My Life is Words
Words and ideas turn on the lights in the brain
As we bicker and argue between the political right and left, I'm left, literally and figuratively, to wonder what we should call our form of government.
We like to call ourselves a "democracy" but in fact, we're only partly that. A democracy is defined as a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. We have evolved to where big money elects politicians and companies are called "people". We seemed to have moved away from a government that is soley, "by the people".
We like to refer to ourselves as a "republic". A republic is a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Again, we have so many non-citizen influences in our government and elections that republic doesn't quite fit any longer.
Socialism? A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. We, the community sure as hell don't own or control very damn much of what goes on in our country.
Three terms that keeps popping up in all these definitions is the word people, citizens, and community. In other words, we are talking about not the factories, or the roads, or any other tangible property. We aren't talking about off-shore bank accounts or year-end bonuses, although both of those are nice and should be part of our deliberations because we are talking about humans. The only reason for any country to exist is the people. Without people, all the tangible assets in the world will simply sit around collecting dust.
If we can agree on that last paragraph, then we need to decide what role the people play in this grand scheme we call the United States. When we say people, we have to mean all the people, from the homeless person on the street to the CEO in a major corporation; they are each human and they want different things from their country and government. Still, they are people expecting 'people solutions'. Therein lies the challenge that we humans have wrestled with since the beginning of time.
Before I ramble on further and lose you, that is how and why I came up with the title of this post - Humanocracy. It seems to me that we need to focus on a government and laws and regulations and programs that benefit humanity; all of humanity, not just a select segment of our society.
The CEO has an expectation based on his/her rise to that position, the work and probably personal sacrifices of time they have made. They expect a certain status in the company, and they expect to make more than the people working in their company.
The mid-level manager has similar expectations to the CEO, but not as lofty. The workers also expect a fair and livable wage based on their work, skills, and education as may be applicable.
The people doing menial jobs also expect something in return for their labor. They want to be respected for the contribution they are making to society. Some may make light of the work a dishwasher does in a restaurant, but imagine your dining-out experience without them. And they expect a liveable wage.
Then we have the unemployed and perhaps the unemployable segment of society. These people are in that grouping for a myriad of reasons. Some ran out of luck and were laid off or are reeling from a personal tragedy. Some are suffering various degrees of mental illness, often a result of PTSD or the complications thereof. Some are our honored veterans struggling to return to society. And, some are addicted to a variety of substances.
So, our Humanocracy needs to be designed to work for all these people, not just the elite few at the top and not just for those living on the streets. To do that, we have to think differently. Perhaps we do need a ratio cap on CEO salaries. Maybe that is tied to how well the people in the company are paid.
For example, let's say a company, Cost-Mart (made up name but you probably get it) is paying their lowest paid employees a wage that exceeds the "liveable" wage establish by a formula using poverty levels, housing costs, etc., by 30%. The CEO of that company would be entitled to make a salary and benefits equal to 200% of the median income in the company. If the median income is $50,000 a year, the CEO could knock down $200,000 a year.
There could be a table that starts at the minimum living wage (CEO gets 110% of company median) and going up to 200% of the liveable wage (CEO gets to earn up to 300% of median). In other words, there is an incentive for companies and their managers to do the right thing and therein to profit themselves from that approach.
All we're talking about here is incentives. Executive managers get this all the time. They get bonuses based on achieving specific goals, most of which are only possible because the people working for them are busting their humps to make it happen. This isn't a giveaway program or socialism, it is capitalism at its best - succeed and reward.
Before I wind this up, you may be wondering how this would deal with those at the bottom of the ladder, the homeless and the hopeless. That depends. If the individual is unable to perform in a job in a way that contributes to the goals of the business, they have to be on some kind of public support. It would be some kind of subsistence program. These are people who, try as they might, will never be able to hold a job that allows them to support themselves. Those of us profiting from a vibrant economy with jobs, homes, cars, etc., have to embrace the notion that part of our "taxes" is to help pay for these people who are left behind by life.
The drug addicts, PTSD, and the unemployed all have the potential to move away from their predicament and rejoin the productive part of society. If we have the society structured in such a way that there are real incentives - not just some crap job that pays less than minimum wage and for only 15 hours a week - they are more likely to work to pull themselves out of their situation. Specific programs would be designed to help these folks.
And, there are those who, again for reasons most of us will never understand, have "dropped out." They don't want a job or the responsibilities of family and owning assets. They have always been around and will always be around until something like genetic engineering removes those traits.
They are part of our society nonetheless, and they deserve to live without fear, without hunger, and without retribution. The arrangements for them would be minimal but humane. I fail to see how any society can have pride in what it has accomplished when it dumps on these people. These folks deserve at least the minimum we afford prisoners who are serving time; food, shelter, and medical care.
In my opinion, these are the kind of conversations we need to have in our new Humanocracy; how do we make this plan work for everyone? How do we move away from our growing autocracy toward a more humane model for our society?
I think and write and talk and then do it all over again.