Arrgh — I’ve gotta write and it’s killing me. OK, not really, but I have such a hard time and my writing sucks — almost as bad as my typing. It’s hard I’m having a lot of trouble writing, editing, coming up is what I want to say. Perhaps if I go and work on the book, that’ll help. But I don’t know. God, I’ve gotta learn how to type.
So, I’ve been thinking about society. What is it that we should base a society on? What are the basic rules?
1. The “Golden rule”, I know that a lot of religious people claim this rule, but it makes a lot of sense. What is the most valuable thing that human has? Their life. Do nothing that inhibits or removes a life of another. Equity; this is subpart b to one, above. What do we mean by equity? too often, people confuse equity with the quality. That’s not what were arguing for. What we need is fairness. What we teach our children treat others as you would like to be treated.
2. How should we protect that which has not yet happened? I believe the Buddhists are correct, that the only reality is now. However, the future does have a claim on us. We owe it something. As far as we know, in our particular way of expreienceing the universe, time is unidirectional. That means, that what is past is past. We owe the past, nothing. However, the future relies on us. It works with what we leave it yet it has no ability to influence the situation in which it will find itself. It is our responsibility to leave the future, no worse than the way we got it.
This has wide reaching ramifications. Our ownership is limited by the claims of the future. I beleive that one can hold almost complete ownership in personal property. By that, I mean that it is possible to have a level of ownership that would allow one to do anything with personal property: destroy it, whatever. However, real property, survives us. People of the future, nonexistent people, have a valid claim on that property. We cheat the future and future people by raping and destroying real property.
3. We are social animals. We live in societies. Since we are social animals and live in a society, we owe something to other members of the society. We cannot allow complete refusal to participate in society. One is tempted to let libertarians stew in their own juices. To let them not fund the fire department, to let them not buy health insurance to let them go off on their own. But we can’t. I would love to allow Libertarian to opt out of the fire department and to let them have their house burn down around them or to allow them to opt out of health insurance and refuse to treat them without payment up front. But that’s nonsensical. We won’t turn our backs even on the stupid. We can’t allow their house to burn, because it may infect our house. We can’t allow them to wander around and die of their contagious disease, because it may infect us. We are members of a society and our freedom of action is limited. Libertarians: deal with it.
4. That being said, we should grant ourselves and each other as much liberty as possible within these constraints. Notice that I did use the overused term “freedom”, I used “liberty” with the connotation of responsibility that includes.
To sum up: we need to form a society that treats everyone as we would like to be treated and that provides opportunity to everyone and that limits our freedoms, our liberties, in a way that we would find acceptable based on a recognition of the future and recognition of the rights and responsibilities of other peoples.
Okay, what does this society look like? Well, we would all like to have a say in how our life is governed. Democracy seems to be the best governmental form to meet that requirement. However, democracy, that is tempered. We cannot allow tyranny of the majority. Next, real equality of opportunity. To make equality of opportunity real, the playing field must be level. Not only is this fair, but at a societal level is selfish. Do we really want to lose out on a brilliant person, because they have the wrong color skin and didn’t get sufficient prenatal support or adequate schooling? Seems pretty stupid to me.
Where our current society falls down is in two areas: one, we do not provide adequate support so that everyone has an opportunity, second we do not recognize the future. By allowing the current holder of title to do it they will eliminates all concern for the future. By allowing such social stratification that children starve, we ignore both the fundamental fairness upon which society should be based, as well as our own societal self-interest.
What changes might engender fairness? Ideas?