Much of our political discourse is about whether the government or the free market should control the basic structures of society. When power becomes concentrated in corporations, business leaders can behave as if they are above the law and cease to be responsible to the consumer. When power becomes concentrated in government, politicians can act as though they are above the law and cease to answer to voters.
A Direct Democracy constraining Congressional Representatives would help prevent power from concentrating in government. A clear separation of business and state would help prevent power from concentrating in a few large corporations. A stronger Non-Profit sector is also needed to provide those services that neither the State nor the Free-Market is suited to provide.
There are three pillars of society, whose separate roles should be kept separate: 1. For-profit 2. Government 3. Non-profit
The for-profit community provides all those goods and services that are open to fair competition (e.g., clothing stores, restaurants, appliance manufacturers, and repair centers). Businesses should not benefit from any government law or licensing or regulation (for example, businesses should not receive preferential treatment from Federal Reserve banks nor should they be permitted to act as sole supplier of necessities). The for-profit industry is best at supplying the sorts of goods and services that all people expect to purchase within their lifetimes (food, shelter, clothing, household goods, ordinary medical care, personal transportation) or unnecessary items. The for profit-world is the backbone of society; labor and investment get things done, and without the for-profit world we would have few innovations and improvements. Businesses need to operate free of government interference while being held accountable to law. The business sector provides the basic needs of the individual.
The government should provide all those services that citizens require but cannot be expected to pay for out of pocket because they require the pooling of community resources with democratically agreed-upon regulations, such as a national currency, a justice system, military defense, trade protection and immigration control, mass transportation, roads, communication lines, and insurance against catastrophic illness and extreme misfortune. Government can provide these limited services better than the for-profit world, if government is held accountable by the people, as it could be in a Direct Democracy. Government provides the basic needs of a collective society.
Non-profits should provide all those goods and services that do not improve with profit motivation, products and services that should not be forced to appeal to the lowest common denominator, such as education, art, culture, scientific research, and journalism. The non-profit world is also better suited than government to provide for the development of culture and intellect because these services should not be subjected to the top-down control of government. Ideas and information need to free and unfettered. If tax deductions to charities are allowed, the charities should be regulated by the government but individuals, not government, should make the decision about where the donations go. The non-profit world provides the basic needs of the mind.
It’s important that each of these three forms of public organization are democratic and diverse, owned and run by the individual members of the business, the local, state, or Federal government and the charity. There is no need to keep the business community from offering some of the same services that government offers such as alternative currencies, medical care, transportation or that the non-profits offer, such as art or education.
How do business, government and non-profits support themselves? Businesses should be self-supporting and should not benefit from any government subsidy. Government can print its own money, charge fees for services, levy specific consumer taxes, and levy income or inheritance taxes on the top 1-10%. Non-profits must depend upon tax-deductible donations and charge fees for some services, and, instead of having the government collect taxes for services that are better left to the non-profit sector and then allowing the government to decide how those tax dollars are distributed, the government might merely require that all or most citizens donate some small percentage of their incomes to the charity of their choice.