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Patanjali Sokaris

Politics

5.A fairer society

If our lives are to be a living out of our inner desire to understand ourselves and the world we live in, then how we run a society that values that goal is paramount to our continued well-being.

Many might imagine that we need a utopia where we all just naturally cooperate for the common well-being. Sounds good, if we all knew exactly what we wanted and fully understood our part in that society. But, we don't, and have had our perspective on what it takes to be a fair society thoroughly corrupted by those who have believed that we are here just to fulfill their ambitions.

So, we have to work within our currently distorted thinking to plot a path that doesn't require us to be all-knowing already, but gives each of us the opportunity to determine what we might want to do, and allows us to experiment with how we get there.

Base-band society

To have a society that is fair but allows us each to have a fair measure of choice about what we need, we need to have an idea about what are the minimum standards for what is required.

Money does allow us to have a measure of social fluidity by giving us a means of transferable worth, whether it is in trading or in ourselves and our skills and knowledge. However, we fell into an abyss when we allowed our lives and worth to be totally defined by it, because we allowed others to persuade us that it was better for us to be selfish as a way to justify their excessive greed.

So the first standard for a fair society is to provide a minimum amount of transferable value that allows each of us to make reasonable choices about where we live, what food we eat, and what we can do with our lives. We have come to know this minimum value as Universal Basic Income (UBI) to which everyone is entitled.

Since we do need governments to provide and maintain the infrastructure that allows us our freedom to make choices, as well administer the UBI payments, it needs to be funded by taxes, given that that is the system we are currently buried in, but it seems counter-productive to be taxing the UBI, so it needs to be totally tax-free, not unlike the lowest level in most tax schemes. The difference here is that everyone gets the UBI, independent of whatever other earning activities they may do, so there is no need to consider the UBI as part of accessible income for tax purposes at all.

Our current economic systems are based upon the idea that some few are so superior that they are entitled to keep wealth thousands of times more than most other people. This is nonsense, as no one does that without ripping off the millions who helped them get there, either by making the means of gathering that wealth or paying for the products or services produced. There has to be a limit on what can be accumulated, just so none are able to exert too much control and pressure over others. That means all wealth and income over say 5-10 times the median wealth must be forfeited.

Let's be clear here. The earth is very capable of supporting all of us in a certain amount of luxury and modest choices about what we can indulge ourselves in, and without polluting it and putting us all at risk, but only if the maximum people want is kept in check. That maximum can be several times what most others may want, but we cannot over-indulge a few at enormous expense to the rest. It is in striking a balance, recognising that no person is worth so much more than the rest.

We need governments as a means of societal and physical infrastructure management, not only to support us, but ensure that it does so fairly. We have usually funded it by taxes, so its existence and capabilities have relied upon an economy that expands with the number of people in it. Unfortunately, that has been pushed to the limit of what people and the earth can maintain by those who wanted to siphon most off for themselves. Government must be limited to infrastructure support rather than indulging special interest groups.

A minimum part of government infrastructure must be responsibility for the health and safety of all their citizens, so must provide full universal health care. This ensures all are most capable of participating in society and following their pursuits, with the minimum sapping of individual and communal wealth.

However, governments must not favour any people or groups over another, so a duty of every citizen must be to vote, just so that they can be part of deciding who represents them, but also avoids wasting resources on trying to persuade them to vote, or not to vote as some are doing to bias political outcomes.

If we really look at how much food we actually need to support the earth's population if it wasn't squandered in promoting gluttony and various other over-indulgences, and how much time is actually needed to run and maintain the needed infrastructure, we may find that we may only need an average of a day's work per person a week to help it all tick over.

Now the social contract of having a UBI might mean a need for people to contribute time to helping government run its services. The details of this would not be easy, but it is something to flesh out so that it does not become a form of slave labour for bureaucratic dictators. There are many that have heath issues that may prevent them form contributing in that way, and many just won't have the skills required. It comes down to engendering a sense of social responsibility that enough people will freely want to give of their time to keep things going.

Implementing these will go a long way to mitigating the sense of frustration and resentment many feel at being left out of the prosperity that should be readily available to them, and that is the breeding ground for exploitation by those who don't want a fair society and have worked towards creating the conditions that they are feigning to fight by enlisting disadvantaged groups to create division.

Freedom of choice

It is important that society allows people to make choices about the directions they want their lives to take.

We have been looking at what is needed for societies to be fair while providing the means to keep them running. However, despite what some may think societies are for, we will not be able to really maintain them if we are not allowed enough freedom to evolve individually. In understanding how little we actually need to do to comfortably support all of us, we can understand how free we can be to direct our lives.

We live in a time of a surfeit of knowledge availability, so we are not constrained in our opportunities as we have in the past. The opportunities to learn and understand about the earth and ourselves are almost unlimited, once we have a large amount of freedom in our choice of how to spend our time that having a UBI allows.

We can visit any country we want or travel up the worlds' great rivers, all from our loungeroom. We can let some do the exploration using the public purse that is UBI and return it to us in the video, images and words they produce that allows all of us to partake in the experience, at least vicariously. Travel per se does not broaden the mind, but curiosity does, and having the time to indulge curiosity is what leads to opportunities for growth, personally and collectively.

Once we let go of the selfish indulgence that is tourism, UBI can enable people to lives their lives and even invite others in, but not be under pressure to sacrifice their lives for others' indulgence just to survive. Letting go of the need to have tourists for livelihoods would also free up the skies to be clearer, and roads less cluttered with spurious traffic.

We have built up a lot of societal resources to promote the various addictions that fuel economic growth that we know the earth cannot sustain. Sports as mega-industries of merchandising rather than enablers of physical health. Technology as measures of social status rather than an adjunct to living life on our own terms. Promoting a sense of inadequacy to sell overpriced cosmetics and services, rather than empowering balanced lifestyles that don't require selfishness to survive. We can let go of a lot of these if we aren't reliant upon exploitation for livelihood.

Now, freedom of choice is where there are opportunities to provide for paths for commerce to fulfill some desires, but it is more likely to be less destructive if people have UBI to be able to opt out of requiring the exploitation of others to survive. There are opportunities for collective endeavours that do produce some useful things that others may need, and which will pay taxes to support the government infrastructure that supports them. Those involved can live and learn from their ventures while providing goods and services the support others in their endeavours.

It comes down to allowing freedom without exploitation so that the tokenisation that is money is used fairly and as an enabler of experiences rather than a constrictor of them. The fair way of commerce is that there is total democracy in the workplace that gives each participant an equal share in the governing and rewards of that enterprise. Managers must be elected by those they will be managing and rated by them for how well they do their work rather than how much they can exploit the labours of others. Choice has to exist at all levels of society to keep operations fair.

Freedom must always be seen as a balance between being able to make personal choices but allow others to do the same. That means laws must be equitable and fair in their scope and enforcement. That is helped by not allowing vested interests special access to, or influence over, those who have been elected to represent others in government. To this end, elections need to only allow publicly-funded promotion of candidates to minimise the influence of political parties and other lobby groups creating conflicts of loyalty.

Additionally, all materials must be vetted by independent publicly-funded fact-checkers to ensure accuracy and truthfulness, but not conformance to some government policy. Also, governments must be composed of all those who have been elected, and not just the majority. Who is responsible for what parts of government must be democratically decided by those elected. However, the bureaucrats supporting the government must be selected and managed by processes that politicians cannot influence. An independent bureaucracy is fundamental to fairness.

We all have individual and collective choices going forward from now. We can create a more harmonious and supportive society be choosing not to indulge the selfish and powerful, but promote true freedom of choice and allowing others to do so as well.


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