My 300 Editorial Columns:
On Philosophy, Economics, Language, Law, and Governance
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
To mark my 300th editorial for The Progress Report, I will weave together the strands of my social philosophy, political theory, and economic analysis to present my vision of actual and ideal reality. Even if we cannot achieve the ideal, it is useful in pointing out the best focus and direction for change.
The foundation for social thought is ethics. There exists for all humanity an ethic independent of cultural and personal views. The universal ethic provides the basis for proper governance and gives meaning to liberty and natural rights. The universal ethic has three rules: 1) acts are good if they are welcomed benefits; 2) acts are evil if they coercively harm others; 3) all other acts are neutral. These ethical rules are best implemented as constitutional rules for governance.
The universal ethic is best implemented when government is by individual consent, and people live in voluntary communities, their rules set by contracts. Governance best promotes liberty if it is decentralized, with all voting in small groups. Tiny voting districts of some 1000 persons elect councils, and then groups of councils elect ever higher levels of governance.
Since by the u.e., only acts that coercively harm are evil, acts having no victims should not be crimes. Being offended is not the same as being harmed; to be harmed, there needs to be an invasion into your domain. So there should be no prohibition, for adults, of nudity, gambling, drugs, prostitution, and sexuality.
There should be no confiscation of the property, by asset forfeiture, of persons who have not been convicted of a crime. Juries should be informed that they may judge laws as well as facts.
I don't think limited liability is an unjust privilege of corporations; some partnerships have it too, and bond owners have it, so it is nothing special. The corporate boards, like general partners, should have unlimited liability, since they run the shows. Corporations should have more honest accounting, including the disclosure of all costs, such as the expensing of options.
The moral equality that is a premise of the universal ethic makes us all properly self-owners. It is therefore a violation of our natural rights to forcibly take away our labor and wages. Taxes on wages and capital income also decrease output and waste resources. There should thus be no tax on wages or capital.
Public revenues should come from user fees, charges for pollution and congestion, and land rent. Tapping the site rental or land value not only provides public revenue without hampering enterprise and labor, but also improves the economy. Civic goods get capitalized into higher land values, so landowners pay back value received instead of getting a subsidy. Collecting the rent for public revenue also prevents the excessive speculative holding of land. Such land hoarding pushes enterprise to less productive frontiers of land use, raising rent and lowering wages. Public revenue from site rentals maximizes wages and optimizes economic growth.
Equality among the sex-genders is enhanced if our language is made more comprehensive and egalitarian. We could use gender-neutral pronouns. I have proposed zhe for he or she, zher for his or her, and zhim for him and her (zh as in garaGe and aZure). Global communication would be enhanced with a common global second language; Esperanto is the most widely used constructed international language and is easy to learn and apply.
Central bankers such as with the U.S. Federal Reserve are unable to manage the money supply well, because the optimal money supply is unknowable. We should freeze the supply of US dollars and let banks or anyone issue private money. Then the money supply and interest rates would be set by supply and demand rather than central bankers.
The U.S. should generally not intervene in the affairs of foreign countries. The Cold War is over, so get US troops out of Korea, Japan, and Europe. Stop the crazy anti-drug campaigns in Latin America, and get the US out of Colombia. Now that the US is in Iraq, it should install bottom-up democracy, public revenue from rent, and free-market banking, then get out.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be settled with a confederation of states, Israel and Palestine, permitting the orderly return of Palestinians, payment of rent to the confederation for the possession of land, and maximum protection from terror. Kashmir too can be settled with joint sovereignty and paying rent for land.
That represents the kernels of my ideas, which I have been presenting in these editorial columns. I am pleased to have been able to share my thinking with you, and I have gotten many excellent responses. Please continue to let me know when I hit the chords right, or when, like my few lame attempts at comedy, I may have hit a flat.
So long as the causes of social problems are not being confronted, I fear greater violence and economic distress. However, human beings have been good at survival, so I think in the long run we will by necessity adapt to better policies rather than be assimilated by evil forces. I look forward to our continuing dialog!
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2003 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
Email this article Sign up for free Progress Report updates via email
It is terribly difficult to do 300 of just about anything. To write 300 consecutive weekly editorials of high quality is a truly magnificent achievement. Now what are your views? Share your opinion with The Progress Report:
Page One Page Two Archive Discussion Room Letters What's Geoism?