Role of Government

A major point of disagreement among citizens in the USA is the degree to which government should be  involved in people’s lives. Should government try to control the economy?  Some want free markets.  Others want government regulations, but in the absence of a direct democracy, the most powerful people end up making the regulations. Some…

What, exactly, is “Capitalism,” and “Ownership”?

Dictionaries usually define “capitalism” as a political/economic system in which individuals or corporations are said to have the right to “own” things and therefore get to decide pricing, production and distribution of goods produced or services rendered.  I note that there is a difference between an individual and a corporation that cannot be passed over…

End the Federal Reserve

In 1913, the U.S. Treasury gave our country’s sovereign right to create currency to the Federal Reserve Bank (which is essentially a private commercial entity with little to no oversight from the government). Prior to 1913, the Federal government had created money itself. These were called Greenbacks. The value of a Greenback fell dramatically during…

Three Pillars of Society: Business, State and Charity

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…

What, exactly, is “Socialism”?

Dictionary definitions of “Socialism” don’t seem to fit the way it’s often used. For example Merriam Webster tells us Socialism is “collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods,” which sounds a lot like Communism.  The term “Socialism” is most often used to describe government support for and…

Universal Basic Income

Many politicians and mainstream news outlets are telling us that our modern digital and post-industrial economy has reduced or transformed whole classes of jobs. With online shopping, retail sales jobs are disappearing; robots are replacing factory workers, and industrial farming has replaced field laborers. In response, some countries, such as Finland and Netherlands, are testing…

Public Banking

A public bank is essentially a nonprofit organization, owned by a local, state or federal government that manages its own checking/savings accounts, accepts deposits and makes loans. The Bank of North Dakota, which has been in operation since 1919 with great success, deposits all tax and fee revenue in the state bank and uses it…

Free Market

Some of the most well known free market philosophers are  Adam Smith,  F. A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman.  Proponents of free markets believe that individuals (should) make their own decisions about what to buy and where to work.  When this freedom/right is exercised, the market responds to supply and demand by valuing goods and labor…

Minimum Wage

In the US, while the cost of living per year has increased since 1970, the average income has not increased.  This means that a lot of people are not earning a living wage, about 30% of non-self-employed workers over eighteen, according to the Pew Research Center. Behind an increase in the number of people working…

Anti-Monopoly Laws

Anti-Trust Laws were conceived to break up big monopolies in order to allow fair competition between similar companies and guarantee consumers fair prices and quality products.   This assumes that competition leads to best practices and encourages innovation. Some claim that anti-trust laws are used mainly by smaller businesses suing larger more competitive businesses, in…

Utilities

Utility companies provide electricity, cable Internet, cell service and natural gas. The free market may be less capable of providing utilities because generally only one utility company can operate in each area, and/or because governments often regulate or subsidize the construction of lines and access, and this benefit should not go to any private corporation. …

Hospital and emergency care

No civilized society allows people to die just because they don’t have money for medical care. The United States is the only developed country without a universal health care system and where medical bankruptcy is a problem. Even people covered by insurance may suffer bankruptcy when insurance covers only 80% of care that runs into…

Public Education

When public education was established in the U.S. back in the 19th century, cost efficiency was undoubtedly a primary concern and a main motivating factor. A dozen children could be educated by a single well-qualified teacher for far less than the cost of hiring a private tutor for each family. Today the average cost of…

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Some are against Direct Democracy because they fear that poor people, who outnumber the rich, will vote for more government welfare services for themselves and higher taxes for the rich. Taxes Funding for government activities does not have to be provided by an income tax and was not provided by income tax before 1913. Directly…

Privacy

The Library Bill of Rights affirms the “ethical imperative to provide unrestricted access to information and to guard against impediments to open inquiry. When users recognize or fear that their privacy or confidentiality is compromised, true freedom of inquiry no longer exists.” In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right…

Military – Defense

The United States Department of Defense reports spending about $600 billion per year, which is more than one third of total military spending of all countries on the globe. The next biggest spender after the U.S. is China at about $200 billion per year.  A military defense system against foreign invasion is an obvious service…

Volunteer Support for Warfare and Welfare

Partisan groups are often divided over the issue of spending tax dollars on war and spending tax dollars on welfare. What if decisions about going to war, sending weapons, or funding police actions could be made by the people instead of Congress or the President? What if those who voted for war were expected to…

Regulations

Licenses and regulations are intended to prevent people from doing harm to others. Consumer protection regulations, many of which exist due to Ralph Nader efforts, have saved many lives. Critics of the practice say that this is preemptive justice, effectively punishing people (with economic harm) who have not committed any crime; instead, they claim, the…

Prison System

Enforcing laws created by the state (or, with a Direct Democracy, the people) is an indisputable, essential role of the state. How can this service be performed without creating a financial burden on the people? Critics of big government often point out that, without profit motivation, bureaucracies do a poor job of running programs efficiently….

Welfare for disabled persons, children, crime victims

Some believe that a healthy state takes care of individuals who, through no fault of their own, cannot take care of themselves. Does a state have the moral duty to care for disabled persons and children? What should the state provide?

Workfare for the poor

Assuming that providing welfare for children and the disabled is considered a separate issue, should the state provide welfare for those who cannot find work?  If so, under what conditions and for how long?  During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt  started a number of social welfare programs to keep citizens from losing their homes or…

Mass Transportation / Public Roadways

All citizens share the roadways and mass transportation systems.  Even those who do not use mass transportation can benefit from these services insofar as the systems increase property values by making commuting more efficient.  No individual can have access to such a system without a community or a corporation to provide it.  Since roadways and…

Immigration

The United States is a land of immigrants. Our rich cultural heritage is very much part of what makes us a great nation. Many immigrants currently working illegally in the U.S. provide cheap labor and this can adversely affect our economy.  It makes sense to provide a path for these people to get work visas…

Higher Education

The purpose of a higher education had, at one time, been viewed as a public good, to provide a well-rounded general education to citizens that included many humanities courses and as well as science or math. According to this view, state funded college and university research would benefit the public at large in terms of…

Access to Culture

Some believe that culture –literature, visual art, music, theater and etc.– is an important aspect of a healthy state.  Culture, as distinct from entertainment, is often not commercially viable. How, then, do artists support themselves?  During the Great Depression, the Work Progress Administration funded many public art projects. Some of these state-sponsored art projects were…