08 July 2014

Day 262: Democratization - Put your Money where your Mouth is with LIG - Pt3

This blog-post is a continuation of the blogs

Day 260: Democratization - Put your Money where your Mouth is with LIG - Pt1
Day 261: Democratization - Put your Money where your Mouth is with LIG - Pt2

where we've been investigating what exactly stands in our way from living the principle of Democracy in its true form - with government of the people, by the people and for the people. Herein we identified two crucial factors that require to be addressed in order to bridge the gap between the people and government, being:

1. Education
2. Ownership of Economic Influence

The point of Education was discussed in the previous blog, where it became clear that for individuals to develop political capital in order to become effective participants in direct democratic decision making, we require to invest in the people through a Living Income Guaranteed.

Within this blog we look at the second problem:

Ownership of Economic Influence

In the first part of this blog-series we stated that:

"Instead of politics being a one-party system - in the sense that only one party is involved: the people - we are working with a three-party system - there is the people, there is the elected government officials and there is those with the financial means that participate in rent-seeking to influence policy to their own advantage, regardless of public opinion."

Most are aware of the role of lobbyists in politics - but here some points of clarification:

"A lobbyist is an activist who seeks to persuade members of the government (like members of Congress) to enact legislation that would benefit their group."

"The highest paid lobbyists know that they can charge top dollar for their services because they can offer their clients access and influence at the highest levels of government. Not surprisingly, these firms' client lists are a "Who's Who" of the corporate scene; hiring these firms is simply beyond the reach of most organizations and special interests."

Those who can afford to hire the best lobbyists are able to affect change at the highest levels of government. This shows a simple equation: more economic power equals more political power. One can ask if lobbying shouldn't be made illegal - it definitely sounds fishy - but it is justified under the principle that anyone can make the government aware of their interests and ask to consider them in policy making. Some people are obviously better at this than others - and as with anything in a capitalist society - if there is a demand for services of a particular skill, the private sector will start to supply it according to the rules of the private sector. So - it seems that we will just have to compromise on the original principle - which is not meant to discriminate against who is able to/can afford to lobby the government - if we at the same time wish to retain a capitalistic free market system.

However, the Living Income Guaranteed proposal implicitly formulates a solution to this conundrum. The proposal suggests that every citizen of a country become shareholder of human rights companies (such as water provision, electricity, telecommunications, media) and natural resource companies (eg. mining companies) in their country, under the principle that such points should never be owned by  private persons as they should operate in the benefit of the whole of society. Such an adjustment would change the economic landscape from a political perspective quite drastically - whereas previously all huge corporations that can affect change through lobbying at the highest levels were owned by the elite in society - many big corporations would now be owned by the people and would become a source of effective economic influence and a vehicle for political participation on a level that simply did not exist before.

For a political dispensation to become democratically correct - we require to not only level the political but also the economic playing field because policy is determined as much by government as by the economic elite. So for those who have given up on democracy in the true meaning of the word: a Living Income Guaranteed would put an end to the compromised political systems of representation we have today.

There is one more objection to direct democracy that is still being raised - though in today's world it is so laughable I almost forgot to mention it. But here it is anyways: 'Direct democracy is not possible because it would just be too expensive and too difficult to get all the citizens in one place to rule the country.' In a world with the technology we have today - it is silly to still think of 'coming together' as a physical event. Facebook proves that it is possible to daily vote on issues - we're already doing it by the simple click of the mouse: 'Like'. So all that requires to be done is use the technology that has been developed and create online platforms for political participation.

So - there we have it: Education, Ownership of Economic Influence and Technology - all three points no longer an obstacle with the implementation of a Living Income Guaranteed. Will we come up with more excuses - or will we realize that for the first time in the history of man we have the privilege of living in the day and age that the means and ability for implementing and practicing real democracy are available? Since everyone seems to agree that democracy is the best form of government, we at the Equal Life Foundation say: Put your money where your mouth is! It is not enough to call oneself a democrat or to support democracy 'in principle' - it requires investment in the people and an adjustment in ownership of economic influence - it requires us to ACT. Money makes the world go 'round and politics is herein no exception.


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