Everyone agrees that the American economy has transformed from an industrial base to an information one, so why is our society still structured as if industrialization never ended? It’s as if we’ve invented fire but refuse to use it to cook. Let’s start cooking.
We all want the same things – security and high quality social services for all – but many of us disagree on how to achieve that end. One side views government as the solution, the other views it as the problem. The debate has raged for hundreds of years, but technology is making it increasingly irrelevant.
In the past, we needed government to solve collection action problems because we, the people, couldn’t communicate with each other. Networked information technologies have changed that. The internet, GPS and mobile phones enable free people to organize solutions to collective action problems more efficiently the government ever could. Properly utilized, existing technologies will enable civil society to reconstitute itself exponentially stronger than ever before, allowing the people to organize their own comprehensive social services faster, better and cheaper than our highly centralized government.
The QS Platform outlines a set of public policies that will facilitate the reemergence of civil society as the most efficient, gentle and comprehensive provider of social services in America by expanding the rights of the individual and providing the best nonprofits with the support they deserve.
When asked why she voted for the GOP candidate for senate, a lifelong Massachusetts Democrat said she wanted to send a message to her party that she was upset.
The American people are upset. Very upset. The war $700+ billion dollar war continues. The $700+ billion bailout saved Wall Street by further crippling the middle class. Everyone is wondering what will happen to the US dollar’s value when the totality of the $1.4+ trillion dollars the Federal Reserve printed to finance these two boondoggles begins flowing through the global economy. When the inevitable inflation begins, who will reassure the American people that the dollar is still valuable? Bernanke? Geithner? The financial services industry?
Fortunately, it seems the the America people have decided on a political plan. STOP EVERYTHING! Prevent both the Democrats and the Republicans from gaining enough traction to move anything forward. The logic is simple: everything either party does is a disaster so stop them from doing anything.
The old adage that the person is smart but people are stupid appears to be working in reverse: the individual is stupid (voting erratically and inconsistently for candidates) but the people are smart (stop the political machines.) It seems the people might be getting it. Make no policy passable. Make no politician safe. The next step is obvious: if every incumbent is guilty of contributing to our broken political system, then kick them all out.
That should be easy. If CHANGE could galvanize the nation for the presidential election, KICK THEM ALL OUT should be able to do the same for Congress. Your role is simple: during the next election vote against every incumbent. We the people can turn the incumbent brand from an asset into a liability. Your Congressman is culpable in the failure of government. It’s time they take responsibility for their actions. Their replacement might not be the best candidate in the world, but they will fear you because they’ll know that if they’re not extraordinary, they won’t have a job in two years.
The only way we’ll get a government worth our tax dollars is by setting higher standards. It’s easy for us to do. Vote against the incumbents. Let’s start off with a blank slate by kicking them all out.
“The spirit that sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you. It’s people.” (Barack Obama, 1/27/10) Never before in the history of humanity have we, the people, been able to unite comprehensively to solve our collective problems. There is no longer any need for us to organize the deployment of social services through the coercive force of the Federal Government. We can do it ourselves. If we shirk our responsibilities and chose to rely on government to solve our problems, then government will create more problems so it can continue to grow. The more it grows, the less work there is for the people to do until, there is nothing left for us at all. We become children of the government. That is not the destiny of a people in pursuit of happiness, it’s the destiny of a people trying to escape fear.
“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”(Thucydides, 460 BC)
America was populated during two rounds of mass immigration. The first was during the first ice age approximately 13000 years ago when people from Asia crossed the glaciers that connected modern Russia to Alaska. The second round began in the 1600s and continued until World War Two. Much of this immigration was legal. Since the 1940s, however, most immigration into the US has been illegal and poorly unregulated. This is problematic from both a national security and a human rights standpoint. Our immigration policy must:
- Legitimize every immigrant who enters America.
- Attract the highest quality immigrants to America.
- Provide sanctuary to those in need.
It’s important to separate boarder security from the debate on immigration. Our boarders must be secure: if that means deploying 100 US soldiers on every mile of our boarder then so be it. Unlike security, immigration is a question of national wealth. The fact is more people create more trade which creates more wealth. The continental US is nearly three times the size of India with about one third the population. Why aren’t we focusing on wealth creation?
Currently, the US is still a highly competitive nation in terms of immigration. People from around the world very much want to work here. We should evaluate the type of people we need and then test immigration applicants for those skills. We determine quotas for each test and provide entry and a path to citizenship for those individuals. If we were adding 7-10 million usefully skilled people to America every year, all Americans would become wealthier and our domestic marketplace would become more efficient.
One of the central tenets of economics is that trade creates wealth. Any restriction on trade reduces people’s capacity to create wealth. People who can’t create wealth through trade will inevitably try to steal wealth through violence. Thus, everyone in the world has an incentive to enable others to create wealth. Truly wealthy people view their world as abundant and thus, never steal. Our trade policy must help people to live in an abundant world.
The term ‘free trade’ has been adopted by neoliberals to describe corporate trade policy. We don’t advocate ‘free trade’, we advocate truly free trade (true trade) which is unregulated trade between entities in two similarly regulated economies.
The primary reason many American workers aren’t competitive in the global labor market is that their foreign counterparts are often under paid and over burdened. This exploitation can only take place because the foreign worker’s government has failed to protect its citizens. Failed governments can’t win elections so the people within the country must be disenfranchised. This disenfranchisement is caused by a lack of transparency in that nation.
Transparency is the intersection between foreign and trade policy. If we gave every nation a transparency rating and then based all of our tariffs off that number, we would solve our trade and labor problems. Cheap goods from nations that lack transparency would become more expensive, enabling free American workers to compete with inexpensive, exploited foreign workers. This is the foundation of a pro-freedom trade policy.
Our criminal policy must find the two correct balancing points between order and freedom, imprisonment and rehabilitation. Finding these points requires compromise. On one hand, we could ensure that everyone was safe by placing everyone in a cage guarded by the state. On the other hand, we could ensure everyone was free by eliminating all laws and letting people organize themselves. To find the right balance between order and freedom, prison and rehabilitation, we must first understand our own motives.
Government is defined as the entity with the right to the ‘legitimate use of force.’ The people will only support the government when it imposes laws that they people want enforced. Government’s become corrupt when they no longer represent the will of the people by enforcing their laws. When the government enforces unpopular laws, it creates tension between the government and the people. The people will at first break the law in secrets but, as the distance between the law and the order it seeks to create widens, the people will begin to flout the law in public. This creates a state of noncompliance in which everyone is breaking the law and no one is safe from the government.
Right now the American people are in a state of mass noncompliance. Between our nation’s antiquated drug laws, complex tax code and myriad of regulations, a majority of Americans break the law everyday. Some of them will be caught and penalized and many others never will. This state of noncompliance has created a culture of disrespect towards government and authority. This culture delegitimizes the government. Illegitimate government is mafia.
We must do everything in our power to live under a legitimate government and that requires reducing and simplifying our nation’s legal code.
The implementation of a simple, clear and consistent carbon tax plan will spur investment in alternative energy sources. The proceeds from a carbon tax could could invested in government infrastructure projects that reorient our society for a low carbon future or pay for voucher programs.
Developing and deploying smart grids so communities can share energy resources is of monumental importance. The government must also invest in rail with the assumption that a climate or fuel crisis could make air travel impossible. Just as the auto industry bought public rail lines and turned them into roads, the government must turn public roads into light and heavy rail lines. We need to invest in rail like we invested in our interstate system. The longer we wait to make this type of investment, the more vulnerable we will be to food, fuel and environmental crises.
The government must also create a legal framework that encourages distributed energy solutions. In a low-carbon scenario where fossil fuel is in short supply, individuals and communities must have the capacity to produce their own energy. The technologies exist – wind, solar, geothermal and biomass are all distributed energy solutions – but the legal framework needed to deploy these technologies does not. Inconsistent regulation of the energy market, uncooperative utility companies and erratic government incentive packages are preventing the mass adoption of distributed energy solutions.
We must create a standardized, national political solution that enables every community to invest in their own energy production capacity. When a community generates it’s own energy, it becomes more prosperous, secure and stable. Worst case scenarios become much less frightening.
No one knows if humans are are contributing to global climate change. Both sides have legitimate fears about the effects of climate change on society. We can pursue a middle course that satisfies all parties.
Climate change believers fear that our rapid release of hundreds of millions of years of carbon stored in coal, oil and other fossil fuels is going to disrupt our climate, making earth less habitable for plants, animals and humans. They demand the implementation of an international mechanism to reduce carbon emissions to prevent potential massive ecological disaster.
Climate change skeptics fear that authoritarians are attempting to use the climate change issue to take control over the world’s economies by forcing everyone to get ‘authorization’ to emit carbon. They’ll resist any scheme, especially an international one, to regulate people’s production of carbon.
Cap and trade is a disastrous policy for both sides. Governments have no incentive to lower the cap enough to seriously reduce carbon while myriad of government agencies and industries will spring up to pressure both individuals and businesses to pay for their carbon. The policy is terrible.
A carbon tax is the obvious solution supported by nearly all the world’s economists. A carbon tax would be levied on the fossil fuels that produce carbon. This tax is easy to implement and requires virtually no government expansion. It creates incentives for the government to tax carbon and for the public at large to develop alternative energy sources. We can solve the carbon problem by steadily and predictably increasing this tax over the years.
The health of our democracy depends on our citizen’s ability to understand how their government acquires and deploys the people’s resources.
Well formulated taxes aren’t evil, they’re exceptionally useful. A well formulated tax raises revenue for the government and regulates trade. To achieve both of these objectives, compliance must be easy and the people must view it’s influence on the marketplace as socially beneficial. The mechanics of the tax must also be simple. If people don’t understand a tax’s influence on their own decisions or on the broader economy, they can’t make informed political or economic decisions.
The government should deploy three types of taxes:
Federal tariffs regulate international trade by taxing imported goods. Proceeds finance the security that enables trade. Higher tariffs finance larger security forces.
Sales taxes regulate consumption of nonessential products. Proceeds finance the infrastructure that facilitates trade. A higher sales tax facilitates more investment in infrastructure and increases savings rates.
Regulatory taxes impose fees on goods and services communities wants to regulate. Proceeds pay for local social social services. Higher regulatory taxes decrease the demand for taxed goods and increase funding for services.
These taxes naturally create balance in the marketplace by giving the people, through their government, control over the context within which economic activity takes place. Taxes must adapt to new social and economic realities.
No where is the industrial convention stronger than in our education system. All course material is determined by an individual’s age, ending promptly at 18. All schooling takes place between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, September-June. Students are judged on a linear point scale that goes from bad to good.
Technology is making this system more and more irrelevant each and everyday. No matter what convention requires, every year more educational material will be consumed by students on Wikiepdia and they will inevitably use increasingly collaborative technologies to complete their projects. These trends should be nurtured, not resisted. We must realize that individuals drop out of school because schooling in this country is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
The education system of the future is impossible to centrally plan: it will be individualized, dynamic, flexible and nonlinear. What we can do is make sure that every American who wants to invest in their own education can do so by providing Americans with vouchers redeemable at accredited institutions.
We can also make sure that every American has access to the internet and that comprehensive education programs exist online for free. Additionally, we can create a scholastic network that provides every individual access to top teachers, professors and experts through the web. Local teachers can focus on interpersonal skills and community specific learning while offering their students the highest quality virtual lecturers on more specialized topics.
Our plan is simple. We need:
- Vouchers for every American.
- Charter schools.
- Free online educational material
- A virtual lecture network.