Saturday, October 14, 2006

Responding to Climate Calamity

The literature and debate on global warming is disappointing, not so much for its ability to predict the effects of global warming, but in the paucity of response to it. We know the earth is getting warmer, as it should since historically the planet is colder than it has been for much of its history. The Earth can take whatever is thrown at it, whether it be from the release of carbon gases to changes in the sun spot cycle. The lack in the literature and debate is in how shall mankind respond.

If global warming were the only possible source of environmental calamity, changing CAFRE standards might be enough. Sadly it is not.

Our greatest danger is from ourselves, but more directly. Granted, the Soviets are no longer, but the Russians still have the same weaponry. More chillingly, North Korea is testing the product of their nuclear development program.

I was one of those who grew up in the shadow of nuclear destruction. The Day After was one of those cultural events that touched everyone in my generation, yet compared to a real nuclear war, The Day After was peanuts.

This possible future was what motiviated me to work out an economic system which would both bridge the gap between communism and capitalism and, much more importantly, make economically possible for anyone the ownership of a food and fuel producing underground home. Originally, my goal was a series of books entitled "Rebuilding" which would synthesize the knowledge required to put society back together after a nuclear holocaust. This later evolved into a single book in two variations, Musings from the Christian Left (for the Blue states) and The Christian Libertarian Party Manifesto (for the Red states). The blogs for these works are The Christian Left and The Christian Libertarian Party.

Now, of course, we have the rise of sectarian violence, from al Queda cells fighting for a world-wide muslim Caliphate under Osama bin Laden to the Iraqi civil war to Eric Rudolph, David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh striking violent blows for Christian separatism and an increasingly shrill movement of conservative authoritarian leaders exhorting their followers to the belief that the federal judiciary is illegitmate. If religion continues as a source of violence, given beliefs in equally violent prophesies, this can only end badly. In order to help avert this, I offered a better approach to Christianity, which also made it into my books.

The Musings/Manifesto go from heavenly topics, such as the existence of God to a more humanistic view of both salvation and morality, to a commentary on social issues and budgetary issues to the heart of the book, a description of how Social Security reform can lead to a culture of employee-ownership and how this can be used to give employees a way to afford a habitat that can be used to produce food and alcohol fuel in order to survive a nuclear, environmental or sectarian catastrophe. This culture can be carried via union-owned multinationals to the entire planet, so that the other fear - overpopulation - is overcome. If workers in developing countries own their own food producing habitats, it doesn't matter how quickly they reproduce. In fact, the more the merrier. After addressing some structural reforms in American government, the discussion turns to the advent of regional government in the United States and then an expansion of our Union to include first our allies and then the developing world. In order to cement the gains from piece, an expanded space program is proposed (so that the military-industrial complex finds something else to do). Part of that something else is the design of a the habitat that will allow individuals to survive environmental catastrophe from one of many sources.

The economic reforms that will allow the construction of these homes are more fully described on the Iowa Center for Fiscal Equity home page and blog. Briefly, I describe how the President's Social Security reforms can be modified to result in the direct ownership of industry by American and later all workers (so that the playing field between American and overseas workers remains level). To do this, the employee contribution to the old age and survivors insurance fund would be equalized for each employee, the contribution cap would be raised or eliminated (thus lifting the average) and at least half and later all of these funds invested in voting shares of the employer. This would quickly lead to control of firms by employees through their union or professional association representatives and a new culture of ownership in the union movement (no more strikes or restrictive work rules) as well as a more democratic model of management (open competition for jobs to the lowest bidder and election by subordinants to break ties). Pay would become more equal, with the tax system used to guarantee a living wage based on family size and incentive pay for actual accomplishment rather than for conformity with management. Using these features, all of industry will transform, as these features will attract the best workers, especially if employee-owned firms hire 20 year olds and pay for their later undergraduate and graduate educations in exchange for less of a wage premium upon graduation and the promise of incentive pay for inventions. Such a climate of innovation is necessary to build the kind of habitats needed to survive this century.

Of course, the pitfall of this approach is that it may provoke enemies among those who lose power. The authoritarians will denounce me as the anti-christ for proposing a Christian humanism which unites the planet. The atheists and New Agers will not like how I propose an expanded and more well funded role for religious charities as a replacement for government (since they work better). If they unite against the success of the program I describe, there will still be an environmental catastrophe. Shouldn't we leave well enought alone? No. Many of the forces the espouses. Many would happen anyway. A plan such as this may be our only salvation.