I must admit that I am secretly glad that Juliarse, his red-beret and other cronies have gotten into parliament. At the very least they will have to come up with a vaguely coherent set of policies to base their voting on.
Or, more easily to allow them to stay at home, just cast proxy votes in the negative to whatever issue is being debated: then they could carry on scamming government contracts, swilling whiskey and fighting amongst themselves as to who will get the mines and banks when they “nationalise" them (oh yes, and plotting against SARS)…
Brings me to a slightly more sober position: if they actually succeed in representing the interests of the poor, the fact that they got anywhere shows how strongly the poor feel about the way our economy treats them.
I think of them kindof like the Occupy movements overseas (particularly in the US) where the 1% is moving further and further away from the rest (99%). Most people that I speak with agree that such large disparities between the lowest-paid workers and management and executives is wrong and needs to be addressed.
Problem is no one is really doing anything about it. I think most people (myself included) secretly hope to be “earning” such obscene amounts of cash. We all also agree that we should not be raping and pillaging the Earth and that we need to re-examine all of our behaviour in light of what it is going to be like for our grand-children and their offspring.
Also that we should be more humane in how we treat animals that are kept for food. That we should be as eco-friendly (in the genuine sense of the word) as possible by reducing, reusing and recycling. That we should try to live in harmony with the planet instead of trying to dominate Nature.
No one that I speak with says anything much about how we can go about instituting change such that the above-mentioned criteria are met.
I have a few proposals, which, if taken together, could go a long way to solving these problems.
Firstly, let us consider that, ultimately, all any human needs is air, water, food and shelter (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). If we look around us at the Natural World, we see that no animal takes from its environment more than it actually needs. Humans on the other hand seem to want to amass money (which is transferable into anything else including basic needs) simply for its own end.
This tells me that we need, somehow to ameliorate the greed motive that drives many people, companies and conglomerates.
Secondly, we need to realise the damage that we are doing to the planet is not really undoable (not without the passage of a lot of time) and that the more we encroach on the natural world and reduce the biodiversity of the planet the less likely we are to survive as a species. Not only that, but our own quality of living is dropping as a result, just as the incidence of deadly diseases attributable to environmental degradation is rising, also as a result. We should be using the Precautionary Principle* in all of our decision-making and this should be enforced rigorously.
Thirdly we need to realise that violence in any form is not tolerable and that it can never be justified. There are always better solutions than violence and violence as a response to violence is an invalid and morally bankrupt solution. Violence begets violence. No matter what your particular moral, religious, ethical or other ground may be.
So, how do we allow the above mentioned principles to guide us in restructuring a society that is more and more apparently sick?
Devolve our Systems including Government
Make government much more representative and devolved by having a few more tiers that start out at neighbourhood block level. In addition people should vote for their “council” and that council then governs the block and votes one of their members to the next level which would be at suburb/town level and so on right up to the president who should be voted for by the members of the national “council”.
That way only the worthiest (most representative, responsive and representative) people would be on the various “councils”. Also, these positions are unpaid and have to be changed every six months. They are treated as a form of community service. If you have a job, your company has to continue paying you whilst you serve.
In terms of water, electricity, gas, policing, health care, roads all of these areas of society would benefit from and become more robust and useful if they were also devolved to more and more localised blocks.
My favourite example is electricity that could feasibly be generated in many thousands of locations to satisfy overall demand. Many small contributions make for a more robust, stable and adaptive network system and if that electricity is produced sustainably it also significantly reduces environmental damage.
Give Every Worker a Percentage
Every for-profit organization should give every member of their staff a percentage of the profits. I am not saying that it should be a huge chunk of the profits, but based on rank and service, every worker should get something, say from a millionth of the profit to a hundredth. The nitty-gritty details can be discussed and voted on but in principle everyone should get a share.
Make Non-Sustainable Businesses Pay More
This is especially true for any business that exploits natural resources, which should be recognised as belonging to every citizen of a country. Government should levy a “heritage tax” on these companies based on their consumption of natural resources that is then refunded to all citizens.
Monetize Environmental Impact
Any company that wishes to produce products which are detrimental to the environment should have to go through hoops justifying it and then, on top of that, have to pay a huge “environment tax” (not to be confused with the carbon tax) that would drive the end-user price way up and thus discourage the use of that product.
Take Away Rights based on the Severity of the Offence
Violent offences should cause a person’s rights to be removed. Murder should entail the loss of most rights (including the right to life) down to common assault which should entail the loss of the right to movement, for example. Again, these can be debated and voted on and the scales adjusted to ensure fairness but toughness.
Make The Law more Natural
The laws governing our societies often provide the means for all sorts of exploitation, both of fellow humans as well as of the environment. We should revise and simplify our laws so that they are more reflective of Natural Law as well as more equitable and accessible to all members of our society, no matter their socio-economic status.
If we re-formulated our laws with less exceptions, nuances and convolutions that protect certain elements or strata of society, then we would achieve a lot more “buy-in” and compliance with them. Very often today, people choose criminal actions because of the unjustness of how the law is applied and say “See? They are getting away with murder, why can’t we?” Hypocrisy, fatal nit-picking and plain downright injustice thrive in our current skewed legal system.
Take Back Our Power
This could go back to the first item because essentially we have allowed ourselves to come to exist in a socio-economic system where we shirk many responsibilities that should be ours. We have done this because of another very human trait: laziness. If I think about policing, the powers should be devolved so that the smallest “council” would have “police” and they would be responsible for keeping the peace in their area based on their rules (ie “rule areas” devolved to be decidable by that council).
Think Swiss canton system or how the American federal system was designed to work in the beginning where localised areas (states) had much more power to set their own rules. We should have regular referenda on all issues that are contentious where there is no clear guiding principle or rule from a higher council. Powers should be devolved back down to the communities that need them.
This allows for lesser or greater permissiveness on any given issue, at the level where it has the most effect and is most relevant. Government then would truly become something that is “of the people, for the people and by the people”.
True Democracy without Hypocrisy.* Precautionary Principle: “if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.”