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 (www.standardsoflife.org/MLR) 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.

Reforming Westminster – from Guardian’s “Comment is (apparently not very) Free”

The following text was posted to the Guardian UK web site on May 21st in their Comment is Free section in response to a call for suggestions about how to reform Westminster. Within 18 hours the moderators had removed it; not sure why as it does not defame anyone, it is on topic and relevant and does not seek to promote any commerical enterprise.
In the spirit of really free comment, I post here the original…


So we’re finally ready to think about the alternatives? Good. Not a moment too soon.

For those seriously interested in this, I think you have to figure out a system that reflects the natural organization of people, not just in England but in the EU and everywhere else. The timing of this furore coincidental with the EU elections highlights the need for reform across a much broader spectrum than the UK.

There is a model for the kind of regional/national configuration discussed above, mated with a system of proportional representation that actually works; you can find all the details at http://www.standardsoflife.org/mlr

What you will find as you work your way through the practicalities of political reform is that it will require a (new) constitution with a bill of rights. These are not things which spring happily to the minds of many in the UK, but they are essential. Constitutions, necessarily, require a good deal of thought before they are adopted and so reforming the political system could take quite a while… unless someone’s been thinking about this for a while already, and assembled the basic building blocks of a constitution already that would work well in the UK, builds on the strengths of exisiting international law and could work within an EU framework… http://www.standardsoflife.com/Constitution+Template

One “trouble” with an enhanced system democracy is that it inevitably means that power is devolved down. The consequence of empowering people is that they are unlikely to be very happy with the top-down systems in place today, including the economic system. So that means that political reform will be followed (very quickly) by a (large) wave of support for reform of the economic and social support systems. Are we ready for that too? We’d better be. And it’s a wonderful opportunity too, this is the chance to humanize the economy and green our wealth creation systems – at just the moment when it’s essential that we do both of those.

So what is going to be the face of ecomonic reform that people are likely to demand once they have their new political voice? The end of abject poverty, the right to work for themselves, the availability of a more balanced life that allows for real living during our working lives, the removal of dole-based, means-tested poverty-traps? Probably all of those and some more! Luckily there’s a good model of meeting all of those needs while preserving the best elements of a market place economy that allows everyone to leverage their own ingenuity to make as much money as they care to while, at the same time, keeping the greater peace and prosperity of the whole society in focus too. Universal social services mated to a directly linked progressive tax system. Details at http://www.standardsoflife.com/material+infrastructure

The UK is the perfect place to do all this. Small enough to be able to, big enough to make it work and influential enough to spread the word and gain the cooperation and involvement of other nationstates.
The UK is a really hard place to do all this. Old enough to be attached to its traditions, young enough to be only a fledgling in real republican politics and sufficiently interconnected with Europe to inevitably attract remote as well as local resistance.

But this has to be done, the future of our planet depends on it. The only way to a sustainable future is through sustainable prosperity and that requires just the kind of democratic reform that is arising here. It may be hard but it’ll get easier once we start. Who’s for starting now? I am.

Andrew Percy
andrew@standardsoflife.org


Original post link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/20/political-reform?commentid=24a77007-811a-4fd0-8949-462653ba838c

 


I invite your comments freely !

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

If they’ve all got to go…

If they’ve all got to go, and they do, we need standards for our lives, for our futures, for our posterity.

…  get the right replacements!

In countries all over the world people are starting to think about throwing out their entire political establishment. In Iceland they’ve already started, they’re making moves in that direction in Ukraine, and even Californians were talking about it this year, during  the budget impasse. Soon this will be a common sentiment across the globe.

But if you’re going to throw them all out, who are you going to replace them with? You need to set some standards, and define some principles that you’re going to ask the replacements to subscribe to, before you put them in.

Let’s face it, most of the replacements ready to step into the shoes of the incumbents, are themselves part of the same system that produced their predecessors. The alternative is to elect some fresh faces, some independent minded candidates from outside the political establishment. The trouble many voters will have with the second option, is that those candidates won’t have a history or affiliation that will allow voters to establish where the candidiates stand on the major issues.

The solution to this conundrum is for the people to establish their own agenda and look for candidates who will sign up to it. This is no time to be selecting leadership on a trial and error basis – we simply don’t have the time for it! What we need now is political leaders who subscribe to the desires and standards set by the electorate, and who will take on the task of implementing the changes we need.

We know what we want, and we damn sure know what we don’t want! If were going to throw out the old guard, we need to  replace the old certainties with new standards.  We know enough about where we want to go to be able to define the parameters of how to get there. We may not have every detail detailed, but that’s what we vote in representatives for.

We need a framework for our politicians to protect our freedoms. We need a structure for our societies that brings us peace. We need a construct for our commerce, that will create prosperity. All these are not variables that we need politicians to define for us, they are guidelines that we need politicians to operate within. There’s a million billion decisions to be made, but a blank sheet of paper this situation is not.

If they’ve all got to go, and they do, we need standards for our lives, for our futures, for our posterity.

We need to start anew, with Standards of LIFE.