Friday, June 04, 2004
What is Christian Libertarianism (Geocities rescue)
These essays are a product of years of study and thought about the problems of this world and some possible solutions. They are a presentation of my personal philosophy and the nexus of four key beliefs systems that I feel are stronger in combination. They are Christianity, Cooperativism, Libertarianism and Internationalism.
The essays on Christianity reflect my own faith journey. They come from a Christian perspective because that is what I know. This does not mean I exclude fellow liberals from other religious or moral traditions, including and especially Judaism, which is the source for all of the teachings of Jesus. I relate my Christianity as a social ideology based in the teachings of Christ that all can join in, whether Christian or not. I am going to attempt to claim the ground that the Christian Right seeks to claim for itself. I refuse to let them have a monopoly on God.
For me, the core difference between the religious right and the religious left is how God is defined. The religious right, including many in my own Catholic faith, hold fast to the idea of an angry God who demands perfection in every detail. In doing so, they justify themselves as the righteous voices of an angry God. Those who oppose their view of God are outside the bounds of faith and damned to eternal Hell. Religious conservatives look at man as basically evil and fallen, doomed to hell without the church, which stands between man and an angry God. To reach heaven in this church, the anger of God must be satisfied. This has led to a self-important church focused too much on the things of this world, such as monetary success and political power.
The Right’s view of God as angry is a reflection of their own anger at those they disapprove of, but this anger has little to do with God. However, as long as we allow the religious right to define God in terms of their anger, that anger dominates public policy. It also leaves many that are otherwise saved by a gentler theology in the wilderness of unbelief. In essence, the harshness of the conservatives is counter-productive because it keeps people away from God. Many do not see a God of anger as a God of Love, which leaves them outside the comfort of God's mercy which the church provides in the here and now. The horrific vision of an angry God leads many to go so far as to deny the very existence of God. Let us redefine God as a lover of mankind, who rescues us from the self-imposed exile of suffering. Seeing God in this way allows a renewal in the relationship between God and people, justifying our call to constitute a polity of service to others and of human freedom.
I address some interesting questions that may help non-Christians understand Christianity from a different perspective. The Jesus I present is a humanist, rather than an absolutist, and His sacrifice is put in terms that the average seeker can understand, rather than as a grand mystery. My Christianity is infused with a healthy dose of humanism, which leaves room for liberty that the group dynamics of dogma do not allow. It is also infused with the Cooperativism of the early church, which was abandoned when it became the state church of the Roman Empire. Such an infusion defeats the atheism of Marx and Lenin and allows Christianity to reclaim the high ground in the battle for workers rights.
The Cooperativism presented here is a free market alternative to state Socialism. It strives for the same type of worker equality that Socialism strives for, but attempts to surmount the allocation problem inherent in state control. The goal of Cooperativism is the equality of workers at the corporate level, rather than the political level. It is also described as Inter-Independence, working in an interdependent manner so that each worker is financially and environmentally independent. My Cooperativism is also internationalist, so as to avoid nationalism and protectionism, which so often taint the struggle for workers’ rights. Previously, this topic was called corporate socialism. I have since learned that this term is in use by Ralph Nader to describe corporate welfare. This is not that. I use Cooperativism to describe the free association of workers for their common independence in a way similar to the way Silas Allen, my great-grandfather, used the term when he helped start the cooperative movement.
My Libertarianism is richer than that which is practiced by those on the right. It is more than a reaction to governmental power; it is an affirmation of individual rights in all organizational settings, from the church to the office to the condominium association. If right wing Libertarianism were to ever succeed, big government would surely be replaced as an oppressor by big business. I will not replace a tyranny where I at least have a vote with one to which I must bear allegiance or starve. I will not give up on liberty in the workplace and on the rights of workers as individuals to economic justice. My Libertarianism is also tempered with Internationalism. I stand for the rights of people everywhere, not just those within our borders. The isolationism which Libertarians propose reminds me far too much of the isolation of the 1930s, which allowed tyranny to hatch on a global scale, leading to world war. Finally, my Libertarianism is tempered by my Christianity. While I believe in freedom, I do not believe in moral license or the freedom to ignore the suffering of others. Freedom and liberty serve the cause of human dignity; they are not an end to themselves.
My Internationalism is in the service of people, not national or economic interests. Current international bodies are collections of sovereigns. I believe Internationalism is more than that. I stand for the exporting of the values of liberty, tolerance and human dignity to all nations who would relate with us, and for the election of a sovereign legislature by all people who share these views. Such an Internationalism guarantees the rights of workers and stamps out slavery with overwhelming force where ever it again rears its ugly head, whether in sweatshops or in forced prostitution. Such an international government is a limited government, whose main focus is to protect the liberties of its citizens from tyrannical local government (even when democratically elected) and exploitive employers and lenders.
This should be an interesting journey. I hope you enjoy it.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Christian Libertarian Summary (Geocities Rescue)
Proof of God
We first examine the proofs of the existence of God that I find most convincing. The surest proof of God is on a personal level, the experience of grace. While this cannot be offered as evidence to another, if enough individuals share such a common experience it is best not to ignore it. Of course, all proofs come down to a personal choice as to whether the universe can exist on its own or is created, moment-to-moment, by a God who sustains existence itself.
The Nature of Soul and Spirit
If one depends on science alone, it is reasonable to conclude that man has no soul. Such a conclusion takes some of the joy out of life, at least for me. Luckily, even without religion, a soul is inferred using reason, as thinking is a spiritual act. The soul is both spiritual and physical, the Id, the Will and the Intellect (which bridges the two). Human freedom only exists because there is evil in the world, where the true presence of God is hidden from us.
How Christians Understand God
God is the perfect being. One can think about the Trinity as the Father being Perfection, the Son being the Knowledge of that Perfection made manifest, and the Spirit being the Love of the Knowledge and the Perfection made manifest. The Trinity is necessary to understand salvation in Christ. Jesus knew himself as Messiah first through his mother Mary and the virgin birth and then through the scriptures.
The Death of Jesus and its Meaning for Us
Jesus’ knowledge of himself points to the nature of salvation as a way for God to feel the abandonment that the sinner feels through his passion on the Cross, when he called out in despair to God. Jesus drank the vinegar on the cross before he died, which he promised he would only do in his Father’s kingdom. If the kingdom had to wait for the resurrection then Jesus lied, which would make the Gospel a farce.
Understanding salvation leads to a new structure for morality. Morality, like the Sabbath, is for man, not for God. What is moral is dictated by what is best for man, in whatever circumstances man faces. Absolutes exist only in the mind of God and are not knowable by man in this life.
Rebuilding the Body of Christ
To better serve the faithful, the Church must change the focus of its moral teaching. Salvation from sin is only the first step to holiness. After you are born again, you take up the Lord’s work of service. When the Church reorients toward service and moves away from Moralism it does this. End Priestly celibacy, which has its roots in disdain for the sexual act within marriage. For the sake of Christian unity, abandon clerical wealth and power to an elected lay deaconate, which in turn elects its own leaders. Clergy can then stick to teaching and ministry. Elect Patriarchs for the English and Spanish worlds, with the English patriarch uniting the Catholic and Anglican churches.
The Limits of State Power
God given free will replaces the divine right of kings. The General Will is only knowable in unanimity, which makes the protection of minorities and individual liberty essential. Attempts to regulate the behavior of the minority by majority vote lead to tyranny and should be resisted.
Education, Welfare and Religion
To effectively educate children, first make sure the parents are literate. All adults have a basic human right to literacy and to full financial support while they attain it. Tie public assistance to the pursuit of education, with social services available only through the schools. A system of Catholic adult education and vocational high schools can best provide these services. Vouchers are not the answer to school reform. The secret to reform is to organize the public school system the way that private schools are organized, with autonomous Principals reporting to school boards for each institution. Most functions are to be decentralized. Once this reform is enacted, private religious charter schools are funded through an increase in income taxes. School prayer in charter schools will be less of an issue, as will teaching of the “Intelligent Design” theory. This paradigm is more about religion than science (and is taught there with private funding). Teaching it in science class brings the debate on the interpretation of the scriptures to the realm of public decision, where the religious right will not really want it to be given the Sumeric origins of the creation myth found in Genesis.
Drugs, Mental Health and Crime
The War on Drugs is waged as much for cultural reasons as for public health. Like alcohol prohibition, it has not worked. A better alternative is mandatory treatment for addicts, as well as for the mentally ill. Mandatory treatment is preferable to using the prison system as the largest provider of mental health care services. Most crime has its roots in addiction, mental illness or illiteracy and is better treated in those arenas. Replace the insanity defense with a plea of guilty by reason of insanity. Non-acceptance of this plea by the prosecution must be reviewable. The state has proven itself incapable of providing mental health services. The Catholic Health Care system is a natural choice to step into the void, bidding as the prime contractor for private prison contracts for non-violent drug offenders and for the criminally insane.
The federal government does not owe reparations for African American slavery, as the Civil War provided reparation at the federal level. Slave states, and the District of Columbia, do owe reparations, however. The federal government also owes reparations for systemic discrimination, for programs that hurt the African American community and for promises that were not kept. The heirs to the progressive movement must begin the process of apology. Accomplish affirmative action in education by admitting those sure to succeed, rejecting those who are likely to fail and selecting those in the middle randomly. Enforcement of fair employment and fair housing laws must be vigorous.
Constitutionally, sexuality is not an issue, as regulating sexual mores is a state function. The only federal function is to guarantee equal protection of the law to all citizens. The recent Defense of Marriage Act is exactly opposite to the intent of the founders in this area and is a dangerous precedent. Gays have a right to not only tolerance, but also acceptance. A careful reading of the scriptures shows that homosexuality was not the sin of Sodom, the desire to rape the Angel of the Lord was. AIDS has produced such prodigies of care in the gay community that no one can argue with a straight face (excuse the pun) that gay relationships aren’t a sign of God’s love. The objection that heterosexuals find gay sexuality disgusting only proves that one sexual preference excludes attraction to the other, nothing more. A morality based on the fact that God loves man does not put gays outside the moral order, especially as there is strong evidence that God created them that way. Religious people cannot expect gays to trust their morality if they do not trust gays when they claim to have been born that way. Including gays in the moral order, and sanctifying their unions gives people of faith an opening to warn against promiscuity, an opening that does not exist if all homosexual relations are outside the moral order. In the Catholic tradition, marriages are made by the couple, not the Priest (who is only a witness). Apply this concept equally.
Birth Control and Stem Cell Research
Embryology is rather clear that an individual cannot be an individual until gastrulation, when the genes of the father are activated in the development of the child. This is a sign that ensoulment occurs at gastrulation, not conception. To believe otherwise burdens medical science with treating each embryo, inside and outside the womb, which is clearly unnatural as most embryos die because they are defective. This also means that neither stem cell research nor birth control are the same as abortion, so the Catholic and Evangelical churches are wrong on this subject.
Roe v. Wade and Reproductive Freedom
Regardless of whether a fetus has a soul (and it does) it does not have citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment, although Congress could grant it. Unless Congress does so, Roe v. Wade is constitutionally correct. Overturning Roe does not impact abortion to a great extent, since most places where abortion has any availability have legalized abortion by state law. Even anti-choice politicians understand that they cannot go too far in front of the public on abortion. Laws banning abortion were as unsuccessful in actually stopping it as the prohibition of alcohol or the War on Drugs. Such laws turn this country more and more into a police state. On the other hand, women must be careful about trumpeting the right to abortion, since some use the procedure for sex selection, usually to select a male.
Abortion and Christian Libertarianism
The abortion debate produces three factions, the avid pro-choicers, the avid pro-lifers and the mushy middle, which like neither abortion nor state action prohibiting it and where the Christian Libertarians and the likely plurality of Americans are found. The solution comes from this middle ground, though this comes much to the chagrin of fundraisers on the extremes and in the political parties. One option balances the interests of the mother against the child, although this is dicey as it opens the door for state coercion. The other option is to remove the incentives to abortion. Young women and girls must be assisted in both having a career and a baby without undue hardship. The Mommy Track must be integrated into a solid path of professional advancement. Change the tax system to make children truly affordable at a middle class level of comfort, regardless of the wage of the parent. Take the responsibility for providing for college out of parental hands and give it to potential employers. Consider shifting most of the tax system from an individual personal income tax to a Value Added/Business Income Tax to make the tax credit for additional children look like extra pay. Instead of supporting coercive action, the Church should take the lead in advocating economic justice as the way to end abortion.
The Nation’s Capital
District of Columbia Finance
Budgetary autonomy is a good first step in improving District finances. Ending the District’s responsibility to fund any part of Medicaid facilitates budget autonomy, as the need for a separate abortion rider on local Medicaid funds is no longer necessary. The Federal Government is in arrears to the District over the transfer of St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital, which was a regional, rather than a District facility and which continues to house referrals who want to “see the President.” The prohibition against a commuter tax is also federal and must either be repealed or replaced by the creation of regional authorities on education, corrections, mental health and Temporary Aid to Needy Families funded by a regional income tax, as well as a regional transportation authority funded by gas and property taxes. It is past time to audit the extent to which the District has been under-funded by the federal government, both in terms of service provided to the National Capital Service Area and of providing pension services to District employees who had paid into the federal system. Prior employee contributions were never transferred to the District when these costs were forced upon District taxpayers – who then accumulated more than $2 billion in assets over 20 years (which Clinton promptly spent to balance the budget when they were transferred as part of a deal to end the District’s obligation). History has shown that for much of its existence, the District of Columbia has been the first taxed and the last served by the federal government. Federal compensation to the District for its services should be automatic, since Congress almost always appropriates pork for the folks back home before fulfilling its obligations to D.C.
Limiting Congressional Meddling in District Affairs
Congressional interference in the District is traced to a tall tale on the “insult” of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia by rioting Revolutionary War veterans seeking payment. In fact, the insult was that the veterans ignored Congress, who was not good for the money anyway. The veterans wanted Pennsylvania to pay them. The First Amendment now provides everyone the right and even the duty to insult Congress whenever it messes up, which is frequently, so the justification for federal control is moot. The Fifth Amendment limits plenary congressional authority in some areas, but has not yet been extended to the rights of D.C. residents to vote on all changes to the closest thing they have to a state constitution, a clear violation of their equal protection rights. If Congress is the D.C. state legislature, it is exceeding its power in changing the charter without referendum, which it does almost annually and often not in the best interests of the District.
The District Government
The District Government is in dire need of reform, both in its organization and in its proposed constitution, of which it has two. Both of these problems must be fixed if its bid for statehood is to be taken seriously. Adopting state rather than local structures for its government gives the perception that DC is ready for statehood.
Getting a Vote on Voting Rights and Statehood
To get a vote on statehood, retrocession or voting rights, all three options must be debated and voted upon by District voters, the Maryland General Assembly and in Congress. One of these choices likely wins and any change is an improvement over the current situation.
The Budget Process and Control of Regulation
To limit pork barrel spending, a three part budget process is needed featuring a Joint Budget Resolution, authorizing legislation and appropriations legislation. The Joint Resolution automatically appropriates funds if no appropriation act is passed by the start of the fiscal year. Authorizing legislation includes the examination and amendment of all regulation passed by the agency since the last authorization, putting Congress in the hot seat on these issues rather than “unelected bureaucrats” who are in fact presidential appointees.
Making Agencies Efficient
An effective surrogate for profit in the federal sector is to examine the percentage of spending on mission versus the amount spent on administration. Systematically tracking these costs at the sub-appropriation level allows managers to turn back money on administration without necessarily being penalized by budget cuts in future years. If anything, agencies that spend more on their mission are given more money (provided there is no funny business with the numbers).
Health Care for Seniors
Recent cuts in Medicaid and Medicare were far too severe, as is proven by the number of firms that opted out of treating Seniors in an HMO setting, leading to huge payments to participating providers in the latest Medicare legislation. These cuts were also a main cause of the nursing shortage, with nurses quitting as their hours were increased due to budget cuts. Medicaid is the other half of the story, especially on prescription drugs. Segregate Senior Medicaid from the program for needy families and manage it as Medicare Part E. The entire senior healthcare picture is then clear. Manage the entire program at the state level and increase federal revenues to save the trust fund through increased payroll taxes for Medicare or the incorporation of that tax into a broadened Business Income/Value Added Tax. Provide long-term care funding through a guaranteed loan program, so that patients avoid losing their fortunes when they get sick. Single-payer health plans for the elderly and the poor are recommended in small states.
Cost Control Using Medical Lines of Credit
Supplement Medical Savings Accounts with Medical Lines of Credit to cover the cost of co-payments and deductibles and to bridge the gap between medical savings and catastrophic insurance. Lines of Credit are also extended to the working poor whose employers refuse to provide any other insurance. Repayment of these accounts is through an automatic payroll deduction, limiting the risk of default. Lines of credit are tied to income, so that all costs after a certain point are deductible or even creditable, depending on income level. A line of credit approach for non-catastrophic events introduces price competition into health care, reversing the effect insurance has on consumption. Individuals who pay back more of their health expenses (which are still incurred immediately with a health security card) do not overuse the system, especially the emergency room.
Single-payer malpractice insurance sponsored by state medical societies is becoming a real possibility, as insurance companies transfer their stock losses to their clients. Part of such an arrangement includes tying the adjudication of malpractice disputes to non-trial disciplinary proceedings before physician/citizen panels created by state practice boards, thus improving medicine and lowering cost.
A Reaction to President Bush’s Economic Stimulus Plan
The 2002 tax cut legislation has not ended the question of tax cuts, since most of the cuts have a sunset date. Dividend, alternative minimum and capital gains rates should be set to the 25% middle class rate and made permanent to facilitate later structural reform of the tax code incorporating a single rate. Tax cuts for the wealthy have been offset by deficits, the real fuel for the current recovery. Those who benefited from cuts to the top rates and net interest payments now put this money back into circulation by lending it back to the government. Of course, as a Dad, my preference is to simply tax the money rather than borrowing it. To end talk of a Death Tax, shift inheritance taxes from the estate to the heirs, with taxes paid only on cash disbursements or their equivalent from the income from or sale of estate assets.
The Real Solution to the Social Security Crisis
The solutions to the Social Security crisis offered by both parties involve increasing the savings rate, although the Republicans divert funds from Social Security taxes to do so while the Democrats offer incentives for additional savings and investment. Neither solution works in the long term, as the nature of the Social Security crisis is demographic rather than financial. To put the program on an even keel and to end the tragedy of abortion, alter the tax code to take the financial hardship out of having children and shift the responsibility for funding college from parents to future employers.
Basic Structural Reform to the Tax Code
The standard proposals to adopt a consumption tax or a flat tax have no chance of passage, since they penalize too many of our nation’s moneyed interests. A business income/value added tax is offered as an alternative. This tax proposal includes deductions for employer sponsored health insurance, home mortgage interest paid by employees or the employer for the employee and a credit for each child to be added directly to the employee’s paycheck, regardless of salary. There is also a credit for providing remedial, vocational and higher education to employees and potential employees, and a credit to fund faith-based and other private social service and educational agencies in lieu of taxation. Individual income and inheritance taxes below the $100,000 per year level are abolished (although sole proprietors with more than $10,000 in revenue still file Business Income Taxes). Income and inheritance over that level is taxed at a high enough level to pay the interest on the national debt, as well as debt retirement and international military operations. Business Income Taxes and miscellaneous fees and tariffs fund the remainder of government (except Social Security retirement), with a requirement that domestic spending be capped at Business Income Tax collections and fees.
State and Local Government Finance and Regulation
The 2001 tax cut and the collapse of the tech boom have led to a financial crisis at the state and local level. This shows the inadequacy of state and local tax arrangements. In the future, align taxes more closely with the social purpose of spending programs. Income taxes, which are redistributional, fund redistributional activities like education, aid to families, social services and even corrections. Sales taxes fund services to business, including a portion of public safety, and urban revitalization, while property taxes fund infrastructure and a portion of public safety. This proposal is particularly useful in Virginia, where taxes are generally inadequate to fund needed services. Linking taxing and spending demonstrates this. Business income/value added taxes are another alternative to replace income and sales taxes, especially if the federal government acts first. In Virginia, taking the lead on this reform requires a state constitutional amendment and repeal of the anti-Catholic Blaine amendment barring direct support for religious schools.
Electric cars eliminate death due to car smog and auto accidents, provided that central control and power are supplied through overhead lines with the entire system partially or fully underground. Fund this system with a combination of public and private investment and integrate it with mass transit, offering drivers the best of both worlds. Cleaner burning coal, nuclear fission and emerging fusion technologies power the system and also provide electricity to individual homes.
Social Security and Ownership
If President Bush had been serious about reforming Social Security he would have compromised to get his reforms past the Senate. Several of the possible compromises improve the program, although they would have alienated his base. First, link the employer contribution to average income, rather than individual personal income, and credit it equally for each full-time worker. Second, give workers the option of investing their personal retirement accounts in an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, rather than in an index fund, and require that representation on ESOP trusts and corporate boards includes factional representation for each type of employee (union, management, professional). Third, let Unions, rather than government sponsored brokers, manage the Personal Retirement Accounts of their members. Finally, since transition costs are most likely to be borne by wealthier taxpayers, either the personal income tax must be raised or the income cap on contributions to the trust fund eliminated.
Twenty-first Century Living
Building the Union-Owned Workplace of the Future
The hierarchical management and pay structures which are natural for capitalist firms do not work for union and employee-owned firms. For union and employee-owners to get the most out of ownership, they must change their mindset. Alter profit distribution to fully compenate employees for their share of the profits of the firm, based on the share of production cost contributed by labor. Represent union workers specifically on boards to the extent that their employees own company or ESOP shares. Distribute ESOP shares to employees equally, rather than as a reflection of income. Start share accumulation on day one, not after a year. Compensate long-term temps with shares of the client company. Staffing services must not be used to rob employees of ownership rights that are due to them. Organized labor then shifts its culture from contention and worker protection to ownership and innovation. If union and employee-owned firms out perform traditional firms, traditional firms either follow or fail.
Pay Equity for Unions and ESOPs
Management pay and selection change in the new culture of ownership. Managers bid for their positions in open auction, with ties settled by a vote of the employees supervised. Innovations are paid separately after results occur, rather than including the expectation of innovation up front in management or professional salaries. The firm also provides education, with salaries paid to students in training. Shifting the financial risk and training more individuals where there is a shortage equalizes salaries. Pay and benefits compensate for the supply cost of labor for young families and older workers. Families with young children receive higher pay tied to child rearing, while older workers receive pay for longevity through stock accumulation rather than pay increases, ending the perverse incentive to fire the most productive employees as their salaries increase. Financial services, such as payroll lines of credit and employer financed home mortgages are provided to employee-owners as a retention bonus. In a perfectly competitive labor market, salaries are equal and allocation between professions ideal. These structures create that type of market, also ending discrimination in the workplace.
21st Century Homes: Inter-Independence
Housing is to be provided in different ways to young and to long-term employees. Younger employees are provided dormitories or apartments. Longer-term employees are offered environmentally efficient homes with food production facilities and a shorter day so that they may grow their own food. This philosophy, called Inter-Independence, establishes an interdependent workplace for the purpose of making each worker self-sufficient. Employees who grow their own food decide what they want to eat and grow it. Basement agriculture provides retirees a productive activity. Technology developed for space colonies is adapted for home use, including the conversion of waste into grass into fertilizer, hydroponics and artificial protein synthesis. Small animals are also raised, especially chickens and sheep. The home produces wool and cotton, which is processed with automated equipment. Habitat size is adjusted for growing and shrinking families.
The 21st Century Career
After grade ten, young people either go down a vocational path or an academic path. Students in vocational training are sponsored by future employers and paid a salary. At age 20, after receiving a general education, some academic students enter the workforce, while others seek more advanced study, with training sponsored by future employers to the graduate level in exchange for a service requirement. In either case, students in training are provided housing and enjoy many adult rights, including the right to start a family. Medical students first train and work as nurses, then work more reasonable hours while in their post-graduate residencies because of this experience. Hospitals or health systems sponsor training and enough doctors are trained to influence the cost of medicine.
Mid-career workers are compensated with homes with food production facilities. Longevity compensation is through stock and dividends rather than through salary. Innovation is awarded through both cash and stock. If worker knowledge becomes obsolete, mortgage debts are forgiven and retirement funds fully funded so that retirement begins early. Intervention services are available for employees who under-perform or who lapse into addiction. Retired workers grow their own food, consult and continue to vote their stock, although surviving spouses are required to sell their stock back for an annuity, possibly to be set up through their house of worship. Young people learning how to grow food assist older retirees in managing their homes.
Professional Sports Teams and the Entertainment Industry
Celebrities still make big money in Cooperativism. The purpose of increasing equality is not to tear down the stars but to raise up new talent and support personnel. Teams are be bought out by their current and retired players in partnership with their home cities, to the extent that they play in publicly financed venues. Employee-ownership and a stronger team ethic increase pay equity. The entertainment industry also benefits from employee-ownership in the same way. A business income/value added tax credit is established for contributions to broad-based arts education, as well as for the training of up and coming talent. Ownership also helps prevent young talent from being exploited.
Global Justice for Workers
When Multi-Nationals Meet 21st Century Management
Multi-national firms that become union or employee-owned convert their overseas subsidiaries out of self-interest. These firms seek out talent missed by the current regime and generally attract the best workers. This causes entire economies to shift to 21st Century Economics and a middle class to develop in the developing world. Union-owned multi-nationals develop a common market basket of goods for transfer pricing and to expose exploitation in trade and economic policy. Publishing this information affects currency markets, which stabilizes at a new equilibrium. Stable currency markets lead to agreements on money supply growth and make currency conversion possible.
Bringing Socialist Enterprise into the 21st Century
Privatization in Russia failed because the Oligarchs were able to exploit new owners. The precepts of this book are useful to gradually restore ownership to Russian workers. In China, an evolving middle class eventually revolts, leading workers to demand renewed ownership stolen by party bosses. Firms that have not been privatized do so by awarding stock in relationship to tenure and holding it in trust until retirement, with representation on boards by occupational group and profit distribution for both labor and the ownership of capital. Outside capital is procured, but in a way that preserves the value of the worker investment.
Fighting for Justice
Ending exploitation requires establishing the rule of law, lest it be undone by fiat. Justice Advocates- International advocates the creation of the rule of law and the repeal of oppressive and exploitive law. It represents clients against exploitation by governments, employers and polluters, both in their native countries and in the home country of the multi-national corporation or the firm supplied by exploitive enterprise. It represents the rights of tribal peoples and those long denied land reform and works for electoral and campaign finance reform in the United States. A new International Bill of Rights will guide it.
Elections and Campaign Finance
Strengthening the link between presidential and congressional candidates decreases the influence of special interest groups. Sitting congressmen and congressional candidates select the presidential nominee and would endorse their choice for president prior to their primary. Losing presidential nominees also fulfill the function of party leader and propose a legislative program, especially when the government is divided. Funding for candidates for nomination is equalized to overcome incumbency. All contributions go to the party, who divide the proceeds equally between candidates for nomination, provided that the candidate brings in at least fifteen percent of the delegates to a special caucus to determine who is funded. In order to increase turnout in state and local legislative elections, proportional representation assures that every vote counts. When every vote counts everyone votes.
How to Pick Better Bureaucrats
A Senior Political Service program trains and pre-certifies presidential political appointees, speeding the transition when a new regime takes power and improves the quality of the appointed service, who now receive little training for their very important jobs. Executive Councils at the sub-cabinet level improve relations between appointees and the civil service. Appointees hold a majority on the council, but deliberate as equals with a career Senior Executive and a policy holdover from the prior regime.
Reform of the Civil Service
Giving federal managers more discretion to promote non-competitively ends the extreme waste of time many applicants go through in applying for positions where the winning candidate is already pre-selected by management. Another reform designed to increase recruitment is to delete questions on past drug use from the Personal Security Questionnaire while pre-employment drug testing is be made universal. Failing a drug test leads to treatment, not to dismissal. The current drug-testing program is draconian. Sick leave rules are modified, with the introduction of disability insurance, so that employees do not build up huge leave balances in this area. Annual leave is brought more in line with the private sector, with a lowering of the leave entitlement and the introduction of holidays in the week between Christmas and New Years. Armistice Day is replaced with Black Friday and Columbus Day is abandoned. Finally, it is past time to mirror industry and reduce the workday for federal employees and contractors to 37.5 hours a week and eventually 35.
Reorganization I: Consolidating Agencies
A simplification of the organization of the executive branch is proposed to increase accountability to the average citizen who does not understand the intricacies of public administration. I propose nine departments, with a Department of Human Resources created to include the Departments of Education, Labor, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and a Department of Science created from Commerce, Energy, Health, Transportation and Urban Development. To facilitate this reorganization politically, it is done concurrently with congressional committee realignment.
Reorganization II: Regional Government
A more radical reorganization is the inauguration of regional government. The number of regions is set at seven, with seven regional congressional caucuses and seven regional vice presidents. Each regional caucus gives full credit to the actions of every other caucus, with a national caucus of seventy members ratifying all regional decisions and deliberating on truly national issues. The President focuses on defense, foreign affairs and homeland security. The Vice President oversees departments of Treasury and Commerce, Civil Rights and Justice and Science, the Environment and Interior. The Electoral College eventually selects regional vice presidents.
Creating a World of Peace
Bringing Peace to Israel
Let us examine American support for Zionism in light of the role the U.S. plays in supporting and funding Israel. Two solutions to the crisis are possible. One is the creation of a Palestinian state for the Palestinians and the Israeli Arabs, who are still considered second-class citizens. A second solution that honors peace and justice is to consider both groups as full Israeli citizens and to annex the occupied territories. The second option honors the Law of Moses and is the only viable proposal if a goal of the Zionist state is the eventual restoration of the Holy of Holies. This is especially so given the evidence that the Ark of the Covenant is not buried under the Temple Mount but is instead under the protection of the Ethiopian Coptic Church.
Lessons from the War in Iraq
Now that the military question is decided, King Abdullah, the hereditary heir of the Prophet, is a better broker of Iraqi interests than either the current Authority or the United Nations. Many protested the war because of their continued anger at Bush. It is likely that Saddam Hussein believed, even in the face of a massive deployment and the rapid approach of summer, that the world would prevent the war. As a world government, the United Nations is not up to such a task. The part of international law that dictates American primacy in military affairs was all the international law the President needed to act. This primacy, absent the Soviet threat, is likely a major contributor to the world’s dissatisfaction with the war. The founders did not intend this primacy. It is potentially and actually a danger to liberty and no longer affordable. A better solution is the formation of an allied government along the lines of our American federalism.
Toward Allied Government
Until democracy is universal, an allied government is essential to share costs and decision-making. The government is composed of an Allied Congress, member regions led by regional vice presidents and a single President elected by both. The President of the Alliance is commander-in-chief of a common military. Domestic functions include a common Exchequer, an informal Conference on Regulation to facilitate cooperation among the regions, a Department of the Environment and a Department of Civil Rights and Justice.
The Space Transportation System
As the need for a large Defense establishment lessens, the aerospace industry is encouraged to support and even undertake space exploration. Public funds for space exploration shift from direct spending to loan guarantees for private ventures using a consortium of aerospace firms. A Space Transportation System includes space stations, satellite construction, repair and maintenance in orbit, cheaper launching of materiel through ballistic means, space tourism, lunar colonies, space exploration, a private school for spacers, and technologies to further explore the earth’s oceans.
Going to Mars
A more advanced stage of space exploration is the colonization of Mars. Colonists on Mars and on space stations, as well as permanent space ship crews, purchase their own housing (like anyone else who works). A variety of funding mechanisms are explored for this venture, from broadcast rights to space tourism and the renting of facilities to scientists and businesses who want to do business with colonists. A set of space stations from Earth-orbit to Mars form an infrastructure for this project. Gravitational propulsion is also explored.
Applying 21st Century Management to Aerospace Firms
Either established consortia or new startups can use the advanced management practices presented in the discussions on twenty-first century living. Total Quality Management’s goal of driving responsibility to the lowest level is best matched by efforts to equalize pay. Otherwise, workers see through the hypocrisy and the program is doomed. Advanced recruitment and compensation methods are applicable to each type of operation, but in different ways. Older firms have access to capital but have to overcome an entrenched culture. Startups create a new culture but lack capital and have to compromise to obtain needed financing. Space exploration is the ideal venue to try 21st century housing, both for space and land-based personnel. ESOP structures are useful to buy out current owners or venture capitalists.
Ending Government as We Know It
The overall result of adopting these proposals is the end of government and the establishment of democracy in both the church and the workplace. Joining the discussion is the first step in this process.
A Yahoo discussion group starts the process. The next step is to form a political party, the Christian Libertarian Party of the United States. The Iowa Center for Fiscal Equity provides consulting services to move firms and governments toward reform. It also holds leadership conferences on the issues addressed in this volume. Justice Advocates International is the legal arm of the movement. International Currency Quarterly eventually publishes data on exchange rates versus price levels. An International Space Corps pursues private space exploration. Finally, the Christian Left discussion group is offered as a forum for rebuilding the Church.
The Limits of State Power (Geocities Rescue)
Ideally, a truly free society is based on the rational will of all, which Rousseau called the General Will. The General Will is thought to be present when all in a society agree on a policy, when it is unanimous. When this is not the case government policy is carried out by the majority against the wishes of the minority. For the majority to carry out these wishes some form of police power is created, turning society into a police state to varying degrees. This is why enlightened societies set forth and guarantee basic rights for minorities in an attempt to limit the advance of a police state and to guarantee freedom to violate the moral prejudices of one's neighbors.
This is where the Christian Left embraces liberty in matters having to do with public morality and social issues. However, this embrace of liberty is not an abandonment of either Christian principles or Christian charity. Making public policy is always a moral balancing act. The Christian Left prefers that the coercive nature of the state be lessened while the charitable nature of the state is increased. Instead of jailing individuals for immoral or dangerous behavior, we prefer that they be treated, especially when the moral question at issue does not garner 100% agreement, such as in cases of victimless crime.
The power of the state is also limited by its inability to effectively deliver compassionate services. From foster care to mental health care to education, religious institutions such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services and the parochial school system seem to consistently perform better.
In this chapter, the most interesting and most divisive political and moral issues are discussed. All of them are simply dripping in controversy. We will tackle welfare, religion in the schools and religious schools, the War on Drugs and the treatment of criminals, racial justice, gay rights, and reproductive rights and abortion.
Elections and Campaign Finance Reform (Geocities Rescue)
Linking the Executive to the Legislative
Many political scholars note that the rise of interest groups and the independent Congress makes party governing impossible, with interest group pluralism and PAC money blocking meaningful reform. This is particularly so in the agriculture, business and insurance areas, whose interest groups block changes in farm subsidies, transportation and health care, just to name a few cases. With the multiplying of interests has come the fragmenting of political life.
Stronger relationships are needed between presidential candidates and congressional candidates to make governing easier. To build these relationships, I propose a national July 4th primary for House and Senate candidates in Presidential election years. During these campaigns congressional candidates declare for a presidential contender, who accepts or rejects that linkage (a presidential candidate may link with more than one congressional candidate). On Election Day the voter casts one vote for House, another for Senate (if applicable) and by doing so votes for the Presidential candidate linked to that candidate. The nominees for each House and Senate race, along with state Governors, gubernatorial candidates and Senators not up for reelection, caucus in August to pick the party nominee. This nominee owes his success, in part, to the congressional candidates. The congressional candidates owe their success, in part, to picking the favorite in the presidential race. These debts are not forgotten after the election. This voting scheme also provides linkages in the minds of voters between the candidates of the same party, and lessens split ticket voting.
Split ticket voting is never be totally eliminated, as the voters seem to use it to assure that one party does not get too much power. Often, one party wins the White House while the other wins the Congress. In much of recent memory the losing presidential candidate fades into obscurity while his party loses its unifying voice and attempts to govern with many leaders. This waste is almost tragic, and entirely unnecessary. In those cases where one party controls the White House while the other controls the Congress, the losing presidential candidate can retain the mantel of party leadership and present his or her legislative program as if elected. This will focus the energies of his or her party, which obviously held some attraction for voters. Further, in a free society the losing candidate has as much right to offer such an agenda as the winner, as the President's role as chief legislator is almost entirely traditional. To assist the party leader in this, allow parties to establish a fund to pay analytical staff, especially in the budget arena. The result is a party program that means something, and provides a clear choice for voters in each succeeding election.
The other way to make elections mean something is to increase competitiveness in the nomination process. By far the biggest incumbency advantage is the ability to raise funds independently for election. Major contributors and Political Action Committees insulate party candidates from party influence and make governing more difficult. Many reformers in the past have proposed the adoption of public financing and spending limits, while limiting the size of PAC donations. Allowing PACs to give any money to candidates directly at any level leaves candidates independent of party control and simply multiplies the number of PACs. Spending limits fail on free speech grounds and because they naively assume that an excess of money is the problem in elections. Anyone who has fundraised in a campaign knows that there is no such thing as too much money.
The solution to the funding problem must strengthen the parties, or it merely invites accounting gimmickry. This premise leads to an obvious solution. Prohibit PACs and individuals from giving money directly to candidates. Instead, PACs and individuals contribute to the political parties, who then distribute the money strategically, and without regard to the wishes of the PAC. Candidates are then much more considerate of the party program, and less likely to sell out to individual interests. Additionally, the strictest of guidelines are set up so that donations earmarked for the benefit of a single candidate are minimized.
How this money is distributed to primary challengers is key, in both presidential and off-year congressional elections. In presidential races, which are publicly funded, the campaign of each prospective nominee distributes funds to supportive congressional candidates for their primaries. Of course, this leaves the problem of inequality between presidential contenders. There is a solution to this, however, which is used with either donated or public money.
For each congressional or senatorial race, two months prior to the national primary or off-year state primary, each party holds a caucus to decide who is eligible for funding. Each congressional candidate attends, bringing as many of her supporters as she can. All declared candidates who haves qualified for ballot access attend. Any candidate who brings at least fifteen percent of the total qualified attendees receives an equal share of campaign funds. Any candidate who fails to reach this threshold is removed from the ballot. This threshold level is high enough to weed out candidates who are not serious, but low enough so that serious contenders are able to overcome efforts by the incumbent’s political machine to pack the house. Judicious use of this process allows presidential candidates to emerge who otherwise are written off and overcome the incumbency advantage in most congressional races.
The method I propose here is so good, it is unlikely to pass on its merits. Only use by a third party, such as the Greens or the Reform Party, spurs its adoption, provided that the voters turn out for third party candidates selected in this way. I bet that even a twenty percent showing by such a party using this method scares the major parties into seeking its adoption.
Local Government Representation
Getting the vote out in local contests is another serious concern. In purely local elections, most voters do not vote, nor do they pay attention to local politicians, especially at the state legislative level (even though these elections affect them most). The major parties often don't speak well to individual local issues. Additionally, poor citizens, as well as minority party-members, often have disproportionately low turnout in local elections because of their slim chance in winning or their perception of low influence. In many races, candidates do not reach out to minority voters in fear of alienating the majority. Racial gerrymandering is still an issue, as well as partisan gerrymandering. To counter this, try local multi-party democracy and proportional representation. These systems give every party that turns out a minimal number of voters a seat, or seats, in the halls of government. With a lower threshold of victory, more parties and previously disenfranchised citizens participate. More participation results in the representation of all interested parties in local government, not just the richest or the loudest. Such a government requires more deliberation and coalition building, and is less likely to run roughshod over the rights of minorities (for example, closet Republicans in Ward 3 of Washington, D.C., many of whom are registered as Democrats so that they have an influence in the primaries).
Representation is increased in two ways. The first is total proportional representation, where everyone in the state, city or county gets one vote in the general election for his or her party slate. The total number of available seats is then divvied up by the total number of votes for each party, in proportion to the actual vote. This is currently how elections are held in Puerto Rico, which has a 97% rate of voter turnout. The other option is to have multiple seats per voting district, with at least one seat reserved for the non-majority party (as I proposed in the essay on improving the District of Columbia Government). In either case, voters are likely to have some effect on the composition of the legislature, making the legislature more responsive and increasing voter turnout.
Regional Government (Geocities Rescue)
Many domestic issues also exhibit a great deal of regional variation. Conditions in New England on any given issue has nothing to do with conditions in Arizona or Colorado. National economic and regulatory policies fail to take into account conditions that vary from region to region. Often one region of the country is in recession while another is expanding. Additionally, regulatory needs vary from sector to sector, as do the attitudes of citizens in each sector. The almost annual filibuster over grazing fees and public land policy is an apt illustration of this. To deal with these problems, a more regional approach proves fruitful for both the Executive and Congress.
Agencies already possess a regional infrastructure, although this is mostly for program execution rather than for policy development. Of course, informal policy development at the regional level, in concert with the relevant congressional committee members and staff happens more often. Setting out a formal process for regional policy making takes it out of the shadows and into the light, where it is more accountable. Congress then meets in regional caucuses to oversee policy and regional vice presidents are selected to fulfill a wide variety of functions, freeing the President to concentrate on those affairs that are most important for the nation as a whole.
The current regional breakdown is based on an Executive Order from back in the Nixon Administration, with variation occurring at the departmental and sometimes the sub-departmental level. The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also have different regional boundaries. Regions can be broken down in a variety of ways. I suggest, abiding by the Constitution’s prohibition on discriminatory trade policy against any individual state, that regions be larger than the population of any state, and that they have roughly the same size congressional delegation in terms of total electoral votes. I have examined regional breakdowns ranging from four to ten regions. The breakdown with seven regions appeared the best one, as follows:
Region I - New York: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
Region II - Washington: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia
Region III - Atlanta: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisianna, Mississippi, Tennessee
Region IV - Dallas: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas , Utah
Region V - Chicago: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio
Region VI - San Francisco: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon
Region VII - Kansas City: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Executive Agency and Congressional Committee Reorganization
A joint task force accomplishes the transition to regional government with membership from both the Congress and the Executive. This task force drafts reorganization plans for national and regional agencies and the committees of the national and regional caucuses of Congress. The congressional portion of these plans is enacted by resolution, while the executive reorganizations are submitted to Congress, subject to a legislative veto of disapproval. The law setting up this task force also creates regional codes for applicable parts of the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations.
Both the Senate and the House meet in regional caucuses. In regions with fewer states, the Senate caucus meets as a committee of the whole, reviewing House caucus legislation. In other the other regions, the Senate caucus divides into committees. The House caucus elects its own Speaker. The Senate caucus elects its own President. Each caucus gives full credit to the actions of every other caucus and sustains any attempted vetoes by the President. Caucuses have the authority to amend the regional code and adjust the code of regulations for the region; enact the budget for the region, within general guidelines enacted by the national caucus; and oversee activities of regional agencies. The regional senatorial caucuses advise and consent on executive appointments, while the entire caucus consents to the initial presidential appointment of regional vice presidents and any appointment to fill a vacancy in that office.
A National Caucus consists of seven (7) representatives and (3) senators per region, with adjustments for population size if necessary, with partisan balance among representatives, for a total of 49 representatives and 21 senators. The National Caucus enacts regional actions on a pro forma basis, enacts the national budget resolution in aggregate terms, sets the pay of military officers and enlisted personnel, makes specific appropriations for national functions, enacts national legislation, consents to presidential and vice presidential appointments, and oversees national defense and domestic agencies. The full Congress only meets for the consideration of impeachment proceedings and their subsequent trial in the Senate, as well as for the enactment of Constitutional amendments. The Senate also meets periodically for the ratification of treaties. Note that everything I am proposing here can be enacted by statue. Because all regional actions are repeated on a pro forma basis at the national level, no constitutional amendment is necessary.
President of the United States
The duties of the President are adjusted to correspond to what actually occurs on a day-to-day basis. The most important duty is the initial appointment of regional vice presidents, and the filling of vacancies in that office. The other obvious duties are serving as the commander in chief of the armed services, the conduct of foreign affairs, space operations and intelligence operations, the appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court, Ambassadors, national military commanders and officers in national service, the approval or veto of national legislation, submission of the aggregate national budget the delivery of the State of the Union Address to the National Caucus, removal of officials from national agencies and executive clemency. Some actions are taken after consultation with the regional vice presidents, like the appointment of District and Appellate Court judges and Federal Reserve officials and the signing of regionally passed legislation. The Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security report directly to the President.
The Department of Defense is be reorganized into strategic and regional functions. Strategic functions include planning, overseas operations and theater deployments, naval sea and Marine Corps operations, special operations and strategic nuclear forces. Regional functions include the establishment of seven regional armies and air forces with associated guard and reserve components, naval shore operations and the funding of military retirement. Strategic functions are funded by the personal income surtax on high-income individuals, excise taxes, tariffs and contributions from allies (which in olden times was known as tribute). The Business Income Tax funds regional functions. Peacetime procurement costs are born by the unit using the supplies or equipment, so if an Armored Division is based in Texas, Region IV purchases its tanks and its gasoline. As you have likely guessed by now, making the regions pay for these costs makes them think twice about the pursuit of pork barrel legislation. It is likely that this step leads to the closure of bases that are no longer necessary and the right sizing of the armed services that should have occurred at the end of the Cold War.
Vice President of the United States
The official duties of the Vice President are greatly increased under regionalization. The Vice President is the lynch pin that holds the whole system together. He or she presides over a national council of regional vice presidents and the three remaining national domestic departments, nominates the secretaries of these domestic departments for presidential appointment and recommends economic and budgetary targets to the President at both the national and regional levels. The departments reporting to the Vice President are Treasury and Commerce; Civil Rights and Justice; and Science, Environment & Interior.
The Department of Treasury and Commerce performs the economic analysis activities currently being performed by the Departments of Labor and Commerce; performs international economic analysis; oversees banking, deposit insurance and federal reserve operations; manages the public debt; administers the Social Security program – including the transition to Personal Retirement Accounts; and collects income taxes on higher income individuals and heirs, as well as providing an information clearing house for Business Income Tax records (although these taxes will be collected at the regional level). After the Debt is retired and income taxes on higher income individuals sunset, the primary funding for this department is through seigniorage, federal reserve and federal deposit insurance operations.
The Department of Civil Rights and Justice safeguards the rights of citizens against abuse at all levels of government and in the workplace, and represents the government in civil and environmental regulatory matters. It also provides assistance to a commission in the Department of Science, the Environment and Interior charged with distributing excess public land to the regions, individuals and Native American nations, as appropriate. It is funded primarily be fees, fines and judgments.
The Department of Science, the Environment and the Interior manages scientific research best sponsored at the national level in the areas of health, transportation, the environment and aerospace; operates the National Park System; provides environmental enforcement of Superfund and nuclear sites and distributes or sells public lands and forests among the national government, regional governments, state governments, Indian tribes (where a valid claim can be made that treaty obligations are unmet or that terms and conditions of treaties were coerced and remedy is possible) and individuals; awards patents and register trademarks; approves drugs and provides regulatory coordination between the various regions in all regulatory matters transferred to that level. . This department is funded with licenses, fees and fines.
The remainder of the Federal government is transferred to the regions. Each regional caucus sets its own tax rates, sets up its own Open Market Committee to control interest rates in cooperation with the Federal Open Market Committee, sets its own budget, regulates interstate commerce, monitors regulations, enforces federal criminal laws and establishes human service programs. The functions of the departments of Agriculture, Human Resources, Interior, Justice, Science, Treasury and certain of the independent agencies are divided between the regions. The War Reserve components of the Armed Services are divided among the regions and are funded out of each regional budget. It is expected that most of what is called wasteful spending is cut out more effectively by the regional caucuses. Spending on pork barrel projects, unneeded military bases and generous tax benefits and subsidies to favored industry are less attractive in a regional capital than in Washington.
A vice president is appointed for each region. Ideally, appointees to this office have previously served as governors, senators or general officers. Initially, the President appoints these officers. In subsequent administrations, presidential nominees select running mates in each region. The Electoral College vote for each region then selects the regional vice presidents, regardless of who wins the White House. It goes without saying that service as a regional vice president makes a person very electable for national office. Regional vice presidents recommend acts originating in regions for signature or veto; recommend federal reserve and judicial appointments to the President (who has discretion to make up his own mind; nominate regional officials for appointment subject to confirmation by regional Senate; appoint and remove lesser officers and officials; see to the execution of the regional code and issuance of regional regulations; report on the state of the region to the caucus and the President; cooperate with the President on actions of the national government; submit a budget for the region, within the totals recommended by the President and enacted by the national caucus and act as supreme commander of regional military forces unless called into national service.
Fighting for Justice (Geocities Rescue)
As economic conditions improve due to the adoption of Cooperativism in the developing and formerly socialist world, a middle class emerges that demands basic human rights. Their aspirations should be supported by their employers and by people of good will everywhere. A worldwide consortium of attorneys is formed to assist in this effort. The need for such a consortium is not limited to the developing world, as the state of justice in the so-called developed world leaves much to be desired. This consortium is called Justice Advocates International, with the appropriate suffix given the customs of the nation in which it arises.
The consortium works in the areas of both legislative advocacy and legal representation. Legislative advocacy is essential, especially in nations with a less than developed common law. In these nations, the first function is to organize support for the rule of law and the right to injunctive and tort relief.
In many nations (including this one), the criminal code is particularly oppressive and is often used as a tool to oppress racial and sexual minorities. Many criminal felonies that are regarded as fodder for late night talk show humor are, or have been used in the American South to disenfranchise African-American males. Drug laws are also used to fulfill that function. Justice Advocates concentrates on the repeal of such oppressive legislation. Especially in the area of drug abuse, a shift is sought from criminalization to medicalization, as described in other essays. JAI also seeks the repeal of laws that reflect religious dictates, especially if their purpose is to place non-believers in an inferior status, as well as laws that are used to perpetuate slavery or slave-like conditions. Much immigration legislation in this country has this effect, since undocumented aliens fear that seeking relief results in sanctions against them, rather than their oppressors. Laws criminalizing prostitution often serve the interests of pimps more than they serve the interest of public morality. Rather than punishing prostitutes, mandate that they be tested for drug and alcohol abuse and referred involuntarily to treatment. In many places, laws against prostitution are used to advantage by corrupt police or military officials. This must end. Economic arrangements also come under scrutiny, especially when these involve usury or predatory financing, including check cashing services, sub-prime mortgage lending and exploitive car financing arrangements.
Justice Advocates International represents citizens against exploitation at the hands of both governments and employers. It develops a foundation for the representation of anyone who is the target of organized oppression, especially those instances that demand less media attention. There are many organizations that already do this sort of work. Justice Advocates reaches out to them for inclusion in our efforts. JAI does not attempt to reinvent the wheel, but to seeks a coordinated partnership for all of its spokes. Instances where peonage is practiced come under intense scrutiny, especially when it is undertaken with the support of local law enforcement. Judgments are also sought against those who engage in usury or predatory financing.
Justice Advocates facilitates the move to economic justice. They represent employees who seek ownership in their place of employment, including workers in the former Soviet Union or in China who have been cheated by Oligarchs and party bosses. They also represent the interests of those in the developing world who have been blacklisted and seek damages in those cases where violence and murder have been used. Multi-national corporations who seek to exploit rather than empower workers are held responsible in U.S. courts of this nation for any support of activities that violate the rights of their overseas employees. Firms with exclusive supply arrangements which attempt to mask ownership are held accountable for the actions of their supplies and subsidiaries, as are firms who do business with Russian and Chinese firms who have cheated their workers or who rely on slave labor.
Justice Advocates also represents communities who are victimized by environmental pollution. Injunctive relief is sought to force the installation of adequate pollution controls. Tort relief is also sought, including relief against parent companies in the developed world. While the fights against deforestation, global warming and acid rain are commendable, as long as gross violations of reasonable restrictions on point-source pollution occur such causes seem trivial.
Justice Advocates seeks to guarantee the rights of native peoples to tribal and ancestral lands, both in the United States and in Latin America, where land reform has long been denied.
Justice Advocates proactively lobbies and litigates against political corruption in the United States, including electoral and campaign finance reform, which is discussed in the next chapter.
Finally, JAI is to be guided by a new International Bill of Rights, which is also proposed as the Bill of Rights for the Alliance described in the essay on Allied Government. Unlike the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enacted by the United Nations, violations of these rights are to be actionable.
An International Bill of Rights (Geocities Rescue)
Section 1. As God is not honored by forced worship, religious freedom shall not be abridged. The establishment of religion in any jurisdiction shall not be exclusive, nor shall state power in the Alliance be used to enforce dictates on public morals which the citizen or religionist has no voice in applying to law. Members may enact cultural holidays or customs which the individual shall be free to celebrate or ignore as his conscience dictates.
Section 2. No law or edict shall be passed or enforced which abridges the freedoms of speech, voluntary association, privacy, peaceable assembly, expression, press, petition for redress of grievances, or dissent. Further, no one may be compelled to join any organization. The consumption of marijuana shall not be interfered with by any government within the Alliance.
Section 3. None shall be deprived of life, liberty, property or entitled opportunity without due process of law, nor denied equal protection under the law. Life is recognized to begin in the Alliance at gastrulation. However, no law criminalizing abortion may be enacted prior to assisted viability.
Section 4. No slavery or involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime duly convicted, shall exist in the Alliance. As people are children of God human exploitation in other forms shall not be allowed. No contracts may be enforced which put the lesser party at a permanent disadvantage or permanently increasing debt, with the exception of pension arrangements which bind employers and religious vows. The rights to work, rest, join trade unions, receive just and equitable compensation for labor, attain education and literacy, and enjoy procreation are reaffirmed.
Section 5. Property seized by the government shall be compensated justly. Rights of compensation shall remain with descendants until compensation is received, and all debts against the Alliance or any of its jurisdictions shall remain in force against the Alliance and its members.
Section 6. The right to vote shall not be abridged to any adult citizen, excepting those under a prison sentence for a felony and those judged to be mentally incompetent. Persons may be recognized as adults as early as their fifteenth birthday, and not later than their twentieth, according to their ability to maintain themselves in society.
Section 7. No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed. The right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury (or an unbiased judge if such option is taken by the accused) shall not be denied, nor shall the presumption of innocence. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, and civil and criminal proceedings shall occur concurrently for the same offense. Victims of crime shall be represented in all criminal actions, as shall the state. No attainder of treason or crime shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the accused. Further, no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted or excessive fines or seizures imposed. Torture for information or intimidation shall not be used for either criminal or military purposes. No person may be executed unless failure to do so would result in greater loss of human life.
Section 8. None shall be required to incriminate himself in open court or in the investigation of crime, whether the case be criminal or administrative. Unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be permitted against persons, property, papers and effects, agents or electronic assets. All warrants for search and arrest shall be upon probable cause and supported by oath or affirmation. Recourse shall be available to those unreasonably searched or searched due to false witness, and malicious and unreasonable searches shall not yield evidence. No person may be convicted of a crime solely upon the testimony of a witness granted immunity without the corroboration of a second witness without such a grant or supporting physical or documentary evidence.
Section 9. Indictments for all felonies shall be by grand jury, and all indictments shall be reviewable before trial so that the particulars alleged by the state shall match the offense as delineated in law, and the accused shall be informed of the nature and cause of the indictment. The rights to confront hostile witnesses, have compulsory access to friendly witnesses, and to secure an attorney at the same level of funding as the opposition shall not be denied. Excessive bail shall not be required, except in the interest of public safety.
Section 10. The privilege of writ of habeas corpus shall not be abridged except in time of civil or international conflict. Treason shall consist only of acts of war against the Alliance, or in giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. The testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or a confession in open court, shall be necessary for a conviction of treason. Troops shall not be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner. The right to keep and bear arms for personal protection, participation in the militia or lawful hunting and recreation shall not be unreasonably infringed.
Bringing Peace to Israel (Geocities Rescue)
There are two options for bringing peace to Israel. The first is partition - not just of Israel and the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza, but of Israel and a state that includes both Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Israeli Arabs are still second-class citizens in many ways. In examining partition, we look to the example of India and Pakistan, who partitioned for the same reason. Even today, there is no peace between them, only better weapons. A unified Israeli Arab/Palestinian state is likely swallowed up by Lebanon, Syria or Jordan and leave Israel insecure, so we look to a second option.
The second option is less distasteful than partition, and more in keeping with the promise of both democracy and Judaism: total equality under the law for all Israelis and Palestinians in a single state (in other word, annexation). Consider Palestinians as full Israeli citizens - and abolish any legal or practical distinctions based on religion or heritage in keeping with the sacred Law as found in the Book of Leviticus. Palestinians must end their desire for a separate state and join with the Arabs in demanding full civil rights as Israelis, including a limited right of return. If a person is born in a country, or his parents have been, allow him to return without restriction (as long as that person wishes to live in peace). If one is looking to reoccupy the land of ones grandparents, it is probably best to stay put. The Palestinians must commit to non-violence. Without such a commitment to peace, the Zionist stance is justified and not even partition is an option.
To find peace, there must be a catalyst and it most likely is religion. For some, Zionism has as much to do with Judaism as ethnic nationalism. A major motivation for Zionism is religious, the desire for the restoration of the Holy of Holies. Many believe that the Ark of the Covenant is buried under the Temple Mount. However, there is scholarship on the issue indicates that the Ark was moved prior to the Babylonian Exile. It has been traced to an island in the Mediterranean Sea and then to the Jewish community in Ethiopia, which converted to Coptic Christianity. Its possession is a major tenet of the Ethiopian Coptic Church. It is said to currently be in the possession of a Coptic Monastery, who protect it with automatic weapons. Other scholarship claims the heirs of the Knights Templar are holding it in England. In either case, there is much evidence for the fact that it is not be found in under the Temple Mount.
The question arises, if it is not in Israel, how is it to be restored to Zion? Certainly the answer is not through violence. Ultimately, I do not believe that the deity that is shared by the peoples of the Book will allow the return of the Holy of Holies until there is peace, and peace through justice. The treatment of Palestinians and Arabs violates the Torah prohibition of molesting aliens, which is how they are viewed. In a real sense, however, the Arabs are not aliens but brothers in Abraham who have the right to reside in the land and who have been for generations. For the Holy of Holies to be restored, these brothers must be treated with justice. With that in mind, I offer Nine Points for Peace in Israel.
Israel annexes all occupied territories and the United States, as Israel's long-term sponsor, will pay compensation to Syria, Jordan (update, Gaza is ceded back to Egypt). Residents of these territories are granted Israeli citizenship.
Arab states recognize Israel.
The war footing against the Palestinian people ends. Individuals disarm. All trials are by civilian authorities with the right of mixed juries made up of both Arabs and Jews.
4. Peace Keeping
In the interim, an international force undertakes peacekeeping activities as the Israeli military stands down.
5. Israeli Arab rights
Barriers to full participation in the political process by Israeli Arabs are removed. Religious laws, including Sabbath laws, do not apply to non-Jewish residents or businesses.
A constitutional convention is called to draft a Constitution for the State of Israel, which is approved by plebiscite by all Israeli citizens, including those within the former territories.
7. Right of Return
Palestinians or their children born outside of Israel have the right to Israeli citizenship and citizenship in the country of their birth. Later generations apply for residency and petition for citizenship after a period of years. Members of certain terrorist organizations, such as Hammas and Islamic Jihad, forfeit their right of return.
The United States underwrites compensation for land seized or abandoned that has been transferred to Israeli ownership at the current market value less improvements. Compensation is paid to returnees and to those who chose not to return or to their descendents, provided that members of certain terrorist organizations, such as Hammas and Islamic Jihad, receive no compensation.
9. The Ark of the Covenant
The Coptic Church of Ethiopia returns the Ark. A new Temple is constructed at a new site in the Jewish quarter. The Catholic Patriarch and his Orthodox counterpart transfer the Ark to the appropriate authorities.
Lessons from the War in Iraq (Geocities Rescue)
Before addressing the lessons of Iraq, let us first look at its future. Now that Saddam Hussein has been removed, American and British authorities are endeavoring to undertake nation building in a nation that itself was a product of colonialism. Iraq is an unlikely collection of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, with the Shiites having sympathy for their co-religionists in Iran and the Kurds harboring dreams of nationalism and eventual unification with their fellows in Iraq and Turkey (a NATO ally that rightly fears both Kurdish terrorism and the loss of territory).
Part of the problem is one of scale, as Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel are too small for true viability. Perhaps the solution for both the Iraqis and the Arabs as a whole is a single, multi-state nation on the American model. The ancient Hashemite Dynasty is a unifying symbol for the formation of such a state, which potentially evolves into a constitutional monarchy based in Damascus, its former capital city before French colonialists expelled King Abdullah’s great-grandfather. While pan-Arab nationalism, as well as the eventual unification of Kurdistan may have to wait for another day, asking His Majesty to take the lead in the reorganization of Iraq seems preferable to any solution choreographed from the shores of the Potomac, even if it is designed and implemented by the best that Foggy Bottom has to offer. A satisfactory solution in Iraq brokered by the King, combined with a solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, lays the groundwork for eventual peace in the region.
The Decision to Go to War
In December 2002, while much of the nation was in an uproar about whether to go to war in Iraq, I was not really excited one way or another. Unlike many Democrats, or even my fellow Nader voters, I did not use this issue as a surrogate for my feelings about the 2000 election. (As an aside, for Gore to pin his chances on a state where his opponent’s brother is Governor did not show presidential judgment. No Democrat who can’t win Ohio, or his home state, deserves the office).
Many protested that the war was not just. I would disagree, as any dictator who uses chemical weapons against his own people has lost any claim for justice on his behalf. The reception given the liberating American forces bears out the justice of this particular war.
Many thought the evidence of weapons of mass destruction to be flimsy, as recent reports seem to be bearing out. I counter, and echo others in doing so, that given the current climate it was up to Saddam Hussein to cooperate unambiguously in proving they were not there. He did not do so, even in the face of a massive American military buildup on his borders. He had to know that this buildup would be used before the onset of summer desert weather. To expect otherwise did not make sense. It can be called a miscalculation. If so, that miscalculation cost him his government, led to his capture and will likely cost him his life. He depended on international pressure to prevent President Bush from acting. He did not understand his enemy or the real state of international law.
The United Nations and International Law
International law is based entirely on bilateral and multilateral agreements among sovereign states. All agreements are of equal validity, so to determine whether an action is legal in the international sphere, one must look at all of them, not just the United Nations Charter. President Bush challenged the ability of United Nations to respond in Iraq. The U.N. ignored the obvious considerations having to do with desert warfare and the security of the United States, proving itself irrelevant. The UN only does so much because it is not sovereign. Rather, it is an assembly of sovereigns. To be sovereign, its legislature has to be directly elected, or it has to add an elected assembly to supplement the General Assembly. The other barrier to UN effectiveness is the diffusion of executive power. The Office of Secretary General carries much prestige, but no power. The real executive is the Security Council, which is structured to prevent action rather than to act. Without a single executive to provide leadership and implement policy, the UN has no hope of effectiveness. The final strike against it is its inability to raise funds. Currently, it depends on contributions after the model of the defeated Confederate States of America and the government of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. It is nothing more than a paper tiger, as the experience in Iraq has shown. President Bush was correct in his assessment of its effectiveness. He challenged it to greatness in Iraq and it failed.
There is an entire body of international law that is less ambiguous, the military alliances to which the United States is a party. Each of these makes one thing clear, that the United States is the first among equals, with an American in command of all joint operations and the American President in charge of that commander. In short, the reason George Bush can act as though he were king of the world is because for all intents and purposes, he is. The war in Iraq made this clear to much of the world’s population, which is why they protested, especially in Europe. I now address the prospects for the viability of this arrangement.
In the days when the United States was the bulwark against Communist expansion, the position of the United States was necessary, especially after the Second World War when much of Europe and Asia lay in ruin. Since the response of President Truman to Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech, America has maintained a wartime footing. Some demobilization was effected after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it was by no means total. In the case of Iraq, the United States military was able to mobilize for war rather quickly because the military was already mobilized.
Is this constant mobilization a good idea? In Iraq and in the minds of everyone in the defense industry, the answer is yes. What about its constitutionality? The Constitution prohibits the existence of a standing army for more than two years. The framers did not believe in a permanent American military presence. This is why the military itself (although not the weapons systems) are only authorized for a year at a time. Technically, the government is in constitutional compliance, although the size of our forces and their planned use are everything the framers did not want.
Defenders of the current regime say that circumstances have changed these past two hundred years, that the founders could not have anticipated the current global situation. These forget that before the revolution the founders were subjects of an empire upon which the sun did not set. With our Middle Eastern presence, this is now true about the American military. Though technology has changed, the mind of man has not. Military force is projected worldwide now for the same reasons it was then, protection of the national political and economic interest.
Our founding fathers knew all too well the advancement of such national interests abroad leads to a diminution of liberty at home. Military and economic might lead to the necessity for secrecy (the enemy of liberty), the existence of nationalism, the promotion of hierarchy and a general lessening of the freedom of expression. The enactment of the Patriot Act is just the latest installment in this drama.
Under the Clinton Administration, the pathology of militarism was played out in the question of gays in the military, with military commanders actively subverting a policy advocated by their own commander-in-chief. By the reckoning of constitutional purists and civil libertarians, such subversion is dangerous at the very least and is an example of why the framers did not desire the establishment of a standing army.
Too often, American foreign policy is used to protect nations for strategic reasons rather than a shared interest in democracy. Nations that seek our protection must share that commitment. Compromising on this implies that our national security establishment does not view these freedoms as sacrosanct and this signal is dangerous.
The international protection of our economic interests must also end. Those economic interests who seek the protection of military might are better advised to promote liberty in the nations in which they operate. If they are successful in doing this they do not need the protection of our state, while if they resist the advancement of liberty they do not merit its protection. Freedom is essential for the operation of private enterprise and private enterprise is essential for the protection of liberty.
The projection of international might is an expense the nation can no longer afford. A budget deficit of almost half a trillion dollars testifies to this fact. (Update, $1.4 Trillion). The United States need no longer protect the entire world. Our republic is not constituted to perform well as an empire. Our ideals stop us from doing it well. A true empire charges tribute and is self-supporting. Ours is bleeding us dry. A well-run empire overtly controls its client states. We covertly subvert some and cow-tow to others, depending upon our economic interests.
The chief lesson of the war in Iraq is that our allies will not long accept American dominance absent the threat provided by the former Soviet Union. It is time for a new model of American power, one based on American ideals of freedom and federalism. All nations who share our commitment can join in a common polity. This new polity shares the cost of a common defense and shares in the decision to undertake both wars of defense and wars of liberation. This enhances the authority of our ideals and our ability to back them up when necessary.