Selflessness, The Good, and Happiness--jk
Happiness & Scientific Psychology--jk
The Art of Loving: A Behaviorist Approach--jk
A Lesson on Love from Cats--jk
THE DECALOGUE: Greek Moral Philosophy Modernized--jk
THE GOOD LIFE--Greek Philosophers Teachings
No Free Lunches: The Role of the Stock Market--jk
Plato's Dream Fulfilled by Science--jk
The lessons from the previous essay, How Congress Works--jk
On Dying Atheist: A Doctor's Words

This is a trip in plain thinking (in the style of George Bernard Shaw and Plato). It is a must read. Must because it applies simple, obvious principles to improve government and bring social justice without abuse of power and economic waste.

Five Steps Forward:  design for promotion of the public weal

Topics: 1) education, 2) political oversight by the masses, 3) economic planning, 4) cohesive society, 5) ideal citizens

Below is a rewrite of Eight Steps Forward with significant modifications.  Since elections have not produced good government, the original contained a section on how to prevent the hijacking of the election of legislators by special interests.  After living with this essay since 1998, it dawned on me in 2012 that a much different structure would best promote a voice of the people, a voice that would build a socially justice society.  We don’t need legislators, just a system which would permit promotion through merit (like in the military and universities) and an oversight body representing the citizens to assure that the function of each body empowered to run things, that they would do so for the sake of promoting the public weal (the well-being of all citizens with each person counting as one, an ideal popularized by Jeremy Bentham). 

Problem I:  The political process doesn’t efficiently promote the well-being of the masses:  The corporate media and educational system has through the influence of the corporate system been used to inculcate a set of beliefs about economics and social justice that serves the global elite.  The global elite wield unchallenged political power.  The masses (hereafter referred to as plebes) need a vision of the good life, viz. a vision about lifestyle, about social justice, and about economics so that they can act to maximize their well-being[i].  They need to have an understanding of economics so that there would be a just distribution of the wealth that comes from their labor.  The plebes need to have a much more sophisticated vision of ethics including social justice.  The educational system and media has failed to produce plebes with the rational skills for to examine complex problems.  A system needs to be in place where the media and schools have as their primary duty to make each citizen intelligent and rational.  


Solution improving the educational system, which would include also the media:  This requires the removal of business influence from both the educational system and media.  The direction of educational policy and media content needs to be controlled by professors who have demonstrated a primary concern for the public’s well-being.  Professors who have faith in an informed public and liberally educated public would be selected by their peers.  These professors would control the content of education, methods of teaching, and budget.  These professors would from their love of quality education transform the media. 



Problem II:  Need for a political voice for the plebes:  The voice of the people has been made a tool of the ruling elite through the electoral system.   As Aristotle put it, “A democracy exists whenever those who are free and poor are in sovereign control of the government; an oligarchy when the control lies in the hands of the rich and better born.”  Serving the public weal cannot be delegated to a clique whose performance is not subject to meaningful review by the plebes.  In the United States there is a shadow government consisting primarily of the global financial corporations.  Through dollars and press they dictate government policy, and control public opinion.  A system is needed where the people will act to assure government will promote their interests and develop a cohesive society. 


Solution investigative bodies made up of the plebes with wide ranging powers:   Setting up randomly selected panels of plebs; these plebes would meet a reasonable standard on testing which measures their cognitive skills.  The panel would be similar to our current investigative grand juries ran by prosecutors, only they would be self-guided.  These panels would investigate the performance of government and businesses.  Each panel would be given specific limited investigative task, such as the performance of the state’s utility companies, federal energy policies, the performance of those who set up education policies, etc.  They would have the power to review records, interview people, hire experts, publish findings, propose legislation, fund research projects, and start the process for the removal of bureaucrats.  An effective review system is at the core of good governance. 



Problem III:  Need economic planning that serves the public weal:  Russian socialism failed because politicians ran the economy.  At first it was to serve the preliterate (plebes) but it morphed into a tool of the government for the government:  a bureaucratic quagmire developed.  Capitalism fails because its political voice dominates government, and thus government has permitted the drive for maximizing profits to cause great harm.  Capitalism has morphed into monopoly capitalism, which has morphed global monopoly capitalism, a force above nations and their citizens.  This process has resulted in a steadily worsening of the conditions of the masses both in developed nations and the poor nations (though corporate press and various supportive organizations such as the CIA, WTO, International Monetary Fund, World Bank tells us that globalization promotes prosperity for all). Corporations wielding great power have become an end unto themselves; this needs to change.             


Solution to have a body of professors decide what best serves society.  They would be selected randomly from a pool of instructors at leading universities.  These professors would be charged with streamlining the economy by increasing economic transparency (efficiency) and coordinating production to meet demands.  Such a body of economic planners would eliminate waste[ii].  These planners would, like all other governing bodies, be subjected to meaningful review by a grand jury as describe in #II.  This external review would include the approval of the share of resources used by the various programs instituted by the economic planners.  



Problem IV:  Need to reduce the alienation of the workers and thereby create a greater sense of community:  There is a sense of removal from the work place and the products they make—this has been termed alienation—a topic once widely discussed 60 years ago.  The worker under the capitalist system is a commodity that exists for to create profits.  He is also alienated from his community, because the capitalist ethic permeates the community.  The local stores are out to sell, the media is selling, and the local government is run by business first people, as is the county, state, and federal governments.  Schools are now a place to compete for grades.  Schools under federal mandate are about passing basic-skills tests in reading and math, not about the enlightenment of students.  This attitude of each person as a commodity permeates the American society from the top down.   The notion of brethren has been replaced by an ethic of grabbing as much as possible. It is a country with an every growing steeper wealth pyramid.  The feeling of family suffers in a nation built up lassie-faire glorified competition for wealth.  There has been a stead drift from a feeling of unity, of brethren, of greater family into a nation built on greed; its byproduct is alienation.


Solution to remake society into one of a greater family.  This requires bringing the plebs into the decisions process which affects their lives:  as in the work place, schools, and governments, thus reducing the feeling of alienation.  We need a system where serving the public weal is the measure of performance.  The changes in political power describe above will bring about a country were the base of the pyramid will act to promote its enlightened self-interest.  They will create a society founded upon social justice.  Thus every able body person will work.  This would result in reducing the work week by a distribution of labor to meet the reasonable societal needs.  Those who don’t by temperament contribute their share would be removed to a remote area such as in Alaska to live with their own kind in the squalor that they have earned.  Rewards for those holding top position at work would be limited to about 3 times minimum wage, and personal property limited to 3-times that owned by the average worker; for this promotes social unity.  (A too great disproportion for its citizens weakens every state.  No one can doubt equalities diminishes less from the happiness of the rich than it adds to that of the poor.—David Hume, Of Commerce, 1752).[iii]  Social justice builds community spirit and removes alienation.



PROBLEM V:  Make the public weal the measure of right actions.  B.F. Skinner said that, “Original sin is the difference between your pleasure and mine.”  This is the sin of self-interest.  The problem is how to make self-interest entail promoting the public weal, both at the level of government and of personal conduct.  The vision of social justice currently is far from that of an enlightened vision of the public weal.    The common vision of right personal actions is at conflict with the promotion of the public weal.  The issue of acting from self-interest in a way contrary to the public weal has been raised and discussed by socialist who discussed how to build socialist man as a necessary element of building a cohesive and just society; however their attempts failed.  The previous solutions (1-IV) addressed this on the political level the promotion of the public weal by having a review by those who are from the base of society examine the performance of the bureaucrats.  The same issue exists on a personal level:  how do we through social engineering make self-interest promote the public weal.


Solution:  To use social engineering through education, media, and community centers to create a pattern of reward for behavior that promotes the public weal.  The Solutions I-IV will lay a foundation by building a government that functions like a good parent, and thus will very significantly change the relation of the individual to society.   In addition, as part of the education starting in elementary school, philosophy would be taught with special emphasis upon the area of ethics.  The utilitarian standard holds that it is morally obligatory to act in a way that maximizes the overall well-being of society.  With this standard universally adopted a society as family would develop.  And as in #1 above, extensive use of the media would also instill the higher ethical way of living.  Other ways to building a sense of community would be to have every few blocks a community center (similar to clubhouses in trailer parks) that would in addition to being a recreational facility, they would serve as daycare, senior, and social centers.  Moreover these centers would be employ those live in their neighborhood.  Social engineering such as just describe would result in a pattern of peer reinforcement for the promotion of the public weal and peer disapprobation for the opposite sort of actions.   Social force are always present, they make the soldier, the biker, the drug company executive, and the party politician, now these forces would be directed to promoting the public weal. 


I have grown up during a period when educators had an ever increasing social conscience, and this was reflected in their course content.   This development has its roots in the Greek philosophers during the period from about 500 BC until 146 BC, and then a rebirth in the late Renaissance when again the thoughts of Plato and the Greek Atomists were again studied.  The concern for the well-being of the common people became gradually a concern of government; it greatest proponent was Jeremy Bentham 1745 to 1832.  This movement for social justice reached its pinnacle in the U.S. prior to the Vietnam War.  I have spent 11 years in undergraduate and graduate studies during the period from 1962 to 1980.  I have worked for the graduate studies department of a Canadian university in 1968 through 1970.   I have seen the power of rational inquire not only to produce significant progress in scientific, technological and medicine, but also to create and disseminate a vision of social justice and serving the public weal that clearly affected the performance of governments on all levels.  The business community driven by the profit motive opposed this vision of good government.  Their media inculcated their visions of laissez-faire business and a society without social programs.  Through marginalizing of unions, they weakened the main political voices for the common people.  By the 1960s union influence upon politics was sufficient to prevent the undoing the regulations that big business found hindering their goal of maximizing profits.  The big corporations have always been the shadow government; only with the changes instituted during the Great Depression have the common people had a sufficient voice to make a major difference.  Now history is repeating itself, and we have reverted like in the 1920s (and before) to laissez-faire capitalism.  The ideas above are about how to make government work for the maximization of the public weal.  

For more on economic reforms go to http://skeptically.org/ethicsutility/id26.html, the waste of the stock market at http://www.skeptically.org/ethicsutility/id18.html, the original “Eight Steps Towards Social Justice at http://www.skeptically.org/ethicsutility/id11.html, how government worked in the 50s www.skeptically.org/parwho/id13.html, and on the for profit drug industry http://www.skeptically.org/enlightenment/id20.html.  The WHO study on quality of health care http://healthfully.org/index/id1.html    

[i]   The contract foundation for government (an ideal given voice by Thomas Hobbes of England and our founding fathers) holds that the individual gives up certain rights for the benefits of living under a government whose duty is to protect life and property, promote social justice, and permit liberty of activities that do not violate the common good. 

[ii]   *    While this topic is beyond the scope of the essay, I thought it would be of value to go over some of the ways in which a system driven by profits functions counter to the public weal (for those with Panglossian faith).   The most basic change is to remove the conflict of interest created by a business community use of money to buy legislation, and their press to determine the outcomes of elections.  The large corporations in their drive to maximize their profits and eliminate competition have persuaded government to adopt the mantra of deregulation.  Piece by piece over the last 4 decades inconvenient law and regulation which hinder global profits have been removed.  To fix the economic ills we need high tariffs to protect jobs and reverse the downward spiral towards Mexican standards of pay and working conditions.  We need strong unions to give workers a voice.  We need to limit immigration and fine heavily employers who hire those here in violation of immigration laws.  In addition there are fundamental changes which ought to be made to the finance, marketing, and manufacturing system.  The measure is transparency (efficiency), each item in our economy ought to reflect its worth.  The cost of a toaster and a car ought to be as close as possible the cost of production and transportations.   There are many things which drive up the cost of goods such as advertising, the lack of standard parts, inefficient distribution of system, etc.  The financial system in 1950 accounted for just over 5% of the GDP, enough to cover its service for lubing the wheels of commerce.  Now it accounts to over 40% of GDP, but its useful services are still the same.  The financial sector’s gobbling up of the wealth of our nation needs to be undone.  A fundamental reworking of the financial system is needed.  The government envisioned above could efficiently run banking.  This would start with fiat money, money without debt.  Our current system is a debt based expansion of currency done through the Federal Reserve.  (See The Money Masters a documentary on the history and consequence of a debt based currency.)  The waste now over $700 billion annually given by federal and state governments of the taxes they collect goes to the banks.  With a total takeover of the financial system and the establishment of fiat money, the drain of tax revenues (now the second biggest expense item after the military) would be eliminated.  Money would not be created as lines of credit based on T-bills for which the government makes interest payments.  Only goes to cover administrative costs of making loans.   Wall Street, the grand casino, ought to be eliminated.  Another change would be to have government ran no-fault insurance programs.  I had such auto insurance when I lived in Manitoba, and it cost me nearly half as much as auto insurance in Pennsylvania.  Ownership of property other than dwellings lived in would be eliminated (and thus its inheritance).  This would eliminate the costs of to our society of a class of people whose income is the selling of resources on their land and the renting of buildings.  There is only so much material wealth and service to go around; according to the UN, the United States ranks 92nd among nation based on distribution of wealth.*  Another change for transparency is to have on all goods sold a comparative rating.  This would change the approach to the market place.  Manufactured goods would be designed to last longer and be easier to repair.  It would also eliminate the expense of advertising which drives up the item’s cost.  Currently on television the programs are interrupted an average of 17 minutes per hour for advertising and another 5 minutes for network information such as upcoming programs. This is as much a waste of times as sitting in your vehicle in a traffic jam for 22 minutes.   Without advertisement, artificially created consumer wants which lack utility would diminish.  Advertising has created and maintained a market for tobacco, ethanol beverages, carbonated sugar waters, deodorants, etc.  Food advertising is the primary cause for the current obesity plague.  Corporate control of the medical trade exposes patients to the heartless, relentless push for more profits, a push without a conscience.  The US has the most expensive health care system, yet it was ranked 40 in overall performance in 1997 by the WHO, and it has only gotten worse since then.  Every waste is funded upon the backs of labor: THERE ARE NO FREE LUNCHES!  With the increasing transparency, there would be fewer jobs.   To offset this the work week would be shortened.  Through transparency and if every able-body person worked, 2-days a week of work would be sufficient to maintain our current standard of living.  The economy needs to be streamlined, and directed towards promoting the pubic weal. 

[iii] There ought to be a leveling of payment for work.  First we don’t need a privilege class.  Most people, who made major contributions to science, have done so as Fleming (the discoverer of penicillin who would not patent his discovery), because of a desire to promote the public’s welling.  This spirit needs to be promoted among top management of businesses. Limiting wealth eliminates the privileged class.  And with the restructuring of society so that one family would not occupy a grand estate, the class of conspicuous spenders would not exits, nor would the peer reinforcers for such behavior.  By setting a max of income at say 3 times the minimum wage quality work would be done without the distractions from conspicuous consumption.  Moreover, in a justice society, a minimum wage would be a living wage.  With the redistribution of rewards and the reduction of waste, a minimum wage equally $30,000 year would be a reasonable approximation, and thus a maximum income of $90,000 per year is adequate compensation for the top bureaucrats and scientist.  





The prima-facie duty of the ideal

government is to promote the

public weal,

and to do so governments is

obligated to treat each person as

of equal value and to maximize

the happiness of society.

This essay written in 1998 is an account of my struggle with the issue of how to make a democratic system work for the masses (not the tool of the masters of mankind)



            The prima-facie duty of the ideal government is to maximize the public weal.  Far from the idea are those governments who do not treat each person as one:  the military dictatorships, theocracies, aristocracies, dictatorships of the proletariat, and democracies dominated by the financial interests.  Besides serving the external sources upon which the survival of the government depends, there are the special interests of the government itself.  Each department has its own axe to grind; thus those at the head of the departments make proposals that are in the best interest of their department.  At the top are legislature and executive branches; they in general find it expedient to yield to the various forces while pretending to put the publics interest first.  Using the United States as an example, of the four major vectors, which shape the actions of our government, the interests of government, of business, and of the political party come before the interests of the electorate.  Our government has fallen short in actions in its contract with its people (conceived to promote life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness) stated in its preamble to its Constitution.  The maximization of the publics well being (public weal) is what government ought to be about.

Elected officials in our country are shaped by a combination of factors (vector forces) of which the two most significant are the needs of the bureaucracy that carry out their policies and the needs of big business, who supplies the election funds and control the media.  The political party functions to preserve itself.  The final, major, fourth vector is the needs of the people.  The relationship between the first three vectors assures that the peoples needs come fourth.  The majority of people fail to perceive how far from the ideal our government functions; namely, how much their true interests have been compromised.  Both politicians and the wolves (big business) have told the working-class sheep that the government policies that support big business are ultimately in the sheeps best interest, and the sheep believe it.

Some people have a Panglossian optimism; they talk of how great our nation is and of its wealth.  They support our two-party system, and they consider the profession of being a politician a noble one and they believe that it is in the best interest of the people and country for big business and to be placed before the needs of the people.  Others with stark realism understand how much better it could be. 

This divided loyalty of elected officials is founded upon an electorate that responds to product-recognition advertising.  Funding for such advertising assures a dependency upon big business.  The role of Congress and the President as to the reversal of regulations and the steady progression to conditions resembling the late 18th century is the result of the ever-increasing cooperation between business and the politicians.  This insidious relationship has corrupted the politicians prospective and brought about a political understanding that has lead to the military-industrial complex, the price gouging by drug companies, and the deteriorating wages of workers, to name 3 examples.  For all developed countries, similar handicaps to the public weal exist.  The defect in performance of an elected government is approximately proportional to the lack of rational skills of the electorate and also to the size of the population (with larger states being worse than smaller).  In both life expectancy and in GNP, our country is not even in the top ten.  Our schools, as measured by scholastic-skills, are not in the top twenty.  The agenda of business and in general the profit motive has worked far-reaching corruptions.  Most far reaching is the effect big business has upon the production of beliefs via their media.  The problems of crime, of recreational drugs, of obesity, lack of physical conditioning, the use of tobacco, are all symptoms of an imperfect value system that is indirectly a result of the profit-motivated media and the for profits measure of so many actions.  We have the most expensive military, legal system, medical system, and political system.  Wed rather turn the hobbled out on the street rather than cut the military budget.  To obtain a dramatic advancement in the quality of life, this country needs a government with a clear vision of the ideal society, the means to communicate that vision, and the power to proceed in that direction.

 Since of all directed forces shaping affecting the well being of its people, government comes first.  A Government can--much like it did in Sparta, in the 13 Colonies in 1781, in Constantines Rome, and in the Soviet Union--make deliberate, far-reaching changes.  These changes are always done with a vision of advancements.  I have my own vision of some changes our government ought to make for maximizing the public weal.  Agreeing with Plato, I perceive as that the most important changes would be that of getting the brightest and noblest of our citizens into office and the establishing of a power base that requires of them that they serve the public weal first.           

In this rewrite of my essay of 4-years earlier, I have attempted to mention only in passing the diseases of our society, and to do so only to clarify the problems and justify obvious solutions.  The first 4 proposed changes are for the sake of better government, the next three are economic, the last is about how to a create a better citizen-worker.  Social Justice (topic of this essay) is a result of the maximization of the public weal.  A socially just society would have a government that would promote the fair distribution of rewards and burdens and do it while seeking to maximize the happiness of its citizens.  What follows are proposal that would lead to social justice.  Each proposal is preceded by a statement of the problem that it addresses.


    PROBLEM  I:     For eighty percent of our citizens, their academic training ends with high school; moreover, within a few years they could not pass even a grade 10, comprehensive test.  Their mental window on the world is half shut, and this has permitted a government to exist that has placed the needs of the people fourth.  And to protect this unfortuitous relationship, those with economic power, which includes control of the media, have formed a defacto alliance with government.  Business through their media have inculcated the belief that those who own the resources, property, financial institutions, and industries best serve the needs by being far more unfettered than those in Europe.  What is need is that the majority of the electorate to recognize the policies that would best serves their own needs and then support a candidates with that vision.  This country needs a majority of the electorate with the intellectual ability to understand the complexities of social, economic, and political issues so as to form a reasonable vision of what ought to be.  


SOLUTION I:  To obtain an electorate with a rational faculty capable of resolving complex issues concerning human nature, concerning social justice, economics, and education requires both training and a brain capable of fully benefiting from such training.  This type of electorate is made:  made through schools that teach first the art of thinking, made through a media that places the stimulation of the intellect before the rewards of the accolades of the common herd and the dollars of sponsors, and made by a society where the average citizen makes both learning and complex analysis a life-long pursuit.  The first bricks in the wall of enlightenment are laid by the educational system, the second batch of brick by the media, the third by peer conditioning that universally values logical skills and knowledge.  . 

      To establish a perspicacious electorate requires a comprehensive and cohesive policy that starts in elementary school, continues through college, includes adult education, and is supported by the media programming.  Education ought to stress ability to reason abstractly.  While facts will be forgotten, the skill of abstract reasoning lasts a lifetime.  The second change would be with the media:  its being ran as a business must end.  The media ought to be in the hands of the universities with the understanding that their performance would be rated on how well they through the programming instructs, promotes abstraction, and increases useful knowledge.  To achieve this goal the policies for education and the media ought to be developed by panels of university professors whose task it is to assure that schools what was started in the public schools is continued and supported by the media.  These professors in charge of media content ought to be elected by their peers.  Democracy will work better with an intelligent and aware electorate.


PROBLEM  II:  Most citizens enjoy voting, but make an inadequate effort to become informed.  If the current television candidate advertisements are an indication of that effort, then the process must be likened to that of selecting flashlight batteries, namely, product recognition.  The research of issues and the examination of candidates are barely performed by most of the electorate.  Even if we create--from the following of Solution I--a perspicacious electorate, their influence via elected officials would be greater if they examined in depth the abilities and policies of those running for office. 


SOLUTION II:  Require of those who vote that they study in depth both the issues and the records of the candidates.  Since most people do not on their own study in depth prior to voting, such preparation must be required.  Like the jurors at a trial, those selected to vote must be given time off from work, paid for period of preparation to vote, and housed temporarily together so as to create an environment that would encourage such studies and promote relevant discussion.  To reduce the burden of this type of preparation for voting, a method of random selection of a fraction of the people, say 2 percent, would occur.  Certainly, it is better for a few randomly selected to make an informed vote than large numbers an uninformed vote.  This system would eliminate the need for raising funds for elections and the need for political parties.  Qualified people would not need the support of a political office in order to become a serious contender.  Party politics would vanish.


III  PROBLEM:  One shortcoming of the vote is that though it is a form of review that occurs too infrequently, once every 6 years for senators, for the president every 4 years.  Moreover, the performance over such a long period of time becomes exceedingly difficult to evaluate.  Thus, politicians performance is compromised by the dictates of their political party and those who fund their election.  Moreover the electoral review amounts to nothing more than the selection of one of two political parties, and the ultimate selection is controlled by the political party who decides who will run.  The review by the political party and the large contributors to reelection is more significant as to the continued career of a politician than the review of the electorate.  There is a need for those who govern to have as their most significant evaluation those whom they govern.  This review ought to be extended to others who have under our present system been placed beyond review (generals, judges, department heads).


SOLUTION  III:       By setting up panels of citizens similar to the investigative grand juries, the performance of government would be revealingly monitored.  Such panels would be given specific investigative tasks.  They would have the power to propose legislation, air their findings on prime time television, and fund research projects.  For example, a panel investigating electric generation might want to know what is holding back breeder-reactor development.  Another might want to know why we have the most expensive medical system in the world, you its overall performance is in the lower half when compared to other developed countries.  They could--like in Canada--fund to have blue-ribbon commissions set up to examine and publish reports on such questions.  They could propose legislation based upon their findings.  Thus, there would be a commissions and grand jury review to affect the performance of our elected officials.  To give such a system clout they would have access to the media.  Finally, the Government Accounting Office would not be controlled by the legislator, but by a panel of university professors.  Such a set of changes would assure that there is meaningful review of the performance of our elected officials and senior bureaucrats.



                 PROBLEM  IV:  Those who rise to the top positions in a political party obtain such mainly for demonstrated party loyalty, public speaking skills, and the ability to raise funds.  Top government bureaucrats obtain such status because of ability to perform their duties and also to promote the interest of their department.  As the Science Advisor for Eisenhower tersely stated, "Each department has its own ax to grind."  As a result the top bureaucrats, contrary to the publics best interest, will act to increase their budget and authority of their department.  We have, for example, an Environmental Protection Agency whose standards for disposal of chemical wastes and cleanup of old chemical dumps are clearly excessive.  How are we to improve the quality of those at the top of the bureaucracy and the legislators? 


SOLUTION  IV:  Among other things there should be comprehensive, appropriate testing of both senior bureaucrats and those running for office and the results of this test must be published.  Secondly, as those rise up both the bureaucratic and elected systems, schooling would be required that improves their job skill levels and analytic abilities.  The brightest and best trained ought to head government.   


PROBLEM  V:  The ends of production ought to be for the maximization of the public weal.  We also need greater transparency, meaning, that the cost of an item should very nearly equal the cost of distribution plus that of manufacturing.  A number of unnecessary practices inflate the selling price.  At least 20% of the cost of the car consists of advertisements.  Secondly, at least 16 minutes per hour of viewing time is consumed by advertisements that interrupt programming.  Sure, we dont have to pay directly television programming, but we pay for it in higher, consumer prices.  Another example of waste is the lack of interchangeable parts for automobiles and the frequent changes in parts design.  Each automaker is trying to protect his share of the replacement-parts market by making it prohibitively costly for an independent parts manufacture to offer a full line of replacement parts.  Businesses within a sector often work together, as does the major supermarket chains, so as to limit competition and then years later make exorbitant profits.  A third example of economic waste is that of the insurance industry.  We support hundreds of thousand insurance employees and their working environments.  Part of what doctors charge goes to cover their insurance expense.  We ultimately feed the workers of Wall Street.  They aren't needed.  There are no free lunches.  The percentage of the GNP consumed by insurance companies and brokerage houses, if they were eliminated, would more funds being available for the citizens to spend. Every waste is funded on the backs of labor: THERE ARE NO FREE LUNCHES!  The economy needs to be streamlined. 


SOLUTION V:  Russia failed because politicians were running the economy.  The first 4 problems and solution were designed to improve government thus permitting a greater role in the economy without the follies of the Soviet experiment.  Having the brightest and best trained runs government insures that the Soviet type morass would not be repeated.  Streamlining would occur by eliminating private insurance companies, the stock market, taxes, and advertisements (see #6 for a much better alternative).  Ownership of property would be eliminated (and thus its inheritance), thought there would be long term leases.  There would no longer be a class of citizens who feed themselves because of the rental of property or from dividends and speculation in stocks.  Manufactured goods would be designed to last longer and be easier to repair.  Government would act to increase economic efficiency.  The benefits of this transparency could be distributed among the workers and thus yield a more just proportioning of the rewards of labor.  The legislature would act to promote transparency. 

     Most important of the changes made by government would be a reordering of the goals of business.  Performance of executives would not primarily be measured by profits with its assorted counter to the public weal consequences, but by transparency (the maximization of value of the commodities and services).  Transparency requires that products produced would, where feasible, have interchangeable parts, be built to last, and be designed to for easy of repair and replacement.  Government would distribute rewards to executives and workers in a company according to the relative value and quantity of what is produced when compared to its competitors. 


   PROBLEM  VI:    Some causes of waste are based on artificial demands, such as for perfumes, latest fashions, larger or luxury vehicles.  This waste is promoted through advertising and values portrayed in media dramas.  This is the waste of unsound product selection.  An even greater waste is the way businesses acts to reduce value.  The information about which flashlight battery last longer, which vehicle in a given class will over the next 10 years have the lowest repair costs, which vehicle has the smoothest and quietest ride, this information for prudent product selection is not readily available, if at all.  Automobile manufactures make a greater profit on replacement parts than on new car sales.  Industry functions to maximize their profit; therefore there is the compromise of quality and value for the sake of profit.  Businesses have found that within a certain limit advertising yields a greater profit that product improvement.  It is in a business interest to maximize profits, but in the publics best interest to maximize value. 


SOLUTION  VI:    There is a simple and direct way to insure a dramatic increase in the value of products.  This would be to have a product rating on the cover of each item.  Thus for flashlight batteries, there would be an easy way to compare Eveready, Duracell, and other brands.  For items for which there are many things to be compared a report would be included.  Independent laboratories would do the testing.  Each company would only have one very effective avenue to increase sales, namely; that of obtaining the highest value rating (value is the combination of features, durability and price).  If a products has a flaw, such as Chryslers transmission in there mini vans, there would be prompt action to correct this flaw (for years their transmission average less than 50,000 mile before needing to be rebuilt).  Independent product ratings would foster competition.  The making of better products for less would also improve foreign trade and thus end our current huge trade imbalance.  This is a simple solution; however, one that is not in the interest of the large corporations, for now a small manufacturer could produce batteries and, if their product is a better value, outsell the product with name recognition.  A better design would produce rapid results.  An act of government is thus required for product ratings.  It would also improve distribution of new products and those from small manufacturers when their rating is high, because retail outlets would want to carry those products with the highest rating.  Product ratings would permit the consumer to make a decision based upon the value of the product. 


PROBLEM  VII:  The typical notion of obligation and fairness (TNOF) requires that each person, unless within an exempted group, support himself.  Thus by TNOF it is considered unfair for a person not exempted because of wealth, age, or being a housewife to mooch upon others for their sustenance.  Similarly by TNOF, it is considered unfair if in a family one member consumes much more than the others.  However, fairness does not extend to the larger family of our society; it ought!  People are exempted from labor because of inherited or accumulated wealth, yet according to TNOF this is fair.  The British call such people idlers.  Other citizens receive (and thus consume) much more than the true value of their labor, yet according to TNOF this is fair; one gets what the labor market will yield.  All wealth is built upon the brow and sweat of labor, yet laborers are reward according to what the job-market permits, rather than the worth of their labor.  Moreover, economic arrangements permit the pyramiding of wealth.  Because of this lack of social justice, there is a lack of cohesion within society.  The distorted standard of social justice embodied in TNOF entails that the citizens do what is permitted rather than what would be required by an ideal morality. 


SOLUTION  VII:  If the society is like a large family (an analogy used by Plato), then each able bodied citizen should contribute.  This idea of extended family with its utilitarian set of duties and rewards is quite different than TNOF.  Each person would be expected to carry part of the burdens of labor.  To accomplish this full employment, the workweek would be shortened.  Each able-bodied person would be rewarded according to their labors (those raising children or caring for the elderly would have this count as part of their work contribution).  Each physically and mentally capable person would bejust like in a familyrequired to work; and no job would be rewarded more than 3 times that of common laborers pay.  Those who are shiftless could be placed on reservation (like the Canadian have done with their Indians) and be given a small dole if they stay there.  This would result in a just proportioning.  The burden under such an arrangement would be much less:  recall, that it has already been proposed that over one quarter of the jobs be done away through streamlining the economy (the doing away with the financial markets, advertising, the manufacture of more durable goods, government no fault insurance, and many other changes) and the adding housewives would lower the work week to under 20 hours.  True social justice requires that each capable citizen contributes according to his ability and be reward according to his production.  Government wage controls would promote social justice.  Social justice not only lightens the burden of labor by creating full employment thus shortening the workweek, it also reduces workers alienation by creating a feeling of community.  


PROBLEM VIII:  B.F. Skinner said that, Original sin is the difference between your pleasure and mine.  This is the sin of self-interest.  A business functions to maximize profits; people function to maximize happiness (a point made by both Epicurus and Jeremy Bentham).  Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Workers seek to reduce their labors; owners and mangers to increase their labors.  Supervisors also seek to do what is in their own interests of their department.  This, I call, the Special Interest Syndrome (SIS hereafter), a type of original sin.  In the world of commerce, actions can be viewed as positive and negative: a positive reward is one that will in the long term benefits a company financially; a negative reward is one that is counter to the financial interests of the company.  Pay and job benefits are negative for they reduce profits.  Workers use social conditioning on their supervisors to lighten their load, and such peer conditioning of the supervisor function in (from the companys prospective) in a negative way.  Moreover, if a supervisor is paid in proportion to the number of people working under him, he will seek to increase the size of his department beyond the ideal number, another example of SIS.  There exists a balancing between what benefits the workers and supervisors and what benefits the company.  Even its board of directors would compromise a companys best interest for the sake of personal rewards.  If workers and supervisors would come to their jobs with an earnest desire to maximize productivity and seek first to promote the best interest of the business, then the costs of the goods would be reduce and our society would benefits.  Who do we turn each person into a conscientious worker?  Get pass SIS. 

SOLUTION VIII: How to get around this fundamental conflict of what Skinner called Original Sin?  Three factors contributing to its diminution of sloth and SIS are contained above.  One is to improve education.  In my 12 years of higher learning, I have been utterly impressed with the work performance of professors.  In Solution I are my proposals for education.  There is a clear relationship, when comparing countries between the quality of education and the behavior of its citizens.  The ability to think abstractly creates a clearer understanding of the ideal ethics and of social justice.  Second are measures (proposed above) to create social justice, for this will create in the citizens of the society a feeling of family, and acts against society would be subject to peer conditioning much like the family conditioning it members to promote its best interest.  Third is economic transparency; for a sense of honor in the market place will be created which will instill in the workers a greater desire to promote the public weal before promoting their own interests.  Forth, having a government that measures its actions by the utilitarian standard (maximization of the public weal) will also instill a familial sense of duty towards society.  There are also direct measures through a better system of direct review of performance at all levels.  For example, factories would compete with similar factories, retail outlets with similar retail outlets, and so on for rewards such as higher pay and better vacations.  Hard workers would get bonuses.  To achieve this, a system of external evaluation would be set up.  For example, both high schools and colleges are presently and have been for decades evaluated by independent panels so that the university committees that selects students knows the worth of the grades obtained by both high school and graduate school applicants.  Besides reward for efforts, businesses would act to create situations that promote bonding between workers, and between workers and supervisors, such as company activities.  A system of commerce where the bottom line is not the most significant factor in measuring performance of a business would permit the above system of rewards and company activities.  Reinforcers would not simply be arrange by a business for the bottom line; for the guiding light would be the public weal as understood by the utilitarians such as Bentham, Mill, Russell, and myself.  Improving conditioning in the work place is one way of maximizing happiness.  Measures described above would reduce the SIS.


A F T E R    W O R D

         Most of these ideas follow from simple observation about what there is and then an inquiry about its cure.  This approach is not new, for twenty four hundred years ago Plato set down for reading to an audience dialogues that asked and answered questions about the good life, ideal society, and best form of government.  He was continuing in the line of thought and methods of the philosophers that goes back to Thales of Miletus who wrote about 600 BC.  Plato observed the relationship between the politicians and the masses and the many injudicious actions of the democracy.  He rated among the seven forms of government, democracy as next to the worse.  Some of which lead to Athens defeat by the Spartans in the Peloponnesian war in 399 BC.  The two most serious were the removal of Alcibiates their brilliant general because of his aristocratic views and the turning down of the peace offer by Sparta.  There are modern parallels to be found in the disastrous Versailles Peace.  The performance of our own government has caused me to agree with Plato. 

       In our own day we have seen the effects of government when it attempts to streamline the economy.  However, the socialist failure was not a failure of plan, but of administrators.  It is to the issue of administrators that I have devoted half the space in this essay on social justice.  Plato in The Republic suggests that the best children (by birth, for he believed that what was true for horses was true for man) receive an education to prepare them for government, separate them from their family so that the state is their parent, and then forbid them from owning private property (so that they would not be tending to their own wealth while directing the state).  These children when of mature years would be the Guardians of the state.  However, anyone who demonstrated (including women) exceptional abilities could become a Guardian.  To Platos plan I have added that there be two external systems of review, one modeled on the grand jury system, the other of special commission of professors.  I also favored that those at the top be elected, but not in general elections but by a small randomly selected electorate whole like a jury would be freed from their daily routine and given the task of studying the candidates.  Thus, there are three checks in place, the university commissions, the grand juries, and the electorate.  Moreover, I have stressed improvements in education including use of the media so that it creates a better citizenryPlato wrote of a similar educational need.  A government headed by Guardians can effectively direct the economy.

      The quality of government is a reflection of its design, the abilities of those in power, and the morals and perspicacity of the populace.  Call to mind how the design for our government has fallen far below potential because of the electorate and because of the two political parties dependence upon business for the funds necessary for election. 

        The plans for good government have many social and economic ramifications.  With the proper sort of people heading government we would not have a disaster like that of the Soviet Unions.  By removing the profit motive as the primary measure of performance, businesses could be measured by their contributions to the public weal.  All the deleterious consequences of placing profits before the people would be done away with.  The problems of corporate planning OUGHT to be addressed by people who place society first.  Moreover, a system of investigative checks, like the grand jury model envisioned for government, could be instituted for corporations and for the entire industry.  With transparency a goal of economic planning and with the just distribution of the burden of labor, the workweek would be about 15 hours.  Platos discussion of the ideal government and society needs to be on everyones mind and in the media.  While the evolutionary changes in government and commerce sketched above are generations away, there would be less generations if we, like Plato had done, give it a public forum.  Eight Steps Towards Social Justice will move more rapidly from a dream to reality when people focus upon the public weal and how to promote it.




I.                    Dumb electorate/education.


II.                 Uninformed electorate/grand jury type voting system.


III.                Minimal accountability of bureaucrats and elected officials/grand jury type review.


IV.              Venal, self-interested people filling the top positions/testing of them before office and continuing education.


V.                 Wastes of capitalism/streamlining the economy, including doing away with the stock market, insurance industry, taxes, and private property. 


VI.              Profits motive compromises value of products/product ratings on package.


VII.            Lack of social and economic justice/reward according to contribute with ever able-body person contributing.


VIII.         People naturally want to reduce the burdens of labor/reward according to production and improve conditions in the workplace.

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