The puppet show these past few weeks — the U.S. government shutdown/debt-limit drama playing on all channels — seems to have more of us than ever buying into the Us v. Them meme.
Us v. Them has been around for a very long time. You know instinctively how it works: we’re okay, they are not. We are good, they are not. We are human, they are not. I imagine the ability to easily view “them” as less than human gave “us” evolutionary advantages. A tribe that naturally harbors empathy for other is not as likely to savagely eliminate the enemy quite as easily as one who doesn’t.
So it’s ingrained in us. We, the “us” in our tribe, can easily be lead to dehumanizing “them.” Leaders do this almost instinctively – some of our leaders today seem better at it than ever before.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this missile. This particular sojourn into the mystical realm of the imaginary is in response to Shutdown Theater, to some extent. But these are ideas I have mulled over for a very long time and I figured now might be a good time to write them down and share.
As you may have discerned if you’re read anything else I’ve written over the years, I’m a big fan of the Network Age and the potential for technology to benefit our species. I coined the term “Network Age” at the dawn of this century whilst in the employ of now-defunct Sun Microsystems in a blog entry I wrote — before they were called blogs. The marketing folks at Sun soon stole the term from me — which was okay by me, but hey, a little credit maybe? Anyhow, the fact is, I’ve been touting Network Age stuff for a long time. So now I think it’s time we took a structured approach to applying Network Age technologies to the institutional models that may have worked for us up till now — but clearly require some adjustments.
These Seven Steps for a Better World all employ Network Age concepts and technologies, and will give rise to a better infrastructure within which we can all continue to live long and prosper.
1. Nationalize the Federal Reserve. If you don’t know the history or function of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, educate yourself. Don’t just read a Wikipedia article and think you’ve nailed it. Dig in! What do they do? Who benefits? Who specifically owns the Federal Reserve? How did they come to be? Why should we continue to abide this arrangement? If you are a rational citizen of the Network Age, I am sure you will agree with me that nationalization of the U.S. Federal Reserve is a good first step to remedy the opaque playpen riddled with financial shenanigans we have today. While we’re at it, BitCoin our currency! Again, educate yourself if you don’t know what that means.
2. Require Congress only meet via teleconference – no more face-to-face. If every Senator and every member of the House actually worked out of their home state, where they’d have to see their neighbors and speak in their cities on a daily basis, a lot less nonsense would occur. Life stream anyone at that level and all their staffs — EVERY communication while they are in public service is capture, archived, and made public. Basically, open source these processes, well beyond CSPAN. Do the same with leaders in the Executive and Judicial Branches of the government. We the people deserve to know everything our representatives do and say on our behalf. Open source government. Do this and K-Street is a ghost town. Lobbyists are extinct. Big money influence is reduced, and far fewer career politicians will be the result.
3. Flatter taxes with Guaranteed Income. Either flatten income taxes, or eliminate income tax and tax consumption only … PROVIDED a guaranteed annual income is part of the solution. Here’s a Network Age solution for taxes: Provide a tax-free $12,000 annual income for all adults (over 18) in the U.S. For the 250 million of us, the cost would be $3 trillion annually. Anything a person works for beyond that is entirely up to them, and taxed at a flat(ter) rate than today. Capital gains taxes would apply at rates about half of what they are today. If $12,000 a year isn’t enough, then figure out how to increase your income. Do that, but end all the other entitlements, period, including social security, medicare, and medicaid. Just draw the line and say no more — that’s what you get. If you want more, make a contribution. If you want to give to others, give. But simplify the benefits, simplify the tax code, eliminate the bureaucracies, and empower people to manage their own lives. The only real problem with this proposal is identity — to ensure it cannot be stolen or duplicated. But we can fix that with technology too. Give me three like-minded geeks and a weekend and we’ll come up with a design that would eliminate 99.999% of the risk in this proposal.
4. Eliminate the TSA, the EPA, and the Departments of Commerce, Education, Homeland Security. Require transportation firms to police their property. Return Federal lands to the States and let the States manage them along with their own pollution issues. Education online is fundamentally transforming human learning without any central control, thank you very much. And with Network Age technologies, coordination amongst the various intelligence agencies and defense groups is easier, not harder. The organizational problems that led to us missing 9/11 was not too little in the way of security agencies. It was too much.
5. End the Federal War on Drugs. Eliminate the DEA. If States want to criminalize drugs, let them. If States want to license and tax the sale of drugs — ANY DRUGS — let them. Don’t want driver driving high? Neither do I. But texting is just as bad and we don’t put Apple executives in jail. Besides, automated driving will soon be the norm. If people want to get high, it’s their own stupid business. The Federal War on Drugs has done nothing but create a lucrative black market that inherently corrupts and clearly yields only violence. End it.
6. End the Federal War on Terror. How about we substitute a War on Stupidity instead?
7. Enforce existing immigration laws. Don’t like the current laws? Great, then work to change them. Talk to your neighbors, and park it on the door of your reps to make your case, a process made a lot easier by Step #2.
It’s not that hard, people. We can move ‘forward’ without sacrificing the individual liberty we cherish, and without being accused of kicking anybody to the curb. Implicit in all this is a profound reduction in Federal Government reach and budget. Sure, you can argue that the $3 trillion in guaranteed income is a necessary increase. But those tax-free BitCoins will spur economic growth beyond anything we’ve seen to date. Obviously cutting huge checks to the banksters and insurance companies didn’t help. The annual distribution of currency to the masses will have a profoundly different outcome. Wall Street may not be pleased, but Main Street will be thrilled.
We have way too many departments, agencies, bureaucracies and regulations. The Us vs. Them thing will only lead to conflict. We have ample resources in this world and more to come thanks to technology. The Network Age changes everything — even fundamentally transforming governmet — if we insist on it.