If at first an idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it – Albert Einstein
So anyway – a convo on twitter before Christmas saw me rashly say I’d provide a list of things that “politicians need to do” to be relevant to the young people – that Labour in the UK are hoping to inspire – by offering them party membership for 1p.
Now I voted for Labour back in the day – in the UK, and they betrayed us every chance they got – their final coup-de-pieds being the “Digitial Econony Act”, driven by the BPI, at the behest of the Americans, and rushed through at the last minute – with hardly any of our fucking useless elected representatives even bothering to turn up.
So fuck Labour UK PLC. I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire.
So in that spirit, I said I’d make a list of “things to do”.
– We are going to stop wars
– We are going to cut down the military budget so it’s purely defensive rather than offensive
– We are going to create free healthcare for everyone
– We are going to guarantee jobs for everyone
– We are going to guarantee social security for older people, or people who can’t take care of themselves
– We are going to guarantee free education
All of which is paid for with a new taxation program, and savings on the military.
This is actually pretty simple. The only thing about it that isn’t simple is that a handful of rich people don’t want it.
I think if there’s a single touch-stone issue for me, it’s legalisation of drugs. This grotesque human tragedy has politicians talking sense before they get into office (eg: Boris Johnson, John Hall) and after they leave (eg: Bob Ainsworth, Araceli Manjón-Cabeza) but when people get into power they play along with this tragedy, with “hypocrisy” written in biro all over their faces.
There are whisperings that the Republicans in the US might be the first to come clean on this issue – to mobilise their (libertarian) youth base. (Dr) Ron Paul for example, is an outspoken advocate as was Milton Friedman as it happens. This is also an economic disaster.
So – so long as a party is silent/complicit on abolishing drug prohibition, as far as I’m concerned they’re the enemy of the people they’re professing to represent.
The Robin Hood Tax
Bill Nigh is a God (of sorts), but that is so timid it makes me want to weep.
Here’s a counter-thought: 100%
We are rapidly rendering the planet unfit for habitation. Our societies are rapidly devolving into a type of oligarchical authoritarianism – a globalised porta-police-state, and we appear to be powerless to do anything about it.
Virtually every democracy in the world offers a choice of (2) parties that never actually raise the questions that their electorates want addressed. Every population on earth is far more progressive (usually by decades) than their politicians, or than the democratic choices that they’re offered.
This has to change, and it has to change now.
Here are some ideas. There will be bitter resistance to all of them by the institutions that currently rule us (yea, they rule us) – and will almost certainly only be achievable bottom-up (see idea #2)… without some sort of colossal trauma… but you know… unless we change things, we’re headed for multiple colossal traumas.
Simpler (and better) routes to these ends may also be possible – eg: P2P currency, technologies and techniques, modes of organisation. In the UK Students (for example) are doing the job that the Inland Revenue should be doing – identifying and embarrassing corporate tax-avoiders.
This is not a complete set, and everything suggested here falls under the aegis of 1) Evidence Based Laws.
The purpose of democracy is to control power.
1) Evidence Based Laws : The Abolition of Ideology-Based laws.
Before any law is passed, a set of measurable criteria by which its success can be measured are agreed.
If after an agreed period, it fails to meet these criteria then it is automatically repealed.
This way we can get away from the “morality” of things like “the war on drugs” (which future generations will regard as one of the great human tragedies) and instead agree to “minimise the harm done by drugs”. If making addiction a legal problem rather than a medical one reduces harm then so be it – but at least we’re not stuck with an insanely damaging set of laws, because no politician has the strength to question them.
All existing law is re-examined in light of measurable criteria. All new law is experimental.
2) Devolve Intractable Problems.
An extension of 1) – Experiment trumps Debate.
If issues like (for example) the US health-care reform divide the population, rather than letting the entire system go into log-jam, devolve the solution to state (or local) level and experiment with variants. Same with drug prohibition laws, same with everything.
That way if people don’t want to live in a society where their parents lose their house when they get sick, they don’t have to. If they want to leave the poor to hang, and the poor voting population actually want to go along with this, they can. We can see what happens. What works.
Experiment trumps “debate” – because what passes for debate these days tends to consist of fruitlessly debunking corporate disinformation and governmental spin… and then the government does what it was going to do anyway, which is look after the interests of its campaign donors, at the expense of the general population.
3) No corporate money in politics.
Period. The CEOs of companies caught trying to influence policy, go to prison. (Corporate fines are little more than corporate operating expenses)
The purpose of democracy is to control power.
We’re failing badly at this because corporate power is controlling democratic campaign finance. We need to crack down on this hard – because this is literally the reason we’re powerless to do anything about climate change. It is literally the reason we get into wars. It is literally the reason that tax-payers paid for the gambling-excesses of the banking industry.
The prime-cause of the majority of the world’s problems is “leaders” representing the interests of the rich, rather than their citizens. It’s that simple.
This is the one thing we need to get right. If we don’t get this right, we don’t get any of it right.
4) Government provides necessities; Companies provide services.
If something is a necessity then it cannot be a service. Water, Police, Prison, Energy, The Internet, Phones, Roads, Health-care etc are necessities. Pizza delivery and haircuts are services.
The path to tyranny is self-interest controlling necessities.
“The Market” does not create democratic accountability. The profit-motive does NOT maximise quality of “service” – instead providing a relentless pressure to externalise costs, cut corners, cut wages, and generally provide less for more. It doesn’t work, and we’ve repeatedly seen it not working – the think-tanks (who conveniently and arrogantly place themselves “above the scientific method”) with their theories favouring unfettered corporate power, paid for (quelle surprise) by corporate power, should be thrown in the same historical dustbin as eugenics. That is where they belong.
All privatised necessities are taken back into public ownership by whatever means necessary – with a deadline of ten years.
5) Break up the banks.
Spin off the necessities that they provide as (local) public endevours, so the surplus that a society generates isn’t skimmed away by some foreign occupier. Look out across your town – think of all those mortgages… that gargantuan tyrannical siphon, sucking away value and livelihood, which will never return. We are occupied. Romanised. This has to end.
The surplus that a society creates should be reinvested in that society. Period.
Banks are useful for:
1) storing value
2) transferring value
3) temporarily easing liquidity
The banks have repeatedly demonstrated themselves to be too dangerous and toxic to exist. They profit from war, and they always have. We would be better off without them.
All 3 functions above should be public functions – the process for 3)… “whether to lend” should be decided by jury – it should be a peer decision in other words. A transparent, social decision, with local, social pressures to repay the loan.
This may seem unthinkable, but remember that usury used to be completely illegal, and in many cultures still is. This (like a lot of ancient, religiously mandated law) was an adaptive measure – usury was socially damaging, and clearly it still is. The fluidity it provides is incredibly useful – even vital, but usury needs to be radically reassessed. “Buy now, pay later” was never going to be sustainable. Fiat currency was never going to be sustainable. Eventually it breaks.
6) Return the top tax-rate to the level that pulled us out of the 1930s depression
About 60%. Corporations are not people. Either they serve the societies that host them or they are parasitic and must be rejected by the host. Massive inequality is profoundly corrosive and dangerous to democracy. The purpose of democracy is to control power.
7) Three-Strikes for corporations.
Any corporation convicted by a jury, of breaking the law 3 times, is automatically broken up and sold off. It is SMEs that create most of the jobs, not large corporations. As things stand, corporations are effectively above the law. The fines they pay are business expenses.
8) No government or corporation has any right to interfere with, monitor, or filter the Internet.
The Internet is an essential service which is increasingly containing the entire 4th Estate. It is bigger and more important than any political party or corporation. We (of the internet) do not consent to any form of authoritarian oversight.
9) Copyright law to be scaled back radically
IP law is rapidly turning into a monster, the specific purpose of which is to create a controlling legal structure for the rich, over the rest of us.
It is a profoundly poor fit with technological reality, and the morality behind it (work once, get paid forever) always was deeply flawed. It is also a profoundly poor fit with the realities of the creative process – which always has been to do with recombination and adaptation of what went before. It is (and always was) a type of corporate colonialism.
Creators are granted a 10 year limited monopoly on the commercial exploitation of their work.
Non-commercial copying and adaptation are fair use.
Non-commercial plagiarism is treated the same way as it is in Comedy and the Fashion Industry, by mockery and vilification.
All Patent law should be scrapped. Patents are providing no benefit to society whatsoever. Execution is everything. Ring-fencing “ideas” without execution is fundamentally dishonest.
The entire concept of “work once, get paid forever” should be seen for what it is: An attempt to get something for nothing.
10) Society should work towards providing all life-support systems for free.
Rather than trapping people in life-long indentured servitude by way of student-loans, mortgages, insurance etc… and somehow seeing this “business-friendly” (and profoundly people-unfriendly), parasitic approach as a “good thing”, we should be aiming to create systems whereby these are provided to everyone, without discrimination, as basic rights.
We should focus on lowering “cost of living” rather than trying to “get back to the bubble (of indentured servitude)” created by the F.I.RE industries.
11) Privacy for Individuals, Transparency for Authority.
Without transparency, authority cannot be accountable. Without accountability authority is illegitimate. All illegitimate authority must be dismantled.
… and finally land-reform. This one’s a long-shot – but without land-reform, we’re always going to be pushing money uphill. I only think this is doable at a volantary, localised, communal level. To try to mandate this at a national level is a recipe for nightmare.
12) A strict limit on the amount of land that any individual can own.
Large farms would need to continue as cooperatively owned affairs (an option most people would likely choose) – with the added benefit that they’d become serious-crisis-insurance policies.
No land ownership by foreign entities period. Every citizen should be gifted an allotment of land for free at birth, to do with as they see fit. When they die, it may be passed to another individual of their choosing – so people’s emotional attachments to their lands can be maintained. Allotments may be swapped or rented, but never sold.
Corporations may not ever own land. Land is owned by the citizenry, equally.
So there you go. That’s my thought for the day.