|Musings from the Christian Left
by Michael Bindner
|What is the Christian Left
The Religious Left is a world-view based on Judeo-Christian values which emphasizes social justice rather than personal morality. The Religious Left is also called religious humanism, where the purpose of morality is the benefit of humans and discipleship consists of justice for the oppressed rather than a stand for personal righteousness.
Since the advent of Rush Limbaugh, Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition, radio listeners and broadcast experts have been speculating on the possibility of a radio talk show capturing the other side. The Voice of the Religious Left is an attempt to do just that.
These musings summarize possible Religious Left positions for your education and entertainment. They 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 musings 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 by big employer. 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 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 in 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 have relations 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.
If everything I am suggesting in these Musings comes about, the result is the end of government as we know it, not only in the political realm but also in every facet of life. The practice of democracy in the religious and industrial sectors refocus both of these areas in a way that allows the now ever present hand of government to be withdrawn from all of our lives. Churches abandon Moralism and take on service, leading to an end of religiously and racially based laws that bring America closer and closer to a police state. Employee-owned businesses plan for the long-term rather than the short term bottom line and provide safe products and a safe workplace. This new business climate diffuses through multi-national firms to the rest of the world, leading to the end of both tyranny abroad and an all present defense-industrial complex at home. The aerospace industry then concentrates on the peaceful exploration and colonization of space and man begins to realize his true destiny, exploring both his soul and the cosmos.
For these things to occur, however, action is necessary. Institutions do not transform on the weight of logic but on the actions of everyday people. The first action which is necessary is to talk. A link is provided below to get involved in the discussion online. Use it. I have no monopoly on the truth and I am sure that you will let me know this. I look forward to hearing from you soon. This should be an interesting journey. I hope you enjoy it!
A Catalog of Musings
Having described the Religious Left by its main themes: Christianity, Cooperativism, Libertarianism and Internationalism, we now explore some Religious Left positions on the various issues of the day.
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 the Christian Left
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 Left 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 C. 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 the President’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
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 the President is serious about reforming Social Security he must compromise to get his reforms past the Senate. Several of the possible compromises improve the program, although they alienate 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.
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