Monday, January 12, 2009

Joined-up government

Forget it. Forget the idea that it is important that our all-pervading government should be more joined-up. The Free Lunch – Fairness with Freedom shows how through dropping complexity and bringing in some neglected aspects of economics, property ownership, welfare, freedom and democracy, government would be simpler and our society more co-operative, with greater efficiency and humanity. And also more environmentally sustainable.

The theme is: don't worry too much about joining up lots of bits of big government – if it's broken, put something simpler in place. It would work better.

But how could this work given the dire state of the financial world at present? Surely governments are showing they are indispensable - even if faulty? But it is actually we citizens who are indispensable. Each one of us. A major cause of recession is because we are not going to be spending as consumers. A solution is to pour vast quantities of money into the banking system in the hope that companies might borrow and do business again. But we citizens will need to be buying what firms make and offer.

It has been observed over cycles of boom and bust that as a recession bites, households start saving and don't stop until savings level are much higher than now. So this is an ideal time to introduce a Citizen's Income. Everyone would be given a regular payment – the Citizen's Income trust has shown that this would be affordable, as related to current welfare systems and tax allowance levels. Above this basic payment, in the current circumstances, extra payments could be made to each of us in the way that money is about to be forced into banks directly. This double action could get the recession over quicker – because as our deposits rose we would feel more confident to spend.

The Citizen's Income would also reduce the complexity of our faulty welfare system and is likely to be the only long term, effective measure against enduring poverty.

So when you hear that 'the government will do MORE for.....etc', think rather, how could we have new patterns of democracy so that the government does LESS. What we need MORE of is: joined-up economics and joined-up fairness. Read the book , look at the website for the cartoons.

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