Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A thoughtful look at how things could be/should be ....

I’m in a philosophical mood today. It’s overcast and a tad bit rainy so maybe that’s the reason. My thoughts on things started, I do believe, when I woke up. There were snippets of a dream floating around my mind. Lying there, trying to decide whether it was worthwhile getting up or not, I started thinking about the world as it will be when I take over. Do you think the fact that I marked my absentee ballot for the US by-election had something to do with it?

Well, here is what I came up with:

Laws that one could expect in Sheehy’s ‘perfect world’ (these, if you think about them, would cover nearly every situation – no further need for lawyers!):
* Every citizen must be free to perform any act that does not interfere with the same freedom of another.
* No law shall prohibit the performance of any act, which does not damage the physical or economic welfare of another.
* No act shall constitute a violation of a valid law unless there is such damage or immediate present danger of damage resulting from the act.

An explanation of the thought behind the last one: This prohibits any all-encompassing law or ‘the state’ from being above the law. In its fullest sense, this law does away with the old belief that claims the majority is always right. And, most importantly, it identifies any corporate person and gives them no rights other than the rights of any other person. In accordance with this provision, any law that allows corporations to be recognized as a legal entity must be repealed. To this end the primary focus of any corporation must be on benefiting the people it serves, protecting the environment and only then bringing profit to its shareholders.

While on the subject of laws, in this ‘perfect world’ every law/rule/regulation adopted by the governing body must contain a 10-year sunset clause and to be continued must be readopted. Plus, to the end confusion, all laws must be stated in simple language, avoiding all abstractions.

And on the subject things we think we understand:

Ethics is custom not natural law.

Morals are societal approvals not natural law.

Religion and life’s moral and ethical foundation: There are two ways to work toward the development of a practical custom or theory of human relations; work out observed and practical values and philosophies contained within that which is known as the real world, or ‘divine revelation.’ Divine revelation is problematic; no matter which organized religion one follows is it is questionable as each organized religion claims to have the sole truth, the final authority on all ethical questions. Equally questionable is that each claims to the absolute divine right to shape the moral life of the citizenry. A major issue is how the Christian belief system holds that the earth belongs to humans. For Christians, humans are unique among animals because they alone were created in the image of God. It follows, then, that humanity can behave as the lords of creation, treating the earth’s natural wealth and all other animals, as tools put there for the higher achievement of humankind. This simple belief could be the undoing of life on earth as we know it.

While I’m sitting here using up words, let me get onto the subject of how war fits in my perfect world.

War, except when a direct attack on a country, would only be approved by qualified voters. Those qualified to vote are those who would be directly involved in the war and by voting would be automatically registered for the draft.

In my perfect world things would be decidedly different. We live in a democracy, well, yes. But it’s a ‘kind’ of democracy. Like freedom, I doubt there is such a thing as a true democracy. Let’s not go there today. How about a brief discussion on our financial world as I would have it? Okay. Students take out your notebooks and learn how capitalism would work in my world.

I mention this because of a couple quotes I like:

“Capitalism is not a philosophy, it is a mathematical concept. Unrestrained, it is a system where the needs of capital drive government policy, business and society. Consequently, government creates laws to defend the rights of capital before those of social or environmental.”
Darryl Fry

And …

“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”
John Maynard Keyes
British economist

It’s been said that for poor people money is what’s in their pocket at any given time and for the truly wealthy, money is a way of keeping score. My discussion on money begins with the question; who really has the right to create money. According to the law of most developed countries, only the government has that power, but in the real world others have abrogated that right. For example, think about your favorite mortgage company.

You find the home of your dreams and talk to your friendly mortgage company. After filling out all the paperwork, you are given the keys to your new home. The seller’s bank account is accredited with an agreed amount of money and goes on his merry way, while you begin to save for next month’s mortgage payment. Where did the money come from for the seller? Actually, in today’s world, no money physically changed hands. You, the new owner, agreeing to repay the loan, signed the papers. The mortgage company notified the bank to credit the seller’s account for the correct amount. The property changed hands, with the realtor and everybody collecting their payment, as deposits to their individual accounts, along the way. All completed by way of the paperwork and interbank transactions. No actual money … bills and coins, changing hands.

Now, didn’t someone create money in that transaction? If any actual cash money changed hands, it was the small percentage taken from the buyer’s savings account. The remaining part of the loan came from the bank. Did that institution take cash money from its vaults or simply accredit the seller’s account.

At this point the question of what is money must be answered. My proposal believes that money is “anything given as payment for something of preserved equal value?”

If banks and banking institutions have the power to create money, then where are the controls to protect the economy? Without certain controls, the result is inflation, over-production and unemployment. Governments, to control inflation use the interest rates their money-creating process charges to banks, which uses that to adjust interest rates they charge their customers, which slows or speeds up the flow of cash. It is the interest rate fluctuation that causes market oscillations.

So, in our capitalistic society, is this the only way to make the economy work? I have read of another viewpoint that I will take up and expand upon, as is my habit.

What would our society be like if a bank operated by the government was the only bank? This bank could lend money at interest rates set at levels that automatically adjust to the marketplace. With this power there would no longer be inflation. Each year, the balance of production and purchasing would be brought level. The government would then have complete control of the creation of money and in a very short time interest rates could drop to only a percentage point or two. As the need for money to create an industry and thereby making jobs came up, the government could create the necessary funds. Conversely, as an industry began to exceed its productivity, instead of flooding the market, the bank could, by controlling the money factor, slow production down. The end result of this is as near total employment as is necessary in a world where the benefit of it’s people is paramount, not the growth and advantage of the corporations and other parts of the business community.

One other item in the mix would make employment as drudgery-free as is humanly possible – this is to give every person a guaranteed income from birth. No more homelessness, unemployment, welfare or other such societal blight. If one wanted to work, that person could and thereby earn extra money. Under this plan, the economy would become constant, the population would stabilize and, as the banks continued to control the creation of money, international trade would also level out at a rate fair to everyone. No one country could produce more than it could use or sell to its neighbor.

Money is the key factor holding our present society together, the glue. Until that part of society changes, and a dramatical change it would take, it will continue to be as unwieldily as it is today. If the government had total management of money, all major aspects of commerce would be controllable.

What? You ask about taxes? Not necessary. The people are the government and when the government is able to control money, creating when needed or withholding as necessary to keep the economy stable, there would be no call for the people to shore up the amount of money their government used. The government would be able to simply start up the printing presses.

I am a non-economic minded person and will agree this proposal needs a lot to make it work. To be successful the idea would call for major changes in the thinking of our economists as well as changes in the way politicians did their job. The banking industry would not be very acceptable to this kind of change. Neither would the political world as it is now practiced.

Speaking of politicians, in my “perfect world” these folks, who often claim they are in that business in order to help the world, would only ever benefit from their work to the extent of the average benefit of that of their constituency. This does away with huge salaries, special medical and health benefits, free travel budgets and all other ‘perks’ that go along with the office.

Okay, so to sum up (is that a pun?) Money is anything given as payment for something of preserved equal value. And value is that which is accepted by all parties as being worth a given price. Time for another quote:

“To expose a 4.2 trillion dollar rip-off of the American people by the stockholders of the 1,000 largest corporations over the last 100 years will be a tall order of business.”
Richard Buckminister Fuller

And on the subject of greed: “It has been said that the most important evil is the evil of greed. When all other sins are old, the strongest motive of all, greed, will remain young.”

And that’s it... my perfect world: a society driven by capitalism in its pure form, based on sound philosophical principles and guarded by laws based on accepted moral and ethical standards. Simple and all encompassing; Sheehy’s view of as close to a “perfect world” that man can conceive.

And that just about covers the Sheehy philosophy. You’re welcome.