Monday, November 1, 2010

Equality of Responsibility

Equality of opportunity is a universal humanist tenet.  We want all groups to have equal opportunity to flourish and pursue happiness.  The concept is politicized by the right more than the left, but only as opposition to equality of outcome.

Equalization of outcome is a central tenet of all progressive societies.  Equality of outcome is a leftist principle, but equalization through progressive income taxes and other means has indisputable economic benefits since we each need a single home, bugati, and smart phone, and we each have limited food and beer intake capacity.  The more people able to afford life's needs the more we can occupy people in producing them.

Equality of responsibility is a central tenet of business, partnerships and cooperatives.  Each partner is equally responsible for the organizations financial obligations/expenses while sharing in profits/revenues.  This has been ignored as a social/political organization tenet.

In a social context, equality of responsibility is actualized by replacing some taxation with user fees.  One way that doesn't compromise equal access to services such as education and healthcare, is to offer loans at subsidized interest rates to patients and pupils to pay for their use of those services.  A hybrid approach that considers the 3 above equalities can involve socialized subsidies for licensed and regulated price controlled services along side private alternatives that can still tap into socially subsidized user loans for services.

The above proposal tends to significantly reduce the need for taxation, as services are paid directly by users, and tends to lower the cost of social services because of the need to provide customer value.  For the rich, advantages of lower taxation are offset by actually paying off loans or direct services.  For the chronically poor or disabled, there is little change, as they get continued access to services while being unable to repay loans.  For the successful poor (those who gain future benefits of income and life from education and healthcare), the disadvantage of having to actually pay for their services eventually, is offset by not having to pay (through progressive taxation) for other people's future services after they achieve their successes.

This is the first step in modeling society as a cooperative enterprise where equal members are also consumers of the enterprise.  You can imagine multiple cooperatives side by side with different philosophical commitments and support for its members, as well as missions for the organization.  Membership is transferable and members can sell out of one and buy into a new cooperative society. 

Egalitarian cooperatives self-enforce the principle of association, and is the only political organization that can prevent development of hierarchy and its oppression.  Though limiting power limits the speed and decisiveness of action, it more importantly limits corruption.

The principle of association states that a group of equal free people voluntarily associating into an organization would not cede their right to divorce from the association, or a means to recall an elected administrator.  They would not grant their administrator rights to disposess them of their property or risk their human rights through war or other protections of the administratorship.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Introduction to constructive anarchism (links)

Voluntarism is a framework to develop ground up governance that seeks to rely only on market forces in ways thematically outlined in this introduction.

A similar lecture by David Friedman that also introduces the concept of polylegal society (where law between individuals may vary).

 A more leftist cooperative approach that envisions a gift economy by John Spitzer After the revolution introduces well the concept of circles of trust, which can be incorporated into any market based or natural governance solutions as well.

An open question, as far as I know, in constructive anarchy is regulation.  As a specific example should we license drivers and regulate against drunk driving.  Natural governance insists that IF such regulation is wanted, it must be its own enforcement silo such that any governance affecting its implementation can be challenged, removed, and corrected.  A constructive market anarchist solution might be that driver insurance contracts mandate acceptance of driving regulations in order to get reasonable rates, and social anarchists might insist that drivers accepting insurance and regulation place a sticker on their car indicating so, and pressure those that do not with joining the civil norms that indicate mutual trust is deserved.

An answer without regulation is to simply charge drunk drivers who cause accidents with assault or murder.  This may be more cost effective, and not cause significantly more deaths than regulation saves if there are high penalties.  Unfortunately, this creates an incentive to avoid being charged with assault, to murder someone you accidentally broke their leg (hitting them with your car while drunk), and dispose of the body.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

(imposing) Democracy in Africa, and Xeer (somali) law

From The Rule of Law without the State which is well worth reading in its entirety:

Democracy is unworkable in Africa for several reasons. The first thing that voting does is to divide a population into two groups — a group that rules and a group that is ruled. This is completely at variance with Somali tradition. Second, if democracy is to work, it depends in theory, at least, upon a populace that will vote on issues. But in a kinship society such as Somalia, voting takes place not on the merit of issues but along group lines; one votes according to one's clan affiliation. Since the ethic of kinship requires loyalty to one's fellow clansmen, the winners use the power of government to benefit their own members, which means exploitation of the members of other clans. Consequently when there exists a governmental apparatus with its awesome powers of taxation and police and judicial monopoly, the interests of the clans conflict. Some clan will control that apparatus. To avoid being exploited by other clans, each must attempt to be that controlling clan.
which is the most insightful explanation I've seen on why centralizing authority in tribal cultures always seems to result in dictatorships and glib dismissals that they aren't ready for democracy. Democracy simply isn't an absolute ideal, and is only appropriate if it can transcend local ideals/loyalties.

some of the highlights of the Xeer. First, law and, consequently, crime are defined in terms of property rights. The law is compensatory rather than punitive. Because property right requires compensation, rather than punishment, there is no imprisonment, and fines are rare. Such fines as might be imposed seldom exceed the amount of compensation and are not payable to any court or government, but directly to the victim. A fine might be in order when, for example, the killing of a camel was deliberate and premeditated, in which case the victim receives not one but two camels.
The link also shows the unique dependencies on family and community the Xeer law uses, which probably make it impractical in our cultures, but could it work?