Fred Foldvary on How to Govern Kosovo
|January 18, 2002||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
How to Govern Kosovo
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
Now that a peace agreement between NATO and the government of Yugoslavia is imminent, there is an opportunity to put in a structure of governance conducive to social harmony. The main principle of harmonious governance is individual consent. Government is not to be imposed top down, but chosen bottom up, subject to the morality of universal natural law.
The Kosovo population had a majority of Muslim ethnic Albanians and a substantial minority of Orthodox Christian Serbs. The Serbs don’t want to live under Muslim Albanian rule. If the ethnic Albanians deserve autonomy, why not also the Serbs and other minorities?
Kosovo was made up of many small villages and a few larger towns. Harmonious social governance should decentralize power to the village and, within towns and cities, to small local neighborhoods. If the Serbs want to, they should be able to form separate village and town governments. Some Albanian Kosovars too may not wish to affiliate with the majority, but form a separate minority village government. For example, if the majority wishes to implement strict religious law, but a minority desires otherwise, they should be able to have their own separate government.
Each neighborhood would elect a council to handle local internal security and services. Then groups of about 30 councils would elect representatives to a higher-level government to handle regional affairs as well as to resolve disputes among the neighborhood councils. The second-level councils in turn would group and form third-level councils, and these would elect representatives to a fourth-level government for all of Kosovo. This creates a cellular government structure, each unit being a small group that knows and monitors its representatives.
By voting only for village-level councils, the Kosovars would have a genuine people’s democracy where they vote for representatives they know personally, and who are in tune with their values and culture. The Kosovars would be spared mass political campaigns that involves corruption, deception, and possible violence.
It will take tremendous resources to rebuild Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, but this could be done rather quickly if the right policies are in place. San Francisco, for example, was devastated by the earthquake and fire of 1906, yet it quickly rebuilt and became a thriving city again. The main obstacle to rapid recovery is government interference that punishes folks if they try to build homes and restore their farms and businesses.
To rebuild quickly, Kosovo should avoid taxing or restricting any peaceful and honest activity. The governments of Kosovo, at all levels, should obtain their revenue from land rent. As the economy recovers, the rent will rise and provide ever more revenue, reducing the need for foreign aid. Collecting the rent for public revenue will also prevent conflicts over the most valuable real estate, including the mineral areas of Kosovo.
If the land rent is not used for public revenue, then not only will the government resort to punitive taxation, making recovery long and painful, but the gains from rebuilding will flow to a few landowners rather than to all the people.
An opportunity is therefore at hand to rebuild Kosovo on a foundation of justice and economic recovery. Peacekeepers should be present everywhere to prevent violence. Households should be able to choose their own neighborhood governance. And public finance should be based on rent to avoid penalizing reconstruction.
Of course we know that cellular governance and rent-based public finance will not be implemented in Kosovo. The NATO occupiers will impose the dysfunctional systems of mass democracy, the welfare state, and punitive taxation. Why won’t they use the methods that promote prosperity and harmony? Because if these work wonders in Kosovo, the folks in the USA and Europe will ask why they can’t have these systems too. And that will threaten the elites and the special interests who control the Western governments.
Therefore we can expect a long, costly, and conflict-laden recovery for Yugoslavia and Kosovo. Part of the blame rests with the people in America and Europe, who in their ignorance, don’t know the keys to social harmony and prosperity. Greed feasts on ignorance and apathy. It is up to that small portion of the people who care and are not apathetic to overcome their ignorance so that the public can be aroused and demand to put in place the tools that will create lasting social peace and prosperity.
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Copyright 1999 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.