“The goal of politics should be to bring the greatest good to the greatest number, in the most efficient manner possible, to this and future generations.”
—Michael E. Arth, Democracy and the Common Wealth:
Breaking the Stranglehold of the Special Interests, 2010
“There likely would not be a United States without Thomas Paine. There is a new Paine among us, and his message is one of reform, not revolution…The time has come for a more perfect union.”
—Columnist William C. Hall, The West Volusia Beacon
In an October 17, 2004 New York Times Magazine article, journalist Ron Suskind quoted an “unnamed Bush administration official,” widely assumed to be Karl Rove:
People like you are still living in what we call the reality-based community. You believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
This was just the sort of thinking that created the “reality” there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as a basis for the US invasion. This arrogant denial of facts with devious intent has also ushered in our post-truth era, in which professional journalists are broadly accused of fake news, while “alternative facts” are cooked up with contemptuous disregard for the truth. As President Trump’s Orwellian lawyer, Rudy Giuliani says, “Truth isn’t truth.”
I’m a reality-based candidate and a solid member of the reality-based community, who adheres to the truth-seeking process wherever it leads. Any honest and reasonable person should demand this sort of pragmatism from government. As an independent policy analyst, committed to rational thought and the judicious review of evidence and facts based on discernible phenomena, I feel compelled in the present environment to run for office as a non-partisan reformer. After reading through the following issues, and my autobiographical essay, please take the test at politicalcompass.org to see where you stand. You may find out that you are, like me, in the libertarian-left quadrant, at the opposite corner from almost all career politicians. Wherever you are on the political map, the fact that you are reading this indicates to me that you are among the vast majority of American voters who disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.
Personally, I’m not interested in politics, or the associated drama, so much as in cutting through the b.s. to get everyone a fair deal. This means running for office within the framework of the existing system, which requires me to run in one of the two major parties to be taken seriously. My Democratic Party affiliation is a clear but forced choice, since the Democratic Party is only marginally democratic and the Republican Party no longer stands for an inclusive and functional Republic, as it did with Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Once in office, I intend to help dismantle this dysfunctional, two-party system by instituting fair voting that will give all Americans a seat at the table, and make issues more important than party. Ultimately, the goal of politics should be to bring the greatest good to the greatest number, in the most efficient manner, to this and future generations. To achieve this reasonable goal, we must brush aside party politics, and the machinations of special interests, to focus on making the laws work for everyone.
Democracy in the US has been in decline for decades. Even before Trump’s election, The Economist Intelligence Unit considered the US a “flawed democracy,”ranked 21st with Italy, below Uruguay. This begs the questions: what has happened to our high ideals? And shouldn’t we lead the world in democracy and fairness? Instead, we are number one in incarceration, military spending, war-making, mass shootings, gun ownership, drug gangs, juvenile diabetes, women on anti-depressants, and the high cost of health care. Largely as a result of the flaws in our electoral system, but also due to racist, nativistic, authoritarian strands in our electorate, we now have a president who is an anti-democratic, felonious, corrupt, bullying, racist, sexist, lying, narcissistic idiot who praises dictators and mercilessly derides the free press. Since the Grifter-in-Chief and precious few of our career politicians sincerely and thoughtfully address our most pressing concerns, I feel it’s my duty as an informed citizen to sound the alarm and stand for election to the highest office. It’s a decision I made the night Trump was elected. To get a better idea of my background, my political evolution, and a more involved formulation of the issues, including ones not listed here, please read Where I’m Coming From. In the meantime, here is a summary of some major problems and their solutions:
1. Flawed Democracy/Poor Representation/Polarization: Despite George Washington’s prescient warning against the dangers of party, our antiquated, corrupt, pay-to-play, winner-take-all, two-party system drives us into two warring camps that together conspire with their corporate sponsors against the greater good.
Solution: Voting registration should be automatic and permanent. Do not force the voter to strategize or pick the lesser of two evils. End the two-party system with voting reform that requires a majority winner, does away with gerrymandered, single-member Congressional districts, and is fully representative of the people. This means replacing the Electoral College and the winner-take-all voting system with ranked choice voting in single-member elections and proportional representation in newly created multi-member congressional elections.
Take private money out of elections. Standardize candidates’ websites with required disclosures and policy positions so that the voters can easily compare where candidates stand on the issues. Further regulate the influence peddlers, who will lose any connection to private campaign funds, and shut the revolving door by banning politicians from working as lobbyists for ten years after leaving office. Ban PACs, paid political advertising, attack ads, and fund raising appeals. Mandate a single 18-year term for Supreme Court Justices. All of these reforms would limit the influence of parties, reduce polarization, allow informed voices to be heard, and bring the focus back to proper representation and policies, guided by the public interest instead of the special interest.
2. Health Care costs twice as much in the US as other developed countries, yet we don’t cover everyone and we die younger. As the population ages, and we live longer, we will need more elder care.
Solution: Institute and streamline Medicare for All. Regulate prescription drug costs. Reform the patent process to benefit consumers. Coverage will rise to 100% even while costs drop by at least 50%. Replace the drug war with treatment. Ban advertising for drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Develop universal mobile health applications to make diagnosis and treatment much more accurate, and efficient. To reduce the costs associated with an aging population, and provide dependable 24-hour care, build trustworthy, personable, attentive, interactive robots that connect with entertainment, family, friends, doctors, and human caregivers.
3. Primary and Secondary Education: Funding for public schools is paid for with property taxes. Rich neighborhoods get good schools. Schools in poor neighborhoods are underfunded. However, it has been demonstrated that, even with higher spending, the children of poor parents do worse academically than the children of the well-to-do primarily because children spend their time each day both in and outside of school with parents, siblings, and friends who reinforce their socio-economic status.
Solution: Public schools and teachers should all be funded adequately, probably by dividing all school funds equitably, but inequality also needs to be addressed through socio-economic reforms (see #5).
Schools should have programs that include life skills that will nurture well-rounded, informed citizens who are able to think critically and make intelligent choices, necessary for a healthy democracy. The voting age should be lowered to 16 with automatic voter registration.
The internet is the greatest educational tool ever developed, and educational opportunities available at decreasing cost is as inevitable as it is welcome. My own contribution to this is the ongoing development of two public policy wikis, UNICE and Logos that will eventually turn into answer engines able to respond to anyone at their own level, in any language, voice, or form.
4. The Spiraling Cost of Post-Secondary Education has turned into a scam that only the well-to-do can afford without incurring debt. Even students who work their way through college can find themselves with onerous college loans, often larger and more burdensome than a mortgage, because the student loan is not backed with an appreciating asset, and it cannot be discharged, even in bankruptcy.
Solution: Publicly funded post-secondary education and job retraining based on a voucher system sufficient to pay for a vocational, community, or state college. Existing college loans can be assumed by the government and made interest-free, or even paid down when students are willing to take certain jobs that are either hard-to-fill or serve the greater good.
5. Inequality: Even though we are all stakeholders in our capitalist system, the rules have been rewritten for the rich, who are able to buy influence through private campaign donations, lobbying, and propaganda. Organizations and politicians serving the elite manipulate the public with nationalistic and religious appeals, while spouting trickle-down nonsense, and taking all the gains for themselves. The pretax income of the top 1% rose around 300% between 1980 and 2014, while the income of the superrich (the top 0.001%) rose 700%. By 2014, the 1% received as much income as the bottom 50% of Americans, and a handful of Walmart family members alone had accumulated as much wealth as 42% of Americans. Meanwhile, the average income for half of adults stagnated at $16,000 throughout the same period, in constant 2014 dollars.
Solution: Prevent insurrection, save capitalism, and strengthen our failing institutions by reformulating the rules so that everyone benefits, and the less advantaged can improve their chances of moving up in society. End demeaning, means-tested welfare and its wasteful bureaucracy, which creates generational poverty, and institute a stakeholder’s dividend (aka Universal Basic Income or UBI) of $1,000 per month, for every citizen 18 and older. A citizen’s benefit, such as already exists in Alaska, acknowledges the fact we all have a stake in our collectively owned resources and the infrastructure we have built upon it. A Universal Basic Income would solve a vast wide range of economic and societal problems, and also benefit the rich by incorporating them, and their descendants, in a more equitable, livable, peaceful society. Educational benefits and the UBI can be financed with progressive income taxes, and taxes on accumulated wealth, financial transactions, estate taxes, as well as an all-inclusive consumption tax on certain goods and services that makes sure everyone contributes. The wealth tax should be global, as recommended by economist Thomas Piketty, not only for addressing inequality, but also to help prevent the flight of capital and to gather data necessary for making decisions about economic policy.
The UBI, combined with publicly funded higher education, will also help us adjust to the fact that automation and AI are increasingly taking over jobs. To give one striking example: driverless cars and semi trucks, already being tested, will likely replace at least five million professional drivers in the US before 2030.
We should also have a higher minimum wage, adjusted annually for inflation, beginning at $15 an hour. Along with universal health care, and all the reforms I suggest in these summaries, the bottom half of Americans would realize an increase of around 300% in benefits and income. There’s a huge difference between not enough money and enough money, but not as big of a difference between enough money and a lot of money. By making sure everyone has enough, the gulf between the rich will be narrowed and the difference in quality of life will not seem so vast and cruel.
6. Corporate Responsibility: In 1982 corporate lobbyists convinced the Reagan Administration to enact a new set of rules that favored wealthy shareholders. Before that year, CEOs understood their corporations were also beholden to stakeholders, which included employees, their customers, their community, and the environment. For example, prior to the enactment of the new laws, several oil companies heeded their own internal reports from scientists warning them that burning fossil fuel causes global warming. Despite heightened public awareness of the problem in 1980s, after the shift in focus toward higher shareholder profits, the oil business began their decades-long campaigns of denial and deception.
Before Reagan’s rule changes, workers’ wages kept up with inflation, but stagnated after 1982. This is why GM’s public-spirited CEO, Charles Erwin Wilson, during his confirmation hearing as Secretary of Defense in 1953, could say with sincerity, “I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.” What was somewhat true in the 1950s was risible in the 1980s, when corporate raiders began taking over companies and stripping away assets that would not deliver bigger returns to stockholders. CEO pay skyrocketed after it was tied to narrowly defined goals of shareholder profit that did not take into account other stakeholders.
Solution: Companies that return benefits to their workers and the community should be rewarded with lower taxes such as California legislators proposed in 2014. Even without tax incentives, more than 1,000 US companies have formed as for-profit “benefit corporations” in the states that allow them. These publicly accountable companies adopted articles of incorporation requiring them to create sustainable value by taking into account the interests of all the stakeholders and its impact on society, not just the shareholders. I support legislation that would not only recognize benefit corporations across the entire country, but would also require large corporations to adopt the “triple bottom line of People, planet, and profit.”
Elizabeth Warren’s proposed legislation does just that. The Accountable Capitalism Act would require companies with more than a billion dollars in annual revenue to get a new federal corporate charter as a benefit corporation to replace their state charter. The regulatory framework under the proposed bill (similar to European countries) would protect a company’s stakeholders from stockholders who might claim the directors were violating a fiduciary obligation to increase stock prices at any cost. It would also allow shareholders to sue if the companies failed to meet its obligations to them. Workers or their representative would also be required to comprise 40% of the board. This legislation would improve the long-term health of large companies, increase stagnated worker’s wages (thus also raising their productivity and innovation), and benefit society as a whole. Share prices would drop, but since about 10% of Americans own 84% of stocks, it will fall primarily upon the people who can afford to take the haircut.
7. The War Racket: Major General Smedley Butler was the most decorated Marine in US history up until his death. In 1934, Butler exposed the Business Plot, (aka “The Wall Street Putsch”) before a Congressional committee, a fascist scheme by wealthy industrialists including George H.W. Bush’s father, Prescott Bush. The plan was to stage a military coup and install Butler as its leader and turn Franklin D. Roosevelt into a mere figurehead. In Butler's 1935 book, War is a Racket, he wrote about his extensive experience fighting in at least six conflicts all over the world for business tycoons who had gotten the US into war for their personal gain. In President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous 1961 farewell speech he warned that what he called the “Military Industrial Complex” was slipping beyond democratic control.
Since World War II we have been involved in at least five, large-scale military misadventures undertaken as a result of false or highly questionable premises (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq War I, Iraq War II, Afghanistan). These drawn-out, ill-begotten ventures, highly profitable to the arms industry and its shareholders, and useful at times to politicians to boost nationalism and distract Americans from other issues, have killed, maimed, or psychologically damaged millions of people, cost trillions of dollars, heightened corruption, increased the drug trade, exacerbated terrorism, escalated international and domestic tensions, and destroyed trust in government. Even today, we still suffer in some way from the fallout resulting from these conflicts. We still have fighting soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq after those wars first began, respectively, in 2001 and 2003. Soon we will begin seeing soldiers fighting in those countries, and in Syria as well, who were born after the invasion of Afghanistan began 17 years ago. The wars continue to be indefensible. The governments are still corrupt and dysfunctional, and terrorism is worse than ever.
The US is still technically at war with North Korea more than 65 years after our country carpet-bombed its cities into oblivion, contributed to the death of a million Koreans and 400,000 Chinese, and helped facilitate the conditions that turned the whole country into a penal colony ruled over by a dynastic succession of dictators. Until 1987, when democratic reforms were finally ushered in, South Koreans were subjected to a series of coups and autocrats. It almost certainly would have been better if the US had never gotten involved, especially if the US had never allowed the Japanese to occupy the country beginning in 1905, or handed over the North to the Soviets in 1945. It was the Soviets who installed Kim II Sung, trained his armies, and supplied him with arms. My guess is that it would have probably would have followed the same arc as China, except that democratic reforms might have actually taken hold in both countries without the historical enmity of America’s involvement to hold it back.
The 30-year-long US military campaign in Vietnam began following division of the country between the Allies and China over ousting the Japanese in 1945. In addition to the estimated five million Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians killed during the war, 300,000 young American men were wounded or maimed for life, and another 270,000 still suffer from full-on, post-traumatic stress disorder. Between one and three million people also suffered illnesses resulting from exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange used to destroy farmland or defoliate forests over 12,000 square miles of that country. The US was driven out in 1975, having accomplished nothing but genocide and destruction.
Solution: First of all, as Butler suggested in 1935, we should take the profit out of war. If there is no profit, there is no incentive by business interests to pressure our leaders to start trouble. To truly support the troops would be to not put them in harm’s way for questionable reasons. We should learn from history and employ more carrot, and less stick. Diplomacy should always take precedence over saber rattling. We should increase the size of the State Department while reducing the size of the Military Industrial Complex. The part of the 2018 US military budget that includes the Department of Defense and the overseas contingency operations budget totals $639 billion. This should be rolled back to the fixed amount of the 2011 Budget and Control Act cap of $587 billion. Cybersecurity, now about 10% of military spending, should be at least 15% of the reduced budget in light of the growing danger from AI and cyberattacks from abroad. Inflation and the growth of the economy should allow this fixed amount of $587 billion to drop as a percentage of GDP from the current 3.2% until it reaches 2%.At the same time, our allies should increase their military budgets to at least 2% of their GDP and take over half or more of our nearly 800 overseas bases, spread over 70 countries. Many of these bases can become "cooperative security locations," financed by the countries where they are located, but used in conjunction with our military as needed. From that point on, our own military budget could remain at 2% of GDP until global peace initiatives, especially those related to nuclear arms and cybersecurity, might allow the budget to shrink further. Even if we were only spending 2% today, we would still be spending more than the combined militaries of China, Russia, India, the United Kingdom, France, and Israel.
We should also consider re-instating a draft where young people can choose a term of community or foreign service, like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, or military service—and which can be taken before or after college. Their pay would be the same as the Universal Basic Income, plus room and board. This alone would cut the military budget substantially, as well as help instill a sense of social responsibility in young citizens. A domestic youth corps could also be put to work rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, including a government-owned, fiber-optic broadband network that can be leased back to providers in such a way that the cost of internet access is reduced for everyone, while also vastly increasing the speed.
At the same time, foreign aid, especially family planning aid, should increase until it reaches at least 1% of GDP. Wars should only be undertaken in clear cases of self-defense, and even then only with grave caution. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 makes it clear that a president cannot start a war, but if Congress is controlled by private interests keen on receiving plumb military contracts, and signing off on pork barrel projects for their constituents, they are not going to be skeptical of increasing military expenditures or adventurism. We must elect leaders who can make intelligent decisions, something that has not yet been achieved. This is why all the reforms listed on these pages—especially those dealing with how we educate our citizens and elect our leaders—are so important.
8. Guns: There are almost 400 million civilian-owned guns in the US, which has a population of 327 million. This is not only the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, but includes 46% of all the world’s civilian firearms in a country with only 4% of the world’s population. Gun ownership is concentrated in only 42% of US households, which means the average gun-owning household has almost eight guns, but this is misleading since only three percent of American adults own half of the nation’s firearms. In other words, 7.5 million adults, consisting mostly of white males, have arsenals with an average of nearly 27 firearms.
What purpose do all of these guns serve, especially concentrated in the hands of a minority, other than to enrich gun manufacturers, increase paranoia, and kill people? It's not true that guns make us safer, or that the only thing that stops a bad guy is a good guy with a gun. Guns do not protect us from government tyranny. Indeed, at every level from countries to individuals, more guns means more gun deaths. The US has 30 times as many gun murders per capita as Australia, England, France, and Spain, which have few guns and strict gun laws. Even within the US, gun ownership correlates to gun deaths by state, ranging from a three per 100,000 residents in low-gun-ownership states like Massachusetts and Hawaii to around 19 per 100,000 in high-gun-ownership states like Louisiana and Alaska. And finally, on the individual and household level, gun ownership also strongly correlates to a higher rate of firearm-related deaths.
In the 1,870 days preceding February 16, 2018 there were 1,624 mass shootings, defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter. Thus, on average there was a mass shooting nine out of ten days in the US. There are over 13,000 homicides, unintentional deaths, and shootings by police each year in the US. Japan only has about seven, which adjusted for the population difference, translates to a rate 85 times lower than our country. Some make the argument that people will kill with other means if they don’t have guns, but the US homicide rate is almost 10 times higher than Western Europe, and more than 16 times higher than Japan.
Solution: The majority of Americans support stricter gun laws. Common sense legislation should be decided democratically, and without the disproportionate influence of gun manufacturers or organizations. Here’s a reasonable guide to how to reduce shootings.
9. The Drug War is a racist, hypocritical war on the poor and our youth, which has spawned gangs, drug cartels, violence, brutal repression, corruption, and soaring incarceration. The two most popular addictive drugs, alcohol and tobacco, globally kill 10 million every year, yet they are perfectly legal even though no amount of either one is good for the health. Hypocritically and illogically, half of the nearly 50-year-long drug war has been waged against people using the non-addictive drugs of cannabis, LSD, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, and peyote—which rarely if ever kill anyone—and are considered therapeutic, entheogenic and, in the case of psychedelics, useful in the treatment of depression and addiction. At the same time, “hard drugs” like cocaine and heroin, kill far less people than prescription drugs kill, with many if not most, of the overdose deaths from hard drugs being attributable to the lack of treatment, contamination, uneven dosage, violent crime, and other factors caused by prohibition itself.
Solution: We must end drug prohibition and replace it with regulation, taxation, and treatment based on evidence, not on moralistic fear-mongering. Erase the convictions of non-violent drug offenders and release them from incarceration.
10. Global Warming, and the resulting climate change, is caused primarily by fossil fuel emissions, which climatologist James Hansen estimates to be equivalent to the heat released every 24 hours by 400,000 Hiroshima-class nuclear bombs. Levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, are now higher than at any point in almost three million years, when sea levels were 50-80 feet higher than today. In the 1970s, before the fossil fuel industry decided to sow suspicion with lobbying, propaganda campaigns, and payments to scientists willing to support their lies, Exxon and others acknowledged that human activity is warming the planet. Since then, business interests, and their sycophants in government, have blocked any meaningful action toward resolving the problem. The planet is now almost 1.5 °C warmer than when the greenhouse effect was first described in the early 1900s. It’s almost too late now, with climate scientist James Hansen declaring the nearly inevitable 2 °C warming to be “a prescription for long-term disaster.” We are already deep into what Elizabeth Kolbert calls the Sixth Extinction, with 20 to 50 percent of all living species on earth projected to go extinct as the result of human activities by the end of this century.
Solution: Reverse the Trump administration’s defiance and planned withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed by 179 countries. Endeavor to stay substantially below the 2 °C increase and reverse it, if possible with energy and consumption related reforms. The world’s population will pass eight billion in 2020. We could stop the annual increase of 80 million people by providing direct incentives and free family planning to the inhabitants of all high birth countries. This would buy us time to raise the status of women and the standard of living of everyone. Fossil fuels provide about 80% of the world’s power, but sustainable fuels are developing quickly. We should stop building any new power plants that run on fossil fuels. Existing nuclear power plants are problematical, but it may be necessary to keep them running until we get greenhouse gas emissions under control. Molten salt reactors, now under development, which automatically shut down during a power outage so they cannot melt down, are powered with spent nuclear fuel. If they can provide reliable power for substantially less than solar, and safely address how to further degrade the 60,000 tons of radioactive waste that has accumulated in the US, they should be considered.
In 2010, there were one billion cars in the world. In 2020, there will be one and half billion motor vehicles, with 100 million having been produced in 2017 alone. Vehicle emissions account for at least one-third of global warming. By 2030 we could theoretically replace virtually all of the world’s gasoline-powered vehicles, including long-haul trucks, with electric-powered, driverless vehicles that, with ride-sharing, would allow us to cut the number of vehicles in half, and perhaps even more since private cars are, on average, parked somewhere over 90% of the time.
11. Overpopulation contributes to climate change, de-speciation, pollution, dwindling resources, overfishing, civil strife, wars, immigration, the refugee crisis, increasing regulation, and dozens of other issues. Politicians rarely acknowledge that all of these problems are exacerbated by overpopulation, being constantly made worse by the huge global imbalance between births and deaths. Every day, 380,000 babies are born, but only 160,000 people die, leaving an additional 220,000 every day. Several factors contribute to complacency: 1. Overpopulation is relatively slow moving compared to daily news cycles. 2. Business interests encourage growing markets; 3. Those of us in developed countries see population growth nearly reaching zero at home, and we tend to ignore how trends in the poor countries will affect all of us. 4. Many people ignore automation, increasingly longevity, and the fact that older populations correlate to greater prosperity, and conclude we need high levels of young people to take care of the old. 5. Ignorance of facts and causation: For example, Trump wants to build a wall to keep the world out, while cutting funding for family planning both here and abroad that will increase migration.
The United Nations predicts that Asia will add another billion people, and that Africa will add another three billion in this century. Huge waves of migrants will probably overwhelm democratic institutions thus increasing militarism and nativist movements—one set of effects we can expect among a cascade of frightening consequences for every living thing on Earth. The worst effects will fall upon those living in the developing countries where gender inequality and poverty correlate to high birth rates. There are reasonable solutions that could be enacted now before it’s too late, but the world is not paying attention.
Not counting immigration, the developed countries are nearing zero population growth.As a result, overpopulation is seen to be less of problem. The richest count ries have the oldest population, and they are nearing zero population growth if immigration is not counted. Automation and robots will eliminate the need for unsustainable population growth. The developing world is another story. Africa’s population is projected to quadruple in this century, and Asia will add another billion with disastrous results. There are 60 million refugees now, with
Abortion, discrimination based on gender or race, drug laws, …and solutions to many other issue are complicated by religious beliefs that are not based on evidence. Religion has no constructive role to play in government, as demonstrated by the brutal repression demonstrated in all past and present theocracies. For this reason our founding fathers were careful to separate church and state.
12. Monetary Reform: Switching from fractional reserve banking to full-reserve banking may be the best way to help finance government programs, increase prosperity, and ensure economic stability in our monetary system. Currently, only bank notes and coins are issued by the Treasury (about 9% of money) while the vast majority of money is created by private banks on electronic ledgers out of thin air and lent out at interest. With a full-reserve banking, all money including both specie and electronic, would be created by the government under rigorous guidelines, as many economists believe it should be. Instead of banks only holding about 10% of their deposits in reserve, with the government having to provide deposit insurance to prevent runs on the banks, banks would be required to hold 100% of deposits. Taxpayers would no longer pay seigniorage on money to private banks for taking over the job of the treasury. Sovereign money would stabilize the banks, vastly reduce boom and bust cycles, help reduce public and private debt, and provide a bonus that could be used to lower taxes and finance government programs. We should think of both sovereign money and the UBI as a citizens’ dividend which allows everyone to share in the common wealth, while also eliminating the stigma, inefficiency, and unfairness of means-tested welfare. Those who profit from the public and its collectively owned resources and infrastructure should be required to share the wealth more equitably. Money is an important part of that commonly held wealth.
The banking and financial sector would spend a lot of money lobbying against sovereign money, while predicting disaster. They will also point to the fact that no country currently has a full reserve system, even though polls show that most people already think that’s how money is created. After experiencing grave hardships during previous recessions, Iceland is currently flirting with the idea of adopting a full reserve system. Iceland is a small but progressive, and highly developed country of only 350,000 people, with an economy that is one-thousandth the size of the US. I propose that the US and other countries offer them an incentive of—say $2 billion—that would give each of its three major banks money for the transition, and each of its citizens $500 in cash. Iceland’s economy collapsed and all three of the major, privately owned commercial banks defaulted during the Great Recession from 2008 to 2011 due to a run on their foreign deposits which could not be guaranteed by their central bank, so they know well the dangers lurking in fractional reserve banking. This experiment would give Iceland all the economic benefits of a full-reserve banking while also calling more attention to its magnificent scenery and its burgeoning tourist industry. Once reform is shown to work, we can move quickly toward our own reform. The next serious downturn—especially one precipitated by the failure of politicians to implement banking reforms—might even facilitate it.
Michael E. Arth books, writings, and wikis related to politics:
The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems (forthcoming)
The Time Traveler: An Artist’s Quest Through the Past and Future (forthcoming)
New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism
(2008 documentary about Arth and his rebuilding of a drug slum)
Gov’nuh: A man on a bicycle, with no money, takes on the fat cats, dirty politics (and his wife) to run for Governor of Florida (A documentary about Arth’s 2010 run for Florida Governor)
Out of the Woods: Life and Death in Dirty Dave’s Homeless Camp
(2011 documentary on homelessness)
Public Policy Wikis: