Proposal for a New Social Contract

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Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:56 pm

It is a compromise system between Capitalism and Communism, trying to find a well-defined balance. It is designed for a transitional species like ours, halfway through their evolutionary path.. No guarantees, though.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:57 pm

What is the most important lesson we can learn from our long and bloody history?

What defines us?

We are a species full of contradictions:

Co-operation and competition.
Freedom and aggression
Compassion and greed
Love and hate

Could I distill all these contradiction into one fundamental and defining duality?

I believe I can:

It is our need for both freedom and love in our lives.

In a social context it manifests itself as freedom from, and compassion for, each other.

The different social systems in our history were built on different assumptions of our human nature.

- Capitalism assumes that our primary motivation is greedy self interest (freedom-loving)
- Communism is built on the assumption that we can be a loving family, caring for each other (compassionate).
- Socialism of various kinds were all trying to find a compromise.

So far without much success, because the compromise was arbitrary, without a clearly defined principle guiding us when we tried to accommodate our conflicting impulses.

Can we make peace? Can we find a compromise acceptable to most people?

I believe we can.

OK, here it goes:

Let’s agree that we acknowledge both of our needs: freedom from, and compassion for, each other. Let us agree that the compassion part has priority, up to a very well defined point. This point is where the basic survival needs of every citizen in our country is assured. Beyond this point our priorities change and our need for freedom takes over.

The concept I have in mind is not unheard of: it is a variety of ‘Basic Income Alternative’ a policy that has been and is currently studied by various western governments (including Ireland and Canada).

In my version of this idea we have a two-tier economy, with the two tiers completely isolated from each other. One tier is the public sector and is Communist by nature, while the second tier is the private sector and is pure Capitalist.

In the public sector, basic human needs are the responsibility of the national government and takes priority over every other human activity. In this system there is no money involved.

The government is in charge of all the industries (without exception) required to provide basic human needs (food, clothing, housing, health, education, communication, transportation) and it is self contained. The government owns’ all the resources to satisfy basic human needs of the population. It is an economy planned and designed to serve one purpose: to eliminate poverty and make sure every citizen’s basic needs are satisfied, regardless of any other consideration (worth of contribution for example).

The basic human needs can be easily calculated by using scientific data on age-dependent calorie requirements, climate-dependent clothing and housing requirement, population-dependent health- and education-requirement and the necessary energy and raw-material production, as well as the necessary infrastructure in transportation and communication. It could be easily planned based on physiological, climatic and demographic data.

Production in this economy presupposes that the system is self contained, the nation owns all the resources, required to implement this system, within its own borders. Canada is a prime example where this could be easily done. So everything required for this production for basic needs is under the jurisdiction of the national government, no foreign trade is required to satisfy these basic needs.

Problems start when we come to ‘distribution’. In past socialist experiments, attempts at distribution were always tied to bureaucratic measurements of individual needs and rigid safeguards to make sure nobody consumed more than their share. This method was based on three assumptions:

1./ assumption of insufficient resources and technology
2./ assumption of human greed and lack of honour
3./ assumption of desire for a ‘perfectly just’ system

So the system became a nightmare of bureaucratic red tape, inefficiency, waste and injustice. See Soviet Union and East Europe under ‘Communism’.

What if we discarded those assumptions? Can we discard those assumptions? My answer is yes, quite easily, given our level of science and technology today.

Basic human needs are very easy to satisfy (has anyone calculated how many hungry children could be fed from liberating the resources that went into producing one aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine?). If we decided that basic needs are a priority before anything else, we have all the resources and the technology to do it quite easily today (I am doing some research right now to prove it).

We can do it in abundance if we put everything else on hold (luxuries, entertainment, sports, arts, etc., etc.) and eliminate all waste (military, finance, most of government, duplication and competition) until basic human needs are satisfied. In my opinion no ethical human being could justify spending any amount of resources on those items I just listed, as long as there is one hungry child or homeless citizen in the country.

This does not mean that I would want to live without arts or sports or some luxuries, but the beauty of the system is that I would not have to. The key word above is ***ABUNDANCE***. With intelligent organization, elimination of wasteful competition and duplication, we could produce ***ENOUGH*** of the basic necessities to accommodate individual differences in needs and statistical fluctuations in demand, with a comfortable margin of safety.

And here comes the final element of the system:

No regulation on the individual level is necessary. The produced goods and services could be made freely available for anyone needing it and people could just help themselves in the supermarkets, the stores, find the ‘basic quality’ house they need, close to the place where they work. If basic needs are guaranteed, no sane person would bother with hoarding, so no artificial shortages would happen (the assumption being that insane persons are in a very tiny minority).

Sounds impossible? Well, it isn’t. If we don’t tie ourselves into knots over money, we have everything we need to make it reality: material and energy resources and the manpower with all the different skills required (this is the current chapter of my book I am working on right now—I will soon have all the scientific and statistical data to prove these assumptions).

Besides being in charge of all production activity to satisfy this goal, the government will have to maintain the police and the courts to make sure the system is defended against criminals, sociopaths and psychopaths. Another beauty of the system is that once basic needs are satisfied, the level of crime, violence and destructive behavior will decrease drastically.

The government would not have to deal with economic crimes (tax evasion for example) because the government does not deal with money at all. There is only one crime that could be considered ‘economic’ by nature: it would be against the law not to participate in the production of basic needs for any able adult who is not in training or vacation at the time.

It could be easily calculated how many hours per weekday on the average one citizen will have to work to do their share in producing these goods. According to some estimates I have seen, this could be as low as 2-3 hours per workday, if it is organized intelligently (like distributing production centers according to population density as much as possible, so no wasteful long-distance shipping needs to be supported).

This minimal contribution can be accumulated in advance to provide for vacations and personal projects, but would not be transferable to make sure no person has a ‘free ride’. You don’t have to ‘save up’ for illness and retirement (the key word above is ‘able’) because those are provided for from the excess safety buffer built into the system.

There would be an immediate and automatic incarceration (or expulsion from the country for chronic offenders) for anyone who refuses to participate in basic needs-related production activities. This would not be a fixed-length sentence, but a ‘stay in jail until you are willing to pull your weight’ alternative, and it may end the next day if desired. Also, any citizen is free to renounce his/her citizenship and move to another country if welcome there.

The government would stay the sole ‘owner’ of all natural resources that are common birthright of all citizens. Among these are primarily land, air, water, space, forests, wildlife, mineral deposits, communication frequency bands. Nobody can expropriate any of this for exclusive personal use beyond what they are entitled to in their basic needs (these needs are defined by national consensus, reached be referendum, based on scientific and demographic data).

After basic needs are satisfied and poverty, hunger, preventable illness and ignorance is eliminated from the nation; crimes are prevented to the best of the police’s ability, then the government’s task ends. It has done all in its power to make sure that basic human needs are satisfied, nobody goes hungry, no one freezes to death on a winter sidewalk, nobody gets abused by crime or exploitation, no one too young, old or sick gets neglected, no human greed and evil is allowed to rule.

And this was the ‘Communist’ part of the system I am proposing.

However, as I hinted above, there is a ‘Capitalist’ part as well.

According to my estimates (and the data I have collected so far in my research) after basic needs are satisfied, there is plenty of resources and free time left over (material and energy resources and the manpower with all kinds of skills) for a second tier in the economy which would be completely private, and totally separate from the first tier and the government. Other than assuring that no criminal activity (theft, fraud, murder, pollution, inhumanity to animals, etc) is taking place in the second tier, the government is staying completely out of it.

The second tier could be organized in any way participants want to - it can have money and banks and loans and interest rates and what-have-you. It can lease excess natural resources (only in a sustainable way) from the government for its own purposes, by contributing extra benefit to the public, basic-needs production economy (they can not pay in currency because the government does not use any). The value of natural resources in terms of public service provided for its use will have to be calculated by the economic planners of the government, based on scarcity of resources versus public benefit of service provided for it. It has to be dynamic, with strict guidelines protecting it from abuse.

Nobody could be forced to participate in the ‘private tier’ of the economy, it would be strictly voluntary. If the private economy organizes itself to use a recognized common currency, then citizens could get ‘paid’ for their work in the private sector and use this money to purchase luxuries (products and services beyond basic needs) just like now.

No compromise would be tolerated when it comes to basic needs and rights, the sustainability of the system, the health of the environment and the rights of other living species. Of course there are millions of details to be worked out, I only wanted to describe the basic principles of a ‘workable’ social organization. And, of course, I have no roadmap leading from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and don’t even know if such a roadmap is possible in the immediate future. However, I wanted to describe how a social organization could exist without money and I tried to do that.

I also used the assumption that the country where this ‘experiment’ was performed was not threatened (or coerced) from abroad, so no military would need to be maintained, and there is no foreign trade whatsoever practiced by the government. For basic needs the system must be completely self contained, not dependent or influenced by fortunes outside its borders. The private sector could do any amount of foreign trade so long as it does not compromise the first-tier economy.

The only way to make this system work is by eliminating the second assumption listed above (2./ assumption of human greed and lack of honour). We are up against the age-old question of ‘human nature’ and its primary attribute: is it basically competitive or basically cooperative. All Capitalist western societies are based on the assumption of man being basically competitive. However, newer studies are refuting this ‘Social Darwinism’ at increasing frequency and tell us that, given the chance, human beings are actually quite decent (See Sally Goerner’s “After the Clockwork Universe”, John Ralston Saul’s “On Equilibrium” or Jeremy Rifkin's "Empathic Civilization" for example).

To summarize:

The essence of my system is the following: People decide that the most important goal is to make sure everybody’s basic needs are met. They create an economy to assure that. There is no money involved, every citizen has to participate with a minimum number of hours per day and the produced goods are made available to everyone freely. This economy is completely self contained: it has its power generating stations, their mining, their industries, agriculture, transportation and communication facilities, schools and hospitals. Everything they need to produce basic goods.

Then they say: we have it covered. Now, whoever wants more, can do it in their spare time, as long as 1./ they don’t touch our economy in any way whatsoever (if they can’t do it without us, it is their problem, we will not let anything compromise the ‘prime directive’). 2./ They don’t cause damage to the environment and don’t harm anyone in the process (including other species).

I am not writing this book to tell people how to change. I am merely trying to demonstrate that we could do anything we wanted to. We were given a marvelous Planet with everything on it we need. We were given intelligence to turn it into Paradise for all of us, including other life forms. Unfortunately we were also given some other attributes that make this Utopia impossible and we are fast approaching the nightmare of turning our world into a poisoned sewer in the best case, a nuclear wasteland in the worst. We have tried everything else already (the results are all around us, for all to see) -- why not give sanity a chance? It might save our collective asses.

As Will Durant wrote in “The Lessons of History (chapter X. - Government and History) -- “If our economy of freedom fails to distribute wealth as ably as it has created it, the road to dictatorship will be open to any man who can persuasively promise security to all; and a martial government, under whatever charming phrases, will engulf the democratic world”

PS. Multiple edits are due to having to go back and highlight points that were missed by some of the posters.
Last edited by ALF on Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:18 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby JO 753 » Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:23 am

It seemz to me that we are well along tranzitioning to sumthing like that now. Obviously nothing so clearly defined, but a sloppy, haf baked defacto version.

More than haf the people I know are completely supported by the gummit thru one program or another.

I think the 'no money' part failz to match reality. The money concept haz its inherent weaknessez, but I believe its an essential component to any large scale social structure. I'm not saying it haz to be a part uv all material tranzactionz, I'm saying its probably inefficient to the point uv impracticality to not use sum form uv standardized value equivelent to trade products and servicez.

About your work requirement. Wut happenz wen machinez are doing all the work?

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:40 am

For a species that completed their evolutionary journey and arrived at their stable and sustainable final stage of sanity, money does not exist at all. Since they don’t waste 90% of their resources on fighting over distribution, there is plenty produced of everything they need (see the Needs vs. Wants thread) for healthy survival. There is no need for money to control who gets how much of what.

In my system, designed for a species like ours, in the middle of their evolutionary path, you have a second tier of the economy where money does exist for trading luxury goods and services that are beyond and in addition to the basic goods and services produced in the first tier.

If you read the entire post carefully, you will see that all of this is clearly explained. As far as what happens when machines do all the work (‘all’ is unlikely), the answer is: more of the same. More leisure time for everyone.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby JO 753 » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:41 am

Unless you modify the human mind to get rid uv want, money will be an essential tool for general tranzactionz.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby xouper » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:11 am

ALF wrote:... There is only one crime that could be considered ‘economic’ by nature: it would be against the law not to participate in the production of basic needs for any able adult who is not in training or vacation at the time.

That's called involuntary servitude -- slavery -- and is a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Involuntary_servitude

Among all the reasons to reject your proposals, this one is by far the most egregious. No way in hell would I ever agree to participate in such a society.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:52 pm

JO 753 wrote:Unless you modify the human mind to get rid uv want, money will be an essential tool for general tranzactionz.


See underlined statement in my previous post...

JO, I am afraid you missed the whole point.

That's understandable, considering I wrote it in English! ;)
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby JO 753 » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:27 pm

Sorry! Sleep posting.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:10 pm

If everyone were required to work in the basic needs portion of this "economy" then where would the money part come in and who would work in it. i.e. if we were all working the fields whom would say... build cars?
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:18 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:If everyone were required to work in the basic needs portion of this "economy" then where would the money part come in and who would work in it. i.e. if we were all working the fields whom would say... build cars?

It is all explained very clearly in the post. Read it carefully.- (especially the lines in bold and/or underlined)
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:28 pm

Ok fair enough but it seems very simplistic and would probably work in a small village in Africa (like true communism would) but no where with any sort of large varied population.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:59 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:Ok fair enough but it seems very simplistic and would probably work in a small village in Africa (like true communism would) but no where with any sort of large varied population.


If we somehow found ourselves in that system, it might work, even with our not-quite-sane minds.

How to get from here to there, I doubt it very much that we can, unless some major catastrophe forces us to rethink our options.

The point I was trying to make with this thread was to illustrate that we need to find a very clearly defined compromise between 'Pure Capitalism' and 'Pure Communism' (which our current compromise isn't) or we will continue wasting 90% of our resources on fights over distribution and destroy our planet in the process.

Clinging to what we have now is unsustainable.

Trying everything that failed over and over in history won't work either.


My proposal is something new and it could be implemented if a minimum of sanity prevailed. Its advantage is that it is well defined (apart from a million minor details) and thus would eliminate the waste and the fights (on all levels) that are destroying our species and our planet now.

I just finished reading a marvelous book by Rebecca Costa, subtitled "Thinking our way out of Extinction". That is what I am proposing here.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby JO 753 » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:07 pm

The To The Stars trilogy by Harry Harrison iz wut will eventually arize frum all types uv social structures bekuz greedy people will alwayz find a way to grab more and step on everybody else.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:14 pm

Many people have limited imagination, so they can’t easily see what it would be like living in my proposed system.

Try to imagine: In exchange for 2-3 hours work a day, you could walk into any store or supermarket (in the basic needs sector) and take all the food, clothes, furniture, etc you need, without worrying about price, without paying for any of it (money doesn't exist in that sector). You would never have to worry about electricity and heating bills, rent, medical help, education costs. You would not worry about losing your house or losing your job.

If you wanted luxuries, you could start a business (or work for one) in the Capitalist sector and do anything you wish, as long as you don’t harm anyone else and don’t interfere with the basic needs sector.

All this could be easily implemented using current technology and resources if we did not waste 90% of our resources on fighting over distribution. Anyone can easily do the math, based on their country’s national budget, GDP, income distribution, etc – data readily available on the internet.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:20 pm

I don't disagree that your system has the potential to work. It's the paradigm shift that would be required for it to work that would be astounding. Also, I imagine the bickering in the needs are would be a huge headache.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:27 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:I imagine the bickering in the needs are would be a huge headache.


Please read the "Needs vs. Wants" thread carefully.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby absentia » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:36 pm

xouper wrote:
ALF wrote:... There is only one crime that could be considered ‘economic’ by nature: it would be against the law not to participate in the production of basic needs for any able adult who is not in training or vacation at the time.

That's called involuntary servitude -- slavery -- and is a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Involuntary_servitude

Among all the reasons to reject your proposals, this one is by far the most egregious. No way in hell would I ever agree to participate in such a society.


The "bestest country God ever gave to man" was founded on slavery and genocide. Somewhat telling is that it took 12 previous amendments and a huge war before you even got 'round to making it a crime. If there were such a thing as justice in the world, i wonder how much the US would owe in reparations, both inside and outside its borders.

What ALF suggests is not forced labour for someone else's profit, but working for one's own basic needs. Workfare is hardly a new idea - only making it universal is.
What the teapots propose, by contrast, is letting everyone who can't get a job starve and freeze. I assume from the above comment that you assume that you or your dependents can never fall into the second category. Such assumptions have, on occasion, proved illusory.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:38 pm

I understand you're defining needs. I just mean that people tend to think their needs are different from others. Given the current state of the Welfare program here it's obvious they will argue for it too. If we're talking about getting rid of politicians sure go for it.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:44 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:I understand you're defining needs.


I do a lot more than defining needs. I also suggest a way how a consensus could be achieved. See highlighted part.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby absentia » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:48 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:I understand you're defining needs. I just mean that people tend to think their needs are different from others. Given the current state of the Welfare program here it's obvious they will argue for it too. If we're talking about getting rid of politicians sure go for it.


That's not a bad idea. How about every able member of the community being eligible for public office - maybe even as a civic duty, like jury service - for one year? That way, no career politicians, no profit in lobbying, and a whole helluva lot more common sense in governance. (But we only have put in 3 hours a day at the legislative assembly. The rest of the time, we can paint, do scientific research, build cars or go for a walk.) Okay?

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:54 pm

absentia wrote:
KnaveOfHearts wrote:I understand you're defining needs. I just mean that people tend to think their needs are different from others. Given the current state of the Welfare program here it's obvious they will argue for it too. If we're talking about getting rid of politicians sure go for it.


That's not a bad idea. How about every able member of the community being eligible for public office - maybe even as a civic duty, like jury service - for one year? That way, no career politicians, no profit in lobbying, and a whole helluva lot more common sense in governance. (But we only have put in 3 hours a day at the legislative assembly. The rest of the time, we can paint, do scientific research, build cars or go for a walk.) Okay?


sounds pretty good to me. Heck I'm all for full on true communism but unfortunately that's never been implemented and probably never will for a population of any size larger than 100. But yeah I'm all for getting rid of any sort of profitability coming from politics.

Btw ALF I'm not disagreeing with your idea. I like it as a matter of fact. Just out of curiosity (maybe I missed it, apologies if so) do things like an internet connection fall under needs or is that in your private sector?(Just curious because at this point in time that seems like a very big thing to many people.)

On a side note your ideas keep sounding like they're coming from the Venus Project with a little twist.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:07 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:Heck I'm all for full on true communism but unfortunately that's never been implemented and probably never will for a population of any size larger than 100. But yeah I'm all for getting rid of any sort of profitability coming from politics.

Btw ALF I'm not disagreeing with your idea. I like it as a matter of fact. Just out of curiosity (maybe I missed it, apologies if so) do things like an internet connection fall under needs or is that in your private sector?(Just curious because at this point in time that seems like a very big thing to many people.)

On a side note your ideas keep sounding like they're coming from the Venus Project with a little twist.


Knave, it is not "Pure Communism", it is a well-defined compromise between "Pure Communism" and "Pure Capitalism" (a la Ayn Rand).

Whether Internet is a need or a luxury, it would have to be decided based on calculating available resources, manpower, skills and how much people are willing to work for basic needs in the public sector. I would imagine it would be a 'need' because Communication is a basic need in a society and people will want to take it for granted.

Finally, the idea comes from many decades of thinking, studying, reading, researching and analyzing. I have not read that particular book so I don't know if we had similar ideas.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:17 pm

ALF wrote:Knave, it is not "Pure Communism", it is a well-defined compromise between "Pure Communism" and "Pure Capitalism" (a la Ayn Rand).

Whether Internet is a need or a luxury, it would have to be decided based on calculating available resources, manpower, skills and how much people are willing to work for basic needs in the public sector. I would imagine it would be a 'need' because Communication is a basic need in a society and people will want to take it for granted.

Finally, the idea comes from many decades of thinking, studying, reading, researching and analyzing. I have not read that particular book so I don't know if we had similar ideas.


I wasn't meaning to seem to call your idea "pure communism" I agree with your assessment of your own Idea. I just meant that "pure communism" is a good idea in theory.

Also the Venus Project isn't a book it's a (I guess) movement.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:28 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:Also the Venus Project isn't a book it's a (I guess) movement.


Thanks for the link, Knave, I was not aware of it.

I will study it before I form an opinion.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby absentia » Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:19 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:
sounds pretty good to me. Heck I'm all for full on true communism but unfortunately that's never been implemented and probably never will for a population of any size larger than 100. But yeah I'm all for getting rid of any sort of profitability coming from politics.


I think you are correct about this kind of sharing system being viable only in small communities - though i would put the effective range of direct democracy as high as 10 - 15,000. Maybe more, if the people generally content, but it could only be built up from small units, such as a village, guild or co-operative. This kind of bare-roots movement is about the only hope i do see for humankind; it may be able to thrive, in very small pocket, under the radar of the destructive economic forces that are heading for global collapse..

... Just out of curiosity (maybe I missed it, apologies if so) do things like an internet connection fall under needs or is that in your private sector?(Just curious because at this point in time that seems like a very big thing to many people.)


I imagine the needs would start out with food, shelter, clothing and heat, plus basic services like garbage recycling, education and preventive/ emergency medicine. But in a fairly short time, many things that are, right now, considered unattainable luxuries by much of the world, could be added to the 'basic' package. As the efficiency of production improved and the rip-off artists were sidelined, the standard of living could not help but improve, right across the board.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:44 am

absentia wrote:What ALF suggests is not forced labour for someone else's profit, but working for one's own basic needs. Workfare is hardly a new idea - only making it universal is.


Anyone who objects to having to earn his/her own living in a visible, productive, obviously benefiting way (indubitably making the world a better place) must have a personal agenda of ripping the system off. Like sitting behind the desk and doing currency speculation, for example. Or running a company into the ground, counting on a multimillion dollar severance package. Or loan-sharking and living off the miseries and unsatisfied basic needs of others.

No doubt these people would object to making an honest living by growing turnips, making shoes, designing cleaner energy sources or helping small children and senior citizens.

They accept the tangible results of others in the form of food, clothing, shelter and all kinds of luxuries but they don't think they owe anything in return and often do immense harm.

They claim that they 'paid' for the goods by giving money for them, without demonstrating that the money they paid was acquired by benefiting others in return. They could have stolen the money, could have acquired it by fraud, could have 'earned' it by forcing their employees to destroy brand new clothes like Walmart managers do when they decide that the clothes are unsellable.

Since money (in principle) is supposed to be the measure of the owner's contribution to society, they don't have the right to use that money to pay for tangible goods.

In other words they are simple thieves -- parasites on the social body.

No sane society would tolerate them but they thrive in our world.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby Matthew Ellard » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:09 am

ALF wrote: Anyone who objects to having to earn his/her own living in a visible, productive, obviously benefiting way (indubitably making the world a better place) must have a personal agenda of ripping the system off. Like sitting behind the desk and doing currency speculation, for example. Or running a company into the ground, counting on a multimillion dollar severance package. Or loan-sharking and living off the miseries and unsatisfied basic needs of others.


I think you are being a bit narrow in this view. Do soldiers produce anything? Yet they provide a non-productive public good. What about a medieval pawnbroker? Does not person ease capital movements in a pre banking economy? What about 19th century domestic service (the dole of the 17th & 18th century) They don't produce anything but their positions justified the distribution of wealth to the lower classes. Any any economy there is division of labour and it is impossible to make arbitrary statements about what is "bludging" off others and what isn't. Progressive taxation is a compromise to tackle those who earn more than "an average person can through labour".

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:20 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:I think you are being a bit narrow in this view.


The operative word is "benefit" others.

Demonstrate to me that the way you earn money benefits others in a clear and obvious way and then I won't call you a thief.

Granted, sometimes it is not immediately obvious how your work benefits others, especially in a very complex society like ours, and often you do some good and do some damage at the same time, but it is often easy to show that you are obviously a parasite.

And, of course, many people (like those Walmart employees) are victims of the system: they don't have a choice if they want to survive in this crazy world of ours.

I once designed computer systems for business -- I still blush when I think about how these systems were used and wonder if I did more harm than good. There was no doubt about the value and benefit (to me) of the goods and services I acquired with the money I earned.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby absentia » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:48 am

Matthew Ellard wrote: Do soldiers produce anything? Yet they provide a non-productive public good. What about a medieval pawnbroker? Does not person ease capital movements in a pre banking economy? What about 19th century domestic service (the dole of the 17th & 18th century) They don't produce anything but their positions justified the distribution of wealth to the lower classes. Any any economy there is division of labour and it is impossible to make arbitrary statements about what is "bludging" off others and what isn't. Progressive taxation is a compromise to tackle those who earn more than "an average person can through labour".


The contribution of the economic parasites - and their servants - of past ages is not relevant.
Maybe you need a professional standing army; maybe a volunteer militia is sufficient. Capital is not part of the public domain in the model under consideration. Servants are unlikely to be required in a technologically advanced society. And so on.
Every society must evaluate its resources and assess its needs in the present - this is an on-going process, and if the methodology is sound, the conclusion will be sound.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:28 am

I also have no tears to shed for many of Bernie Madoff's victims.

'Investment', as it is practiced today, is a very questionable way to 'earn' money.

In rare cases, when you know that you are investing in a company that is producing something beneficial to the public good, you could be considered sharing in the legitimate success of that company.

However, most investors just want to put X$ into a hat and pull 2X$ out of it, without having any idea about how their X$ was used, whether it was doing good or harm, without worrying whose pockets their 'earnings' was pulled out of.

The goods and services they acquire from their gains are real, tangible benefits to them.

What have they given to the world in return? They don't know and they don't care.

That is what makes most investments (and investors) unethical.

On the other hand, it is very difficult or even impossible to stay completely ethical in this insane world. We don't know how our saving $s are used by the bank and our pension funds are used by the government or our company.

That is why it is so important not to have money in the public sector of my proposed system. Money corrupts any system that is based on it, by letting the thievs and parasites hide behind it.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby Matthew Ellard » Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:29 am

ALF wrote:
Matthew Ellard wrote:I think you are being a bit narrow in this view.


The operative word is "benefit" others.


And?.......
1) A pawn broker benefits people converting non liquid assets into liquid assets. ( You don't have to use them)
2) The army protects capital assets ( You don't have to use them and take the enemy on your own if you wish)
3) Domestic Service provides labour in exchange for service ( You don't have to use domestic servants)
4) A stockbroker provides capital transfer services ( You don't have to use them)

All these services are voluntary to the user. Do you want to "dictate" how the economy works? Who can use what? Who can offer what service to others?

I think you are confusing the interaction of Trade Practice Acts which define bad behaviour within any economic transaction to protect all consumers, with your suggested alternative of a command economy where a dictator says exactly what everyone has to do or can't do. Consumer law ( Trade practices legislation) evolved to cover an evolving economy by having general rules. The economy can keep evolving. A command economy "locks" an economy into a time frame destroying its ability to react to the environment, additionally allowing people to trade as they choose. Are you against this?

ALF wrote: Demonstrate to me that the way you earn money benefits others in a clear and obvious way and then I won't call you a thief.

I'm a tax lawyer, ex-accountant with economics degrees from Sydney, UTS and UNSW. My work benefits the state, but is neither clear or obvious. I'm a thief for this reason?

ALF wrote: And, of course, many people (like those Walmart employees) are victims of the system: they don't have a choice if they want to survive in this crazy world of ours.
Well they used to just die of starvation.
May I suggest you read some papers by Lenin from 1922 when he introduced the New Economic Policy (return to farmers markets and free choice to nominate prices by peasants working land) .Lenin was a very smart person who said many things that I still hold as clear thinking. Many of the issues you are considering were much on Lenin's mind around this period before his stroke.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby ALF » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:15 am

Matthew Ellard wrote: Do you want to "dictate" how the economy works? Who can use what? Who can offer what service to others? .... with your suggested alternative of a command economy where a dictator says exactly what everyone has to do or can't do.

....I'm a tax lawyer, ex-accountant with economics degrees from Sydney, UTS and UNSW. My work benefits the state, but is neither clear or obvious. I'm a thief for this reason?


Your post suggests that you haven't read my proposal very carefully, at least you seem to have missed the second part (about the Capitalist private sector) entirely.

First of all, if you read my proposal carefully, you will see that there is no dictator and the rules are arrived at by consensus ratified by referendum. That is how constitutions are supposed to be created. There is no reason why my system could not be implemented and sustained in a fully democratic way (see statements in bold in my proposal).

Second, I did not call you a thief because, as I said, most of us are victims of this system (whether we admit it or not) to some degree. In a sane system where 90% of our resources is not wasted on fights over distribution, destroying the planet in the process, money would not exist at all. You probably would have chosen a profession in economic planning, intelligent and efficient allocation of resources, etc. That kind of activity would very clearly benefit your society, while now , as you said, your activity benefits the 'state' and even that is difficult to see (the same state that spends a huge portion of your tax $s on brutal imperialist wars and a gluttony of weapons and other destructive practices).

Finally, I have read Lenin, more than I cared to at the time (it was compulsory reading on Melmac). My ideas are not proposing Communism, as I pointed out to Knave before. I am trying to find a system that could be sustained with our species, at our state of evolution. It is to be a well defined compromise (unlike our present system) between Communism and Capitalism, so major fights, wrangling, wars could be avoided, by satisfying both camps: pro-freedom and pro-compassion.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:29 pm

I would propose that business be run like they were for the first hundred years or so of the US (at least construction and such). The business had to submit a proposal for the project and prove how it benefits the community and then when the project is over the company is disbanded.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby absentia » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:57 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:I would propose that business be run like they were for the first hundred years or so of the US (at least construction and such). The business had to submit a proposal for the project and prove how it benefits the community and then when the project is over the company is disbanded.


Works for me. Since (If i understand this correctly) private projects - that is, all business; any enterprise that provides non-essential goods or services - are not under government control, they are free to organize any way the participants want. You don't have to benefit anyone but voluntary participants, cqan use any revenues generated to acquire luxury items... of course, you will also have to absorb any losses, without recourse to bailouts. All you have to do for permission to go ahead with a project is prove that it will not harm the citizens or the environment.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:00 pm

For the mos part yeah. Obviously the disband part wouldn't work for say a store. But say building a road it works good.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby absentia » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:12 pm

KnaveOfHearts wrote:For the mos part yeah. Obviously the disband part wouldn't work for say a store. But say building a road it works good.


A private road, i guess, leading to a store, or maybe a toll road? Because public roads would be built under the government sector - without monetary complications: just organize the materials and labour, get it done, then reassign the people and equipment and keep a small maintenance crew in readiness for repairs.

In the private sector, all kinds of organization are possible. Incorporation is one; long-term ownership by one person or a family is another; co-operatives, partnerships, capital investment, loan and mortgage... new ways, if you can think of any. Such enterprises, since they are money-based, will require accountants, payrolls, shares, contracts and all kinds of complicated instruments of transaction. Fortunatly, there are people both willing to carry out and well trained for these tasks.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby KnaveOfHearts » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:18 pm

The road was just an example of the kind of project I meant. It could be a non essential building I suppose.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby numan » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:42 pm

'
absentia wrote:I think you are correct about this kind of sharing system being viable only in small communities - though i would put the effective range of direct democracy as high as 10 - 15,000. Maybe more, if the people generally content, but it could only be built up from small units, such as a village, guild or co-operative. This kind of bare-roots movement is about the only hope i do see for humankind; it may be able to thrive, in very small pocket, under the radar of the destructive economic forces that are heading for global collapse

The Masters of Power and Finance are determined that no economic model, no matter how small, shall exist other than their own.

Examples: Everything from the destruction of Yugoslavia to the wiping out of the Igorot tribesmen of the northern Philippines.
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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby numan » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:45 pm

'
Matthew Ellard wrote:Do soldiers produce anything? Yet they provide a non-productive public good.

They "provide" an anti-productive public evil.
Neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools. This is the first step toward becoming either estimable or agreeable---and until it is taken, there is no hope.

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Re: Proposal for a New Social Contract

Postby numan » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:55 pm

'
Matthew Ellard wrote:I'm a tax lawyer, ex-accountant with economics degrees from Sydney, UTS and UNSW. My work benefits the state, but is neither clear or obvious. I'm a thief for this reason?

Yes, you are.

In addition, you are serving the "needs" of an evil political and economic system that stands in the way of human progress.
Neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools. This is the first step toward becoming either estimable or agreeable---and until it is taken, there is no hope.


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