The Balanced Value System

Share this article...

The Vision

Include:

  • It be taken for granted that everyone has baseline needs met, food, shelter, clothing, medical services and quality education.
  • A society in which decisions are made with an eye to fairness for all and environmental and social sustainability for future generations
  • Australians working together collaboratively utilising the innate skills of every citizen to improve a globally leading sustainable society.
  • An environmentally, socially and economically balanced society which thus allows the enjoyment and flourishing of community, music, art, drama, writing and practical creativity of every kind as the pinnacle of social standing.
  • The total lifecycle cost of producing and contributing to society no longer exceeds the total lifecycle costs of consumption.
  • Global leadership in thought and action to provide a living, evolving example of what humanity can aspire towards.

Exclude:

  • Climate Change, global poverty, hunger, displaced people, child sex slavery, human trafficking, pollution, extinction of species, degradation of habitats and oceans, logging of rainforests.
  • The GDP is NOT the yardstick of progress. There are many more important things than money.
  • Permanent war as a defining character of the country
  • All the truly important things keep getting pushed to the side while we focus endlessly on economics, budgets, wars and weapons.

A Balanced Value System

“Whilst there is value in everything on the right, it is never more than those on the left.”

This isn’t an ‘either/or’ statement. This is an ‘and/both’ statement. Both can be values, but one is preferred. This is to show the pathway to the vision more clearly.

The value system is the means to provide guidance to policy creation. This avoids the situation where policies aren’t all working towards the same vision and end up being determined on the fly as political expediency directs. This is precisely the situation the old parties in Australia find themselves in.  This problem of ‘policy on the fly’ is forcing the creation of an alternative party that hold values that all policy must align to.

At the beginning of every vision there is a stronger sense of what you don’t want than what you do want. The danger at that stage is becoming too focused on what you don’t want, which just results in establishing precisely that again. Change through revolutions in the last few centuries have almost always resulted in the re-establishment of the old order with new faces at the top. That’s what pure outrage thinking always achieves.

This is only partly because thinking about what you don’t want shows a distinct lack of real vision, the fuller truth is there are good systems and processes within any society that are useful and should be preserved through change. The danger here is preserving the old system for its inherent value carries something of the old problems along with it.

So how do you define a pathway to establish a new vision whilst preserving the old tools that are useful?

The simple answer is by establishing what you do want to concentrate on first to provide the contrast against the current state of what you don’t want to concentrate on. By providing both sides you provide the parameters to both lead towards the vision while avoiding the pitfalls of the current state you want to escape. To put that another way, defining the problem is the beginning to defining the solution; but you must be careful not to recreate the same problem.

Example: Collaboration over the culture of me

Establishing that you see collaboration as a value is a great, but empty, statement on its own.  It gains far more clarity by contrasting with the current state you are trying to navigate away from. Collaboration is indeed how humans function by default to create and maintain a stable society. It is only through collaboration that anything great has been achieved in the entirety of human history.  The ‘culture of me’ tries to change that history to say advances are purely the responsibility of individuals.  A version of history largely propagated by those individuals.  This is plainly nonsense, even those individuals who had moments of great perception had to convince many others of that vision before it became effective and they society had to be ready to listen.  How many individuals may have had the same idea before and been forgotten by history? We only remember the lucky few who happen to be in the right place and the right time for an idea to emerge into mainstream culture.  They only see further because they have “stood on the shoulders of giants” as Isaac Newton put it.  Human history is a history of individuals AND organisations working to solve problems.  To say either is inherently superior is to ignore the evidence.

You could say that you don’t value the ‘culture of me’ and list a big negative table to try and achieve the same result, but that loses meaning and effectiveness because the culture of me can have legitimate value as well. When it is used to mean the development of self-expression, creativity and identity, this culture is a powerful force for good.

Without providing the balance point between the two values to show their relationship, you can’t really define the pathway you intend.  Starting in 2015 the culture of me is far too dominant, so we need to navigate away from this extremist view, back to maintaining a balanced view.

Wouldn’t it be better to live in a society where collaboration and integration was the standard result, but individual freedoms and choices were also respected?

It isn’t a contradiction in terms, it recognizes there is value in both, but in moving from the society we have towards the one we want, we need to navigate towards collaboration first. We need to value it more highly.

“Whilst there is value in everything on the right, it is never more than those on the left.”

-Global Values-

Empathy over Selfish Greed

Culture Choice

A culture based on empathy leads to the social cohesion necessary for stability and happiness.  Almost all humans are hard wired for empathy with mirror-neurons that allow us to react to another creature’s experience as though it were our own.  There are, however, a very small number of people who lack this ability and become sociopaths and psychopaths.  They do not see others as valuable at all and seek to manipulate and control by any means possible.  For the majority, the innate ability of empathy can be taught out of daily practice by a sociopathic culture, but doing so causes immense costs to that society.  This is normally achieved by identifying the enemy as not being human, of being lesser or animalistic.  This creates a false distinction that justifies the sociopathic drive.  Instead of acting together with a common end in sight, you have fractured groups fighting each other for supremacy in a never ending process that will destroy the society over time.  This process has been seen at micro and macro levels over the course of recorded history, from the fall of empires to the annihilation of villages.  The first step towards the end of a society is the culture of greed becoming the dominant paradigm; revealing itself in extreme wealth inequality and extreme decadence for that minority.

A society founded in empathy is the only way to experience the kind of stability that leads to widespread happiness and engagement.  When all humans see each other as companions on the same journey, we can look towards positive uses of human endeavour instead of militaristic advances alone.  For a deeper exploration of this idea to show the possibilities, please watch this video about The Empathic Civilization. (https://www.thersa.org/discover/videos/rsa-animate/2010/05/rsa-animate—the-empathic-civilisation/).

Having established the value of empathy, it is equally important to establish the value of greed.  Firstly, there is a risk in uncontrolled greed.  Greed is the expression of uncontrolled desire and often fed by an irrational fear that ‘someone is trying to take what I have away from me’.  We spend a lot of time teaching children to share and cooperate to bring these desires under control and manage socialisation properly.  Unfortunately there are some for whom this is never effective and they go on to create a culture of greed around them.  Rarely popular (except by manipulation), these people often end up wealthy and influential – considering themselves superior in a culture that gave rise to the idea of the ‘divine right of kings’ to rule absolutely.

However, these are the people who built risky trade businesses that have connected the world.  These are the people who forged kingdoms that allowed science to evolve and uncover new technologies.  These are the businesses funding obsessed scientists and engineers who spent their lives solving immense problems to build the modern world.  Greed can be harnessed for the benefit of all society as long as it is controlled and fettered to the common good.  The best example of that control comes in the form of progressive taxation that places the burden of paying tax on those who can most afford it.  This taxation acts to require the payment of the social debt these people and organisations owe to the society that has enriched them.  If greed drives these people above all else, it is up to society to explain that this debt must be paid.

The other controls that must be placed on the greedy come in the form of worker’s rights laws and environmental protection laws.  Both of these act to prevent the greedy from destroying the lives of others in order to satisfy their selfish urges.  It is a common lie of the greedy to say if you tax or restrain them too much, they will leave the country and stop delivering value.  They can’t stop being greedy and will always seek to gain more for themselves, if they don’t want to pay their debt to society in one country, they can try their luck elsewhere.  It’s absolutely no loss, there’s always another waiting to step up and society is better off without someone so greedy they don’t want to contribute at all.

This shows why empathy must be the preferred value, to ensure society is helped by and protected from the culture of greed; whilst also recognising that greed can be useful when controlled.

Planet over People over Profit

This relationship shows the new understanding of environmental and social debt that is created by all human activity.

There isn’t another earth we can expand infinitely into.

Therefore, we must run our global society sustainably within the means of the planet to support us in the long term.

Likewise, society is more important than any group of individuals within it and must be protected from the profit driven culture of greed.

The global economy is an emergent property of a complex society.  Without a solid environment and society to support it, the global economy will dissolve.

However, there is value in profit as well. It is the means to create the wealth needed to advance and improve the quality of life for all societies across the world.

The important point is that organisations seeking to make a profit must establish that it is not at the expense of the planet or its people.  For most small businesses, this isn’t a concern as they generally can’t have a large impact.  For medium and large business, this becomes an increasing concern as they have shown that in just two centuries we have fundamentally changed the global ecosystem for the worse.  It is the role of the government then to enforce this value hierarchy and force out of existence any organisation that conflicts with it.

Sustainability over short term thinking

We only have one planet and we know that human activity is already causing dramatic effects.  In establishing priorities of business and government it is important to understand how sustainable any practice is.  If it can’t be undertaken for at least thousand years without change, then it should be discouraged or outright banned.  Short term thinking today has come to mean short term profits (1-3 years) at any cost.  The value in short term thinking is about taking action in controllable terms, which often means 3-5 years is as far as you can plan without needing to adjust for global conditions.  The balance comes in making long term plans for 30, 50, 100 and 1000 years and fitting the short term plans entirely within that scope.

Ethics over ‘Special Circumstances’

There was a time in Australian government when a politician would step down given the slightest hint of legal proceedings or corruption.  This was done to avoid bringing the parliament into disrepute. Those ethics have been conspicuously absent for the last few decades with politicians more likely to hang on to power at all costs while perverting the course of justice by any means available.  Australia needs politicians and businesses that are held to ethical account; especially held to the value system described here.

Some corrupt politicians have argued that there were special circumstances that made their activities seem corrupt, but actually weren’t.  Whilst untrue in most of their cases, it is possible that a special circumstance makes an activity that would otherwise seem corrupt actually become the best course of action.  For instance, authorising government grants to a company owned by a family member of the politician is immediate cause for concern.  But what if that is the only company offering deployment and maintenance of utility solar power in a remote area of Australia?  What if it was the cheapest and best tender because of that?  Isn’t the benefit of renewable energy to the long term vision more valuable than avoiding a conflict of interest?

The balance point here must be in the majority for the rule of ethics and adherence to the value system, but it recognises that sometimes ethically grey situations arise for consideration of relative value.

Empowerment over restriction

A government should act to empower all citizens to live happily according to their principles.  The immediate conflict this creates is the problem of resolving a conflict of principles or interest.  To regulate a cohesive society a government must impose restrictions on personal freedoms where they conflict with other values expressed here.  The need for environmental and social protections is more important than the drive for profit – so the drive for profit is restricted while other initiatives are empowered.  It’s a matter of redirecting the energy of people into any productive course according to their abilities instead of imposing blanket restrictions as a knee jerk reaction.

The value of restriction is only justified in terms of aligning actions with this value system.  A business seeking to make profit from environmental damage must be restricted.  A person inflicting violence on others must be restricted.  A government trying to suppress dissent must be restricted.

Evidence over belief

The renaissance brought the study of science to the mainstream and displaced the culture of faith that preceded it.  The study of science is fundamentally about producing evidence to support a hypothesis and this approach must be used in devising government policy.  If a new policy is to be implemented, it must be supported by a body of evidence and reasoning that clearly shows that the policy will act to remove the stated problem or provide the stated opportunity.  The absence of such evidence in the neoliberal philosophy that has dominated western democracies for over three decades is a cause of much concern.  It is easy to show that neoliberal principles actually harm the majority whilst funnelling wealth to a diminishing few. This is almost the precise opposite of what it claims to achieve.  This mistake cannot be allowed to continue or happen again.

The evidence to support any policy or practice must be clear and any contradictory evidence accounted for and explained.  Choosing only data that supports the case is not acceptable, it must account for all the data available or simply be rejected as incomplete.

It is also possible that while attempting to create truly innovative solutions that the evidence must come after practice.  You can build up some evidence in advance to show likely results, but at some point you have to proceed on the belief that it will provide the intended good.  This is perfectly acceptable under this balanced value, provided that progress is measured and reported to show that it does align to expectations.  If it diverges, then changes must be made to bring it back into alignment with the desired result.

Collaboration over the culture of ‘me’

Collaboration is the normal way that societies operate.  People work together to achieve greater things than could be managed alone.  With larger and larger organisations working towards common ends, more amazing products result.  One of the stranger results is a culture of individual greatness that ignores this group effort.  Many sociopaths believe that great things only occur because of individuals, the truth is never so simple.  The largest organisations rely on a network of people working consistently towards a common goal and this is rarely very reliant on the individual at the top of the hierarchy doing anything more than setting that goal and convincing others it is worthwhile.  Once the organisation is in motion, the workers at the bottom of the hierarchy have more to do with any success than managers at the top.

Valuing collaboration more highly places the correct emphasis on how amazing organisations are and how it is through broad teamwork that the best endeavours have been realised.

However, there are times when individual development/needs/issues are of value. When the ‘culture of me’ is about self-expression, development and creation of identity it is immensely important and powerful. The culture of me is an expression of personal choice, something that itself is the subject of another balanced value statement to clarify. There IS value in it.

The problems occur when the culture of me is the ONLY thing. Telling everybody that they are uniquely awesome and correct in everything they think and do leads to social breakdown and fracturing. It leads to immense alienation within cities where 30% of people live by themselves, sinking into self-imposed solitary confinement believing they are being empowered all the while suffering the mental torment this causes to any essentially social creature. It leads to a culture of ‘everyone for themselves’ ‘I got mine – screw you’ – the precise social Darwinism (economic survival of the fittest) of the 19th Century that socialism emerged to counter. There are plenty of studies to show this current problem, just look at the US and UK horror stories today…and Australia’s current course following them in that race to the bottom.

By placing the emphasis on collaboration, we seek to move the social norms towards accepting that as the standard and individual driven pursuits are the exception.  Society needs individuals, especially in creative arts, innovation and science; those individuals also need to belong to the mass collaboration that forms society.

-Government-

Service Improvement over Privatisation

There is a belief that government organisations are inherently inefficient and cannot be trusted to deliver high quality services to citizens.  Whilst there are examples of these being true in old bureaucracies run on principles of nepotism and self-interest, it is equally found in private industry.  There is no kind of organisation that is inherently better at providing services; the culture of the organisation determines the results.  Very successful organisations tend to have a culture of inclusion, that everyone is working towards the same goal and contributes their part to the best of their ability – whilst always ready to help anyone else to achieve that common success.  It is this kind of culture that must be promoted in any organisation.

There are particular industries that form natural monopolies that should never be privatised either.  Australia is not large enough to maintain any effective competition in essential infrastructure industries such as health, education, law enforcement, telecommunications, internet, transport, water & gas supply and electricity production & transmission.

It is more cost effective to set high service expectations and work towards them than pretend that privatisation is a panacea.  If there is a problem in the culture of a government service provider, that should be addressed directly by changing management style and managers.

However, in other industries where real competition is possible, there IS value in private enterprise. The government should perform only regulatory activities and act in a general way to encourage innovation through incubator programs.

Investment in citizens over narrow interests

It is the duty of the government to provide for all citizens, not any particular group of citizens.  The provision of health and education in particular is the largest investment a society can make in itself and its future.  The government has an obligation to provide these services equally to all citizens as a baseline.  Essential infrastructure services should also be the preserve of the government in providing a safe, secure environment for all citizens to enjoy their lives without fear.

This investment should also encourage innovation through small business incubators that allow new ideas to flourish and work in a collaborative environment.  This support should only be provided to Australian owned and run small business and never to foreign owned companies.  Some investment can be as grants, some as low interest loans and some as passive share ownership which allows for businesses supported in their infancy to later pay a dividend to the government and hence all citizens.

Politicians and other government employees are there to provide services for all citizens, they are not there to enrich themselves at the taxpayer’s expense.  Having said that, they don’t provide a service for free and must be compensated appropriately.  Politicians and bureaucrats therefore should share the same employment conditions and benefits as the majority of Australians.  There is no justification for special treatment, if that is their reason for being a politician or government worker, then they have the wrong motivation to begin with and must be discouraged.

Education over judgment

The government’s role is to provide education to all citizens to allow them to make informed decisions.  This education should be provided for all ages as topics become relevant.  Providing the same opportunities to all citizens equally should mean providing help when required.

There is a value in judgement and punishment when an educated citizen persists in antisocial or destructive behaviour.  This will still happen, but should not be the standard approach – it is the exception.  Education provides a sustainable answer that allows the culture to evolve with the needs of the time.

Active citizens over government program

Whilst there are many industries that must remain the preserve of government, there are even more that would be better handled by active citizens.  This may be volunteer or paid work, but should be preferred as an independent organisation rather than an increasing arm of government.  Various levels of government already provide support and regulation in many fields and this should continue, but ways to make these activities pay for themselves should be explored to make them sustainable.

Government programs do still hold value, but must become the exception outside regulation and natural monopolies.  The government might act to create of support the creation of programs, but must withdraw support within a fixed time period to force the organisations to become self-sustaining.

Personal Freedom & Choice over Restriction

It is the government’s role to provide an open environment of education and support to all citizens.  Activities should not be restricted, but information provided to allow citizens to make their own choices.  Regulation then provides a safe environment for citizens to enjoy these freedoms.

There is value in restriction where activities affect other people and impinge on their personal freedoms.  The focus must be on collaborative approaches and solutions that provide an ‘and/both’ solution rather than an ‘either/or’ decision.

Privacy over security

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

It is not the prerogative of a government to spy on its own people.  The government must instead assume all citizens are working collaboratively and honestly and be required to provide extensive proof if that is not the case.  Many psychological studies demonstrate that people behave according to expectations.  An oppressive government creates the criminals it so desperately seeks.  An open and free government creates the collaborative and active citizens it seeks.

There is value in the provision of a stable society within a country; it is the foundation of all the greatest of human achievements. A level of security is required, but should be tightly targeted at known offenders based on evidence rather than imposed as a blanket across all citizens.

Public interest over other concerns

The public interest is paramount and the foundation of all good journalism.  It is the role of journalists to inform active citizens, not to entertain a disconnected mass.  Any organisation acting to suppress investigative journalism must be investigated and prosecuted.

There is a balance point where specific journalists mount campaigns based on little evidence, but more on personal emotions or where politicians need a level of secrecy to conduct sensitive negotiations.  There are genuine other concerns, but they must be in the minority of circumstances.

Creative culture over suppression

In establishing the existence of a flourishing society, the strongest measure is the output and style of creative endeavour. That creation can take multiple forms, artistic pursuits, scientific research, business innovation and an overall society that embraces its future of change and development.  A stagnant society tends to suppress change and creativity and in doing so normally destroys itself.  Human history is an illustration of periods of immense creativity and positive change followed by periods of stagnation and suppression.  The suppression normally ends in violent uprisings and revolutions that again trigger the needed creative culture to emerge.

The current world of neoliberal ideology is strongly suppressing creative culture by draining both time and money away from the masses who must work longer and longer just to survive.   This is a sign of a toxic culture in decline and heading towards violent uprisings that have already begun globally.

The balance point for government policy must then be focussed on funding, incubating and supporting all forms of creative culture at all levels of society.

Australian arts over cultural cringe & imports

There is a constant struggle with the concept of the Australian identity.  Whilst the dominant culture is certainly English and European in nature, the multicultural history and current state have created a new space for culture to emerge.  Whilst respecting existing culture brought to Australia from many other countries, Australia must forge its own identity from the fusion of these elements.

It is currently cheaper and easier to buy foreign produced artistic endeavour than experience anything home grown.  With governments acting to shut down music venues, theatres and other spaces for public expression, we barely give ourselves a chance.

The balance point for government policy must then be focussed on funding, incubating and supporting all forms of Australian arts at all levels of society.

-Business-

Small Business over Multinational Corporations

Big Business is important, but not more important than the quality of life of the bulk of the population.

Corporations must work within the structure government imposes to ensure a regulated market working for the people’s benefit is the result.  A free market is a utopian myth that exists only in the imagination of economists.  The term ‘free market’ has been twisted in the last few decades to carry only the meaning ‘free from government regulation’.  It is then further warped by the hypocrisy of greedy rich people who maintain that government interference distorts markets, yet actively pursue corporate welfare programs.  They are against government interference with their interests, but support receiving taxpayer money without providing benefit in return.

What is required is a balancing force on the market to ensure we gain the benefits of innovation and competition without the stagnation of corporate monopolies.  The incredible deregulation of the US market since 1980 has shown clearly that this approach only achieves a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few; it guarantees monopolies are the result.  This can be directly, where a single company operates in an industry, or indirectly, where a single umbrella company owns a controlling share in multiple subsidiaries that pretend to compete.  In order to balance off the tendency for large corporations to swallow smaller ones, engage in anti-competitive practices and outright distort the market in their favour; there needs to be a balancing force.

This balancing force is provided by a government that actively takes a profit share from large corporations and redistributes them to incubate entrepreneurs, startups and small business.  This incubation is aimed to protect small business from anti-competitive activities and supporting them to grow as required to displace existing corporate markets. The aim is to teach, train and encourage new businesses at the expense of old ones, creating a dynamic marketplace dedicated to reinventing itself perpetually within a zero global net growth balance sheet.

Sustainable over short term

Any solution must be evaluated for long term sustainability before it can be accepted to provide short term profits.  The current tendency for governments to plan only for the next election is leading to results that look good over five years that will prove to be crippling to the country over thirty years.  Without justifying all programs against a ten, thirty, fifty and hundred year outlook, no government is acting in the best interests of its citizens

Innovation over domination

A government working to build up creative culture cannot let any single business entity dominate a marketplace to the exclusion of all others.

The only exception to this is in the realm of natural monopolies in Australia that are the realm of the government to run, but the realm of private industry to support with innovative technology.

There is value in both, but innovation is the preferred result – and can be obtained even within essential infrastructure services provided by the government.

Australia as global leader over short-term local profit

In establishing Australia’s long term future sustainable outlook, investment must be focused on making the country a recognized global leader in the services of the new century.  This requires support to business working to build intellectual property and high quality products within Australia.

However, not every business will be new and able to place Australia as a global leader, sometimes local profit is required to keep the domestic economy running healthily.

The balance is provided to favour thought leadership over maintenance.

-Business & Government Relationship-

Small business investment over corporate welfare

The balancing force is provided by a government that actively takes a profit share from large corporations and redistributes them to incubate entrepreneurs, startups and small business.  This incubation is aimed to protect small business from anti-competitive activities and supporting them to grow as required to displace existing corporate markets. The aim is to teach, train and encourage new businesses at the expense of old ones, creating a dynamic marketplace dedicated to reinventing itself perpetually within a zero global net growth balance sheet.

Nationalised natural monopolies over fake markets

Industries with little or no competition in Australia should be government operated to varying degrees.  Instead of pretending that there is competition in a non-existent market and handing control to private interests, the government must take the role of primary service provider.  Then it establishes service level requirements on the overall services provided by that government organization that are adhered to and enforced stringently. These service levels must include continuous service improvement components that are subject to regular review.

The danger with establishing any kind of monopoly service provider is the lack of competition leading to little or no innovation or evolution in the quality or efficiency of service.  The avenue for change here should be through the network of small to medium businesses providing specific materials, equipment and sub-contracted services to the government operation.

The result allows Australia to spend more effectively on essential infrastructure services such as telecommunications and utilities to provide the highest quality services for all citizens.

Regulation over unbalanced market

Corporations must work within the structure government imposes to ensure a regulated market working for the people’s benefit is the result.  A free market is a utopian myth that exists only in the imagination of economists.  The term ‘free market’ has been twisted in the last few decades to carry only the meaning ‘free from government regulation’.  It is then further warped by the hypocrisy of greedy rich people who maintain that government interference distorts markets, yet actively pursue corporate welfare programs.  They are against government interference with their interests, but support receiving taxpayer money without providing benefit in return.

Regulation must act to rebalance the market to counteract the incredible advantage that large corporations possess.

Workers’ rights over corporate interests

The rights of workers must always take precedence to the specific interests of any business.  If the business activity would impinge on the freedom, safety, security or quality of life of the workers, then it must be disallowed.

There are balancing circumstances in each case and these must be considered by government authorities and resolved publicly.

Freedom of expression and association over the demands of power and influence

The interests of business do not supersede the interests of citizens and their right to expression and association according to their desires.  All policy must balance towards protecting individual freedoms.

-Economy-

Zero global net growth over infinite growth

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” – Edward Abbey

The global economy needs to reach a Zero Net Growth equilibrium point and Australia must take steps to reorganise its economy to match this goal.

The primary reason for this is to recognize that we live on a finite planet with finite resources.  Infinite cumulative growth can only consume all our resource in a one way ride to oblivion.

The other reason we need this change is to provide the right environment for markets to constantly innovate and regenerate over time without destroying the finite resources of the world.

Planet & People over Profit

There is no real profit if we destroy the planet and people to get it.

If there is a direct conflict between the combination of the interests of society & the global environment and the desires of any one interest group, then the needs of society and the environment must prevail.

  • Long term environmental damage is always to the detriment of society as a whole and must be punished seriously.
    • This is the essence of accepting Environmental Debt onto the accounting sheet of history.
    • Punishments for offences must be extremely harsh and escalate with repeat offences.
  • Any policy that results in the sole benefitting of one group to the active detriment of multiple others must be struck down.
    • This is the Essence of accepting Social Debt onto the accounting sheet of history.
    • Punishments for offences must be extremely harsh and escalate with repeat offences.

Environmental Debt

The fundamental problem with making environmental factors accessible in economic modelling is that this requires a way to convert the natural world into an economic equivalent.  What this has come down to is putting a dollar value on everything so it can be processed with economic models.

Whilst this approach can’t really accommodate the sense of loss we have created in driving species to extinction and destroying pristine environments, it does at least represent a way of driving the right behavior from financial institutions and corporations.  If the environmental inputs to the economic model make the business unprofitable; we all win as it is discarded.

There are already multiple environmental accounting systems, the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) is one widely used and supported globally by many organizations.  It provides a standard data set with agreed rules on its use and application to many aspects of economic modelling.

The compulsory adoption of such a standard to properly analyze all commercial operations is a necessary step towards accepting and paying our environmental debt.  This must be much more than a simple environmental impact statement created at the start of a project or commercial operation; it must be a permanent component of all ongoing account keeping.

Social Debt

As environmental debt tracks the costs to the natural world, social debt tracks the continuing impacts of a commercial activity on society.  Examples would be the provision of meaningful work to a large number of people in a community, or causing the lack thereof.  Combined with environmental debt, this would allow the full costs of a continuing oil leak from a pipe that damages land a village used to use to grow food to be calculated and assigned to the corporation as debt.

Sustainable over short term

Any economic approach must be evaluated for long term sustainability before it can be accepted to provide short term profits.  The current tendency for governments to plan only for the next election is leading to results that look good over five years that will prove to be crippling to the country over thirty years.

Without justifying all programs against a ten, thirty, fifty and hundred year outlook, no government is acting in the best interests of its citizens.

Evidence over belief

Any economic policy must be founded in bodies of scientific evidence tested and debated in an open and global process.  Evidence must be broad and deep to justify changes and to justify extreme changes it must be incredible evidence.

The balance point is that this may be used to suppress creative innovation; where belief is stronger than existing evidence.  In these cases, evidence must be built and created through small scale studies and experiments to justify the changes envisaged.

Public interest over foreign concerns

The health of the Australian economy takes priority over any other economy on the planet.  The aim of government policy is to provide for its citizens first and meet global obligations second.

The balance comes from recognising that global concerns may occasionally require some local changes that aren’t entirely positive for the domestic economy.  These must be considered and justified in the global context to be established as sensible policy.  For example, the move towards a global zero net growth economy may place strains on markets where Australia is a global leader.

-Law Enforcement-

Innocent over guilty

The presumption of innocence must be preserved and enforced within the legal system and within media reporting of legal processes.

Legalisation & Regulation over Prohibition & Punishment

There are a broad array of ‘crimes’ today that are being ineffectively addressed through prohibition and punishment.  They have done nothing to reduce incidents and in fact are guaranteeing the continuation of the behaviour.  These need to be changed to programs of legalisation, regulation and education.

There are some cases where prohibition and punishment are more appropriate, but these need to be strongly justified and in a small minority.

Pro-active education over punishment

Education starts before pre-school and should continue until death.  A society’s duty to educate its citizens to the best of its ability is paramount.  The legal proposition that ignorance of the law is no defence must be severely questioned and reduced by this program.  It is currently being more abused than used.

People react far better to personal understanding before the event than to punishment afterwards, but sometimes punishment is needed to reinforce the education.  These cases need to be strongly justified and in a small minority.

Rehabilitation over incarceration

The standard result of interactions with the legal system for criminals should be one of rehabilitation – especially for younger offenders.  That rehabilitation should not involve imprisonment by default, it must look to the root causes of problems instead of treating only the symptoms.

Incarceration is appropriate for the small number of individuals who suffer from disorders that prevent them from ever integrating in civil society.  Some people can never be redeemed and that must also be recognized.

“Let the punishment fit the crime” over “Imprison or fine”

The over simplistic approach of imprisoning or fining offenders has gone on for too long and does not serve as an effective deterrent or rehabilitation mechanism.  Punishments should be tailored to the situation and more innovation should be allowed to courts to provide better solutions that act to change behaviour, educate and rehabilitate.  Australia doesn’t need new prisons, it needs better policy on punishments.

This also means that severe white collar crime must attract the same kind of severe punishments as extreme violent crime.  Corporations that negatively impact the lives of huge numbers of must be punished both as an organisation and the individuals at the top responsible for the organization’s behaviours.

Rule of Law applied to all equally over preferential treatment for some

The rule of law must apply equally to all citizens.  There should not be policy that excludes some part of society from legal recourse.

There are some circumstances where particular protections are needed to redress the power balances between individuals and large organisations.  These include the protection of journalist’s sources and whistleblower protection.  In these cases the public interest is better served by protecting these individuals; this is what must be shown to establish a policy of preferential treatment.

 

-Energy Production-

Renewable over fossil fuel

Any policy must favour renewable energy solutions over any fossil fuel solution.  Funding and support for the fossil fuel industry must not only cease, but must be replaced by levies to help pay for the change that is desperately needed.

Whilst the transition is in progress, some groups may need particular help to smooth the process.  Farmers using diesel machinery is a good example.  Whilst eventually Australia must rid itself of all fossil fuel usage, it must accept that the change will take time.

-Transport-

Public transport over individual cars

Any policy must favour the improvement and extension of public transport services of all kinds instead of furthering the unsustainable use of individual vehicles.  The quality of service provided by the combination of public transport options should render individual vehicles an occasional use prospect.

There will always be some demand for individual vehicles, but this needs to be redirected towards using shared vehicles as required instead of every household keeping one or more vehicles largely parked and unused.

Renewable over fossil fuel

All vehicles should be shifted to electric power produced by renewable sources.

During transition there is need to keep larger trucks on fossil fuels a little longer than smaller cars, but eventually all vehicles should change.

-Environment-

Sustainable over short term

Any environmental approach must be evaluated for long term sustainability before it can be accepted.  The current tendency for governments to plan only for the next election is leading to results that look good over five years that will prove to be crippling to the country over thirty years.

Without justifying all programs against a ten, thirty, fifty and hundred year outlook, no government is acting in the best interests of its citizens.

Repair over damage

Returning the natural world to a state of sustainable abundance should be the primary goal.  The current approach of causing any amount of damage in the name of profit is profoundly self-destructive and must not be supported.

It is possible that short term damage may be necessary in order to continue a long term approach and this must be strongly justified in any policy as such.  Firestick farming is an easy example.

Preserve over develop

In order to return the natural world to sustainable abundance, we must preserve large areas to be free from human development or harvesting.

Sometimes development will be necessary, but must be strongly justified in any policy.

-Education-

Collaboration over self-interest

The education system must fundamentally show individuals how to work together to create amazing results.  However, it must also recognize the individual need to develop identity and character within those groups.

The balance must always be towards collaboration, but not to the exclusion of individuality or identity.

Topic (Phenomenon) over discrete subjects

People tend to learn more effectively through connecting many pieces of information to a topic than pretending the world exists as discrete subjects.  A single topic can and should cover multiple facets including history, language, maths, science, engineering, politics, society, culture and economics.  Providing context for all these fields shows how any topic is a construction of all of these elements instead of being an independent idea.

Sometimes discrete subjects are also necessary to establish a common ground for exploration of more topics.  These are general fundamental skills like language, mathematics and culture.

Reward teachers over restricting resources

Teachers deserve far higher recognition for the important role in society that they occupy.  Education is one of the greatest investments a society can make in its citizens and as such that investment should be made with the best possible results in mind.

This means the education system must find ways to reward all teachers and provide higher rewards for those who excel – without expecting them to move into management roles.  The best teachers are rarely the best managers and vice versa.  There is no requirement for a principal to be the highest paid resource in the school if a teacher is known to provide high quality results for their students.

Defined outcomes over micromanagement

Teachers should be given behavioural and knowledge goals instead of a strict weekly program.  The way they achieve those goals should be tailored towards students at the particular school and class.  Many people learn in different ways and this should be recognized and respected instead of ignored.

Sometimes specific management is necessary.

 

“Whilst there is value in everything on the right, it is never more than those on the left.”


Share this article...

Leave a Reply
See our discussion rules here

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>