The Community is a constitutional element that is the lowest layer of the multi-layer representative structure and has a its own government directly elected by the citizens of the Community. The Community is the foundation on which the rest of the structure is built, particularly because it is the Community which owns the right to set all public laws for its citizens.
Every Community has a constitutional responsibility to uphold the constitution and to provide BASE services.
Within the structure of Variable Law, Communities may elect to promote aspects of their law and some service responsibilities to higher layers.
Along the with the right to create laws comes the responsibility to administrate the infrastructure necessary to support the government of the Community. There are aspects of governance that a Community cannot promote or relinquish, because to do so would abdicate the core responsibilities of being a Community.
To this extent, an inability to manage and administrate these aspects of government, precludes a group from forming a legal Community and having its own government:
- government assembly
- legal services to codify, police and prosecute the law
- BASE services
- preventitive, basic healthcare
- primary & general education
- information access
- financial control for tax revenues and expenses
- domesticity & migration
- land use planning
There are a number of additional services that it is difficult, but not impossible, to imagine a Community being able to promote and still retain the necessary self determination, cohesion and required material infrastructure for citizen support:
- secondary education
- local public transport
- secure information access
By definition a Community has its own government and so it must necessarily be able to run elections for representatives.
Elections must be held using the LIFE PR system and requires that the Community is able to validate its constituents’ identity and provide a suitably accessible method for them to cast their votes. Community governments must be re-elected every three years.
The elected representatives meet in assembly to review matters before them and make laws.
The Community must provide facilities for the representatives to meet, and for there to be public scrutiny and a premanent record of the proceedings and voting.
The size of the assembly is determined by the size of the Community population, but can not be less sufficient than to accommodate seven representatives, an assembly reporter and a public gallery.
The remuneration for representatives should be approximately 8 times the median earnings of their constituents, such that the best candidates are attracted to public service and so that they can devote themselves full-time to the execution of their responsibilities.
The principle of Variable Law allows for a Community to retain unto itself all aspects of law; however, in practice, it is likely that many aspects of law will be promoted for governance at higher layers.
There are, noted above, some aspects of law that a Community is bound to retain and notable amongst those is the matter of domesticity. Within the Standards of LIFE, it is intrinsic that every person be a member of a Community, and it is the recording and validation of this that is the responsibility of the Community. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the Community to define and manage the migration of people into the Community as laid out in Migration.
Should a Community decide to retain, or retrieve, any apsect of law in addition to the determination of domesticity, migration and land use, it has a concombinant responsibility to adjudicate any alledged transgressions thereof. This requires that the Community have the personnel and infrastructure necessary to police and prosecute the law. The burden of managing the legal services necessary to support law making is substantial and may weigh against the creation of very small Communities with less than a few thousand citizens. The necessary separation of roles within the legal system between judges, prosecutors, defenders and police means that the staffing of a legal services office for even the smallest of Communities will require four or five people. Communities will have to fund these services, and the others outlined below, out of their BASE tax distributions and any local taxes levied.
Separation & Unification
Communities can elect to divide into multiple Communities. In such an event, each new Community inherits the same Variable Law status and Regional affiliation as its origin Community.
If a Community decides that it no longer wishes to operate as an independant constitutional entity it can elect to dissolve, freeing residents to join with an adjoining Community. As per the constitution, the residents and citizens of the defunct Community automatically inherit the Variable Law status and Regional affiliation of their new Community.
Material fixed assets, and directly associated debt obligations, are assigned to the new Communities based on the geographical boundries of the new Communities. Other financial assets and debts are proportionally assigned to the new Communities based on the portion of the previous population they encompass.
In support of the constitutional responsibilities of the Community there are various practical management duties necessary to the functioning of the Community.
The organization of the adminstrative and management functions resembles a standard management structure in which departmental managers of each of the functions below report to, and serve at the discretion of, the representative assembly. The managers may be promoted by the department, for instance judges may be promoted from within and by the community of lawyers, and are then subject to confirmation by the assembly. See the section on Service Department Management in Elections & Governance for details on the process of appointment and confirmation.
In addition to the functional departments below, there are various general management reponsibilities that will most likely be executed by a general manager. These functions include the Community Center, fire protection, planning and licensing.
Provisional estimates of the management and staffing required to run a Community with a population of 10,000 are 175-200. This excludes Community contributors who support public services through volunteering or micro exchange.
A Community must be able to manage its finances and keep accurate, public records thereof.
At a minimum this will involve the management of BASE distributions for the provisioning of public services (see below). Should the Community decide to levy either local property taxes or local sales taxes, then the collection and expenditure of those revenues will also need to be managed.
A Community Finance Manager should report regularly to the Community Assembly on the state of the public finances.
Communities that decide to collect local taxes based on anything except sales or income shall have the responsibility for calculating and collecting the same.
Sales & Income Taxes
Communities that decide to collect local taxes based on sales or income may submit applications to the constitutional authorties at higher layers that are already collecting taxes, based on the same sales or income, on behalf of the Community. Such requests shall not unreasonably withheld and revenues therefrom shall be subject to the deduction of the collecting authorities’ costs.
The community will have to have its own unique postal code(s) for sales tax collection by a higher layer.
Communities receive disbursements of tax revenues to cover the costs of provisioning the BASE services they are mandated to provide, subject to any service responsibilities they have promoted. The receipts of the Community are proportional to their population as a part of the entire population covered by the tax and do not factor any special circumstances of the Community (except insofar as the assessment of average service costs across the entire taxable population is affected by the inclusion of the assessed costs of that Community in the overall assessment).
Communities must meet their service obligations, but within those parameters they have discretion over the proportional allocation of tax revenues between services.
Additionally, Communities may coordinate with other constituencies to ammeliorate their service costs and they can levy additional taxes on their constituents to fund additional or enhanced services.
One of the primary responsibilities of every Community is to manage their environment, and their impact on it, to create a sustainable living space.
There are three primary elements that each Community must manage:
It is in the self interest of every Community to become as energy self sufficient as possible, with the lowest environmental impact. The objective of every Community should be to become entirely self sufficient without the use of stored carbon energy sources, such as oil.
As carbon taxes are applied and the cost of centrally generated energy escalates, the desire for end-user efficiency and local micro generation will grow. Communities that can increase their efficiency and develop their own renewable generation capacity will be best able to serve their constituents by diverting funds into their Community infrastructure, that would otherwise have gone to outside energy producers.
Public transport and shelter services can have a large impact on energy requirements.
Waste management is basically a Community responsibility, although it may be shared with others through Regional cooperation.
As part of the standard Community setup, each Community will assess its waste management costs as granularly as possible (i.e. per product or material type). The taxing authority with responsibility for sales tax collection will apply the appropriate additional waste taxes to sales in the Community, and return collected revenues to the Community.
An adequate supply of clean water is necessary for life and it is a key responsibility for every Community to plan for and secure this.
Necessaily, water management is defined by the catchment basin, watersheds and aquifers of the geography that the Community occupies. In many cases this will require Communities to form water management authorities that cross constituency boundries.
Where there is no reasonable prospect of, or ability for, competitive supply of a critical resource to the inhabitants of a Community then the supply channels and source will be publically owned. This is especially true of water, but can apply to other utilities the supply of which is crucial to the health and well being of the entrie Community in even the most dire of political or economic circumstances. There may still be value in the use of commercial operators for some parts of utility systems – see Topic – Infrastructure for further discussion.
The provision of BASE services to all constituents is a mandated constitutional responsibility of every Community. There are bound to be variations in the nature of the services, the extent to which they are delivered through promotion of the responsibility to higher layers and the priorities of different Communities.
The content of the services is self described by the constitiuents of the Communities included in the Income Tax catchment area. So it will be the case that there will be Communities whose mandated service responsibilities in each of the BASE services will be little more than what is necessary for survival because the wealth of the Region/State/Transterritory cannot support anything more.
In this wiki, much of the detail of these service descriptions applies to implementation in the industrialized societies and is not intended to be a prescription for everyone or every situation. The linkage between the levels of BASE services, the cost of providing them and Income Taxes is intrinsic to the Standards of LIFE and specifically allows for great variety to best fit the people and the situation at hand.
Each of these services will most likely require management that reports to the assembly, and staff to provision and maintain the services and facilities.
In many ways, Shelter is the foundation BASE service and it is primarily provided by Communities. Communities are where we live and represent the closest society we belong to.
Public housing is the primary way that shelter is delivered as a service to citizens. It is not preferred to private housing and it is not intended to satisfy the same needs nor deliver the same experience. Because public housing is paid for by the tax payers it strives for the greatest levels of efficiency and effectiveness while aiming to deliver a basic service that honours the dignity of those using it.
Shelter links various of the key aspects of what it means to be a Community together: core BASE services, migration and land use planning. For instance, in the event that a Community wishes to attract new migrants it must develop a land use plan that provides for any additional shelter facilities that might be needed to accommodate the increased population.
Community Centers could be planned so that they can be reconfigured if needed as an emergency shelter for some portion of the Community.
Communities will want to have active plans for the availability of food for everyone in the Community, and integration with local farmers and supply chains. The provision of sustenance services through the BASEC system provides Communities with considerable flexibility in the extent to which they need to specifically address sustenance issues of the needy in their midst.
The thing to bear in mind when thinking about sustenance as a service in a Community is to recognize the different populations that will need the service: children at schools during the day, children when out of school but without a carer available to prepare nutritious meals, those who are housebound or immobile, the sick, people in custody, those dependent on BASE services and possibly even public service workers. It is quite likely that the most efficient and effective way to ensure that the sustenance needs of all these different groups is met is to have a central food preparation facility, preferably in or near the Community Center.
Preventative healthcare services are the most effective health related services that a Community can provide and they should be the first priority.
The availability of general practice doctors and accredited nurses should be seen as fundamental to the well being of the Community.
Smaller Communities may contract with GPs to provide services for everyone but larger Communities could leverage the micro economic model to allow a portion of the Community Healthcare budget to follow each resident to their GP of choice.
Larger Communities would do well to implement Urgent Care facilities that can relieve the GPs of providing 7×24 services. These facilities should be capable of providing minor surgery and remedial care for broken bones, signifant burns and wounds, such that only the most sereve situations require onward referal to hospitals. Urgent Care centers can also help provide a reliable hub for the ambulance transport of residents in need of care.
The inclusion of an Urgent Care facility in plans for the development of Community Centers would make sense in many cases.
Efficient provision of many BASE services in a Community, as well as the local economy as a whole, will require the availability of public mass transport systems. In some urban Communties it may be possible to replace all combustion-powered, individual transport with shared use, zero emission vehicles.
The goal should be to provide adequate public transport services to allow Community members to live without personal transport devices. Striving for this goal will require intimate understanding of the needs of the Community, creative planning and the leveraging of public information systems to help residents and visitors locate and use the best transport option available. Have a look at the Lifeville model for some ideas.
The use of the Community Center as a hub for local public transport services would make sense in many cases.
Any local transport network needs to integrate in a coordinated manner with the transport infrastructure of the wider area in order to provide meanful services. To this end Communities will undoubtedly promote such responsibilities to their Regions, and Regions to their States, and States to their Transterritories.
Primary and general education need to be the first objectives if any Community plan for education services. Most Communities will also provide secondary education, while further education services will be delivered at the Region and higher layers.
Education is a very significant investment for a Community on account of the facilities and materials necessary. The opportunity for the construction of competitive educational facilities may arise for private ventures, but it will unlikely make sense for public services. Given the investment burden and efficiency requirements, voucher systems do not make sense for most Communities. Better, and simpler, to secure quality management of the educational services, and give them the discretion to hire the best teachers and to manage the schools for the benefit of the students.
The Community Center can provide an excellent location for the convergence of general education services, citizens support services and information access.
Information access across the Community at the fastest speeds possible needs to the objective of every Community. The ability of residents to access information will be key to the vitality of the economic activity of the Community, the health of the society and the democratic involvement of all.
The Community needs to own the access systems to ensure that they are available to citizens irrespective of any economic situation and because access will be free for all citizens there will be no commercial incentive for private operators to be involved in the infrastructure rollout and maintenance, these will be Community public responsibilities.
While public access networks can be built using the best available solutions at the most affordable prices, the Community is also responsible for providing citizens with secure access to the secure network that allows them to manage their xID records and access other privacy sensitive systems, for such things as checking their medical records.
Secure access terminals need to meet minimum specifications for security and privacy and the Comunity will have to provide suitable facilities to allow citizens to use them. The more in depth the verification technologies available on the secure terminals the higher the VQ score will be when attemtping to access secure or private data. If the Community cannot not provide sufficiently secure systems to allow citizens to review and verify their xID records, then they have to promote this responsibility to their Region.
To enable a vibrant micro economy the Community should aim to provide support, guidance and basic technology infrastructure for a Community Services & Products Exchange (C.SPEx). This exchange provides the ability for anyone and everyone in the Community to list the services or products they are willing to provide, whether for monetary compensation or not.
Combining the functions of a local ‘Yellow Pages’ with a Community directory and an online marketplace, the C.SPEx creates the space within which micro local needs can be be met by micro local suppliers. This becomes a hub of local economic activity to supplement the traditional and industrial businesses that have been so dominant in the last century.
The C.SPEx links into the Region’s SPEx, which in turn links to the State’s, then the Transterritory’s and so forth to create a worldwide exchange for micro services and products.
It is vital to the sustainable health and prosperity of every Community that every effort be made to foster and support micro economic activity. While all of the BASE services indirectly support that goal, Information services are the catalyst that ignites the flame.
Communities have a responsibility to their citizens to provide for their protection, and the necessary resources to ensure that the constitution and other laws are effectively policed, and that crimes are investigated and prosecuted. The proper execution of these responsibilities will require the establishment of a Legal Services department that is accountable directly to the community assembly. This department must be able to provide for the defense of accused law breakers at the public’s cost. (See Variable Law section above.)