Much of our political discourse is about whether the government or the free market should control the basic structures of society. Each has its role but there are three pillars of society, whose 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, food production, manufacturers, construction, 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, personal transportation) and unnecessary items. The for profit-world is the backbone of society; labor and investment get things done, and without the for-profit sector we would have fewer innovations and improvements. Businesses need to operate free of government interference while being held accountable to law if they do harm. 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 criminal justice system, military defense, trade policies and immigration control, mass transportation, roads, communication lines, energy grids, and insurance against catastrophic illness and unforeseeable accidents. 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, medical research, and journalism. The non-profit sector 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 sector 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 charge fees for services, print its own money, impose tariffs, levy specific consumer taxes, or levy taxes on the top 1-10%. Non-profits must depend upon tax-deductible donations and charge minimal fees for some services, and/or, instead of having a welfare system, the government might merely require that all or most citizens donate some small percentage of their incomes to the charity of their choice.
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