THE ABSOLUTELY BEST ESSAY ON HOW TO
BUILD A BETTER SOCIETY
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.
Steps Forward: design for promotion of
the public weal
1) education, 2) political oversight by the masses, 3) economic planning, 4)
cohesive society, 5) ideal citizens
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
III: Need economic planning that serves the
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
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
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.
A F T E R W O R D
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.
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
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.
TOWARDS SOCIAL JUSTICE
The prima-facie duty of the ideal
government is to promote the
and to do so governments is
obligated to treat each person as
of equal value and to maximize
the happiness of society.
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)
EIGHT STEPS TOWARDS SOCIAL JUSTICE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
O U T L I N E
Uninformed electorate/grand jury type voting system.
Minimal accountability of bureaucrats and elected officials/grand jury
Venal, self-interested people filling the top positions/testing of them before office and continuing education.
Wastes of capitalism/streamlining the economy, including doing away with the stock market, insurance industry, taxes,
and private property.
Profits motive compromises value of products/product ratings on package.
Lack of social and economic justice/reward according to contribute with ever able-body person contributing.
People naturally want to reduce the burdens of labor/reward according to production and improve conditions in the workplace.