« Pogue, Hydrogen - Stories of Suppression | Main | The Double Helix Theory of the Magnetic Field »

PrintPrinter-friendly version

Share the Wealth ... with Socioeconomic Democracy

Imagine.... a world where things are very different from what you see now.

Imagine a world where you could do what you really liked, choosing on the basis of what you are passionate and inspired by and not by what is available or pays more.

Imagine a world where you and I unimpeded by choices dictated only by the need to survive, can truly dedicate our complete energies to the greatest interest(s) we have.


Nicolò Bellia and Robin - Image: Robin Good

Sounds like utopia? Well, there is a man in Italy who has spent a good part of his adult life imagining and actually working out how this could be done. My friend Robin Good interviewed him and has published some of the highlights on his site, under the title:

Share The Wealth: Utopia Or Opportunity? Antropocracy - An Interview With Nicolò Bellia

Sending the link to some people I know are interested in matters of economy, I received an interesting reply from Robley George, the founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies, who says:

Considering your concern and effort regarding a meaningful democracy and the peaceful resolution of a variety of serious and unnecessary individual, societal and global problems, we believe you may be interested in the subject of our book Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System. I am therefore sending you a brief description of the book. Following that is a short article describing some of the major aspects of Socioeconomic Democracy.

What is it all about?

Bellia - and before him some other economic thinkers like Silvio Gesell in his "Natural Economic Order" - advocate a change to our economic system. Actually deep changes, that would fairly revolutionize how we provide for ourselves and how we approach economic activity.

The situation is, they say, that much of the value of what we produce ends up with others - by way of taxes, interest, and other mechanisms that syphon off value. The changes they want to see are summed up in

- a guaranteed basic income for all citizens or residents

- a regular (monthly) tax on the entire monetary mass

The tax could be collected by the banks. Imagine - no more tax collectors, no more tax inspections. The money so collected would provide the means to pay that basic income to everyone - but it could also replace most or all of the other taxes.

A guaranteed basic income would allow us to choose more independently what kind of work to do. All of a sudden, it would not matter any more if more and more jobs got lost to automation. Also, some joy might well be unleashed by the fact that not everyone has to either accept a job (they don't like) or get very creative about how to survive.

Robley George approaches the need for changes in economics from a more general perspective. He does not say where the money for such a basic income should come from, or indeed whether we should have one or not. All he proposes is that the question should be up for a democratic vote. And he also proposes that we should look at the possibility of not only providing a minimum but perhaps also limit the maximum of personal wealth. Again, he's only putting this up for a general vote. It would be ourselves to decide.

But see for yourself, an introduction to his book, and a paper explaining the idea of what he proposes - written for a Congress of the U.S. Basic Income Garantee Network ...

- - -

Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System


Amazon - Greenwood - Barnes & Noble

Socioeconomic Democracy is a theoretical model socioeconomic system wherein there exist both some form of Universally Guaranteed Personal Income and some form of Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth limit, with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of society.

The Table of Contents is as follows:


It is, or at least should be, clear that this planet desperately needs a new, improved and fundamentally democratized socioeconomic system. The book will be of interest to all those who are seriously concerned about the unnecessary harm to individuals, societies, cultures and the planet at large caused by the extreme systemic maldistribution of material wealth intra- and internationally, and who are convinced that this serious problem should and can only be resolved democratically and peacefully by an informed, thoughtful citizenry. The chapter on ramifications discusses the simultaneous significant reduction of over 25 acknowledged societal problems as a result of the realization of Socioeconomic Democracy and the economic incentives it creates.

The book will be found appropriate for courses in economics, political science, sociology, political philosophy, utopian studies, futures studies, psychology and, perhaps most importantly, democratic socioeconomic systems design. It should also be of interest to any progressive political candidate who is serious about democratically resolving the unnecessary and costly societal problems facing the United States of America or any other nation. Book reviewers are sought. The book is extensively described on our website. Indeed, one can easily get a clear introduction to and understanding of Socioeconomic Democracy by simply studying the material on the site. The reason to read the book is that it also contains an unexpected smattering of politicosocioeconomic humor.


A Democratic Basic Income Guarantee

Robley E. George
Center for the Study of Democratic Societies

USBIG Congress
New York City
March 4-6, 2005


Socioeconomic Democracy is a model socioeconomic system wherein there exist some forms of Universal Guaranteed Income and Maximum Allowable Wealth, with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of society.

This paper briefly describes the essential elements of Socioeconomic Democracy, including quantitative democracy and economic incentive, and then outlines some of its properties, such as societal variations, justifications, relationship with Islam, practical political approximations, realizability, and the significant reduction of a large number of acknowledged serious societal problems.

We conclude by reviewing how a number of contemporary dilemmas impeding the realization of some form of needed universal guaranteed income are trivially (and democratically!) resolved with Socioeconomic Democracy. These include questions such as How much?; Who decides?; Where necessary funds come from?; Where does democracy fit in?; and How soon can all this start to happen?


It seems there have always and everywhere been two major thrusts of progressive political activity. Determined or hesitant, but always present, they can be found throughout the Ages, in the United States of America, and throughout the "globalizing" world. These two thrusts are the ubiquitous demand for more and more meaningful democracy and the equally ubiquitous search for a more sustainable and just socioeconomic system that resolves rather than creates and perpetuates serious, unnecessary, and costly societal problems.

Combining these two active thrusts produces, or certainly suggests, what has come to be called Socioeconomic Democracy. It is respectfully submitted that the present state of the nation and the world, intimately interconnected and interrelated, make the realization of some form of Socioeconomic Democracy absolutely essential, not only for human progress but for human survival.

Socioeconomic Democracy is a theoretical model socioeconomic system wherein there exist both some form of Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) and some form of Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth limit (MAW), with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of society. Many of the details, implications, and ramifications of Socioeconomic Democracy have been discussed in the book Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System published by Praeger (2002).

The essence of Socioeconomic Democracy may be traced back at least to many of the thinkers of ancient Greece, such as Thales, Plato and Aristotle, to all the great religions of the world, as well as Tom Paine (who gave the United States of America its name and the inspiration to perform the new experiment) and Tom Jefferson (who made the experiment official), and on down to include the many progressive thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All have pleaded for humanity to think about ideas similar to these. It appears it is now time for humanity to act. As Bucky put it, "Utopia or Oblivion."

Basic Elements of Socioeconomic Democracy

UGI. In the idealized state of the model, each participant in this democratic socioeconomic system would know that, regardless of what he or she did or did not do, a democratically determined Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) would always be available. Put another way, society would guarantee each citizen some minimum amount of purchasing power, with that amount determined democratically by all of society and with citizenship the only requirement for eligibility to participate.

Depending upon the degree and direction of technological development, this democratically set, societally guaranteed minimum income for all could be sufficient to satisfy the typical individual's minimum subsistence needs. Alternatively, society might democratically decide to set the guaranteed amount at only a partial subsistence level, for a variety of legitimate reasons. There are as many different forms of UGI (ranging at least from Basic Income (BI) to Negative Income Tax (NIT)) as there are reasons to establish some form of UGI.

It is noteworthy that the state of Alaska is at present the only governmental entity in the world that has a form of UGI, namely the Alaska Permanent Fund, which provides each and every resident an annual sum determined by revenues from the state-owned oil fields and recently ranging somewhat under $2,000 per year per resident.

MAW. In the ideal theoretical model, all participants of the democratic socioeconomic system would understand that all personal material wealth above the democratically determined allowable amount would, by due process, be transferred out of their ownership and control in a manner specified by the democratically designed and implemented laws of the land.

Hence, a rational, self-interested and insatiable (as the neoclassical saying goes) extremely wealthy, law-abiding participant in the democratic socioeconomic system, who is at or near the upper bound on allowable personal wealth and who further desires increased personal wealth, would be economically motivated, that is, have economic incentive, to actively increase the well-being of at least some of the less materially wealthy members of society. Only in this manner can these (still-wealthiest) participants persuade (at least a majority of) the rationally self-interested less wealthy participants of the democratic society to vote to raise the legal upper limit on allowable personal wealth -- thus allowing those wealthiest participants of the democratic society to legally acquire and retain the increased allowable amount of personal net wealth they so crave, as well as allowing many of those presently far below the MAW limit to continue their dreams and fantasies toward unlimited personal wealth some day.

There is, in fact, strong economic incentive for those who are pegged at or are near the upper limit on allowable personal wealth to be successful in improving the general welfare. For if the current level of MAW is not producing sufficient improvement in the general welfare, as democratically determined, there is the possibility and indeed probability that the democratic society might democratically decide to reduce the MAW limit even more in order to enlist even more still-wealthy participants and their extra wealth in the noble task of improving the well-being and welfare of society in general.

Democracy. There is a simple procedure by which each individual participant in a democratic society (or each member of a democratic legislative body) can directly vote his or her particular preference for an amount, magnitude, or quantity of something in question, with the democratically determined, societally or legislatively desired amount unequivocally resulting. As if to emphasize the significance of the discovery, Duncan Black and Economics Nobelist Kenneth Arrow independently and more or less simultaneously established the important mathematical result and procedure a half century ago.

Their now-classic social choice contributions have provided the theory which shows that the median value of the monotonically arranged participants' (voters') preference distribution is the amount the democratic society as a whole is "for" -- assuming the minimal operational "one participant, one vote; majority rule" decision-making process. Only the median value can command a majority's favor in pair-wise votings with all other amounts. Roughly speaking, this means that the democratically determined amount is such that half the voters want that much or more while the other half want that much or less.

It is by this simple, mathematically correct process and procedure that the society-wide lowest tolerable level of personal material poverty and the highest allowable level of personal material wealth can be established and adjusted over time as democratically desired in the democratic society.

Variations of Socioeconomic Democracy

First, observe that if a particular participant in this democratic socioeconomic system were opposed to a societally guaranteed minimum income for all, for any reason, that participant could vote to place the lower limit on UGI at zero. If a majority of participants so voted, it would be the democratically determined desire of that society to have no UGI. Similarly, any participant who would be opposed to a maximum bound on allowable personal wealth, for any reason whatsoever, could and should vote to place that upper limit at, say, infinity. If a majority of participants so voted, it would be the democratically determined desire of that society to have no upper bound on net personal wealth.

Four basically different possibilities are therefore immediate. There could be democratically desired and established societies wherein there exist nontrivial bounds on both UGI and MAW (ie, UGI not equal to zero and MAW not equal to infinity) or where either one of the bounds is nontrivial while the other one is, or where there are no bounds on either fundamental socioeconomic parameter -- just as currently exists, though in this case at least societal approval of the extreme disparity would have been consciously, thoughtfully and democratically given.

Beyond these four fundamental variations is the wide range of possible variations in the magnitudes and the degree of "tightness" of the UGI and MAW bounds. Different societies may all want to institute some form of Socioeconomic Democracy but differ in the amount they democratically decide is appropriate for them at that time and under their current circumstances.

Approximations to Socioeconomic Democracy

Then there are all the practical political approximations to Socioeconomic Democracy. For example, there are the numerous alternative systems for guaranteeing some minimum amount of general or restricted purchasing power or guaranteeing some minimum amount of goods and services that would more or less approximate the ideal theoretical concept of UGI. One particular long-established principle of any civilized society is universal public education, at least for a certain age range. Universally guaranteed public education is a very real form of universal partial Basic Income, with the service in lieu of income being the governmentally funded and provided public education for people of certain ages. Universal guaranteed medical care, likewise available in almost all self-proclaimed civilized societies, is another approximation to UGI. Instead of unqualified UGI, various approximations could (and actually do) stipulate satisfaction of particular qualifications or requirements. Thus all so-called means tested and/or targeted welfare programs are approximations to UGI. So are all so-called obligation- or service-requiring programs.

Seemingly the closest thing to a limit on personal wealth is a tax on personal wealth. Depending upon the parameter settings (eg, the tax rate on wealth and the level above which a wealth tax applies), both of which could be decided democratically, the effect of such a tax could slowly approximate what a MAW limit, set democratically, could accomplish much more rapidly. Another familiar form of an approximation to a tax on personal wealth (which in itself is an approximation to a limit on personal wealth) is the Inheritance tax or Estate tax or, as some would have it, "Death tax." Of course, here also the particular parameter settings for such systems could and perhaps should, in a democratic society, be set democratically.

Approximations to democracy, as approximations to anything else, can be fairly close or fairly distant. An approximation to all members of society democratically setting the UGI and MAW limits would be having only those citizens at least 18 years of age, say, vote to decide the magnitudes of the two bounds. Another kind of approximation to the democratic ideal is the situation characterized by different political parties and candidates advocating different amounts for the two bounds, depending upon their particular understanding of (or desire to change) the general will of the society. If democratic procedures were followed to determine ascendancy to political power, it would seem the winning political party might, in some sense at least, be said to have spoken (approximately) for the democratic society as a whole. Certainly a democratic legislative body could use the democratic procedure and establish UGI and MAW levels that could be said to be a close approximation to the democratic desire of the whole society.

Socioeconomic Democracy and Islam

Perhaps the most familiar aspect of Islamic economics is "no interest" loans -- a suggestion in fact insisted upon by prophets of all the monotheistic religions. Basically, with Islamic loans, the investor shares both the risk and the reward of the use of the loan, with negotiations about the terms of the loan agreement.

However, it is not "no interest loans" but Zakat (essentially a moral tax on wealth to help all -- both the giver and the receiver -- to live thankful and productive lives) that is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The original detailed schedules of types and amounts of wealth to be taxed and the specific eight different categories of appropriate uses of the tax resources provide charming reading. With Ijtihad (systematic reasoning, one of the elements of Islamic economics, which is sometimes honored and sometimes ignored, not unlike everywhere else), Zakat could be but mostly hasn't (yet) been modernized (to truly reflect modern categories and situations).

The prophet Muhammad conceived (or was given) the rather reasonable and commonsensical idea of allowing (through taxes) those of society with the most wealth to financially and otherwise help those of society presently in need so as to produce a peaceful and balanced society wherein everyone has the opportunity to grow strong, thankful, cooperative and happy and able to contribute to their humanity and its further balanced development. Zakat can be viewed as a religious requirement to "promote the General Welfare," to use a secular phrase made popular by the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, written over a millennium later.

If the Qur'an specified a tax on wealth, as opposed to a limit on wealth as with Socioeconomic Democracy, perhaps it was that even Muhammad himself (or God Herself?) could not at the time conceive of, let alone predict, way back then, that eventually there would be personal-profit-pursuing megamultiibillionaires and hungry people. In any case, it seems clear enough that Zakat is, if not identical with, certainly an approximation to the ideal theoretical model of Socioeconomic Democracy (or, perhaps, vice versa), with the appropriate parameters set through societal consultation, the need of which was frequently emphasized by Muhammad.

In this regard, Islamic economics can take pride in the fact that at its root, the prophet Muhammad knew which was the important variable to tax, ie, wealth, not income, a millennium prior to the creation of capitalism, communism and socialism and now three more centuries into their continuing confusions. Muhammad further appreciated the desirability of democracy, expressed in his frequent urging of thoughtful consultation with all those concerned about and affected by a matter before that matter was to be resolved.

Feasibility and implementation of Socioeconomic Democracy

The serious study and objective comparison of alternative future possibilities provide the opportunity to make a contribution toward desirable societal development. Complementing this opportunity is the necessity of establishing that the alternatives considered are in fact physically realizable and implementable. Suffice to say here that the major areas of voting procedures, administrative and legal technicalities, parametric economic analysis as well as political considerations of instituting some form of Socioeconomic Democracy have all been considered. Socioeconomic Democracy is quite feasible -- requiring only an informed, functioning democracy.

For example, consider the political aspects of implementing some form of Socioeconomic Democracy. Bounds on guaranteed personal income and allowable personal wealth, democratically set, can not be realized until at least a majority of the voting citizens in a contemporary politicoeconomic system learn about, understand and favor such a democratic wealth and income distribution boundary controller subsystem. Actually, of course, it can be anticipated that something more than a majority of the citizens of a society will have to favor a democratic resolution of the matter before a democratic resolution of the matter can be realized. This would be especially the case if a Constitutional Amendment is required.

It is difficult if not impossible to recall any historical economic system change of such magnitude that was subjected to such informed public scrutiny prior to peaceful, voluntary and democratic societal acceptance and adoption, as by definition must be the case with Socioeconomic Democracy. Such necessary public discussion of the matter would eventually democratically resolve not only whether some form of Socioeconomic Democracy should be established but as importantly would go a long way in shedding light on and determining where the bounds should be set under the prevailing circumstances.

In any case, coalitions of political parties, committed to passage of the necessary legislation, are one possible adoption procedure open in some societies. On the other hand, being an alternative to all existing economic systems, Socioeconomic Democracy provides a well-defined, humanistic, just and democratic focus about which a new or rejuvenated popular political party could (re)organize and (re)capture political power. Prior to the legal establishment of an actually democratic bound-setting procedure, these political parties could, as earlier mentioned, propose specific magnitudes for the bounds, which would reflect their understanding of the general will of that society. At least for the necessary transitional phase, this last scheme might be considered a quite reasonable approximation to the ideal theoretical model.

It should also be clear that the possibility of a just and democratic socioeconomic system, which would actually and maximally benefit all citizens of society, provides strong economic (and other) incentive for all rational, self-interested citizens to actively participate in the political process -- something currently considered not worth the time and trouble, in the minds of many and sometimes a majority, since, under present circumstances, the questions to be decided, democratically or otherwise, are not seen to be relevant to their lives.

Ramifications and Benefits of Socioeconomic Democracy

As described in the book Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System, it can be shown that numerous serious and acknowledged (not to mention some of the many presently unacknowledged) societal problems would be reduced or more or less eliminated with Socioeconomic Democracy -- simultaneously. These problems include (but are by no means limited to) automation, computerization and robotization; budget deficits and national debts; bureaucracy; maltreatment of children; crime and punishment; development; ecology, environment and pollution; education; the elderly; feminine majority; inflation; international conflict; intranational conflict; involuntary employment; involuntary unemployment; labor strife and strikes; sick medical and health care; military metamorphosis; natural disasters; planned obsolescence; political participation; poverty; racism; sexism; untamed technology; and the general welfare.

One example must suffice. Consider international conflict, that is to say, war, a perennially popular and productive form of planetary depletion and pollution. The enhancement of societal well being made possible with Socioeconomic Democracy (ie, the synergetic effect of simultaneously reducing a wide variety of current society's other stupid problems), ipso facto provides an effective and positive deterrent to international warfare, here assumed undesirable and to be eliminated. The simultaneous resolution of a large number of serious societal problems eliminates at once many causes of -- and perhaps more important, many excuses for -- war.

Beyond this, many other specific beneficial effects can be anticipated. For example, those participants in the democratic socioeconomic system who are personally at or near the societally, ie, democratically, set upper bound on allowable personal wealth would no longer have personal economic incentive to promote war or military intimidation, whether involving their own country or other nations, for private profit as is frequently the case now. They could no longer gain personal wealth by such action and could well lose it, especially if their society democratically decided to further reduce the allowable personal wealth bound to help finance involvement in the hostilities.

Democratically set, governmentally guaranteed personal income for everyone also provides many direct deterrents to warfare. Among other strong effects, it would eliminate any economically "handicapped" class, which, of course, has historically provided warring nations with a convenient pool of combatants. Such guaranteed income also solves the very real and almost always neglected problem of necessary income for all those who presently derive their personal income and personal wealth from warfare, its design, threat, preparation, or promotion, either directly or indirectly, here in the USA or anywhere/everywhere else.

Yet if some war is absolutely "necessary," both democratically set MAW and UGI bounds, and the economic incentives they create, would go a long way to insure that all military personnel are provided adequate care (financial, medical, psychological, educational and otherwise) to meet the requirements for salvaging a deservedly respected, dignified and healthy life, both during and after military service -- as opposed to frequent present-day neglect and lack of necessary attention to veterans' needs by the hypocrites who's actions and inactions helped create all the dead and wounded veterans.

Socioeconomic Democracy and Resolution of BIG's Major Dilemmas

We conclude by briefly mentioning and noting how a number of the major contemporary dilemmas impeding the realization of some form of universal guaranteed income can be and indeed are democratically resolved with Socioeconomic Democracy.

How much? It has been observed that there are at least as many different opinionated answers to the question of how much BI is best/possible/desirable/necessary/affordable/ justifiable/whatever as there are different reasons justifying some form of universally guaranteed personal income (the latter being a very large number, we all agree). The basic question of "How much?" nevertheless appears not to have been seriously, or at least sufficiently, considered from the perspective of a democratic society. Socioeconomic Democracy addresses and answers the question democratically.

That "How much?" is really more than just one question is clear from the observation that what is a reasonable level of BI depends upon, among other things, its source(s) of finance and any other economic incentives in place working for or against the need for some form of BI.

Who decides? Never before in the history of humanity has it been simultaneously physically possible and near trivial for all impacted participants of a society to democratically decide such fundamental questions as that society's minimum acceptable material poverty level and that society's maximum allowable personal wealth level. Socioeconomic Democracy facilitates the realization of this potential by peaceful, thoughtful, productive and legal means.

Where should necessary funds come from? It is observed that, of all the "classes" of society -- democratic or otherwise -- including, say, the presently desperately poor, the presently unemployed poor, the presently underemployed poor, the presently working poor, the presently shrinking "lower," "middle" and "upper" middle classes, the presently wealthy, the presently rich, the presently super rich and the presently ultra rich, the class that would be "hurt" the least by providing some of any necessary funds to finance a BIG is clearly the class of the ultra rich. On the basis of compassion alone, the policy has merit and should be welcomed by all "compassionate conservatives."

Furthermore, and far more important, consider the societally beneficial economic incentive created by Socioeconomic Democracy, and the many societal problems significantly and simultaneously reduced as a result of that economic incentive. All this also argues for the "compassionate" solution.

How soon can all this start to happen? Whatever else, it can be agreed that the wider public discussion and acceptance of the ideas of a universal BIG, resulting from the understanding that the stubborn dilemmas heretofore impeding the realization of some meaningful form of basic income can be made to evaporate democratically, will unquestionably hasten the day of realization.


Robley E. George is the founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies, a research and educational institution dedicated to the examination and explanation of the properties and possibilities of democratic societies and democratic socioeconomic systems. His latest book is Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System published by Praeger/Greenwood in 2002.

Center for the Study of Democratic Societies

Box 475
Manhattan Beach, CA
90266, USA

See also:

American Monetary Institute
The independent study of monetary history, theory and reform

PrintPrintable Version


Wolf Wilbert from Canada comments (by email):

To place this kind of philosophy into the society, there must be some kind of education for "motivation" and other important social skills to make this work. Otherwise we end up with new generations of lifetime vacationers ............ Wolf

My reply:

I don't think we'll end up with too many vacationers.

First of all, we anyway have too little work to go around, and year by year it is getting worse and worse.

then - the minimum would really be that - a minimum - meaning that you'd have to work if you want to get anything extra. So the incentive to work is still there. Only you won't have a lot of deadbeats at work who only do a job to get that buck and to hell with the quality!

Wolf Wilbert replies to my comment (by email):

I can see your point Sepp.
Just imagine if this would be a solution for the whole planet:

1) Basics are provided for everybody
2) More effort if one wants more
3) Not enough to do for everybody anyway (robots and intelligent machines do the work)
4) Fooling around, is for killing time (western world will increase birth rates again)
5) China, India, Africa, South America will double their birth rates ..... woowee!
6) World population is already 6.5 Billion
7) Where is the brake?
8) Ahhhhhhhh! Control by the World Government, right? One more needle will not make a difference.

Sorry for being sarcastic .............

To which I reply:

Hi Wolf,

I see your preoccupation, but don't share it.

you say

4) Fooling around, is for killing time (western world will increase birth rates again)
5) China, India, Africa, South America will double their birth rates ..... woowee!
6) World population is already 6.5 Billion
7) Where is the brake?

I think we have a different view of what makes birth rates go up or down.

For one, I don't believe that obbligation to work has anything to do with how high or low is your birth rate. Economic well being does - in the sense that when a family has its survival assured (as in the developed countried) then they do not make lots of children. That is what lowers our birth rate, and perhaps TV (distraction) has something to do with that as well. So the less preoccupation with the future (survival assured) and the more distraction, the lower is the birth rate. In that sense, the availability of a universal income guarantee would have exactly the opposite effect from what you envision.

The brake is right in the general improvement of the economic condition of everyone.

Control by world government? No, I don't think we need that, and I am not advocating it.

Having too much compassion is just as dangerous as having no compassion at all. I admire Mr. George for wanting to establish economic justice through democracy, but his proposal lacks analytical vision. It is a formula for social chaos and destruction. The formula seems to assume that money will save the world if we take it from those who have too much and give it to those who have too little. Money is not wealth in itself as Mr. George seems to presume, but a simple token, coupon or IOU which we issue to those who work as a credit or proof that work was performed. It is proof that the worker contributed to the sum total of goods and services produced collectively by all workers. This simple token enables the worker to retrieve from the marketplace his fair share of the goods and services, or real wealth, produced by all. If you guarantee every individual in society a basic income without requiring them to work to contribute goods and services to the marketplace, you will have too much money demanding supplies that don't exist. This is a formula for hyperinflation. Mr. George is like many of the learned economists who do not seem to understand the true role of money and credit as a lubricant for work and trade. In order to produce goods and services to provide for the needs of society, you must have innovative, visionary leaders to do the thinking and directing combined with a greater number of those who lack vision to do the labor. The leaders will always have more wealth than the followers, but that does not mean the followers will have to live in poverty. If you give the followers a guaranteed income, they will work less or not at all. Mr. George does not understand the human psyche if he thinks anyone will work and do those dirty jobs just for the sake of improving society. As a good person, he might be so motivated, but the human race as a whole is not so motivated. If you limit the income of the visionary leaders, the entrepreneurs, they too will quit working and close down their shops once they have reached the legal limit of their income. What good is money if there is nothing to buy? You can't eat the money or wear it or use it for shelter. It is just a token. If Mr. George wants to bring economic justice to the world, he can do so by eliminating the usury, taxation, inflation and recession which robs the worker of the fruit of his labor. These economic aberrations come about because money and credit are issued dishonestly by private individuals instead of public agencies. That is the reason for so much poverty. You can't improve the lot of the wage earner by bringing down the wage payer. The culprit is not the entrepreneur, but the private banker, a parasite who produces nothing of value. The banker creates money and credit out of thin air and lends it to governments and individuals who must pay it back with sweat and blood. This is the root cause of human suffering. If money is to become the servant of humanity rather than the master, we must have a peaceful revolution which does away with the concept of private banking as conceived by Satan.
Dugan King

I do not understand Dugan King’s position.

The system overpays and underpays partly because of banks, as Dugan says, but also because of myriad other legal thefts in the system. Like the capital gains legal theft that Henry George points out (buy land, value of land increases due to infrastructure increase (everybody builds city around land), landowner scores millions or billions for others' contributions). And like payment for scarcity, which is not payment for work, which is payment for no work. And like the monopoly of land which Tawney and other economists point out, which strips off everyone’s birthright to a place to put their feet. These, and all the other legal thefts, are payments for no work, ie overpay, ie injustice.

Dugan is saying that if you don’t overpay the overpaid, the overpaid will stop working, and if you don’t underpay the underpaid, the underpaid will stop working. Which is clearly self-contradictory.

The present system believes in getting 99% to work by underpay and 1% to work by overpay. The absurd logical conclusion of this view is that the most work will be done by paying one person everything.

I guess Dugan just can’t get his head quite free from thinking the status quo is right. He is not alone. Humans cannot seem to get their heads to think their way back to justice.

What’s in people’s heads is what’s driving everything that is going on. The rich are not the enemy or the problem. The enemy and the problem is an idea: the bad idea to allow unlimited personal fortunes. It’s a bad idea because it’s inherently unjust, while justice is a virtue essential to happiness. Equal justice for all is the whole POINT of the Golden Rule. The maximum sacrifice of personal time and energy that can be made in order to contribute to the pool of wealth is FINITE. Yet, we allow infinite withdrawal, thereby getting farther and further from reality and justice. And safety and happiness. And survival.

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” means the 1% get paid more and more per unit of work while the 99% get paid less and less per unit of work. The legal thefts are constantly shifting money from earners to nonearners. Transaction itself contains the primary legal theft, since the two things in each and every exchange cannot be of equal value, ie cannot represent equal amounts of contribution to society through work. Over trillions of transactions that fact on its own must lead to an ever-stretching bell curve of overpay and underpay.

To which we add the coercive power of money to make money, plus the greed tendency to maximize the inequality of value of the two things exchanged. In most transactions people are trying to pull outlays and returns as far apart as possible: the merchant buys cheap and sells dear. The customer has no way of knowing the exact value of the item, ie no way of knowing the actual workcost of making and offering the item for sale, ie no way of knowing how much he is overpaying. Therefore every transaction contains a unilateral transfer of value in return for nothing - on top of a fair exchange. It’s hard to beg a dollar, but easy to get $11 for something for which the *total* costs (including fairpay for the merchants) are only $10. Not that I’m going to argue for dropping the profit system – that is not necessary or desirable.

The currently overpaid will continue to work with fairpay because if they don’t work they won’t get fairpay. The currently underpaid will continue to work with fairpay because if they don’t work they won’t get fairpay. The correct motivation for work is fairpay. Neither underpay nor overpay is necessary to get people to work - just as in nature: bear no fishee bear no eatee; and bird no catchee worm bird no eatee worm. The insertion of money in between work and eat doesn’t change the fundamental situation.

Note that the few people who are currently fairpaid continue to work. Therefore fairpay does not cause unworkingness.

F Scott Fitzgerald - We have used gold for motivation for so long we have forgotten there is any other way. Our society is so far from nature we have forgotten the underpinning natural sense in the system.

Broadly speaking, everyone is working, more or less equally, or in other words, working unequally within a small range. No one can work more than twice as hard as the average person who works more than 50 hours a week. Half the world's workers, housewives, work 70-90+ hours a week. No one can work more than about 100 hours a week long-term. Meanwhile, pay ranges extremely widely: from a million times to 1000th of world average hourly pay, from US$1billion a fortnight to $1 a fortnight around the world average of US$1000.

Another argument of the subrational majority of people is that work is unequal, therefore unequal pay is just. The error here is that this justifies only one out of an infinite number of possible inequalities of pay. If one works twice as hard, justice pays him twice as much - not any unequal amount from 1000th as much as average to a million times as much as average.

Most people will get hot under the collar if you suggest equality, because they think equality is unfair and/or would take away motivation to work. Some people take pride in working hard and they reasonably want to be paid more. They suspect or presume others are working less, and they don’t want those others paid the same as themselves. Fair enough, reasonable enough, although one could still argue against it further. But the inequality of work does not prove that inequality of pay should be uncontrolled; it argues only that inequality of pay should be proportional to work, which is very different from what we have.

I don’t think anyone will argue that the most overpaid is working a billions times harder than the most underpaid, who is presumably working his/her ass off to stay alive and save his/her family. And yet, many are the voices more indignant if some slacker’s child gets a free sandwich, than they are over billions of doles to the richest sandwich eaters, the Welfare Kings.

One ought to be able to say just the one fact that pay per fortnight ranges from $1 to $1,000,000,000 and immediately everyone understands that that is extremely dangerous destructive wasteful miserymaking violencemaking chaosmaking warmaking slaverymaking ignorancemaking. That that is putting a brake hard on human progress. And that that is destroying 99+% of human birthright natural happiness. And that it is in everyone's interests to have some mechanism for preventing or countering the ever-escalation of overpay and underpay, of violence, crime and war, of slavery and tyranny, of genocide nazis fascists hiroshimas dresdens stalins ceausescus idi amins pol pots alexanders napoleans biafras beiruts and nuclear winter.

But, no. The power of custom and convention, the faith in the herdthink, the power of denial, of head in the sand, of immaturity, of pleasure-principle over reality-principle, the enormous energy relative to average human mental energy needed to put the brain into gear and think realistically, means no-think.

Not even the fact that we have gone in 50 years from being able only to firestorm Dresden and 87 Japanese cities, which are just flyspots on the globe, to being able to globally block out sunlight forever and kill everything with a 60th of the bombs we have, not even this fact stirs even 1% of human minds to consciousness, alarm, correct prioritization and practicality.

The steady escalation of injustice and war and weaponry for thousands of years has not alarmed most people. Most people are not thinking about these things. Most people are quite confident that nothing is wrong, that the only purpose of life right now is steady as she goes working, watching tv, playing sports, amusing ourselves however we can, catching laughs. Moreover, they will quickly turn vicious if you made a concerted attempt to make them face reality. Like trying to tear a lion away from its food.

In the human race, there just isn’t 100th of the intelligence needed to pursue happiness successfully. Justice is happiness. We have extreme extreme injustice. Therefore we can be extremely extremely happier. Investment in justice pays the greatest dividend. But you cannot get this into people's heads. At all. Not a tiny bit. Not a tiny teeny itsy bit.

The human cortex has made us technological and nuclear giants, and ethical cretins. You just have to look at the facts that we have pay from a billion to $1for a fortnight's work and that virtually no one is worried about this and that indeed many are vigorously defending this, to see that there just is not 100th of the intelligence needed to attain natural ordinary birthright happiness such as the noncortical animals have the sense to attain.

We were infinitely safer when defenseless against the tiger than we are now, defenseless against the atom bomb. We had more ideas to defend ourselves against the tiger than we are having ideas to defend ourselves against the bomb. The human being is apparently in a state of deep numbness in the face of the pickle we are in.

The solution is so easy: counter the ceaseless automatic drift of money from earners to nonearners by shoveling money from the 1% overpaid back to the 99% underpaid who did 99% of the work that produced the goods that the money is token of.

But people see economic justice as injustice, even though 99% of people would be better paid with justice, ie, pay proportional to work.

Even though it is obvious that the defense costs for the higher paid per hour are proportional to the ratio between the higher paid and lower paid. The greater the overpay, the more people are more underpaid. And thus, the more that the overpaid are under attack.

Even though it is simple enough that fairpay, which is US$75,000 per anum per family, paying housewives and tertiary students, too, satisfies all major, and 99+% of minor, desires and that therefore overpay must experience rapidly diminishing returns in pleasure per dollar added. Twice as much as fairpay will add less than 10% extra pleasure and double the danger. Four times as much as fairpay will add another 1% to pleasure and quadruple the danger, and so on.

So the proportionally growing downside of overpay will very quickly greatly exceed the rapidly diminishing upside of overpay.

Thousands of years of history demonstrating this commonsense law has not impressed itself on human intelligence. Thousands of years of people falling from the heights of overpay has made no impression on the human mind.

What we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. We have already a 90+% concentration of wealthpower that is auto-increasing at an ever-escalating pace, ie, we already have wealthpower tyranny, yet we speak of Democracy as if it exists. Tyranny is Anarchy. We have Tyranny Anarchy and we are congratulating ourselves on our Democracy. But Democracy stopped when vigilance stopped. Which was about when Jefferson died.

It would be impressive to see a list of all the overpaid who have fallen by assassination, by defeat in battle with other kings, by betrayal, even by family. The list of overpaid fallen even for just one year would be very long indeed. The number of 1930s Chicago gang members who bathed the dust with buckets of their own blood. The bigger the treasure, the bigger the fighting over it. Danger is proportional to overpay. People should teach this in schools.

The American dream of freedom from tyranny was founded on prevention of concentration of fortunes, and what did people do? People who had just escaped from the extreme pains of tyranny did nothing to prevent limitless concentration of money power in their new land.

You can’t even investigate human thinking on limitless overpay as good, because people will not talk about their thinking on it. In fact it is probably not thinking, it is purely atavistic, therefore not verbalisable.

The lion’s inarticulate but very powerful attachment to its food has been transferred from lion’s kill to unlimited overpay. And even the underpaid support overpay.

No one will say that a person who receives a birthday gift deserves to get gifts for having received the birthday gift. Everyone will call that idea absurd. Get gifts because you got a gift?

But defend overpay with that exact same absurdity, and people will class it as some kind of wisdom for the lesser-gifted to be overpaying those who won greater gifts of intellect or talent, etc, in the birth lottery. People argue emotively for overpays on a truly obnoxious number of faulty, illogical premises.

The American pride in their land was based on its freedom from tyranny, and yet they erected that tyranny with all speed, ignored the advice of their founders, and don’t even know they ignore the good advice of their founders.

People love money because it is power, and yet they can’t see that extreme inequality of money is tyranny and slavery.

Who can see the vice that everyone has? A vice is an unhappiness maker. Everyone believes in unlimited wealth. Money is good. Money is as good as the goods it buys. But people can’t see that more money overpay can be bad, can be cause of 99+% of our troubles. Self-earned money is as good as other-earned money (overpay, theft) is bad.

All the money equals all the products of work. No work means no products, which means the money is worthless. Half the work means half the products, which means all the money is worth half as much as it would be worth; the unit of money buys half the amount of goods, of work products. Twice as much work means the unit of money buys twice the amount of goods.

People have lost sight of the basics. The money system is too complex and confusing for people to see it whole, to see it simply. People can’t see the economic forest for the economic trees. Economists try to change things by fiddling with the money factors, interest rates, etc, but this cannot make a difference. The only thing that makes a real overall difference is the amount of work.

The overpaid takes out more than he puts in, and the underpaid gets out less that he puts in; equals theft = anger = violence = unhappiness.

And the violence is escalative even when the injustice is not growing, because both sides will escalate the violence to try to win. And the injustice is always growing, is automatically escalative: money makes money. Which means the person didn’t make the money. Which means money steals money.

But you won’t be able to get people to admit this until they are free from thinking that greed is good, that unlimited fortune is good. Selfearned money is always good because it is making more goods and getting more goods. Otherearned money is always bad because it is getting more goods without self making more goods, therefore it is theft.

The highest real actual present pay, ie, increase of fortune, is US$1,000,000,000 for a fortnight's work, ie, someone puts a fortnight's work into the social pool of products of work, and takes out from the social pool of products of work one thousand US$1 million houses for a fortnight's work. And every economist is blind to this reality and every human is blind to this reality and there is no power on earth that can wake people up that much to see that insane reality.

For one thing, people will not attack their vanity. They will not defend their happiness against their vanity - they will always protect their vanity and sacrifice their happiness.

They will not say to their vanity, “Vanity, you and I must here part company. To be happy I must be real, and if being real means admitting that despite my supreme intelligence among the animals I have been cretinous on this particular matter of money, then I will pay the small price of admitting this particular cretinousness for so great a benefit as my happiness is.”

The source of greed is very deep. It goes deeper than just “I want more, I want everything.” It is sourced in the desire to *see* wealth. People equate seeing wealth with having wealth. They crave an image of wealth, failing to see that by putting wealth outside themselves in order to see it, they are removing it from themselves.

This is the deep, deep meaning of the golden idol story. The people gave up their jewelry in order to see an image of wealth. Real poverty and imaginary wealth was infinitely better to them than real wealth and imaginary poverty. The cortex has given the human animal the fatal, intense lust to see good, and thus they ceaselessly separate themselves from the good.

In the world today everywhere you see people idolizing wealth and feeling they are wealthy if they can see wealth, feeling that they would be poor if they could not see wealth, would be poor if people were prohibited from being limitlessly wealthy. People like learning about the rich. Magazines are glossy because of this rapacity to see glittering wealth. Indeed, the poorer people are in reality, the more they want to see wealth, although this happiness of seeing wealth is being poor in reality. People want to see shiny valuable things like flash cars or skyscrapers or temples. 1% get to keep 90% of world wealth. Every year humanity gives 1% of people US$70,000,000,000,000 - $70 trillion – ie, every family gives US$70,000 every year to others so that they can see wealth in heaps. People take pride in the building in Dubai and in that pride forget they own nothing of it, are crushed under the weight of it. Wealth is finite, so the greater the concentration of wealth to attain height and dazzling vision of wealth, the deeper the slums must sink and the wider underpay must spread. The energy to take back their earnings is considerably smaller than people’s urge to give their earnings to idolize, adore, and see wealth; to touch the stars by making stars out of other people.

They support the super overpaid, they love the super overpaid, hence their enormous enthusiasm for seeing the Queen in her glittering golden carriage or Diana on her wedding day or Donald Trump in his tower or Hearst on his yacht. The source of greed is not so much in the taking by greedy people as in the giving of wealth by the many idolaters. The superoverpaid are truly servants of the people's will: the will to see wealth. The little man's ego swells to what Donald Trump looks like, or what Versailles looks like, or what the Louvre looks like, or the Sydney opera house.

This atavistic feeling is also attached to ‘us against them’. My king is better than your king. Our rich people are considerably richer than your pathetically inferior rich people. My emperor is more splendid than your stupid secondrate emperor. Our golden idol is bigger than your golden idol. And likewise anxiety and inferiority and powerful resentment is felt when someone else’s superoverpaid is more glorious than theirs.

The source of greed is addiction to sensation, to the sensational; a bigger pyramid, a brighter Las Vegas, a more splendidly glittering court, a greater god, a bigger golden Buddha, more cars in the driveway. The invisible heart that knows peace and happiness and contentment is overlooked. The source of greed is the invisibility of the real.

The source of greed is people's inability to see, feel, experience the invisible. Those who still remember how to experience the real, the inner, the invisible, are detached from seeking idols/ images of wealth. They are content with the reality. They have the knack of connecting with the Real. They know the value of sunshine of children of laughter of ease of friends of food of family of rain of grass of water of soil of sufficiency of peace. They are the world's moderates, people of the middle way, the Tao.

50% of people live from incomes made from being paid less than a 100th of the world average pay per hour, ie, 3 billion people get less than $2 a day, US$750 a year. 90% get less than a 10th of the world average hourly pay of US$10 an hour, ie they get less than $1 an hour, less than US$7500 a year. 99% get less than the world average pay per hour, of US$75,000 a year. People who work at world average hardness should be getting world average income, namely US$75,000.

1% get up to a million times the average, ie up to US$10,000,000 an hour. Humans reward one person with peak pay of the equivalent value of 10 US$1million dollar houses for an hour's work - and some even passionately and heatedly defend this anarchy.

100 hours a week for 50 years is just 250,000 hours. This is the utter maximum, or more than the utter maximum, anyone can work in a lifetime. Divide 250,000 hours into a fortune and thus find the average hourly pay for that fortune, eg, a fortune of 50 billion averages US$200,000 an hour every working hour of a life. There is more than one hour's work in a US$200,000 house.

How crazy is this? Nearly infinitely nuts.

Out of 4 billion workers, there must be 1000 who work very close to equally hard with equal maturity, work ethic, energy, intelligence, etc, and yet these are paid all over the world range of pay.

People have the strongest unthinking aversion to justice. And therefore have failure in happiness.

An injustice factor of one billion means a violence factor of one billion, an escalation-of-violence factor of one billion, a misery factor of one billion, a madness factor of one billion, a disease, waste, destruction, torture and ignorance factor of one billion. People are very glad when a war ends, but they routinely don’t determine the cause of war. Although they all know that violence would multiply by a factor of at least 10 if a government took say 50% of aftertax income off 50% of workers and gave it to 1%, ie they know by simple commonsense the causal connection between pay-injustice and violence.

They know the unhappiness of underpay, and they can easily know the unhappiness of overpay with a minute's thought, yet they can’t find their way to pay justice and thus to happiness by throwing overpay into underpay and seeing every family working average hard having US$75,000 a year, thus making 10 times as many brainy people available to further knowledge. And if 90% of scientists are at present tied up in defense industries then it would mean 100 times as many scientists, knowledge going ahead at 100 times the pace!

But, no. People would rather see moneypower piled high in phallic towers, though they know that, like manure, in heaps it stinks.

Manure, power, and money: all three must be spread to do any good.

Human acquiescence to inequity is responsible for the deaths of 100 million per year; starvation and war take 1 in 50 humans every year. Inequity is extremely wicked. It causes misery, and misery is not isolatable, is infinitely contagious and mobile. No one with pretensions to goodness can take refuge in doing lesser good(s) than abolishing inequity. Saving the whales or being good at branch level equates to destroying the planet by default, by failing to strike at the root.

Dugan King seems to imply that Rob George has founded his vision on compassion, but that’s not the case. I have no doubt Rob George’s proposed SocioeconomicDemocracy would foster more compassion for others, but compassion for oneself is all the compassion it requires. Plans that rely on altruism or compassion for others in order to succeed are doomed to failure, for two reasons: because every human being contains both the noble and the base and even the best humans will experience failures of judgment and character sometimes, and because when dire straits become widespread enough, you can safely conclude that people will look out for number one first, as seen when people are made desperate in a food shortage.

That people will preserve themselves and their families first means all people will readily unite behind what best preserves their own happiness and safety, once they learn what that thing is.

It is outlawing overpay/underpay, and there are no second-best solutions.

Compassion for others is fine and dandy, but it cannot substitute for adhering to principles of justice. Woe to the society that relies on charity to do the work of social justice. Altruism is not necessary, not reliable, and therefore not recommended as a rational motivation for establishing/creating economic justice for all. In truth the most self-interested person in the world has every reason to align with and prioritize economic justice, and zero reasons not to. (If you don’t love life, this message is not for you.)

Being sanely self-interested, I care about having a happy planet for myself – and I recognize that the only way to get a happy planet for myself is by global sanity.

Those who agree, each one tell two. Do it to save your own bacon.

Now, where do I vote for those minimum recompenses and maximum limits on personal fortunes, Rob? LET ME AT THAT BALLOT!

This is a brief open letter to Xavier Onassis, though I certainly hope some of its contents will be of interest to all the readers of Sepp’s groundbreaking weblog concerning Sharing the Wealth. I am using this method of attempting to contact Dr. Onassis because I have no other way at present to establish communication with him. I respectfully invite his response to this message off-list, using our personal email address. Inasmuch as there is, evidently, some interest in our work, as well as in the comments of Dugan King, I intend to respond here to King’s comments shortly, and would be most happy to hear from others regarding this crucial subject, on or off Sepp’s weblog, as appropriate.

Dear Dr. Xavier Onassis,

I have just read your powerful response to Mr. Dugan King's confusion regarding our brief and admittedly imperfect and incomplete introduction to Socioeconomic Democracy appearing on Sepp's weblog. I wish to congratulate you on your combination of clear-sighted and in-depth analysis of Mr. King's contorted comments, while at the same time managing to interject, what appears to me to be, just the right amount of change-of-pace humor so necessary to not allow such correct analysis of this very serious subject to become bogged down with pedantic prattle. Would that the honorable, if now somewhat neglected, practice of political economics adopt your more inclusive and productive perspective.

I feel compelled to mention my observation that you did not once refer to, and certainly did not need, Karl Marx and his pioneering (at the time but now becoming increasing antiquated and certainly inadequate) analysis of the growing injustices and deadly consequences of contemporary capitalism. Frankly, the very limited reading I have done of Marx, and with which I fully agree, is/was his increasing contempt, in his maturing life, for so-called Marxists, most of whom couldn't seem to come up with an original idea of their own but simply seemed satisfied with quoting him, ad infinitum and ad nauseam, while society, if not progressing, at least changed. Perhaps Marx would have remained more relevant if he had paid more attention to Tom Paine. It would appear most Marxists still retain to this day the shortcomings the Mature Marx so perceptively pointed out and denounced. I mention this simply to make clear my personal perspective on this still-discussed matter.

On another note, I would like to extend our sincere invitation to you to consider establishing some form of working relationship with the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies. I must acknowledge that I was, heretofore, unfamiliar with you and your work. I do not know if you are the head of some private research facility, or affiliated with some university, or are an independent writer and thinker along the lines of R. Buckminster Fuller (whom I did correspond with on occasion and from whom I did receive some most gratifying comments about our work, decades ago before his untimely death in 1983). Any details of our proposed particular relationship can be explored and dealt with in private at a future time, though this offer, request and desire is hereby emphasized.


Robley E. George, Director
Center for the Study of Democratic Societies

Sepp’s generous reproduction of this writer’s somewhat lengthy original material is hereby acknowledged and much appreciated. Likewise, Dugan King’s attempt to gather together a coherent response thereto is also acknowledged.

Finally, it is perhaps unnecessary to more than mention that the description of our book and the relatively short article, slanted, as it was, for its original intended audience, namely, the USBIG Congress, where all participants are well aware of the many desirable aspects and advantages of the various forms of universal guaranteed personal income (but are currently struggling with questions such as how to finance a basic income and how much should it be and who should say how much it should be) couldn’t possibly fully explain the many virtues and desirable ramifications of Socioeconomic Democracy, forms of which will, it is respectfully submitted, eventually prove to be the politicosocioeconomic system of the 21st century.

In an attempt to utilize King’s rather tangled thicket of assumptions, misinterpretations, misrepresentations and occasional inconsistencies regarding his misunderstanding of both Socioeconomic Democracy and the seriousness of the many very real individual, societal and global problems it addresses and can completely eliminate or significantly reduce, this writer will respond at some length. This writer has also already acknowledged the powerful response to Mr. King’s comments by Dr. Xavier Onassis, who can evidently pen strings-of-words this writer can only fantasize about writing.

Of course, the thoughtful and critical reader will understand that, considering the above claim, a careful study of the totality of the book Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System is required and perhaps even desirable. Nevertheless, an honest reading of the material presented on the website of the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies (www.CenterSDS.com) should dispel much of the misunderstanding and provide an adequate springboard for further necessary research and productive thought on the subject and its promising potential.

First, a few general remarks. Needless to say, any serious discussion of any new theory designed to even partially explain observable phenomena, especially if that new theory is designed to replace older, inadequate and obvious dysfunctional theories (though SeD does indeed have an impressive genealogy of ancestral ideas dating back at least 2500 years), must pay careful attention to definition. Any graffiti-like attempt to discredit such a theory, paying little attention to, or defacing, the original words, meanings and structures, merits merely being lamented and painted over.

The definition of Socioeconomic Democracy perhaps needs to be repeated. With an apology to all those who “got it the first time:”

Socioeconomic Democracy is a theoretical model socioeconomic system wherein there exist both some form of Universally Guaranteed Personal Income and some form of Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth limit, with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of society.

King’s misinterpretations and/or misrepresentations include his correct observation that “money is not [necessarily] wealth” and his incorrect assertion that this writer (me!) identifies and interchangeably employs the two very different words with very different meanings. Again with apologies to those who read and understood it, the definition of SeD does not include the word “money” -- even once! Nor did the article’s discussion of SeD use the word -- even once, as I recall.

Now certainly, the easiest and most direct way to facilitate the ideal theoretical Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) is to have the democratic government provide the democratically determined amount of UGI to all in a money (cash, check, deposit, bla, bla, bla) form.

This assumes first that the democratic society has voted to establish a nonzero UGI, though that democratic society could just as well democratically vote to set the UGI at zero. All this is discussed even in the short article, and some (including Mr. King, no doubt Rush Limbaugh and a few others who perhaps oppose it) could/should vote to place UGI at zero when the issue comes up at election time. There are, in fact, a few legitimate reasons to set UGI at zero, for some societies, at some times, under some conditions, and with some perspectives and philosophies.

Further, and as also discussed in the article, various practical political approximations to the ideal theoretical UGI include (and in fact are already realized) guaranteed education, of varying quality and for varying age ranges. This, of course, is a two-dimensional approximation to the ideal theoretical UGI. Similarly, in almost all self-proclaimed civilized, developed societies, some form of universally guaranteed medical care, again of varying quality, is already available. These and many other possibilities exist as legitimate (and some even argue, highly desirable) approximations to the ideal, theoretical democratically set UGI.

Of course, some folks object to the use of democracy to help resolve serious societal problems, and for a variety of (mostly curious and inconsistent) reasons prefer instead to employ the process strictly in order to, say, determine which particular political politicians are to be elected to which particular political offices, legally or with questionable voting machines. Thence, the world, as we presently see and suffer it. The book lists, discusses and dispenses with many of these amusing objections to democracy.

But since those who, for any reason(s), object to the use of democracy, and more specifically, majority rule, to peacefully resolve societal questions, are frequently vociferous, if vacuous, about the matter, they must logically allow all others to express their opinions also, just as the undemocrats do. It’s either that (which implies acceptance of democracy), or the nondemocrats are advocating minority rule, which, it is reported, also has its shortcomings. Didn’t Sir Churchill say something about that? Suffice to say that Socioeconomic Democracy is a study of what can be accomplished in a democratic society, which, it is observed, is/was attempting to be exported by, among others, notables such as both George Bushes (H. W. and W.). It’s really fun to play around with these ideas; but we must proceed.

While he doesn’t use the particular term, King’s tangled thicket of desperate opposition to some form of UGI is enveloped by that foggy rhetoric of “free-ridership.” Of course, it all depends upon who is getting that free ride and for how long and in which comfortable or uncomfortable conveyance it is provided. Counterbalancing the “free-rider” concern is the concern of and for all those who now volunteer to do all the now necessary but totally unpaid tasks required for a viable humanity and a sustainable environment. Whole PhD theses await being written on just such miniscule matters.

Another, actually far more serious misstatement by Dugan King is his apparent identification of “wealth” with “income.” As he collects and scrambles in one of his confused and curious sentences, “If you limit the income of the visionary leaders, the entrepreneurs, they too will quit working and close down their shops once they have reached the legal limit of their income.”

Where to start?! Guess the best and quickest way is to suggest reading the book, or at least the article to which Mr. King was ostensibly responding, and in particular the subsection on Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (MAW), democratically set.

Now this particular confusion is, admittedly and unfortunately, not infrequently encountered. Believing that words have meanings, this writer has long grappled with trying to understand why there is so much confusion about such a seemingly simple, short string of words as the defining meaning of the acronym MAW. Evidently, most folks just do not have any conception or comprehension of what real, mega-enormous giga-wealth is all about and blithely assume that a “high income” and large amounts of “wealth” are synonymous.

To be sure, some few folks (luckily or unfortunately) “earn” (and we’ll let that term go relatively unexamined, for the moment) an “income” amounting to what many and now even a majority consider utterly impossible, even in their wildest dreams, even after winning the jackpot, to ever personally “earn,” no matter how long and hard they work.

While certainly not everyone, some other folks talk about obscene salaries and scurrilous stock options and utterly unjustified golden parachutes and dozens of other intricate high-finance, tax-law cons, while such “wealthy” people’s extremely entrepreneurial companies lose money, their stockholders being screwed, their “workers” (there’s that word!) are left with nothing after years or a lifetime of faithful, if naive, hard, dangerous, unfulfilling, body-crushing and/or deadly employment, and all the other innocent stakeholders of the planet are polluted, poisoned and robbed by the predictable, if unrecognized or unacknowledged, externalities of the profitable process. This, regardless of whether the particular company obeys the laws it paid the lobbyists to pay the politicians to enact, or circumvents the legally established minimum laws of the land, with legal experts.

During all these hyperventilating happenings, it is often said that such a person is “wealthy,” as opposed to more accurately saying he “earned” a large “income,” thus utterly confounding the legitimate difference between “income” and “wealth.”

But “wealth” ain’t “income,” and vice versa. With many acknowledged, but here-unmentioned, modifying aspects and definitely impacting circumstances, to be sure, “wealth” is the time-integral of “income.” Put another way, “income” is the time-derivative of “wealth.” Repeating, “wealth” ain’t “income,” and MAW says nothing about “income” but is the acronym for the proposed limit on personal “wealth,” with that limit on personal wealth set democratically in a democratic society.

Further, and most importantly, if one simply assumes the (to-be-sure, frequently violated) assumptions of classical neoliberalism (that’s economic theory, to those of you in Rio Linda), which, nevertheless, axiomatically and theoretically justify the monstrosity frequently referred to as contemporary entrepreneurial capitalism, it can be easily seen that the economic incentive created by Socioeconomic Democracy (and in particular, MAW, democratically set) does not cause the still-richest folks of the society to stop “working” but rather will cause a goodly and the good portion of them to set about seriously working to improve the “general welfare,” one of the six stated reasons for the writing of the US Constitution and the purpose of establishing the new country and the new experiment, according to those rabble-rousing, admirable, loveable and certainly imperfect revolutionaries such as Paine, Jefferson, Franklin and Adams, among others.

Presumably, by now, the terrifying horror conjured up by the term “hyperinflation” can evaporate, and its possibility can be seen to be completely dependent upon how the UGI (in whatever form and amount it takes) is “paid for.” If the “excess wealth,” trimmed off the unprecedented peaks of some folks’ personal un”earned” mountains of wealth, is diligently and perspicaciously employed to finance the UGI, inflation won’t budge a micron. Other ramifications are again eagerly awaiting analysis and PhD thesis philosophizing.

There are (at least) two basic, profoundly fundamental shortcomings of contemporary “economic theory.” One is the mode, means, whatever, of creating “money.” Mr. King correctly alludes to this problem, and further sensibly acknowledges the desirability of a “peaceful revolution,” though he also seemingly abandons the thirst for rationality by referring to “Satan.”

The other fundamental shortcoming of contemporary economic theory is it’s utter lack of a competent (not to mention, optimal) consideration of a wealth and inclusive-human-productivity-distribution process. Socioeconomic Democracy offers a democratic solution to this second problem, and, in the process, provides considerable effective economic incentive to satisfactorily resolve the first problem -- rationally.

Resolutely, if reluctantly, determined to end this delightful opportunity to discuss Socioeconomic Democracy, it must suffice to merely mention a few other topics begging to be examined, such as advertising, “analytical vision,” technology already developed sufficiently to supply all necessary human needs, leisure, arrogance, the confusion between “leaders” and ”followers,” inaccuracy, universal individual development, fair share, a satisfying life, a sustainable humanity, the harmful and ultimately unviable, though seemingly insatiable, consumer society, and the dozens of other very real and very serious societal problems SeD reduces or eliminates -- simultaneously.

And, oh yes; please don’t call me an economist. Them’s fightin’ words.

Talking about economic inequality, here is a recent article discussing the subject:

Economic Armageddon Is Coming
Consider the wisdom of economist John Maynard Keynes: The rich are tolerable only so long as their gains appear to bear some relation to roughly what they have contributed to society. Think of it as proportional and justified economic success. This can be tolerated by poor and middle class people if they believe the economic system is fair and properly rewards those who work harder or have better capabilities. But truly obscene economic rewards angers people. When most prosperity and wealth is unfairly channeled to relatively few Upper Class people, it is only a matter of time until fuming, resentful people in the Lower Class decide enough is enough and revolt.

Now I know what it is my intuited utopia is called. Socioeconomic Democracy. The concept is magnificent and quite practical. Also given the current human condition and the certain overwhelming resistance by the elite and their many mindless minions, even the chance of the idea being able to be passed on widely and accurately is non existent.

Dugan King is simplifying the whole thing too much and not really answering the idea at all. Nobody is saying remove the extra incentive of greater profit for greater input, only limiting the top end, so that disparities are not so high as millions or billions of times more reward for one over others.

Xavier Onassis, who is a friend of mine I am proud to say and who is a woman of wit and intelligence as you can see; presents an articulate and profoundly elegant summation of the holistic relationship between the massive economic inequities and the problems which have accumalated to plague the human race to this day.

I have no doubt that the best, maybe only chance to achieve this Utopian system, but then it would seem to be very doable indeed, would be on the corpse of the old. . AFTER a possible cataclysmic change, say war or natural disaster which hypothetically leaves the world population and society in ruins. A period of Anarchy which saw the power of the old elite lost or so diminished as to be ineffectual, would then give the only opportunity I can realistically imagine of ever implementing it.

In fact every survival kit might do well to include a summary of the doctrine of Socioeconomic Democracy in order to provide some useful guidance for survivors of any possible catasptrophes.

John Merryman sent along an essay on economics that is published on this site.

Humanity is rapidly approaching a crossroads, where we will begin cooperating on a scale that we never have before, or we will descend into a state of warring tribes like we have never seen before. Appeals to the conscience only work on those willing to listen, while it is the less altruistic who need to pay the most attention. If there is one thing that does get people's attention, it's the money.

. . .

Growth is bottom up, not top down, so capitalism is at its most vibrant when wealth is most evenly distributed. The problem with treating the economy like a game of Monopoly is that when one person controls everything, the game is over and you start again. In real life this stage is called revolution.

Read the whole thing here: Revolution Happens

- - -

p.s. In a subsequent email, John adds:

I would like to explain that the purpose of my observation about the nature of money isn't to provide an economic framework, but to inject the seed of an idea into the larger economic debate. It isn't about redistribution of wealth, but framing the debate so that some degree of economic equilibrium seems natural and not forced. Money as private property is about rights. Money as public utility is about rights and responsibilities in equal measure.

It's also the kind of idea that is basic and explainable enough that it might be able to penetrate the general consciousness.

Hello, everyone! Long time no updates at this page, but I have taken the liberty to invite people who have been discussing economic injustice, inequality, taxes, government, quality of life, etc, at this link...


...where the comments time is limited to three days and is now closed, to continue the discussion here. I had linked this page over there, and now hope the open minded from that conversation will appear here. This post would have been up sooner, but for the fact that (beside my own, erm, 'deliberate' pace) I was delayed by attending my city's local rally in support of justice for the Jena 6, so please forgive my tardiness as it was for good reason, I think you will agree.

A poster from over at the Guardian UK site, called Question That, did diligently and patiently wade through the posts above, gave me welcomed constructive criticism I will hopefully learn to employ fully, and then very kindly provided this thoughtful summary of Xavier's post (which I promised to respond to here):

1. Making money indirectly, i.e. without producing goods and services, e.g. through speculation or usury, is theft.

2. Fair pay (or 'fairpay') is payment based on the work required to produce a good or service (based on Marxist theory, i.e. that the value of a service or product is determined by the amount of labour required to produce it)

3. Pay inequality leads directly to violence, tyranny and war. The concentration of the majority of the world's wealth in the hands of a small number of people can be defined as tyranny, and means that we do not have democracy at present.

4. Average fairpay across the world, taking into account the work done by housewives, is $75,000 per family per year.

5a. People believe that there is a direct connection between merit and wealth, and that the desire to accumulate money is a virtue, and therefore defend 'overpay'.

5b. The more economic justice there is in the world, the happier people will be.

5c. People idolise the wealthy and take pride in the elite of their own societies.

6. Introducing social justice entails the introduction of the principles of socioeconomic democracy as described in the Robley E. George article that prompted the discussion. This would mean bringing in a universal guaranteed personal income ('outlawing underpay') and a maximum allowed level of personal wealth ('outlawing overpay').

I reply: Question That, your summary IS very good, and I repeat here and now how very much I appreciate it, but for one thing: please leave out Marx. Bringing in Marx implies a lot of other things to many people, some of them things I myself reject as inefficient, unnecessary, or undesirable. And anyway, the theory that wealth is produced by work is also Abraham Lincoln - and plain common sense. Other than that, you are broadly correct, and I don't find disagreement with your summary points as stated. I guess it's possible we might differ in our interpretations, but so far, so good!

On your first point, "making money indirectly"; to fully understand what I'm saying, it is vital – it is absolutely essential - to know the many ways that money legally moves from earners to nonearners in our economic systems. These legal thefts include capital gains, payment for scarcity, payment of people for what is actually nature's work and gifts, the costs-price differential, which is differential between work exchanged in transactions, private inheritance, lotteries, gifts, higher-than-average pay per hour without higher-than-average work per hour. Once we identify these pays, which are pays for things not-work, pays for no work, then we can know that there IS injustice, and know how MUCH injustice, and know that therefore we have a right, and indeed duty to redistribute, and how much to redistribute back to the earner-owners yes...to save our bacons from the ever-escalative violence now close to nuclear winter, generated by the pay injustice.

Getting the idea into people's heads that justice will benefit everyone – and I do mean everyone - is the "impossible mission", although it is relatively easy to prove rationally. In my experience, people are profoundly viscerally atavistically committed to pay injustice, to the game of "grab all you can" (thinking "whatever I get is mine, whether I have earned it or not") as the way to happiness, and this spontaneously produces rationalizations galore for their choices - choices that conflict with their own good sense, which they don't see. Economics is practically a list of rationalizations for overpay. People think pay justice is a cost, a burden, whereas it is in reality a giant reward. Pay injustice hurts everyone, overpaid and underpaid, enormously, and pay justice helps everyone enormously.

Who would ever have thought it would be so hard to convince 99% of people to take a big pay-rise?! (Yes, life is constantly startling – at least to me, LOL.)

First we have to clear away all the false reasons for higher-than-average pay. There is not reasoning, but rather only rationalization in support of overpay, and by overpay, I mean simply pay (both income and wealth) above rightful, just, fair pay: pay that is self-earned. We, our species and our planet, truly are lost if people don't listen to reason, don't recognise it, don't esteem it. The force of rationalization bends people away even from hearing the argument, I fear.

I said to first clear away false reasons, but even before that we have to show that overpay doesn't produce net happiness, but net suffering. Thus we must attack the visceral, kneejerk rationalizations at their formative root...but will people be open to an impartial examination of their dearest misconception? My experience has consistently been that if you say that more money is not always better, people will not wait for the supporting, illustrative, logical and carefully reasoned arguments. They will worry that if you argue that more money is not always better, that you are going to argue that money is not good. So, you have to say: Money is often very, very good, but more money is sometimes very terrible. Having self-earned money is always good, having other-earned money is always bad, for everybody. Other-earned? You mean stolen? Yes, stolen - but legally as well as illegally. And stolen legally not just by conquest, which is still legal, but also within the economic system.

We ought to be able to convince people that there is massive legal theft just by telling them that the ratio of highest to lowest personal pay per year's work done is one billion to one. Yes, globally, yearly pay ranges from US$30 billion to US$30. Or by mentioning the rich get richer and the poor get poorer means that the rich are getting more and more for a unit of work, causing the poor to get less and less per unit of work. Or by pointing to the truth of the sayings: Money makes money, and, The second million is easier to make than the first thousand, and, After the first million, money multiplies like rabbits. Or by giving the fact that greatest increase of fortune is around US$100 million per day...especially when you point out that US$100 million is a license granted to take out US$100 million worth of work-products, in return for one days work. (One wonders what will make an impression if not these points.)

We ought to be able to excite interest by pointing out that 99% of working people get less than the world-average pay per hour, and so 99% of people will get more with pay justice. But it appears that this has excited no one to interest. (Do 99% of people suffer from the vice that is the opposite of greed??) Or what about the fact that 50% of people even in first world countries have less than zero net assets? Or that a fortune of one billion sucks $50 million a year – forever - of people's work from the pool of products of work, in return for no work, and it does that even at a modest 5% interest? I suspect that people reject/refuse to get excited about pay injustice to themselves perhaps due to apathy, mental laziness, or fear of violence. So you point out to them that pay justice can be enormously increased in very gentle ways, without shocks to the economy, by first showing everyone that overpay-wealth brings as much misery as does poverty-underpay, showing them that therefore everyone can agree to have pay justice, showing them that everyone can be taught in just 31 times the time it takes to teach two people, just by word of mouth alone. And by showing them that, when everyone sees they agree, a simple law moving deceased estates over US$1 million equally into everyone's accounts will gently, over three generations, bring the extreme overpay back down into rightful pockets, and disable tyranny and un-democracy, warmongering and cannonfoddering of people. At present, with 50% of the world's people on less than US $1 a day, a person with a billion can hire a million soldiers for 1000 days at $1 a day (and are doing so), whereas with pay justice, one person will hardly be able to hire one soldier.

Two changes I propose:

1. A 1% increase per month in the global money supply, going equally, directly, freely, electronically to every living human being, children included, one account per person. The inflation effect will reduce overpays, the money effect will reduce underpays, and it does so without the cost of assessing fortunes. This method is not perfectly efficient in reducing overpay, but it is very easy and quick to reduce underpay.

2. Making inheritance public instead of private. This will make the overpay shower gently down on humanity over three generations. It takes no self-earnings from living persons, and it reverses the perpetual concentration of wealth and political power in fewer and fewer hands. It counters effectively the natural tendency of money to concentrate unjustly, violently.

We first have to tell people things that will open their ears to listen, to examine and test the arguments, remove their blind allegiance to accepted ideas, and remove their automatic unthinking dismissal of arguments that are compatible with their own good sense, but contrary to accepted ideas. We have to try to get them to see that there must be SOMEthing wrong with accepted ideas, when there is enormous danger and unnecessary suffering although everyone is working and we are producing plenty for all, we are producing an average US$75,000 of wealth work-products per family. (Now we are onto your summary point number 4, QT.) Annual income is (approximately) US$75 trillion, and there are one billion families (figuring 6 humans per family) in the world. There are sound reasons to believe the average may actually be considerably higher, like US$275,000 per year per family working average hard, but I use the lower figure until further confirmation of the higher figure. But the higher figure is based on world income in 1987, compounded with the real global inflation figures since 1987, so it may be true. Once the boat of human belief is untied from the wharf of good sense by denial, head-in-the-sand, pleasure principle [if it isn't pleasant, it doesn't exist], the boat drifts so far away that the truth is out of sight and beyond belief. Then, too, people are too busy (with all the problems and the overwork generated by the pay injustice). And people are not used to going to the root of the problems. And people have never had the vital distinction between self-earned and other-earned money. It is other-earned money that is the root of all evils. Self-earned money is the root of all good. These are the difficulties.

Fairpay, meaning pay but with payments for no-work removed, satisfies all but the tiniest desires. Fairpay satisfies all needs, all major desires and millions of smaller and smaller desires, so overpay can satisfy only very small, very marginal desires, like solid gold faucets and bigger diamonds for fingers. Pleasure-gain per dollar suffers rapidly diminishing returns, but it is hard for people below the average to imagine this. More money will still do much for those receiving below average pays, and that is all they know. (And they think that is all they want to know.) On the other hand, danger of overpay is proportional to size of overpay. So the downside of overpay quickly overtakes the upside. All empires have plundered, all empires have attracted attackers, from the plundered and the others, and all empires have fallen. All plutocracies have eventually fallen to the people, the underpaid. History is clear on this: the costs of defending overpay go on until the overpay is all gone. This is the lesson of history we haven't learned. It is simple common sense that overpay or higher-pay or any pay at all will always attract thieves, when everyone thinks that more money is always better, or, to say it another way, when everyone is aiming at most money possible, not aiming at getting out of the social pool of wealth as much as they put in by their own work (not nature's work giving people gifts and talents), no more and no less.

Obviously the social pool of work products is limited, not unlimited. The labour is limited, the number of workers is limited, and the hours of work are limited. Obviously everyone raiding this pool without limit produces injustice. Obviously this injustice grows as it becomes easier to make (the more accurate term is RAKE) money, the more you have. Obviously, since money is a 'joker' good, good for millions of things including all necessities, the theft of it produces great violence. Obviously, the violence is ever-growing even if injustice was not growing, as both sides throw ever bigger weaponry to prevail. Obviously war and weaponry have grown for 1000s of years. Obviously pay injustice has grown for 1000s of years, because we have stratospheric pay injustice now, and because in nature it is very difficult to steal a lot when goods are distributed widely, and are consumed quickly.

In my experience, people don't want to admit the simple good-sense arguments for pay justice, because they are convinced that justice will mean less for them, whereas pay justice will actually mean 1 to a 1000 times more fairpay for 99%, and will mean survival and 100-fold happiness for 100% of people. Obviously you can make a community miserable by taking almost everything off everyone and giving it to one. The one will suffer enormously from attack. Obviously if a government commits the extreme injustice of taking 90% of income off 90% and giving it to 1%, violence and misery will increase '100-fold'. So everyone can easily see that happiness will increase '100-fold' if the government stops doing this. And we have worse pay injustice than this fabricated example, in reality. Everyone can see that if you have two children with two lunches and one steals the other's lunch, the one who steals will have less, having merely one more lunch than he can use, and a constant attacker who will prevent him even eating his own lunch in peace, and no friend or play or trust, forever. Everyone can see that if you have 100 children and 1000 sweets and all-grab-all, everyone will tear each other to pieces, everyone will be forever embroiled in escalating un-peace and unnecessary labour in grabbing and in trying to prevent others grabbing, when each could have ten sweets easily, and have ease.

I believe that only when people see the true misery of having overpay/over-fortune – of having the rightful earnings of others in your pocketbook – will they know enough to decide to stop clawing their way toward misery.

So why doesn't the light go on? Why hasn't the light gone on in 1000s of years? We need talented people who can bring this message home, by every media means. We have a pay injustice, misery, danger, violence, nonsurvival factor of one billion. And we have also therefore a potential increase of happiness and survival-chance factor of one billion. We have to reach 4 billion adults. And we have 4 billion adults to reach them, with all their talents, resources and energy.

As for your summary point 6, QT, Robley George has become a great and true friend of mine since these posts above first went up, and within his book "Socioeconomic Democracy" you will find more truly visionary thinking, flaws of current economic systems exposed, and the best round-up of reads about economic justice that I've ever seen. He has done (and is doing) diligent work of great value to humans who really would like to have a future. Rob and I may ultimately differ (we haven't hammered that out yet) on just exactly how much injustice is allowable if the wealth chasm is not to ever-escalate automatically, and his book resists advocating, preferring to 'merely' (hah!) present the case, and we find different reasoning that supports a basic income guarantee, but we are in perfect agreement that limits are needed top and bottom, and the way to set them is democratically, though I seem to always be saying "Remember, we can get it perfectly democratic, and still be getting it very wrong!", which fact he knows. Rob George and I have both said that if the people get to vote and they democratically choose no limits, then we will both shut up and go birdwatching - though we would leave surprised and disheartened by humanity's choice.

The choices are these: limited pay for limited work, with 100fold happiness and survival, or unlimited pay for limited work, with misery and violence escalating to extinction soonish. Make no mistake, everyone chooses whether they think about it or not. If they choose not to think, they choose the latter, and choosing the latter is a mega-crime against humanity, is the cause of a zillion unnecessary extreme sufferings, is eating your self to death. Call this a rant - but is it really a rant, or is it really a heap of very simple, very unfamiliar good sense in compact, rapid-fire form, the lesson of history that has been beating on humanity's door for millennia? This post is a summary of 40 years study and thought, of quest for help for humanity, of searching myself and books for the root answers.

To wind this up: If you love yourself well, you will immediately wish not to injure humanity, which is your environment. If you love yourself well, you will pursue your happiness-maximisation with maximal energy and enthusiasm.

In the giant haystack of words in the world, there is a needle of what is best for your increase of happiness. The best words repay deep pondering. Good sense takes time and care to bloom. There is no soundbite for sense.

If you see any rationality and sense and logic here, and you want more, at slower pace, there is more at globalhappiness.com and at nigel.orcon.net.nz. Those sites belong to my friend and teacher, Nigel Best, with whom I collaborate, including on this post as it turns out.

Real Thanks for reading this, Everybody, and especial thanks to poster Question That, and to Sepp H., our host.

From Xavier Onassis (aka savvymom, for those coming over from the Guardian UK thread)

All questions, all further discussion, and all ruthlessly honest, helpful criticisms, are most gratefully welcomed! I am entirely firm in my conviction that there exists no issue or subject of higher priority and with greater magnitude of consequence, than economic injustice/inequity. It is imperative that dialogue about it must bloom, grow, and fruit.

Hello again Xavier (I really like the user-name by the way - a good amount of thought must have gone into it!) I have been working through your latest post this evening.

I confess that I am somewhat sceptical at this stage. I certainly agree with you about the problems with the way the world economy currently 'works', many of which you have explored here and in your first post. When it comes to how to change it, you may be a little more optimistic than I am prepared to entertain being.

The following are my foremost thoughts on what I have read this evening. I hope that you will be up for addressing these concerns and not write me off as "one of them" or similar like some of the socialists I have debated/argued with did!

1. The most important of the concerns I have with these proposals is to do with the way you wish to implement the universal personal income.
Basically, I don't understand what you are proposing here. I could interpret your post as indicating that you wish every family across the world to be paid $75,000 per annum, regardless of how much or what type of work is performed. Your first 'proposal for change' in the latest post increases my confusion by referring to "[increasing] the global money supply".
I don't think I have to be an economist to state fairly confidently that this would be disastrous due to resultant severe imbalance between supply and demand. Is this what you meant?
I could also interpret the aside "...not nature's work giving people gifts and talents" as meaning that you believe that all types of work should earn equal pay. Is this what you meant?

2. You say a few times using different wordings that people are "committed to pay injustice". I dispute this.
I think there are at least three factors you have failed to take into account (or at the very least you have neglected to indicate that you have done). The first of these is love of freedom (factor A), the second of these is fear of turmoil/upheaval (factor B) and the third of these is the feeling of powerlessness (factor C).
These are not discrete, of course. A & B occur to me when you talk about all of the "legal thefts" in the paragraph that begins "On your first point...". Are you suggesting that all of the things you list should be prohibited?
In general, when I hear of a new political initiative, I think to myself: "Who is going to gain from this?", "Who is going to have the power?", "What opportunities for corruption will this present?" etc. I am not saying that Socioeconomic Democracy would be worse than the system we have now (I very much doubt it!) or alternative proposals such as Marxism, just that people might reasonably have these concerns. B also because people are aware of the political oppression that has followed revolutions elsewhere, C because most people are conditioned to accept as normal and legitimate the party political system in their respective countries, are not aware of the oligarchic aspects of their 'democracy' (the mainstream media plays a huge part in this) and fringe movements, at least in Western countries, tend to stay just that.

3. Some of what you say suggests that for your proposals to succeed, they would have to be adopted across the world. In particular, your averaging of $75 trillion across one billion families to come up with your $75,000 per year figure. Also, I am inclined to believe that the introduction of (effectively) 100% inheritance tax (is this what you mean when you say "mak[e] inheritance public instead of private" in your second proposal?) would have to be worldwide to succeed, otherwise the very rich would exploit the opportunities provided by those states in which it was not implemented to pass wealth on to their descendants.

4. A question rather than a comment (I think the commentary on what you have posted is implied): How do you think entrepreneurship would differ between present-day Western society, and a society governed as you propose?

Finally, could you give me some more information about the sociology/psychology aspects of your first post that I attempted to summarise in 5a, b and c. I thought this was particularly interesting (and might in addition to my suggestions in 2., above, go some way to explaining why people are refractory to the social change you advocate)?

I hope you don't feel that this post has been singularly critical of your work! What I have picked out are the aspects of it that most trouble me. You can consider that those parts of the post I haven't mentioned it are things that I at least broadly agree with.


P.S If this post contains mis-sense it's because I wrote it in my local with beer.

Wow, QT, you're bowling me over!

Really. Your sincere, dispassionate, intelligent and rational response is exactly what's needed for success in drilling down to the dinkum oil of this thing, and it's music to my ears. (Where HAVE you been hiding out, eh?!) Don't feel your questions are critical at all! They are *such* an advance on the usual frustrating no-way-of-replying-to-them responses.

We can clear up your questions in no time, QT. Or rather, just as soon as I can post again. I apologize for this, but I'm compelled to divert focus for today (only today, hopefully) to a local city-council development matter (an imminent big and costly mistake), but please, check back here in another day or two?

And hey, your being sceptical is entirely wise at this stage. Obviously, there are many points to something like this, that have to be articulated and dealt with satisfactorily, before people can come to the point of feeling they agree. A big difficulty of presenting a new idea in unfolding discussions like this one is the danger of people taking only some of the new stuff and attempting to fit it in with conventional, accepted notions they already have, and it clashes and they come up with a false idea. I feel I have to remind that this plan or idea of mine doesn't clash with rational thinking, and I do worry people will run away with a wrong impression if I don't remind them of all the parts of it, and that makes it difficult to know what should and shouldn't be repeated or re-iterated. I'm working on that still, QT, and looking at it with your initial, valuable, constructive criticism of my writing firm in mind.

Maybe I should say outright not to mix these ideas with old ideas but to start reading with a blank slate, or something. Anyway, I promise not to leave you with an oil-and-water mix of ideas by the time we have hashed through a few more questions, QT.

I'd shout you to another beer if I could, while I ask you to wait. Thanks very much, and see you soon!

QT, you have my very sincere apologies. I keep running into unavoidable damn delays and I'm growing evermore concerned that I'm inconveniencing you if you're checking back in here, waiting for clarification/answers to your questions. To avoid this truly unintentional rudeness (and since there appear to be no other parties reading), would you be interested in conducting the rest of this present conversation through email (or Skype, if you have it?)?

If that possible alternative would be helpful to you, I will gladly post my email addy and/or Skype name here, and you can then contact me directly. That way, you would be saved any annoyance having to keep checking for communications that aren't up yet...and I could stop fretting over how I may be wasting even small parts of your valuable time.

Let me know what works best for you, please?

Whether or not you elect for private communications about our econ situation, Question That, I never intended to let your questions remain unanswered on this page, so here's what I have so far in reply:

First of all, I now see that I made it easy for readers to confound or conflate my own plan with Rob George's Socioeconomic Democracy. (Sorry, Rob, QT, and Everyone - my bad.) Please note that the plan I propose is not the same thing as SeD. There are actually some quite fundamental differences, but both plans correctly prioritize economic inequity and appreciate that it is the root cause of global needless suffering, so addressing those differences is far less pressing than answering your questions, QT.

You asked, about my list of legal thefts, "Are you suggesting that all of the things you list should be prohibited?"

No, I'm not. My plan does not propose interfering with any of the thefts in human economic systems at present, except by preventing these thefts from accumulating endlessly. In brief, it does this by either 1. Distributing a 1% increase of money supply per month equally to every human, or 2. Distributing deceased estates over US$1 million equally among every human, or 3. Both. (Or, by any other system/method that has greater advantages in low bureaucracy, low social upheaval factor, etc, than these.)

You can say my plan corrects for all injustices in our economic systems, but does so indirectly. Why the indirect route/method? Because, for one thing, attempting to prohibit each legal theft would be futile. It would be futile partly because the primary, omnipresent legal theft is found in the very nature of transaction itself and occurs with or without human agency (an important point that may need further clarification, perhaps?), and partly because there exist hundreds more legal thefts than I listed, and partly because more/new legal thefts will endlessly be hatched to game the system until the reason and capability to do so is eliminated. Also, QT, legal theft is not the entire picture, and my indirect method is the only efficient corrective mechanism that counters for ALL economic systems' errors/flaws/injustices.

About the inflation effect of a 1% increase of money supply: A 1% per month inflation will make a 1% imbalance, which will adjust, as the underpaid spend more, generating more supply. It is gentle enough to avoid any economic social shocks as it is only (approximately) US$100 a month per person. The method works because the inflation effect reduces overfortunes MORE than the equal share increases them, while it reduces underfortunes LESS than the equal share increases them. The weakness in this is that the overpaid can inflation-proof their fortunes to some extent, especially if the idea is implemented nationally not globally. This approach is easy and quick to set up, it immediately relieves underpay stress and pressures and violence at the bottom. It is the lowest possible, most indirect interference with the overpaid. A regular inflation is very much less inconvenient than an irregular one. What I call "disastrous" is the fact that governments and banks are ALREADY increasing the money supply - only at present they are giving the money increase to the banks to suck more money off people through loans. Inflation devalues everyone's money. It is a sneaky tax, forcing people to borrow, and in effect making them pay interest to buy back their own money.

Does that better explain what I meant about increasing the global money supply, QT, and answer to your concerns about it?

About public inheritance: Yes, "making inheritance public instead of private" equivocates to (almost) a 100% inheritance tax. We are preventing inequality of fortunes from growing to infinity by "shovelling overfortunes into underfortunes". We know money automatically, unjustly concentrates endlessly, so any sensible species will introduce a counter to that. The simplest way is having every human being have one account (which governments will be happy to open since it means money coming into the country) into which the estates of deceased persons over US$1 million are distributed equally, electronically, directly, immediately, automatically. Private heirs can share the first US$1 million (if we choose not to completely eradicate free gratis money). Parents would have trusteeship of children's accounts till some suitable age, say 10. (This will give parents good reason to teach economic sense before the date children take over responsibility for their own funds!) This method is low-impact, yet totally effective. It doesn't even take away overfortunes from living persons, yet it will move humanity from extreme injustice and violence to near perfect pay justice and non-violence in just three generations - the time it takes for all the overfortunes to die.

QT, you also said, about the US$75,000, "I could interpret your post as indicating that you wish every family across the world to be paid $75,000 per annum, regardless of how much or what type of work is performed." And you asked: "I could also interpret the aside "not nature's work giving people gifts and talents" as meaning that you believe that all types of work should earn equal pay. Is this what you meant?"

What I mean is this: if everyone was already being paid justly, that is, for their own work only and not for scarcity, mother nature's gifts, other people's work, etc, etc, then every family in the world working world-average hard would already be getting US$75,000 per annum.

(Very possibly US$275,000, but like I said I await further confirmation of these figures. This higher figure is based on world income in 1987, from Sprout and Weaver, Kyklos, v45, 1992, pp238-256 plus the real global inflation figures since 1987.)

No one is working billions of times harder than the least-paid working person, so obviously we have pay – lots of it – being given to billionaires for no work/no sacrifice (on top of the pay they ARE self-earning if they are working). But this plan is not about therefore making a change to "cutting everyone or every family an equal paycheck for their work". Remember, this plan corrects for all injustices in our economic systems, but does so indirectly. It does not propose interfering with any of the many wide-open thefts in human economic systems at present, except by preventing these thefts from accumulating endlessly. As I say, we don't interfere, except that we clip wealth at the top, thus effectively limiting the endless unjust concentration, which is endless tyranny, trouble, and tension, racing to extinction rather soonish if we don't get real, and coolminded, and allgrownup. The wave of money is rising up into dangerous crests; we are getting smart enough to clip off the crests and dump them into the troughs so we can all sail out into our economic lives on a calm financial sea. The crests are just as sickening and dangerous as the troughs. No, we are not cutting equal paychecks, not prohibiting each legal theft, not getting rid of the profit motive or private property, not pursuing new isms or ologies or centrally planned economies, not seeking to change human nature, not wasting precious time with futile piecemeal solutions. The reason we have to delineate what is justice and what is not, is in order to clarify WHY we would introduce such changes. We have to show the injustices, expose them as injustices, so that people will see the connection between injustice and escalating violence and misery, so they will be motivated out of sane self-interest to make the simple changes I do propose.

You are correct that I mean to say unequivocally that pay is justly equal regardless what TYPE of work is performed (we are going to pay tertiary students for successfully studying things that society wants studied, and pay "housewives", too, don't forget), but this plan is fundamentally based (with only a couple of perfectly rational exceptions) on paying only for an individual's sacrifice made to working, so sacrificing more hours to do MORE work would justly and certainly earn and get more pay.

This plan is returning earnings, not giving income without working.

I know I'm skipping around through your post, QT, but you also asked (paraphrasing) how I think entrepreneurship would fare if we deconstruct overfortunes. Entrepreneurship will increase enormously. The only real trouble with capitalism is that so few have a chance to practise it. The argument that motivation will decrease is easily shown to be false: it's caused by looking at the 1% upend and not the 100% downend. You don't increase motivation by giving all the motivation to 1%. You don't increase capital by giving it all to 1%. The proper motivation is that if you do work, you get paid for it – you get pay justice, not superoverpay and superunderpay. 10 times as many people will be able to become entrepreneurs, scientists, innovators, inventors. Progress will be far more than 10 times as fast. 80% of medical research finds are wasted on finding generics to get around patents, so medical research will go ahead far more than 50 times faster. Enormous savings on war materiel and rebuilding and hospital and legal costs will be had. (The giant battle of overpay and underpay is fought in the courts too.) Egalitarian Scandinavia has 2% defence costs (despite being close to Russia); the extreme rich-poor Middle East has 50% defence costs. Palestinians have a 20th of income per unit of work of Israelis. The defence costs for both sides go on and on and on forever, throwing rockets at each other. (It would be far cheaper to give the Palestinians fairpay.)

QT, you also said, about "the way the world economy currently 'works' ", that "When it comes to how to change it, you may be a little more optimistic than I am prepared to entertain being."

Clear me up here: Are we talking doubtfulness about the merit or efficacy of my specific plan? Or, do you mean doubtfulness about whether such change could even happen...doubtful people will ever understand in enough numbers to make the change? (or maybe you mean both?)

I think it's a good idea to remind ourselves that our economic systems have actually come down to us "cobbled together" as much or more by default as by design...that economics is more art than science...be that, perhaps, a relatively minor observation. But still, if we wind up having built a machine, whether by default, design, or both; a machine that works well at first but over time builds up too much pressure and so breaks down increasingly in operation, we add a governor, a pressure-release valve, to correct for the original unplanned, unseen flaw. Assuming the release-valve, the corrective mechanism, can be added and will solve the problem created by the original flaw without adding another flaw, it's obviously cheaper and easier than going clear back to the drawing board, so makes utter good sense. My plan is like that. It is the workable fix, and the only fully effective no-downside fix I know of, for the problem of automatic over-concentration of wealth, money, and power.

Lastly for now, I really-really like your username, too, Question That. It exhibits a perfectly sane and vitally important attitude...and I hope you are contagious, Sugar! As my kids' Italian grand-nanny is always saying, "What's the matter with people?!! People are walking around unCONscious today!!"

Be well, QT...and no matter how slowly this conversation about the mega-importance of economic justice may move along, I hope you will continue to ask and say anything at all you want to. I'll be back with at least one more post in answer to what I haven't got round to yet from your last.

Xavier O

Don't worry, you're not inconveniencing me at all - I spend plenty of time pottering around on the net reading 'blogs and sociopolitical discussions, and this is a particularly interesting one (and a welcome break from Gordon Brown vs David Cameron talk).

I would prefer to keep the discussion here rather than move to email or Skype, so that it may be possible for others to join the conversation and so that people can view its proceedings in the future.

I have had a good read through your above post, and look forward to the followup.


Xavier, are you still around? I have started a blog now as 'Question That', as I indicated my intention to do in the beginning.

I am interested in inviting you as a guest blogger there based on our interaction so far. (E-mail me if you would like to take me up on the offer)

Wow! The power of the pen! I typed my name into google today to see what would come up. I see where the post I wrote back in April caused a bit of a stir. I hope I didn't offend anyone. Didn't intend to. I am neither a democrat/communist or a republican/fascist,but I do like the idea of Social/Economic Justice. I was apparently misconstrued. I was proposing that we level the economic playing field and bring social justice to the world by eliminating the private banker. I still don't agree with giving credit to people who don't work to earn it. If you give credits away without redemption through labor, you are diluting the value of those credits. The more you give away, the more you dilute the value. It's simple arithmetic. It doesn't take a lot of words to explain it. Xavier Onassis or whoever could have saved some of that energy. Their very first sentence would have sufficed for me to understand that my proposal went beyond their comprehension. And I apologize for that. I apparently did not make myself perfectly clear. If you eliminate the private banker and return that power to some form of Public Credit Bureau, you will be eliminating all of the wealthy elite who earn billions of dollars without putting in a legitimate effort to justify their earnings. Take them out of the picture for good. Private Bankers are creating public credits simply by making notations in their ledgers. That is the entire effort on their part. They receive the benefit of principal and interest on that credit when they are paid back through the blood, sweat and tears of the borrower, who has to labor for decades to satisfy that mortgage or other indebtedness. By the time the banker is paid back the principal and interest with money redeemed in labor at lets say 10% interest over 30 years, the poor borrower has paid for 3 houses. He gets to keep one, the banker gets the other 2. This is the root of the injustice. Taxation, usury, inflation, recession are unnecessary evils which can be simply eliminated by eliminating the privelege of the private banker as the originating source of credit. If the credits were issued instead by a non-profit, public agency, like a state,county or city credit bureau, as it was done in Benjamin Franklin's time, we could eliminate the bugs in our system. Imagine a world without taxes, usury, inflation or recession. If the county needs to build a bridge, they put a workforce together and pay them with credits as the work is done. If a private person needs a loan for a business, home, car or tuition, he borrows credits from the Public Agency and pays back only the principal, no interest. The worker gets the full fruit of his labor with no taxes to pay whatsoever. There is a lot more to this honest monetary system, but I don't have time to explain it all. I will have to write back. And I will put it down in as few words as possible. Dugan King

Leave a comment


Receive updates

Email updates for new articles

Enter your Email