Sustainable Civilization: From the Grass Roots Up
Take your pick, they are all a leap of faith. There is no ongoing event to evidence that any particular formal religion has a rational factual basis. Most clearly have biases that are clearly contrary to a long-term sustainable civilization.
POLITICAL STRUCTURE & CHALLENGES TO POLITICIANS
Humanity is past a sustainable population. In an ideal world, we would use the remaining oil ONLY to create an infrastructure that is sustainable on solar input, and voluntarily focus on reducing the population to sustainable levels.
But what would happen to a politician who proposed measures appropriate to these ends, such as:
Repeal income tax dependency exemptions, child tax credit, and all deductions for child care. Have a one time only, limited time grant for abortions, then cease public spending for any pregnancy related cost or child care costs, and cease welfare. Eliminate immigration for other than critical national defense abilities. Eliminate government mandated union membership. Eliminate deductions for donations to "charities", providing health insurance, life insurance, or other benefits other than salary.
These have all contributed to a situation where motivation to independent action has been suppressed, to gain the "benefits" of a steady job. Such jobs making taxation easier. Leading then to demands that the government "fix" the disparity between those with, and without such benefits, by the government assuming the insurance business.
Repeal social security, Medicare, etc. These programs “reward” the non-contributing of society, or impose the expense of the ills, or ill conduct, of the few on to the productive members. Consider the Social Security reform discussions, with means-testing as a favored approach. This means that those who pay the most into a government mandated, gun to your head “retirement” program, get the least benefit from this program. A completely irrational approach. “Charity”, should be voluntary, not imposed at the point of a gun.
Eliminate corporate double taxation, where corporations must still pay corporate income tax on profits of stockowners, whether or not paid out. (For that matter, eliminate the limited liability aspects of business entities. If investors “own” the “upside” of their investments, why do they not own the “downside” and costs of business liabilities. How is it that some fictional, paper entity can be found “guilty” of torts, or crimes, and the human owners get off free?)
Eliminate federal deductions for state income tax, property taxes, etc.
Eliminate estate and gift taxes.
How do we avoid corruption? How do we avoid institutionalism?
Democracy, or one person, one vote, majority rule, is self-destructive. It is mob-rule.
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote
"Democracy is a regular feature of decaying civilizations. When a democracy is established, the destitute consume the capital of the wealthy, and the civilization must then decay until invasion destroys it." - Sir Flinders Petrie.
Twentieth Century welfare programs in the U. S. example the defect. Greater payments were made to those with more children, encouraging greater births in families who could not afford to care for the children, leading to following generations of welfare recipients that grew greater in numbers, both from excessive births, and expanded scope of the programs. Welfare is one example of the "tragedy of the commons", or "public goods game", which shows cooperative progress is endangered when it becomes clear that it is possible and "profitable" for individuals or groups to "free ride" on the productive efforts of others. In games experiments, a functional "out" from such a "tragedy of the commons" is for the producing, cooperating members to be able to punish welfare free riders, even if it means a cost to those punishing.
The disproportionate weight given to the vote of city dwellers also examples the defect. In an area which should be the center of education, research, manufacturing, etc., attracting the best of humanity, many present cities are gross drains on resources, far beyond any benefit returned. Estimates are that the current city of Los Angeles, California, has a "footprint" of ecological effect that is larger than the entire State of California. Do you believe that the entire population of LA are contributing citizens?
On the U.S. federal level, the Constitution originally contained some protection against such "mob rule", by assigning to each State two senators. Originally, the Representatives were elected by the people, and Senators were sent to represent the State Government. Therefore, Senators owed their allegiance essentially to the governor and legislature of their home state, NOT to the people. The distinction is that they had incentive to avoid proposals that cost the State. When it was changed that Senators were elected by a democratic popular vote, such protection was lost.
Each distinct PROPERTY, or some other fixed unit, regardless of the number of people living on the property, has one vote. It is up to the owner of the property to decide how the speaker for that portion of land is selected.
A vote can only change the primary charter if the vote is unanimous. (Protecting the original intentions of the founders, those who after sought admission to the village under the terms of the charter, born under the charter, etc., from the arbitrary democratic mob rule of any "majority".)
The village or city does not have the power to "tax". It does though have the authority to sell goods and services that are determined excess, with members having first priority to purchase such.
Decisions where the charter does not clearly control must pass by a 2/3 majority of the total possible votes. Likewise earlier such decisions can be overturned by a vote of more than 1/3 to modify or eliminate. This in effect means that for any such action to remain valid, more than a 2/3 majority must want it in place at any given time.
The tragedy of the commons must be avoided. When an asset is held in common, and all have an unlimited access, the typical result is prompt depletion.
“Give a man the secure possession of a bleak rock and he will turn it into a garden; give him a nine year lease of a garden and he will convert it into a desert”. Arthur Young – English Writer.
(Please excuse my drift into a science fiction work) The people in the U.S. military command, control, and maintain some of the most complicated hardware on the planet, in conditions that are often far from pleasant.
Our military are volunteers. Whether they signed up for a job, for the educational and other benefits, or as a career, our military people are just that, people. The military organization is the most "integrated" I am aware of. We see every race, religion, national origin, economic background, etc. in the military, at any level. For the most part, it is promotion by merit, vs popularity.
STARSHIP TROOPERS Robert Heinlein Rico's teacher, Mr. DuBois, asks "'What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian?" "The difference,'" Rico answers, "lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not" "Can you tell us why our system works better than any of our ancestors?... Because under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage" The point being that those who voluntarily bear the burden should make the decisions and get the benefits, not "free riders". I cannot see how that a individual, neighborhood, city, state, or nation, if "prepared" for the crash, will be able to survive without obvious means of defense, and the obvious ability and willingness to use it. We can’t continue to ignore and downplay self defense. Winning peace, not just at the level of "war", but down to local one-on-one crimes takes eternal vigilance at all levels.
(ST) "Naked force has resolved more issues throughout history than any other factor. The contrary opinion, that violence never solves anything, is wishful thinking at its worst."
In a home invasion, or if one of your family is assaulted, I advocate all should respond. In my personal capacity, I started teaching our daughter how to shoot when she was 4. At 11 she could handle a .45 ACP pistol and/or carbine reasonably well. Firearms are no toy to her. She's also taken martial arts training, as well as all of the other crash and post oil era training/education I can think of.
Your local police cannot be everywhere that real crime is. Technically in most of the U.S., every citizen has the authority to make a citizens arrest, but it's discouraged by the professional police. We need to encourage personal initiative with offenders taken to the "on duty" staff.
We must be prepared to wage war. If fighting on the level of war is required, total involvement is required, from the extra food to be grown, it's delivery to the troops, resupply efforts, etc. There are no civilians in war, only those incapable of actively fighting or providing support.
But unless we’re involved in a war, maintaining a professional full time military, separate from other normal functions of society, is a drain on resources.
(ST) "Once someone asked me if I knew the difference between a citizen and a civilian. I can tell you now. A citizen has the courage to make the safety of the human race their personal responsibility."
What's NOT going to work is a society attempting to maintain industries, programs, and people that drain resources without providing any benefit back to society in general. Perhaps time spent "drafted" into military service will be a means of paying taxes?
I do not see that a government limited to those who have so served is necessarily something to be feared. I can't though see the military involuntarily taking over from the civilian government, until / unless that government has already failed such that the population "demands" the change, and I still have a difficult time going from the concept of military control in a disaster period, to a long term military government
We readily see the "organization" advantages of the military in response to civil unrest, or natural disaster. Send in the "National Guard", which is the state army, composed primarily of part-time soldiers, people who have self-selected for the extra "hastle" that guard duty represents, including being sent into disasters, while earning less than in their normal jobs.
Americans readily demonstrate they are not frightened powerless peasants. Even little old neighbor ladies join "neighborhood watch" programs. Rather than demand police or military protection, I suspect they will BE the military civilization.
Perhaps I need to re-read my Heinlein to look for clues as to a practical long term "military" government… (ST) "One of the older cadets took a crack at it. 'Sir, revolution is impossible . . . because revolution --armed uprising -- requires not only dissatisfaction but aggressiveness. ... If you separate the aggressive ones and make them the sheep dogs, the sheep will never give you trouble" Rather than hold my breath for a military imposed organization, I'd still suggest everyone get their personal affairs re-aligned to survive the crash, and to cope as well as you can in the post oil era.
Create a neighborhood watch and neighborhood clean up program.
Implement your own "planned collapse", but realize the consequences, not only for you, but in the bigger picture.
You go off-grid, grow your own food, and enter into cooperative agreements with neighbors to swap your various handicrafts. You are no longer part of the tax base. As taxpayers "disappear", or per taxpayer revenue falls, government must raise rates, go further into debt, or cut non-essential programs.
Eventually, you are looking at government doing nothing but defense / law enforcement / emergency response… All potentially done by volunteers. But, gone are excess revenues that can be expended to provide life-support for non-contributing individuals.
Besides laws and paychecks, coercion can take many forms:
(ST) "Service guarantees citizenship."
Perhaps Heinlein will be proven right…
Only those formal laws minimally required to provide for defense against outside threats of force, or provide deterrent and redress for inside initiation of inappropriate force. All government activity diverts the fruits of labor at the point of a gun.
Spending for military and police equipment, and the wages of the personnel, is in general a net loss to society, unless of course we experience an invasion, or someone (outside the government) forcefully violates you. The purpose of the military is to prevent a foreign invasion; the purpose of criminal punishment is to prevent another crime, whether from the same individual, or another; the purpose of civil courts is to address fraud or redress of initiated harm. When you get to any legal framework beyond this, you can quickly get into unlimited government intervention. Consider, Alvin and Bob feel that Dick has a problem, which they want to fix . After a brief session, they decide what they are going to force John to do to help Dick. Dick at the point of a gun is not allowed any input or objection to the decision. The above examples what takes place when governments stray from their function of military and police protection, and courts of law. While a government using a fiat currency can create currency using the printing press, it does not create value. If a government wants a subsidy payment to anyone to have any value, it must first take value at the point of a gun from someone who produces it.
Politicians pandering for the vote of the “poor and/or weak” rob those who produce, to divert the “fruits” of productive effort to their selected serfs, to perpetrate their own political power. But every cent so diverted to the sustenance of those who, in their own turn, do nothing, is a loss of funds that could have been supporting even greater accomplishments. And when such “charity” comes from politicians who depend on it for their power, you can be assured that money will continue to disappear into such a void. If we have a limited government, a significant challenge is to keep it limited. The primary "Constitution" cannot be changed without a unanimous vote of the representatives. Consider, you either voluntarily moved to live under this government, or were born under it. If you do not want it changed, why would you grant consent for some less than unanimous group to change the rules?
"Doctors without Borders" appears to advocate medical care regardless of local licensing. Actually, I concur, a government issued license should not be REQUIRED to practice medicine, or any other profession, rather it should be seen as a statement of "quality control". So long as the practitioner you elect to visit is required to tell you of their qualifications, or lack therefore, let it be a free and open market. If you CHOOSE to be attended by a “voodoo” practitioner, it is your chose, so long as you have not been fraudulently misled.
Economically, every handout to a beggar (by direct voluntary action or government theft) represents additional stress placed on the environment and drain on resources. We have, for a century, enjoyed virtually free energy, available only at the pumping and processing costs, vs any need to divert current production. This is ending. All of the excess production it has allowed is ending. With this, the excess tax revenues, ends.
Perhaps communities, indeed individuals, should select the services they desire to receive, and pay for them. If you live in a self-reliant multi generation homestead, fireproof, with someone armed always at home, and your neighborhood maintains the adjacent road, what city tax paid services do you need?
Living technologies vs sterile machines.
We are probably approaching the crash of our present “civilization”, not due to an alien invasion, or cosmic catastrophe, but due to our collective, blind, ignorant decisions, or lack of decisions, and lack of rational philosophy. Our now, and more importantly, our future, needs intelligent minds, who can understand, conceive and implement new ideas.
The data, numbers and calculations for sustainability are relatively simple. Getting people to see them, accept and act on them, is not.
Those few, who see problems and take personal responsibility for finding and implementing solutions, also continue to allow themselves to be ruled by those who have no clue. Whether the population in general is aware of it, civilization needs a philosophy that encourages the best from everyone.
There was a time when I looked at the tragic mess they’ve made of this earth, and I wanted to cry out, to beg them to listen – I could teach them to live so much better than they did – but there was nobody to hear me, they had nothing to hear with… Intelligence? It is such a rare, precarious spark that flashes for a moment somewhere among men, and vanishes. One cannot tell its nature, or its future, or its death. - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
We face danger, in particular the probability that a large portion of the present living population will die early, and unpleasantly. Each will probably have to work, and work hard, to survive. You will have to know what you’re doing, or readily accept and follow advice from those who do. But be careful in whom you select to follow. Be awake, aware, and thinking.
As yourself what other human do you accept as your mentor, or on the dark side, your master? When your wages are no longer high, and money and luxury easy, what will be your view of those who refuse to contribute, and demand the government force you to provide for them?
If the rest of them can survive only by destroying us, then why should we wish them to survive? - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
If you do not want to be forced into a particular profession, act, etc., do not expect that you have any right to force others to follow your wishes. Humans must be free to trade as willing participants. Your will to participate may stem from hunger, but it is still your personal decision. Does a slave make a better product that a private skilled craftsman? To what other human do you grant a claim on your life, mind, body, and fruits of your labor that is senior to your own? Charity may satisfy some moral or religious good, but should it be imposed at the point of a gun?
In her writings, Ms. Rand had her characters defend themselves with their wit, technology, and ability to hide from government forces. In an era of satellites, and sensors of almost every sort imaginable, hiding anywhere on Earth is hardly likely to be a successful approach. It is probably impossible to hide in sufficient numbers that your community could be long-term viable operating independent from the rest of the world.
Sooner or later, it is going to come down to the question, who has the “right” to initiate physical force, vs the right to respond with physical force, and if you reach the point you are ready to resist, will it be physically possible?
Everyone has some potential to earn by the use of personal mental and physical capabilities, to provide some item or service that is of sufficient value to someone else that they are willing to trade some value of their own.
Your efforts improve the value of something, in simple example planting seed, tending a crop to maturity and delivery of the harvest to market. Even the simple sedentary “act” of sitting on a front porch, as the eyes and ears to watch a home, or neighborhood, has value.
It is said that money is the root of all evil, if so then what is money? Money is simply an agreed common intermediary barter item, used to make simple the voluntary exchange of goods and services at an agreed upon value. Money is a unit of mutual trust. Therefore in attempting to tell you that money is evil, they are telling you to see voluntary cooperation is evil. Money is not evil; it is a symbol of trust and voluntary cooperation. Money is the means by which the productive and trustworthy in the world can meld their efforts into even greater accomplishments.
What then is evil? Killing when the one killed is not being punished for the first unjustified death? Forceful enslavement? Theft? Irrational mindless activity at the cost of others? Are these not all “evil”, whether practiced by an individual, a religious zealot, or the government of a nation?
Money, as it is circulated in the world of the early new millennium, is an illusion. If money is a medium of trade, it should have some type of clear value relative to the two ends of each trade. The currencies issued by national governments has no inherent value, it only has such value relative to the goods and services of the nation and world as the governments of the world support.
Even in short-term, localized emergencies, the value of money, whether barter or government currency, can disappear, even if only for a brief period. But even in a protracted emergency, barter, some means of exchange of clear value for clear value, will relatively quickly return. When confidence to any significant scale in an unsupported paper currency disappears, the currency is doomed.
What corruptions, typically attributed to business, are not in true scope attributable to the actions of government that enforces at the point of a gun monopolies for a business that would otherwise be competed OUT of business, or provides protections from responsibility for the owners and operators of the business? Do not in your mind inseparably mix business with corporations.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
Corporations are children of special interest governments, where the government at the point of a gun tells the investors, customers, and victims, of the corporation, what actions taken on behalf of the corporation are subject to the rules of civil society, and what are not. The government tells you whom of the agents and owners of the corporation that are subject to the rules of civil society, and who are not. These corporate protections are not part of some agreement between you and the corporation; they are an agreement between the corporate originators, and the government, which is imposed upon YOU at the point of the guns held by the government.
When you hear stories of drug conglomerates being aware of simple natural cures for scourges of humanity, that are withheld because of a drive to profit, consider how such cures are withheld. An individual, partnership, or current artificial corporate entity has no power to keep a cure off the market, once discovered, even if hidden, it will be found again and again, with increasing frequency.
The current ability to keep cures and treatments off the market resides in the hands of over-powered governments. Even patients and doctors that have full knowledge of risks, and that are willing to take the risks, are prohibited under the law and regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from taking such risk, unless the treatment has been approved by the FDA. The FDA test and approval process is time consuming, and expensive. Essentially, only those treatments that offer a significant profit for large scale drug companies can be approved. If YOU found a cure for every cancer in a few simple seeds in your yard, you would be PROHIBITED from offering such, as would physicians, regardless of notice of the risk, unless the FDA approval process had been followed.
Ask yourself, in day to day transactions, when is it that you reached an agreement with someone about value and exchange, and when was it that someone ordered you, ultimately with the threat of a gun, to act?
It is often alleged that inherited money, at least “new” inherited money, is squandered by the first generation after the one that generated the wealth. The producers knew the value of their efforts, and of investment. The heirs who never had to worry about their needs, or make any personal effort to plan or build for their future, have no idea of the value of what they receive, and squander not only the wealth handed to them, but their lives.
If the biological heirs of the top thinkers and producers are not necessarily “fit” to handle the value they stand to inherit, HOW could anyone thing that a large non-contributing population could possibly be a useful heir?
Without the thoughts and effort of those who produce the food, clothing, shelter, etc. of the world, not to mention electronic circuits and computer programs, what happens to those who have not clue of their personal capabilities, or drive to use what they have? We have a world where those who are awake and thinking have allowed themselves to be put under the rule of the insane and incompetent. We have a political system where those incompetent to handle their own lives, even basis subsistence, have become a major voting force, electing pandering and self serving politicians who impose control and taxes on those for whom the politicians could not qualify on merit to work for as household servants.
A return of thought and reason is essential to the overall survival of humanity. An example for “charity”, whether voluntary, or at the point of a gun. At an isolated bunker location, you have a room, water collection, an garden area sufficient to provide for ONE MORE person. Two show up. What criteria would YOU use to select one of the two? Make them dramatically different, one is a helpless whining idiot, and the other can clearly enhance the long-term chances of your group.
Rights are conditions of existence on earth, it is right for a human to use their mind, it is right to act on individual free judgment, it is right to work for your values and to keep the product of your work. If life on earth is the only visible purpose to our existence, it is right to live as a rational being. Any group, any gang, any nation that seeks to negate rights by force, is wrong, it is evil, and must be resisted, and if it persists, destroyed.
A cancer eats away on the inside of an otherwise healthy appearing, cooperative and productive body. At first it just steals a little of the nutrition that would have otherwise provided nourishment for normal cells, but soon it invades and destroys productive cells, creating a growing mass of a dangerous parasite, that the defensive immune system of the body continues to see as part of its own, and refuses to excise it as the danger it is.
“Only a ghost can exist without material property; only a slave can work with no right to the product of his effort. The doctrine that “human rights” are superior to “property rights” simply means that some human being have the right to make property out of others; since the competent have nothing to gain from the incompetent, it means the right of the incompetent to own their betters and to use them as productive cattle. Whoever regards this as human and right, has no right to the title of “human”.
The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud from others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.
Without specialization, without cooperative trade in society, each person only knows, and can only accomplish what is in their own mind, and possible with their own muscles. Anyone capable and willing to initiate force against a weaker opponent can steal the physical productive output of that weaker person (forcing them into slavery). But this drives mental and physical output “underground”, reducing the overall per person quality of life, for the temporary relative but not necessarily actual qualify of life improvement for the slave master. (How do the living conditions of a Pharaoh compare with the poorest worker of the 20th century United States of America?)
In the middle ages, “secret societies”, such as we hear of the Masons, developed to protect the skills, and lives, of their members, so expect such may again become necessary, on some scale. For so long as the greedy are in power, live modestly, without pretention, attracting no unnecessary attention. In the past, communication and organization of such minimalist yet developing organizations was hampered by lack of communication, a barrier removed by modern communications (at least for so long as such remains in operation). The more free and unfettered communities develop, the more the truly enlightened can again stand in the open and breathe free.
You need a dentist. A village does not even have enough people to demand full-time local service, let alone provide for training subsequent such professionals. A significant, yet arguably manageable jump in scale is required the more subtle yet valued trappings of civilization..