We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

International Police Reform

Although we have become accustomed to unnerving global cooperation in suppression of demonstrators by increasingly militarized riot police, transnational police standards stand to improve civil rights of an average citizen

Current painfully slow but steady movement towards a Type 1 civilization is demonstrated socially in development of increasingly global themes in movies, rapid transmission of underground music to every spot on earth, in continuing advancement of English as world's lingua franca (in parallel with decline of key English speaking countries), in social networking tools, and globalist orientation (world as one country) of generation Y among world's middle and upper classes.

On the state level, we see rapid globalist thrust towards common educational standards for wage slaves via the Bologna Process in the Northern hemisphere and in reorientation of Interpol towards terrorist threats from neo-luddites, religious reactionaries, and politically charged have nots. There's plenty of less glamorous "under the hood" efforts being conducted to internationalize the Internet and put it under UN regulation and of course to deal with communication, transport, energy, law, etc. 

One may argue endlessly whether some competition in standardization is in order (such as having 6 continents falling under 2-3 competing standardization models versus the whole world falling under one potentially faulty and stagnating model). What is clear is that historically, centralized standardized police action improved efficiency in administration of justice by often ignoring and being above the petty corruptions and concerns of localities. Obviously window for brand new abuses was opened up but generally centralization of power and justice was slightly to moderately less corrupt than decentralization of justice (1 rich man's government versus dozens of smaller rich man's governments). We usually hear this mentioned in history books in terms of somebody or a group unifying the tribes, colonies, feudal fiefdoms, etc under 1 relatively detached and impartial infrastructurally minded central authority. Transition from feudalism towards a modern state system was a welcome development in reducing abuses and arbitrary action.

The current relatively politically correct "soft" approach of the UN and Interpol is a demonstration of the above. Often one would rather be apprehended by some UN helmet policeman rather than a small town cop from Texas, Russia, or China. Same occurred when Federal police first appeared on the scene in United States in early 20th century. When it comes to bringing order to the wage slave plantations (or "countries" as they are known currently), global police force and rapid development of global policing standards will tend to increase autonomy for an average human and decrease civil rights abuses.

Major police reforms to be undertaken by individual countries under new global umbrella guidelines

1) Elimination and retiring of 50%+ of police forces. This is easily accomplished by transnational agreements to end the futile drug prohibition as well as hands off approach to consensual acts such as gambling, some forms of smuggling, sex work, etc. Such efforts are already underway in South America. A UN and Interpol commission to create a detailed list of "offenses" that are too absurd and socially damaging to continue being so called offenses. Then creating a hands off guidelines to shame other countries into compliance with new socially libertarian measures. End of drug prohibition in United States for instance will allow mass layoffs of policemen currently employed by the executive.

The current development of world's armed forces is to become "leaner and meaner" and same should and will apply to the police. Modern communication, educational (see below), robotics, and weapons technology makes majority of law enforcement employees obsolete.

In parallel, there will develop a need to absorb a large pool of young aggressive men and women into socially beneficial activities not revolving around military or law enforcement. Traditional venue of sports can save the day once again if new 21st century sports are developed (magnetic levitation football anyone?) that combine physical exertion with new innovative technological and infrastructure construction development. The young homo sapiens should be allowed to tinker with tools and gadgets, aggressively compete in teams, provide their social proof to the community, and get honors for it.

2) Doctorate's degree as a mandate to be a policeman and tripling of police wages. The responsibility of having the power to enforce justice with violence and to detain a fellow homo sapien is a heavy one. A policeman should be compensated as well as a doctor and be required to undergo many years of social psychology (herd dynamics), fitness, basic law, and various sensitivity conditioning alongside elite weapons training. Mass layoffs of police will free up resources to make remaining policemen as elite as possible. Now of course many human apes who join to serve will have restless aggressive physiologies and after being screened for psychopathy, they should be allowed to start serving in some capacity right away (guards of various facilities, etc) while having to complete their education in parallel. Thus for example, a well compensated 15 hour workweek in limited power capacity with classes towards a PhD. Nurturing sports and fitness should be provided in addition. We should see a lot of new highly motivated people join the force (similar to how post 2008 economic depression eliminated talent shortage problem in the armed forces). Obviously higher salary and more societal respect does not eliminate corruption (one just has to look at big pharma-doctor cooperation in US) but it does make entry to corruption a bit more difficult.

It is essential to create cooperation between transnational police and college standardizing entities concerning implementation.

3) 1 newly trained policeman being able to ideally replace up to 5 late 20th century policemen. Just as a modern policeman has as much cognitive ability, training, technology, and firepower to replace 5+ policemen in 19th century, a 21st century policeman should do the same to current batch of employees. The profession should be socially even more respected and with the end of prohibitions on consensual acts and rebalancing of power between haves and have nots, it will be. Strict fitness and dietary standards should be applied to new recruits and continual lifelong education and nurturing developed. Conditional well paid retirement at 40 is a good idea to reduce corruption, entrenched authoritarian thinking, and to keep supplying new blood to the force.

4) Strict separation between military and police. This is perhaps most difficult to accomplish considering the mass global Internet led awakening among the poor. However, eliminating the gray area of militarized police will be necessary to prevent even further civil unrest and angering of the mob. A society should either figure out how to allow a large crowd to gather peacefully with non-militarized police present (as if it was was New Year's eve) or it should throw away the mask of civility and bring out the military and tanks when there are large purposeful gatherings. The current gray area just creates militarization of the civilians and a multitude of various neurotic behavior in the herd. 

5) Training population to police themselves. This can be accomplished by reintroduction of firearms training in high schools, civil duty lessons, and following the Swiss model of citizen militia. The generation that will follow generation Y is more than ready to accomplish self policing as well as swelling the ranks of embryonic world police core.

Obviously applying some of these reforms on top of current society (especially #4) is not workable but will become increasingly doable with planet's continuing transition away from current socioeconomic system. This process is a multidecade one and will be most led by countries that emerge from the current financial crisis in their best shape.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Land Value Tax in the 21st Century

Georgism (breaking the power of last remnant of feudalism, the landlords) presents the most important point of contact and agreement between far left, far right, and centrist liberals throughout the world. Such agreement is key during transition to a new world economic system.

H.G. Wells, in The Shape of Things to Come, appears to have been correct (if off by a number of decades) when it comes to predicting Land Value Taxation becoming a fundamental cornerstone of a saner future world system. Whether the landlords are private or public in the form of a government, the unearned rents they collect will be redistributed to all living on the land. This allows most private corporations and individual capitalists to: 

1) Redirect increasing anger against them onto a relatively small number of individuals (buying time).

2) Buy off the poor without incurring too much personal cost (buying time).

3) Eliminate critical inefficiencies remaining from the dark ages and allocate capital more effectively in a world where capital accumulation has been slowing down/stagnating for decades (buying more time).

4) Push governments (that they always indirectly control when not being fused with them) of key great powers in the northern hemisphere to reinvent themselves. This allows the European continent to take the torch from United States in becoming a fortress of safety for capital via even better high tech welfare states (buying time once again by providing livable stipends to elderly and those displaced by machines).

Although it is popular to focus on either financial cartels or inefficiencies of the public sector these days, the sheer absurdity, inefficiency, and tyranny of landlords is often overlooked. It is too much part of background scenery. However, landlordism must be tackled first and directly since it is an older structural problem from a pre-capitalist world system. As we approach an end of a global debt supercycle (with governments of key military powers having to reconstruct social order to continue to function), landlordism should be emphasized as having been the primary cause of the crisis. This would create a convenient (and very necessary!) scapegoat and allow many corporations, oligarchs, unions, and governments to save face during transition to a new world system. Obviously it is one of many causes but singling it out has critically important benefits for humanity in terms of saving political energy expanded this century.

A few words about the global transition. It will either be orderly (Bretton Woods 2.0) or disorderly (trade disruptions and corresponding hunger related political violence primarily in the southern hemisphere). 

For it to be more orderly, the states will need resources. Resources will be scarce (factories shutting down, balance sheets of governments and corporations in disarray, etc). Tapping private landowners the world over and forcing them to pay rent will free up resources to minimize these conditions of chaos. Since new land can't be created readily, since it can't be hidden, and since private landlords control most of the surface of the earth, it will be easy to find what/who we need and redirect the rent these people normally collect towards infrastructure/welfare of a new world system. 

Although not all landlords have the same parasitic pull, the argument of "what about mom and pop landlords" is much like the 19th century argument about "mom and pop slave owners" who just had 1-3 slaves rather than the hundreds of the large plantations (large corporation equivalent of the day). Having said  that, the small landlords of course will not be physically touched and will become beneficiaries of the new system that they now help provide for. Some countries already implement a partial Land Value Tax system to great benefit. Taiwan is best example today. Future merger of China and Taiwan will hopefully "infect" a large planetary role model with a more futuristic tax code.

Problem of governments as landowners

Writing in 1976, Arthur Selwyn Miller in The Modern Corporate State, articulated the rise and decay of FDRist Social Democratic arrangement in United States from 1937 onwards. What started out as a roughly coequal coalition of large unions, large corporations, large universities, and large welfare government (with emphasis on job creating benefits of the military) has deteriorated. 40 years after the book was written, we are left with large military, large corporations (private governments), large universities subordinate to these private governments, and hollowed out central "public" government subordinate to these private governments. Combined with ever present institutionalized landlordism, this heady brew can only be described as neo-feudalism (especially with the 20th century decay/stagnation of newer dynamic progressive industrial capitalist system). 

Richard Nixon, the last strong relatively-autonomous American president, tried to prevent this and wanted to develop some executive government led (as first among equals) developmental authoritarianism. Franco's Spain in the 1950s springs to mind. Nixon was shown a lesson and now we have a major problem on our hands. How do we prevent the current, mostly privately led neo-feudal arrangement from transitioning to a mostly publicly led neo-feudal arrangement? How do we go forward towards new rather than backwards (only now with a glossier high tech patina).

Tapping and tackling only private landlordism will concentrate so many resources in the hands of the state that potential for mismanagement and confusion (see Soviet and modern Chinese examples) becomes all but a certainty. It will still be a better, saner, and more comfortable social order but one that would rapidly decay unless people in public governments are also viewed as much a (potentially parasitic) landlords as private landholders. This is especially important to keep in mind considering that most states in the world are effectively fused with large corporations to different degrees. Decreasing potential for corruption should be correlated to increasing complexity of civilization since preventing social unrest is difficult as is in such a densely populated world.

taxing land monopolies has no inefficiencies since supply of land is perfectly inelastic
The more proactively humane solution will only be in a legal rabidly institutionalized framework that ties the productive resource benefits derived from the land to each individual homo sapien living on the land directly. This means that governments can no longer serve as self aggrandizing “representatives” with final authority on how to allocate the stipends in the 21st century. This means structurally and legally binding governments, these entities with monopoly on violence in a given area, to only act as middlemen service providers and enforcers of justice. For instance, individuals in a private cooperatively owned and democratically managed private corporation in the future will pay legally mandated “rent” (whether money, electrical energy, resources, etc) to a public government land"lord" (people actually owning the land via planes, guns, and missiles) who will in turn be legally bound to transfer these resources to all people on the land. With cutting edge communication and transportation infrastructure, the line between decentralized and centralized governance will increasingly be blurred.

Sounds straightforward and surprisingly libertarian in the American sense? Yes, this brings us to a prior article on Left-Libertarianism in United States as a “glue” for the opposition. North America will be the hardest hit by the global transition since the people on that continent have utilized cutting edge technology to exhaust the current system first. This also means that most cutting edge and novel experiments in creating a new social order will happen there first. Land Value Tax provides a seemingly sensible yet ridiculously radical point of agreement towards a foundational platform of political coalitions of the future.

The planetary transition (whether orderly or disorderly) to a new international social order will span a number of decades and at first the leadership in constructing and developing it will pass to elites in the eastern hemisphere (Berlin-Moscow-Beijing-Tokyo-etc). However, once US begins to (hopefully) economically recover in the late 2020s and becomes role model for South America again (continent with the worst landlordism problem in the world), leadership should swing back to the land where both hope and world crisis began.

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