Monday, February 14, 2011

A Better Solution than Budget Cutting

President Obama's proposed that we cut roughly one trillion dollars of spending each year from the federal budget. That's going to cause an enormous amount of pain for honest people just barely making ends meet, as well as exacerbate our already painfully slow economic recovery. There is a much better solution to our problems and it amazes me that our leaders are unable to see it.

The black market or underground economy is estimated to be larger than a trillion dollars; possibly as much as double that much (eight to ten percent of our gross domestic product--and even larger in most other nations). Now suppose we could heavily tax that activity. Then we wouldn't have to reduce spending as much, and could make crime a lot less profitable as well. It has all sorts of nice side effects too, like creating a huge disincentive to illegal immigration, all forms of vice, and even theft. Right now, a dollar stolen will buy more goods than a dollar earned honestly. That's a terrible state of affairs. Why don't we reverse that and make sure that a dollar earned buys more than one that is stolen?

It's relatively easy to do because there is nothing you can do with money (no matter how you get it) except to eventually spend it. Even putting it into the bank, or stock market, is a form of spending it. And if you don't spend it, it will evaporate slowly anyhow--we call that process inflation.

One way to accomplish this is to create a new kind of tax that only applies to money earned via the black market. There are a lot of different ways to do that. The easiest is probably a very high national sales tax, like 100%. It's easy because we already have the infrastructure at almost every point of sale to calculate it. Suppose that for every dollar of income that you reported, the government gave you a dollar's worth of national sales tax credit. Then no one who could report their income would ever have to pay that sales tax because having the dollar to spend also meant they'd have a dollar of credit too. But people working here illegally, or acquiring their income in ways that cannot be reported would not have the credit. Thus criminals would effectively be taxed at the rate of 50%--higher than anyone earning their money legally.

There are even better ways too, but they're not as easy to implement. The best way I can imagine wouldn't just solve the problem of taxing the black market, but would also protect us from exploitation by the people we do business with, help our doctors maintain our health, protect us from identity theft, and give us all a whole new source of revenue by allowing us to sell our consumption data (rather than allow banks and credit card companies to sell it without our consent and keep the proceeds themselves.) Effectively it's a universal transactor which is an entity that stands between us and the people we do business with. Only the universal transactor would actually know who we are. We pay it, then it pays our creditors ensuring that they cannot lose or sell information about us.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is a Democratic Government good enough for Egyptians?

They deserve better than a new group of rulers--no matter how well meaning those leaders might start out being. They've proven they are a people ready and worthy of going beyond government as we know it. They have demonstrated the will and wisdom to upstage government completely--to organize themselves more cleverly than merely another electorate; they seem destined to become the world's first Meta-Government. And the leading software developers and information scientists of this world should rise to the occasion and develop the technology to enable that to happen.

Representative government is obsolete today. It was never a good solution because there is no way to concentrate power into an individual or small group of people without creating an irresistible target for corruptive influences. Our own brains are proof that such concentrations of power are not necessary--that good leadership, and wise decisions, can emerge only from distributed mechanisms. It's time we create the infrastructure that can transcend the frailty of anointed individuals to empower self organizing groups--to focus and harvest the collective acumen of the entire electorate directly.

It isn't a good government that makes a nation great--but a wise and competent electorate. And if America proves anything at all, it's that the more cleverly government is constrained, the more the electorate is allowed to atrophy. Today the electorate in America is almost totally worthless. The fact that a completely ignorant imbecile like Sarah Palin can actually be taken seriously by a substantial number of Americans is proof of that. And we have many dozens of leaders that are nearly that stupid. Egypt's electorate is as great as it is today precisely because it had such a corrupt government for so long.

There is no free lunch. Real freedom doesn't emerge from laws or documents or the genius of social engineers. It is a by-product of personal responsibility--of our own competence and accountability as individuals. And there is no other way to achieve it. That's ultimately why there's no simple way to delegate our political capital. That is why we can never really forgo the responsibility to achieve an understanding of our role in society and how our choices in life affect our whole world.

That is why I believe the question really isn't what sort of democracy would be best for Egypt, but rather what sort of network would most effectively allow these remarkable people to govern themselves; to wisely process the events, news, and daily challenges they face into the agenda that their public servants are directed to implement.

Egyptians have proven their greatness as wise, patient, and very determined people. I hope they will not forgo the opportunity they have now to permanently protect themselves from the exploitation of tyrants by building the most important pyramid their culture has ever produced--one that brings their collective political capital to a fine point, and that illuminates the way for all of the world's people to take back our planet from the corrupt entities, institutions, and industries that presently only exploit us.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egyptians Score a Huge Victory for All Humanity

It's difficult to express how totally awed I am by what has taken place over the last three weeks. Every nation in the world should be flying the Egyptian flag today, because every person on earth will be the beneficiary of the great courage and fantastic integrity of the Egyptian people. We all owe these brave and wonderful people a great debt of gratitude and our unbridled respect for what they have accomplished through their sheer will, ingenuity, and unfailing commitment. They are true heroes, not just of Egypt but of oppressed and exploited peoples everywhere--from the truly clueless peasants of North Korea to the willfully thoughtless lumpen of America--too ignorant to even realize they're prisoners of a deceitful ideology and corrupt leadership.

I hope President Obama will not obstruct the process of unraveling the crimes and thievery of the Mubarak administration in order to spare America the embarrassment it fully deserves for it's long history of supporting such a brutal and oppressive dictator. Hosni's thoughtless and condescending remarks over the last few weeks and his brutal tactics in trying to oppress the peaceful protest of his people must stand in stark contrast to our words and deeds or we risk being rightfully condemned as accomplices.

The deceitful and underhanded foreign policy and politics of yesteryear simply isn't appropriate in the world of today. It's time for the free nations of the world to set high standards for themselves--and to live up to them. We have probably never had a better opportunity to come clean once and for all, and to begin a new foreign policy that places the dignity of all the world's people above even our own sovereignty as a nation. For the latter really is both evil and contemptuous if it comes at the expense of the former.

I believe the wisest move America could make over the next few months is to honor this great achievement of the Egyptian people with the commitment to build a sovereign Egyptian city here in America. Not just to celebrate Egypt for such a truly magnificent and humane achievement, but as a symbol of the most genuine and beautiful characteristic of our species--our collective quest for justice, dignity, and a parity of opportunity for all mankind. I think we should commit 100 square miles of America, and the money it takes to build a city of a million people as a tribute to this event, and as an invitation to Egyptians to build a showcase city here in America. I see it as a wise means to jumpstart both of our economies and to broach a whole new strategy for knitting together the world's great cultures into a more robust commitment to the fair self-governance of all peoples.