions, based solely on convictions under laws that are now to be rescinded.

2010

  • BASE services will be started early for all veterans. Meaning that veterans will have free access to all public services, including housing, sustenance, healthcare, transport, education, information and legal services.
  • Carbon taxes start.
  • Cessation of all non-defensive missions by military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Future military activity will only be engaged in the support of efforts initiated and led by domestic governments that have been democratically elected by their people.
  • Establish regional healthcare authorities tasked with the funding of regional healthcare facilities and practitioners starting 2011 

2011

  • New tax regime starts along with the implementation of BASE services for all residents.
  • Draft constitutional amendments, resulting from the work of the Democracy Commission, presented for the establishment of multilayer representation, variable law, proportional representation elections and the new standards for suffrage, targeted for ratification in 2013.

2012

  • First xID systems online.
  • First world assembly election campaign starts.

At the end of 2012 there will be another presidential election which will provide the people an opportunity for a referendum on the changes made to-date, as well as the proposed constitutional amendments to change the representation and election systems in 2013.
By the beginning of 2013 there will have been elections for all federally elected positions since the announcement of the agenda. This provides for representation that expresses the people’s desires regarding the enactment of the chnages proposed.


Policy Alignment

Economic stablity

  1. Containing the collapse of the housing bubble using the housing acquisition program will stabilize communities by keeping people in their homes and liberating income from debt service that will then be redirected into spending that will stimulate the economy.
  2. Establishing a clear path to a balanced budget, through BASE and tax reform that tackles the social security debts and ties expenditure to revenues, as well as the formation of an independent central bank will restore domestic and global confidence in the economy and our currency, allowing us to borrow credibly should the need arise.
  3. Removing the burdens for pensions and healthcare from industry, by introducing BASE services, will allow for a restructuring of primary manufacturing instead of widespread bankruptcies.
  4. Proper pricing of fuels, through the inclusion of carbon loading, will allow the market to move into the appropriate alternative energy options and will create a fund that can be used for transport infrastructure improvements and the retooling of manufacturing to produce “green” products.

Restoring the rule of law

  1. The introduction of an constitutional amendment to protect personal freedom will do much to restore the public confidence in the rule of law and liberate the judiciary from being confused with the moral police.
    1. Repeal of laws that intrude on personal freedom will free up resources in the judicial, enforcement and detention systems
  2. Restoration of the principles of human dignity and the pursuit of peace will allow us to again champion the rule of law at home and abroad
  3. The establishment of a path to Variable Law will add credibility to the rule of law in our large and complex society

Restoring social justice

  1. Placing the most basic welfare of all citizens at the heart of government endeavor restores the rightful balance that will allow our great economy to flourish once more
  2. Creating the infrastructures for healthcare, education, transport and information will create the opportunity for many to succeed using their own talents, ingenuity and drive
  3. Bringing democratic power back to the communities through reform of our democracy will restore the natural balance between us at the same time that it gives us the ability to take responsibility for ourselves

Congo’s fate is not its destiny

The ongoing war in the east of the Congo has its roots in the corrupt neglect of the “exploiting world” and the failure to adopt realistic social structures, which is not limited to the Congo but is prevalent across the “emerging world”.

The corrupt neglect of peoples, and their governments, in the parts of the world that industrialized first allows and encourages that chaos, because that gives them competitive advantage in access to the resources they need to feed their industrialized production systems. The failure of consuming countries to regulate the abroad activities of commercial concerns based in their territories is an abrogation of their own standards and principles. As laid out in the External Relations section of the Standards of LIFE, societies should adopt standards to govern their trade with other people, using the same principles they apply to themselves. In the Congo situation, this would mean that European companies would be required by their own domestic law to deal only with sanctioned representatives of the people of the Congo that also adhere to the Standards of LIFE.

The emerging world, sometimes called the developing world, is a group of all those people who are emerging from colonial pasts, and yet still subject to the structures of government and international relations that are cast in the old colonial mold. These structures are beneficial to the exploiting world because they provide a single point of corruption through which to access the resources they want. All this is exacerbated by the emerging world attempting to operate within geographies and boundaries that were defined to reflect colonial divisions of authority, not the natural human landscape on the ground.

If the people of the Congo, and its neighbors, were able to adopt the more natural and flexible structures of the Standards of LIFE they would create a more firmly grounded society that, in turn, would be better able to establish the rule of law, which would contain the poisonous leftovers of the Rwandan massacres of yesterday. The twin objectives of protecting people and nourishing their prosperity can be achieved through the adoption of properly representative and principled government in both the exploiting and the emerging worlds.

The Congo’s destiny is to be a propserous and peaceful region, but until the exploiting world takes responsibility for its own actions and the emerging world adopts new political structures that serve them more naturally, the Congo’s fate is the stuff of nightmares.

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