Chapter 2: You, Me, Everybody
Chapter 2, verse one: I promise you that you will always have the dignity of shelter, food, warmth and access to the means of self empowerment.
Verse two: You promise me the same.
Verse three: Society is the grouping of individuals on the basis of a promise of mutual security, respect and appreciation
In our opinion there are very few societies left in the world today. We do not offer mutual security and we do not treat each other with respect.
We have already covered the principle of respect in the introduction and we can only reiterate how important it is that we recognize each other, and ourselves, as valid individuals. Without that respect we cannot build further and as building is our intention, we must understand and adopt that principle in our hearts.
So much of what upsets us about the lives we live today stems from the fact we do not live in real societies. We do not accept mutual interdependence and we do not offer mutual security — the two fundamental principles of a society. From this absence stems so much disorder that we seem to be blinded, by the ensuing confusion, from seeing those simple origins. (Note to reader: At the root of all complexity is simplicity – do not be blinded by the seemingly complex, there’s a simple truth at the heart of all things.)
Mutual interdependence and mutual security are two sides of the same coin. It is in our self interest to offer security to others because otherwise we will all fall together. The flaw at the center of the late 20th century thinking is ignorance of our mutual interdependence. We do not live separately, we live together. We cannot say that what affects our neighbor does not affect us, because it quite patently does. The delusion of dog-eat-dog independence is only for the limousined, the rich and the occluded — the rest of us know that we are all in the same boat together!
The current Social Security systems of most modern countries do not actually offer a guarantee of mutual security — the homeless on the streets testify to that. Our Social Security systems are more like qualifying competitions than expressions of our promise to each other that a minimum standard of life is guaranteed. Current philosophy hinges on the twisted argument that people do not want to fulfill themselves through work and so the Social Security system must present as many barriers as is reasonable in order to prevent the feckless and the lazy from bleeding the rest of society dry in their endless search for a free ride. What trash! To be unemployed is unnatural and debilitating, everybody has an innate drive to improve themselves and contribute to others through work.
The central ill of our current systems is that they discourage work. Commonly called the “poverty trap”, they all feature a penalty system for working which involves immediately withdrawing the support that allows people to find and start work. Another hindrance to finding work is that, despite the enormous effort that modern societies make to collect information and data, this is rarely available to the citizens to employ for their own benefit. People are motivated to work by their self interest but in so doing become contributors to everyone else. Reward for work is gained by achieving something that is of value to others and so commands payment in exchange for the contribution.
The result of having “Social Security” systems that are complicated, manipulative, qualified and ineffective is that they discourage use. This in turn results in waste and crime. Waste because people cannot empower themselves to contribute and crime because it is sometimes easier to be a criminal than a recipient of assistance. All this stems from a lack of respect for each other, which has its roots in our lack of respect for ourselves.
The answer, as ever, is very simple: we must fulfill our promise of mutual security for all. This is not accomplished through an insurance scheme or charity. It is a simple promise to make available to everybody the bare necessities of dignified life: shelter, food, warmth and also the means by which an individual can empower themselves to become a contributor, based on their own self interest.
A system of mutual security must understand and incorporate the principle that people want to work, if it is to succeed. The linkage that allows this, and which is nearly always missing from current Social Security systems, is between taxation and benefits. If a recipient of benefits works, their benefits should not be withdrawn, instead they should be paying taxes that help fund the benefits they receive. This system should be constructed such that a person earning average pay of that society would be paying sufficient tax to fund the cost of the benefits. The actual benefits received by an individual will vary according to what resources the society has available in the environment at the time. The principles are that the person will be able to live and develop. To live we need shelter, food, warmth and clothing. To develop we need access to healthcare, transport, education and information.
A society must have a system that helps you, me, everybody to fulfill their potential if it is truly to call itself “a society”.
Next Principle: A Life of Work