The political landscape is very divisive because everyone is approaching society's problems from slightly different perspectives. We are convinced that we are right and everyone else is an uncaring, selfish, idiot. We simultaneously perceive ourselves as caring, generous, geniuses. Today I want to present a unified political theory that should be consistent with the goals and principles of these seemingly contradictory philosophies.
Before I get into the theory, I would like to encourage you to discard all preconceived notions about what things are possible and/or contradictory. I consider myself an voluntarist who believes in private property, austrian economics, and self-government. This means that I would never advocate solutions that depend upon taxation or coercion. It also means that I seek solutions that are internally consistent and free from internal contradiction. You can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a theory that supports some solutions advocated by socialists (i.e. universal basic income).
Apparent Conflict between Anarchy and Socialism
I have always viewed socialism as a means of wealth redistribution from the “rich” to the “poor”. There are many different justifications for this redistribution, but I have never found them compelling. Socialism and/or communism are usually based upon the idea of “taking from those according to their ability and giving to those according to their need.” When viewed from this perspective, those with ability will naturally resist giving up that which is theirs. It would appear that in order to support those in need some form of government must exist to coerce those who are able to produce. I reject the notion that violence and government are necessary.
Like most things in life, if you ask the wrong questions, then you will get the wrong answers. The socialists have their heart in the right place when they want to taking care of those in need. This is a noble end and something that everyone from anarchists, to libertarians, to capitalists, socialists, and communists can support. The problem isn’t with the “goal”, but with the “means” by which it should be achieved.
What socialist could complain if a system were developed that gave every man, woman, and child a guaranteed income that automatically grows with the economy. On what basis could a socialist complain if this income was automatically regulated (without politics, speculation, or expert algorithms) to balance the production capacity of society with the rate of consumption to ensure that society never consumes tomorrow's productive capacity to feed today’s wants.
With a guaranteed income automatically tuned to society's productivity, everyone could buy the balance of food, shelter, education, healthcare, and leisure that suits their preferences within a market-defined sustainable budget.
Don’t Redistribute Wealth
The root of the conflict between capitalists and socialists is that one wishes to redistribute property which the other perceives as theirs. There is obviously a moral problem with stealing from one person to give to another, but that doesn’t make the capitalists right and the socialists wrong.
Both sides are wrong and both sides are right. The capitalist is wrong in believing that they own something they don’t and the socialist is wrong in believing they must take something by force that rightfully belongs to the capitalist. The problem is the word redistribute and the root of the problem is the belief that all of the world is already “owned” by someone.
Two people crash on a deserted island. One lands near the only tree with fruit and the other on a barren beach. The man near the fruit will naturally claim ownership of the tree and the man on the beach will cry foul. The island existed before they both arrived. Neither individual has the right to make any claims. At most you can say they each have a 50% interest in the island. Before any resources can be allocated, both men must agree. Once they agree all trades are final.
If one man agrees to let the other man have the fruit in exchange for the right to the beach and everything on it then that is a fair trade. After this trade if the man on the beach is hungry because he is unable to catch fish, then he has no moral right to ask for the fruit to be redistributed. Distribution has already occurred.
The Earth is an Island
The earth is an island floating in space that we all crashed on. No one has any more right to the earth’s resources than anyone else. In order to fairly distribute the earth’s natural resources we give every man, woman, and child a token representing one share in the earth. All resources can then be auctioned off to the highest bidder (using shares as money). Proceeds of the sales are paid to each proportional to their shares. Through this process all the world's resources can be fairly distributed.
Naturally people are born and die. The question becomes does one generation have the right to claim and consume all of the world's resources or do future generations have a property right? Time is a dimension like space. Those who are born “first” are like the man near the fruit tree. He got lucky and crashed near some food. One could argue that he crashed “first” and thus inherited the whole island.
I believe that resources should be allocated fairly across time and space and all people regardless of where or when they were born have equal claim on the earth and should be allocated an equal share in “Earth, Inc”.
Distribute our Natural Inheritance
If you imagine all the earth is owned by a single corporation and this corporation pays all people 1 share of stock per day and anyone who wishes to take resources from Earth, Inc must buy them from the corporation at auction then you can imagine how wealth can be distributed to all without taking from anyone. Once the resources are purchased from Earth, Inc they become the private property of individuals.
No need to hit Reset on Property Rights
One of the problems faced by all the *-isms is that they often require a massively disruptive change to the way the world works to be implemented. You may think that it would be politically impossible to get the whole world to agree to “redistribute everything at auction”. It would be impossible and it would require force and violence. Fortunately this is not required.
Imagine Adam and Eve auctioned the entire earth. They each bid with their individual shares and allocated all of the earth's resources. Earth, Inc is now a company with no assets. Let’s assume that Eve agreed to let Adam buy the whole earth for his 1 share. Eve now owns all of Earth, Inc and Adam owns all of the Earth.
At first glance Eve may appear to be the sucker because Adam purchased the Earth. This is where one last detail remains. Earth, Inc cannot sell its future interest because the future interest is what backs it’s future shares, only today’s interest can be sold. Tomorrow is a new earth and Adam and Eve are each given new shares. On this second day Adam has 1 share and Eve has 2 shares. Because Eve saved, she now has three times the purchasing power of Adam.
Suppose Adam and Eve go about life and after a few generations everyone “forgot” about Earth, Inc and its daily shares. Suppose they all started fighting to claim land and started using gold and silver as the basis of trade. It would appear that Earth, Inc no longer mattered. All the resources of the world have been claimed and people believe they are the rightful owner. This is the world we live in today.
Earth, Inc still exists and everyone is still earning their rightful shares. All that has happened is that people have forgotten about this virtual resource. No one is buying or selling shares in Earth, Inc nor recognizing the purchasing power due those who hold the shares.
Suppose that a group of people rediscovered Earth, Inc and started using shares in Earth, Inc as a unit of account? Like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies these shares would gain market value based upon speculation and the size of the economy built around it. Those who use shares in Earth, Inc are choosing to honor every individual’s natural inheritance in the earth. Those who reject Earth, Inc would continue to deny the birthright of their fellow man.
It should be obvious that no one is going to recognize Earth, Inc’s claim to the natural resources of the world and therefore there will be no daily land auction. However, mankind is not limited to existing natural resources. Those who work to revive Earth, Inc can grant it new virtual resources that can be auctioned off each day. These resources can be namespaces, bandwidth, influence, smart contract computation, and attention.
If shares in Earth, Inc were to grow to become the reserve currency of the world then it would once again serve as a fair arbiter of property rights. It would be as if Adam recognized that Eve’s shares had value even after she sold him the earth. By honoring the purchasing power of Eve’s shares Adam would effectively be allowing a fair “return policy”.
It is entirely possible for society to transform through voluntary exchange into a world that respect the property rights of all while simultaneously giving every man, woman, and child a basic income of one share in the economy per day. Initially the economy would be small and the shares would be worth little, but as more people recognize the natural rights of their fellow man and adopt the currency the shares would grow in value.
Selling your Birthright for a Bowl of Stew
If a new cryptocurrency were to be launched that gave everyone one share per day, then many people would take their “share” and sell it on the market for next to nothing. Those who believe in the system could buy the share speculating that the market will gravitate toward the platform due to its recognition of everyone's birthright. Everyone would get to decide whether they want to be Esau, and sell their birthright, or Jacob who picks it up at the bargain basement price of a bowl of stew.
Unlike the story of Jacob and Esau, the proposed system does not allow you to sell your birthright all at once. Instead your birthright is held in trust and distributed on a daily basis. This “feature” of the system should appeal to the socialists who do not trust their fellow man to be able to budget their inheritance. At scale, no one would ever be completely broke.
There is a system that is free from politics, violence, and manipulation where by honest individuals can trade amongst themselves while respecting both the property rights and the birthright of every individual. If this system were voluntarily adopted by all of the proponents of socialism then it would become one of the largest currencies in the world and each individual’s basic income could be sufficient to cover their daily food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare. There would be no need for taxation which would save the economy hundreds of billions of dollars in accounting overhead every year while protecting everyone’s financial privacy.
The reduce taxation and regulatory burden combined with the politically neutral, market-based approach would bring the capitalist / conservatives / libertarians on board and further grow the economic power behind the token and therefore the minimum standard of living afforded by our birthright interest in our planet and our universe.