At the risk of inducing election fatigue already, we at tosoc.org believe it is time to start our political campaign for change. If you are not sure where we stand, just read our other blog posts to get started.
Here is our facetious campaign slogan – with a grain of truth:
Here is our draft platform. We are still working on it. Here are four planks that we hope you find interesting.
- We need a national lottery run by the IRS. This will be a numbers system based on taxpayer Social Security numbers. Enter the lottery by checking a box on your tax return. What an incentive to do your taxes! One million dollar prize, 1,000 winners per month, costing twelve billion dollars a year. Pocket change for the U.S. Government and probably the spending would be made up just by people's increased interest in doing their taxes (to enter the lottery). The rules can be adjusted in many ways, such as excluding corporations and the rich. Another advantage – it makes the IRS more popular.
- We need a national repository of American lives. So many Americans are marginalized and simply forgotten when they are gone. As a way to improve our national history, every American should have the opportunity to deposit writings and record audio, visual, and/or audiovisual statements in an official permanent record of Americans; our thoughts, comments, and opinions.
- We need a national fiberoptic superhighway for communications. Every American should have access to high-speed communications. It will also be important in support of multiple exclusive currencies and their markets.
- We need multiple exclusive currencies and their markets, of course. This is what tosoc.org has been saying all along.
For now we are simply listing these planks without a great deal of explanation. The 2014/2016 general election campaigns are far enough away that all we are really doing is expressing intent, anyway.
Until the next election cycle really begins, let us simply present some of our more general viewpoints and visions of the future.
Tosoc.org is about general prosperity and abundance. We see a worldwide trend today toward general poverty, scarcity, and exploitation. We see a trend today toward centralization of wealth – wealth for the few and "austerity" for the many. If this trend continues, then it seems that the worldwide vision governing our future is that the rich shall inherit the earth.
In a sense we are seeing the end of the American Dream.
Before there was a United States, there were educated and industrious Europeans who were dissatisfied with their own cultures. When the new frontiers opened up, they were willing to risk their lives to get away, be free, and direct their own destinies. For many generations they struggled and grew and spread throughout the new lands. They formed their own nations and their economies grew again with the industrial revolutions.
This frontier mentality is the basis of the American Dream of rugged individualism, constant growth, and ever more new lands to conquer – limitless resources. Liberty, individual rights, democracy, and equality before the law.
Now all the land on earth is occupied. All the resources are under someone's control. There are no more enormous technological breakthroughs, just a filling in of gaps. For a variety of reasons, outer space has turned out to be a boundary, not a frontier. The original American Dream is gone.
The only frontiers left are social. We see it in the rise of social media as the darlings of business investment. We see it in the aims of radical fundamentalists who view the people of the United States as a frontier of their religion, a place to be invaded and conquered. Finally, we see it in the growing disparity between rich and poor.
The old social contracts of the frontier society are going away. The struggle is over what will replace them.
Recall that just because some are capitalists does not mean their visions of the future contain capitalism. In the same way, just because some are populists or democrats or republicans does not mean that their visions of the future are about social justice, democracy, or even representative government. The question is which form of social organization suits humans on an earth with no more physical frontiers.
Different people will come to different conclusions, and that is just as true of the rich as anyone else. The historical record of bounded civilizations, however, points to a "Pharaoh future." According to legend, Joseph made all the people of Egypt slaves to Pharaoh in a classic economic squeeze play. In the fat years, he took ten percent of the produce of the people and stored it away. When the business cycle turned, the Great Famine came, and the people were starving. Joseph then used extortion. He made the people pay for the food that they themselves had produced in the fat years. He first took their money, then their animals, then their land, and finally their freedom.
This same sort of thing has been done in many times and places and it still goes on today. Tosoc.org has already described the business cycle as the "extortion cycle." We have already pointed out that the Great Recession has been used as an opportunity by the banks to extort enormous debt out of the U.S. government. They did it by holding the people hostage using the declining economy and the "credit freeze."
The rich have not created a Pharaoh and we are not slaves. However, it is also not clear that the rich will restrain themselves if these opportunities arise. That is not a chance that we should take.
If your vision of the future like ours is of a prosperous, bright, and industrious people living in peace rather than of dull-witted slaves of the rich fighting to survive at the subsistence level, then there are certain principles we all need to keep in mind.
First, we should not work to get rid of capitalism. Instead we want to preserve it within a system that is strong enough to support it. Our current system is failing to do that and capitalism is slipping away from us. Tosoc.org's new slogan is "Capitalism as it should be."
Second, we are not working to get rid of the rich. In fact, we want them to get richer. The difference is that we do not want them to get richer at the expense of the rest of us. This has become a lot more difficult now we have reached the limits of our physical frontiers. We all share in the pie, but if the pie is not growing, the only way the rich can grow their wealth is to take it away from the poor. The question is how to keep this from happening.
Third, we must abandon our Frontier Society ways of thinking. We have populated the earth. We see the limits of our resources. We know that there are limits to growth. It is time to modify capitalism so that it is not so dependent on overall growth. Our frontiers are social and our major gains will now be in the improvement of the human race.
Mainly, we need to acknowledge that society has the power of eminent domain over all major physical resources. This is necessary because both insiders and outsiders will take advantage of openness if they can. (We in the U.S. tend not to think about this because in general, we have so far been the outsiders taking advantage.)
There have been poor nations where the people did not really have enough to eat, yet the crops they raised were exported to earn hard currency – for the rich. Sometimes the rich have re-invested in their own societies, sometimes not. The point is that this should not be solely the decision of the "owners." Those who labor should also have a stake in what they do, and should be able to gain wealth from their work. Simply being allowed to survive at a subsistence level is not enough.
As best we can, we need to make sure that everyone in the world can accumulate wealth from their labor because what we allow to be done to the poorest will surely be done to us.
Fourth, some thoughts about population. On the one hand, tosoc.org believes that the universe would be meaningless without a mind to see it. In a way, each mind is a universe itself because it can see and appreciate the universe around it. In that sense, the more minds there are, the more intelligence there is, and the greater and more meaningful the universe is.
On the other hand, we wonder how populous the earth should be. Right now a lot of human minds are dulled and damaged by poverty and subsistence living. It is a painful yet valid question to ask whether it is better to have trillions of "extra" minds damaged by poverty or trillions fewer minds so that the remainder can be brighter, better-educated, and economically secure. We do not have an answer to that question.
We can predict one outcome of low growth, however. If growth becomes zero because we reach the true boundaries of the earth's resources, then depopulation is one way to simulate physical growth. The Black Plague of Europe was a horror but can also be interpreted as an economic boon for the survivors. The rich had to bid higher for the labor of the survivors.
This simply illustrates how important the question of the earth's population is. We can now control the earth's population without horrors, but the morality of it will always be ambiguous. Furthermore, we need economic changes to deal with the consequences. Consider the effects of the Baby Boom generation on U.S. economics.
It has been perfectly obvious for decades that the retirement of the Baby Boomers was going to be a problem for the U.S. economy and its social programs. As the Baby Boomers retire, they will be net sellers of assets, hammering the markets when they are down and inhibiting growth when they recover. Government income through taxes will decrease and no one knows who will take up the slack.
Furthermore, the labor force will decline at the very time that the Baby Boomers will need increased services. For example, who will replace the Baby Boomer doctors? It seems that fewer and fewer doctors will be working at the very time that the Baby Boomers will grow older and need more health care.
It is silly to envy the Baby Boomers with respect to retirement. They have paid higher Social Security taxes than their parents, then had their taxes raised again to pay for the "Social Security Trust Fund." Then they will have to work more years and have to pay more taxes a third time. Except for the rich, the Baby Boomers will never be able to retire like their parents did. In a way, the Baby Boomers will have to pay for their retirement three times. Once for their parents (Social Security is "pay-as-you-go.") A second time for the "Trust Fund." And a third time when they work more years than their parents did before retiring.
At tosoc.org, we see the Great Recession in some ways as an opening event in the economic effects of the coming retirement of the Baby Boomers. It will take decades for this "lump in the snake" of the demographic charts to work itself out. This is yet another reason to strengthen capitalism so it can survive.
If your vision of the future is of a prosperous, happy, democratic people rather than desperate, subsistence-level, Pharaonic slaves, then we need to make some changes. Some of these changes are in ourselves. We need to care about others and care about the future, meaning that we cannot maintain frontier mentalities that no longer apply to the real world and we must be very smart and diligent about how we work for the future.
We must deny resources to psychopaths and sociopaths who would be our slavemasters. We must strengthen capitalism against its own self-destructive tendencies.
Naturally, as tosoc.org has been recommending all along, multiple exclusive currencies and markets is one of the tools we should use to strengthen our capitalist system.
First, society acts through government. The only way we know to keep the international rich from running the government for their own benefit is to align the economic interests of government officials with the economic interests of the poor. That is, government officials will only be allowed to gain wealth in internal currencies that they cannot use to escape the effects of their own policies. Their economic fate is bound up with that of the nation they claim to serve.
Second, we cannot allow the rich to trap us in another squeeze play. There should be internal banks and external banks, the one using the internal currency and the other using the external currency. If the external banks want us to save them, we can simply print the external currency to build up their reserves. The people of the U.S. cannot be held hostage and there will be no need to increase public debt. The value of the internal currency will only be loosely related to the value of the external currency because the purpose of the internal currency will be to represent and preserve national wealth without regard to the safety of the international rich or the national debt to international sovereigns.
Third, the division into internal and external currencies automatically gives us collective controls over how much of our national resources are used to enrich the external rich and other nations rather than our own people. "Free trade" is not free for the poor and if they can the rich will use it to take even more from the poor, as has happened already in Greece and Cyprus.
Our final frontiers are social frontiers. We need social solutions for our problems rather than systems and solutions that worked (at least as far they actually worked) for our society based on physical frontiers. The fact that our physical frontiers are now essentially closed should suggest to us that we need to re-think those solutions. The evidence suggests that the old economic solutions do not work any more. We need new solutions based on social principles, and that is what tosoc.org is trying to provide. Vote for us! Vote for The Other Side!