Five Ways to Curb the Power of Corporations and Billionaires

We need to rein in the destructive power of corporations and billionaires before it’s too late. These five ideas would do that, while leaving global capitalism intact. Ultimately, only a complete transformation of our economic system will save our future, but these proposals could set changes in motion that might eventually take us there.

Transnational corporations have become the dominant force directing our world. Humanity is accelerating toward a precipice of overconsumption, and the large transnationals are the primary agents driving us there. We’re rapidly losing the earth’s forests, animals, insects, fish, even the topsoil we require to grow our crops. The earth is becoming denuded of its bounty as every living system ­is ransacked for resources—not to mention the looming emergency of climate breakdown. As a result, twenty thousand scientists have recently issued a public warning to humanity, while prominent academics consider the collapse of civilization this century to be a serious threat.

environmental destruction
Transnational corporations are driving humanity to a precipice of overconsumption

Changes in our personal consumption patterns are important, but are ultimately inconsequential compared with the impact of the transnationals that have come to dominate our global economic and political system. Of the world’s hundred largest economies, sixty-nine are now corporations. Political parties in many of our so-called democracies are funded in large part by billionaires, while government cabinet positions are staffed by corporate executives. International bodies setting global policy are infiltrated by corporate agents so successful at entrenching corporate power that even those governments that still prioritize their people’s needs can no longer make autonomous decisions without risking crippling lawsuits from the transnationals whose interests they threaten. Meanwhile, countries and cities compete with each other to beg their corporate overlords for investment dollars, even it means undermining public services and legal protections for their own populations.

Environmental groups, recognizing where ultimate power resides, try to pressure corporations to improve practices through the threat of public shaming, with some appreciable results. However, these attempts are necessarily constrained by the very structure of big corporations, which exist to enrich their shareholders regardless of the consequences. The common goal of corporations around the world is to monetize human activity and what’s left of nature’s abundance as rapidly and efficiently as possible. The overriding purpose of the world’s powerful institutional force is thus directly at odds with a flourishing earth or a viable future for humanity.

Having spent the first part of my career in the heart of the capitalist system, consulting to major international banks and corporations, I developed a sense of the underlying forces that direct the centers of financial power. These ideas are my distillation of what I believe could be effective levers for humanity to take back some control from the increasing hegemony of corporations and billionaires.

If we are to avoid disaster, our global economic system with its gaping inequities and deranged consumption will eventually need to dismantled and replaced by one based on life-affirming principles rather than wealth maximization. These suggestions, even in aggregate, wouldn’t do that. They represent mere tweaks in a system that ultimately needs to be completely transformed. But like a modest trim tab that helps redirect an ocean liner, perhaps they could begin to curb the destructive force of transnationals and redirect their enormous power toward a more sustainable path.

 

1. Triple bottom line required for corporate charters

A fundamental reason for the rapacious behavior of transnational corporations is their drive to maximize shareholder value above anything else. While there is no explicit requirement for this in the standard corporate charter, a century of case law has entrenched this principle into the behavior of large corporations to the point that is has become the de facto standard of operation. As a result, if corporations were people, they would be considered psychopaths, utterly devoid of any caring for the harm they cause in the pursuit of their goals.

It is easier, however, to change a corporation’s values than those of a human psychopath. All you need to do is change the legal basis of their charter. Instead of pursuing shareholder interests alone, they could be re-chartered with the explicit purpose of achieving a triple bottom line of social and environmental outcomes as well as financial—sometimes known as the “triple Ps” of people, planet, and profit.

This alternative corporate value system is already available through chartering as a benefit corporation or certifying as a B-Corp, and has been adopted by over 2,000 corporations in over fifty countries around the world—including several multibillion-dollar transnationals.  My proposal is that, instead of being a voluntary step taken by a select few, this would be a requirement for all corporations above a certain size.

Overnight, the intrinsic character of the corporation would be transformed. Currently, CEOs and corporate boards are faced with continual pressure to grow their earnings at all cost. If they chose to make a humane decision, such as not to exploit a copper mine because of the consequent pollution, they could expect to be sued by shareholders, and possibly acquired by a more ruthless competitor. However, if they were legally required to achieve a triple bottom line, they would weigh up decisions in a more balanced way, as a rational person might. With the board responsible for all three bottom lines, they would have to consider the risk of being sued if they caused excessive pollution, or if they were callous to the needs of the communities where their plants were located.

Currently, large corporations boast of their corporate social responsibility departments that are supposed to care about issues such as employment practices of their suppliers, sustainability of their raw materials, environmental impact of their packaging, gender balance and ethnic diversity in the workplace, and investments in local communities. Suddenly, they would have to stop paying mere lip service to these issues and take them as seriously as marketing costs, revenue growth and distribution channels—the things that CEOs actually worry about when they go home at night.

 

2. Charter renewal required every five years

Changing the corporate charter requirement might not, however, be enough by itself to halt the relentless pursuit of profits by large transnationals. After all, executive pay packages consist of dollars rather than goodwill, and those dollars are linked directly to the share price, which is driven by shareholders’ expectation of financial returns. If they could get away with it, they might continue their rapacious practices, while trying harder to look like they’re meeting the other two bottom lines.

That’s the reason for my second proposal, which is to require that corporations, which currently enjoy what’s known legally as a “perpetual existence,” get their charters renewed every five years. If they failed to meet pre-established criteria on their two non-financial bottom lines, they would not be permitted to continue in business. Currently, if a company can’t meet its financial obligations, it’s forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and the value of its stock generally tanks to zero. Under my proposal, executives would also have to consider the risk of declaring “social bankruptcy” or “environmental bankruptcy” as they made their business decisions.

As in currently regulated industries such as banking, the final step of losing their charter would not have to be immediate. If a corporation failed to meet its basic parameters, it could be given a warning, with a time period set to fix things. However, the mere threat of this happening would lead corporate executives to make sure they were well above the criteria required to keep their charter.

Corporations are, of course, highly adept at using their financial resources to influence regulatory bodies through bribes and other mechanisms. To avoid this, panel members responsible to renew the charter would be representatives of the communities and ecosystems covered in the company’s scope of operations. Their task would be to weigh up the findings of experienced independent auditors on the company’s performance. To minimize corruption, the panel could be chosen by a process of random selection called sortition, just a like a trial jury is chosen in our legal system.

 

3. Tax stock trades based on the length of the holding period

Powerful as they are, even corporations have their masters: their shareholders. But don’t think of the typical shareholder as a Warren Buffet type, sitting back in his leather armchair perusing his holdings. Instead, corporate stocks are subject to the frenetic activity of financial markets, where split-second computer algorithms govern much of the trading. Investment firms spend hundreds of millions of dollars enhancing their computing networks to shave as little as three milliseconds off the timing of their trades. The hyper liquidity of global markets means that investors are obsessed with short-term market trends, which leads corporate CEOs, forever anxious about their stock price, to focus their time horizon on the next quarterly earnings report. Financial valuations apply discount rates to future earnings, which means that an investment paying off thirty years in the future can be worth as little as five percent of its future payoff in the present. Under these conditions, why would any CEO care about the state of the planet—or even their company—thirty years from now?

high frequency stock trading
The financial markets’ hyper liquidity drives the short-term orientation of corporate CEOs

During the 2016 US election campaign, Bernie Sanders proposed a Financial Transaction Tax to pay for free college tuition, setting the rate at 0.1% of the transaction. In Europe, discussions are under way to apply a similar EU-wide tax. My proposal increases the tax rate by orders of magnitude, and differentiates based on the length of the stock holding. For example, the tax rate might look like this:

  • 10% if the stock is held less than a day
  • 5% if less than a year
  • 3% if less than 10 years
  • 1% if less than 20 years
  • Zero if more than 20 years

The effects of this single step would be enormous. The financial services industry would be transformed overnight. High frequency stock trading and same-day traders would disappear. The short-term orientation of the stock market would be replaced by carefully considered long-term investment decisions. A typical mutual fund, which in the US currently turns over its portfolio at the rate of 130% a year, could no longer afford to do so, and would have to change its investment decision-making based on sustainable returns. The tax could be waived for individuals experiencing a life-changing event or for simple hedging techniques where, for example, farmers need to lock in the price of their produce at a future time.

The result would be a massive shift away from destructive extractive industries and toward sustainable businesses. For example, the fossil fuel industry is recognized to be vastly overvalued as a result of its “unburnable carbon”: the amount of fossil fuels in the ground that can never be burned if the world is to keep climate change below the 2° rise agreed at COP21 in Paris. A recent study estimates the overvaluation as high as $4 trillion. Investors, however, play a game of musical chairs, hoping they won’t be the ones left holding the stranded assets. This proposed transaction fee would incent them to dump fossil fuel investments immediately for opportunities in renewable energy with longer-term payoffs.

 

4. Cap on billionaire’s assets over $5 billion

As corporations have taken increasing control of the global system, they have catapulted founding shareholders and their heirs to previously unimaginable pinnacles of wealth.  The combined wealth of the world’s 2,754 billionaires is now $9.2 trillion, an amount that has doubled in the past six years, and increased tenfold since the beginning of this century. The magnitude of this wealth is difficult to conceive. The top six billionaires own as much as the lower half of the entire world’s population. Taken together, the world’s billionaires would represent the third largest economy in the world, behind only China and the United States, with wealth equivalent to the GDP of Germany and Japan combined.

six wealthiest men
These six men own as much wealth as half the world’s population

There is no legitimate rationale for this outrageous concentration of such wealth in a few individuals. The argument that the founders of Microsoft, Amazon, or Facebook deserve such excessive wealth is no more valid than the belief of the ancient Egyptians in the divinity of their Pharaoh, or the Medieval notion of the divine right of kings. Mark Zuckerberg, aged 33, currently owns over $70 billion. If someone had singlehandedly miniaturized the transistor, developed the logic for computer code, invented the PC, and come up with the internet, then maybe they’d deserve having close to that amount as a reward for the value they created. But all Zuckerberg did was figure out a way to connect people up in a network that became a bit more popular than other networks, and because of the internet’s scale effects, he was the lucky one who hit the jackpot. Zuckerberg merely took advantage of all the other infrastructure work that led to the internet, painstakingly pieced together by millions of people over decades, which has been the real value creator for the world.

In response to this excess, my proposal is to cap billionaires’ wealth at, say, $5 billion. It’s an arbitrary amount, still obscenely high and presumably more than enough for those who argue that people should receive ample financial rewards for success. Beyond a certain level of wealth, however, what drives these people is power and prestige. This could be tapped by requiring them to donate their excess wealth to a trust over which they could retain some influence.

Such a trust, however, would need to have some strict criteria. While the billionaire could influence the trust’s priorities, he would not have control over its activities. The current Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, while a step in the right direction, is under the total control of the Gateses and Warren Buffet. The foundation set up with much fanfare by Mark Zuckerberg is viewed by experts as little more than a fancy tax dodge.

Each trust would need to avoid interference in a country’s political system and be dedicated to life-affirming activities, the scope of which could be based, for example, on the principles of the Earth Charter, a framework for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society endorsed by over 6,000 organizations.

The positive impact that these trillions of dollars could have on human and natural welfare would be prodigious. Imagine a country the size of Germany and Japan combined dedicated entirely to serving human and natural flourishing. It would have the resources to end extreme poverty, increase regenerative agriculture to over a billion acres worldwide, educate hundreds of millions of girls through the Global South, disseminate up to a billion clean cookstoves, and much, much more.

The billionaires of the world, meanwhile, would continue to enjoy enormous wealth, and when they jet to Davos to hobnob with other luminaries for the annual World Economic Forum, they could finally have something worthwhile to boast about.

 

5. Declare a crime of ecocide at the International Criminal Court

Even with all these constraints, the powers of transnational corporations would remain enormous, and there would still be times when, through willful negligence or intentional bad faith, corporate action causes massive environmental damage. A UN study, which remained unpublished, found that the world’s largest companies had caused over $2 trillion of environmental damage, which would cost a third of their overall profits if they were forced to pay for it. Because of their extensive political influence, even their most damaging activities go unpunished. This leads to my final proposal: to declare a crime of ecocide at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC is an independent judicial body set up by international treaty, the Rome Statute, in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, genocides, and crimes against humanity. While it continues to face serious challenges to its enforcement powers, it has had the effect of putting tyrants everywhere on notice that they can no longer act with impunity. If ecocide—the loss, destruction, or severe damage of an ecosystem—were declared a crime by the ICC, this could have a similarly daunting effect on those corporate tyrants who currently know they can get away with devastating the world’s “sacrifice zones” where they are pillaging the earth’s resources for profit.

There is a campaign, Eradicating Ecocide, already under way to make this happen. A model law has been drafted, and an Earth Protectors Trust Fund has been set up to permit common people everywhere to become legal Earth protectors. If a two-thirds majority of the Rome Statute signatories were to approve this as an amendment, it would become enforceable globally. Suddenly, corporate boards and CEOs everywhere would realize they are no longer above the law.

*                                   *                                   *                                   *                                    *

There is a strange paradox to consider about these proposals.  One the one hand, notice how limited they are in scope. Even if they were all implemented overnight, the global system would not be overturned. People would still go to work and get paid, food would still be on the shelves of the grocery store, the same governments would still be in power, and the internet would still work. The gaping structural inequities of our current world order would continue unabated, and we’d still be consuming far more than our planet can sustain. Ultimately, we need a complete transformation of our global system if our civilization is to survive intact through this century.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take a political genius to realize that these ideas are so far from mainstream thinking that they have virtually no chance to be adopted any time soon. They would be considered too radical for even the most progressive mainstream politician to endorse. What does this tell us about our current political dialogue? To me, it suggests that our conversations are too severely constrained by what we’re “allowed” to think in terms of how our system works. We need to cast our gaze outside the norms that our billionaire-controlled mainstream media permits us to consider.

Imagine a world where these ideas (or others like them) began to be seriously entertained. How would they even be enforced? The only way corporations could be brought to heel, or billionaires compelled to give up their excess billions, would be a concerted effort led by the United States in conjunction with the European Union, and joined by the preponderance of other countries.

This, of course, could only happen if grassroots demand for these ideas spread so powerfully that politicians had to take notice. This is not such an unrealistic scenario, given the worldwide disavowal of the dominant capitalist model: most Europeans have a higher opinion of socialism than capitalism, and even in the US, the overwhelming majority see big business as unethical and unfair.

Then, there is the potential “trim tab” effect of adopting these ideas. Even though these proposals alone wouldn’t fundamentally transform our system in the way that’s needed, they might set changes in motion that could eventually take us there. There may be other ideas more effective than these, and of course each proposal contains within it complications that would need to be worked out carefully. However, my hope is that these ideas invite a new mode of political dialogue, along with a recognition that even in the darkest times, realistic pathways exist toward a thriving future for humanity and the natural world.

Occupy Wall Street
The next Occupy movement will need clear demands that lead to specific deliverables

When the Occupy movement failed to achieve its initial promise, many people pointed to its lack of specific demands as a reason for its demise. If and when the next radical grassroots movement emerges, which may be sooner than you expect, let’s make sure they have an array of ideas such as these in their quiver to focus public opinion on actual political deliverables.

There are very few people who really want to see our civilization collapse. If these proposals eventually did get implemented, perhaps even the executives of the transnational corporations might sleep better at night, knowing that they can become part of the solution rather than a force of destruction.


Jeremy Lent is author of The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, which investigates how different cultures have made sense of the universe and how their underlying values have changed the course of history. He is founder of the nonprofit Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering a sustainable worldview. For more information visit jeremylent.com.

 

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38 thoughts on “Five Ways to Curb the Power of Corporations and Billionaires

  1. On the face of it, it seems to me that the pressure on CEOs to produce profits and hence capital gains and dividend payouts come from the longer term stock holders not the “day traders” who care only about enough volatility to make a gain from a short-term trade. I think it unlikely that they would sue a CEO or corporate board for failing to earn quarterly profits. I do a little bit of day trading using options on the tracking fund for a specific index of small cap stocks where there is enough volatility to make a profit from swings in price. I couldn’t care less about the profits of the companies in the index or their dividend payouts.

    I am retired and in my late 70s and wouldn’t dream of putting my money at risk in a stock portfolio, especially in today’s market. I try to earn a little income on a small portion of the capital I have by quick in and out trading. Since there is no interest worth mentioning to be had in low risk money markets or bonds and the risk of being in the over valued and over extended stock market is a fool’s game, I’m left with short-term trading. Now, you suggest that one way to dampen down the “evil” of short-term trading is to heavily tax it. In short, take away the only avenue left to people like me. Maybe, large institutional short-term traders do have an adverse effect on the market but I would suggest that it is on volatility not through pressure on CEOs for profits. Perhaps short-term trading could be dampened down by putting a tax on traders who execute short term trades above a certain size.

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    1. There is a growing recognition that the “privileges” afforded by granting “limitation of liability” have been grossly abused. If attention is given to curtailing this privilege where it has been and still is being abused, we have the opportunity to change the dynamics considerably. Whilst difficult to do – given the stranglehold held on the political process by the abusers – that does not mean that we should not try! If we succeed, this will greater impact than the five strategies outlined here.

      There are a range of strategies that can be pursued to effect viable and sustained change. In part, it requires the formation and organic growth of enterprises that have a fundamental commitment to tow key values – integrity and respect (for people and our environment). That is the endeavour (enterprise) to which I am committed.

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  2. News flash: it’s already “too late” – how do you think we’ve gotten to this precarious place. In the US corporations have evolved[1] from narrowly defined legal entities of limited scope and duration to the omnipotent behemoths of today. How did they do that? By co-opting the government and legal system. I do not see how any of the proposed charter revisions could have any chance at all on being implemented ; these corporations will always have better lawyers – hired guns basically – and sympathetic “friends” in government at all levels.

    I think the best way to attempt to reduce corporate power is to just stop feeding them (and their “friends” in government). Unfortunately we’ve collectively allowed ourselves to become quite dependent on these entities for our food and livelihood; turning our backs to them now would be quite painful and I doubt many would see any short-term benefit in doing so.

    [1] http://reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate-accountability-history-corporations-us/

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  3. Well, How’s that working out for us so far?
    Sometimes the only solution to the old distribution of wealth problem is a good old fashion REVOLUTION.
    Tends to bring out fresh perspectives on what has real value in this world.
    The primacy of nature.
    the social satisfaction that comes from valuing something, or someone, or some value like empathy.
    I think the corporate model is dead. People have just not seen it die.
    I saw the best of it in the fifties when the common good was a part of the Model.
    When tax rates were 90% and we built great things, and didn’t gripe about it.
    We built a great infrastructure, but lost track of what it was for.

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  4. Earlier commenters have pretty well exposed the fatal weaknesses in this essay’s foundational conceits. So this Old Indian will only suggest that there is no institutional reaction whatsoever that can arrest the ‘progress’ of the Planet-wasting “civilization” disease anywhere short of the DEAD END conclusion toward which it is hurtling, here in the syndrome’s late terminal stage.

    Having thought, fought, and bought their way into this “self”-inflicted predicament, there is no way in hell the domesticated peoples can think, fight, and buy their way out of it. All such exercises-in-futility can only serve to accelerate and intensify the disease process….though that ain’t necessarily a “bad” thing. Prolonging this agony, in the vain “HOPE!” that continuing to deploy the means and methods so effective in bringing it all about in the first place could somehow stop and reverse the course of the disease, seems to fit perfectly that definition of “insanity” offered years ago by the silver-haloed secular Saint of Princeton U.

    Yet, that looks like all Jeremy Lent and his fellow ‘n’ gal papered professional experts have got….just more and more and more of the-hair-of-the-god that’s dead-set on killing Earth and Her Whole Living Arrangement. Here in Indian Country we can only say “Thanks, but no thanks!”….to such institutionalized idiocy.

    On the other hand, if our captive Sisters and Brothers ever get sick and tired of being sick-and-tired, we can ‘prescribe’ for them The Medicine specific to the wasting disease process. The first (and likely most difficult) dose they’ll need to take, is to get over the organically-crippling sickness that is their own too-precious “self.” Then they might coalesce spontaneously into the Natural Organic Form of our Kind (which is not any of the multitude of random collections of the artificial “individual” in which nearly all of them are trapped today), wherein alone abides the Organic Integrity essential to fulfillment of our Function in Earth’s Living Arrangement as a component of Her natural immune system.

    The real “bottom line” here is plain ol’ basic Biology. Everything else is mere make-believe. For anybody irretrievably ‘invested’ in ideology of one brand or another, though, and simply unwilling or unable to cut their losses, there must be fifty ways to leave our Mother. We can always catch you later.

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  5. I am of course VERY aware of the dire circumstances everybody (every BEING human and non-humans) because of the prevailing insanity. let me give a state of it and show how it goes from the top to the bottom. The road I live on USED to have gardens at the frint. But NOW like some spreading disease more and more new-comers are totally concreting over their front gardens so they can park their cars (usually three a family there. This of course is not good for wildlife or the soul, but is typical of the prevailing mindset which has utterly disconnected with nature. DIS-CONNECTION from nature!

    We have to FEEL a deep magical connection with nature, and then we FEEL bad when we see what is happening to it, because we ARE nature.

    Patriarchal myths (I am very interested in looking at myths/stories/tales/narratives ancient and modern) all tend to seek to DIS-connect us~~~from our bodies, our nature, creativity, others, and from the natural world.

    Why?

    Because its city states and warmongering cultures demand and NEED slaves. And the best slaves are the ones not even realizing they are slaves, and they do this via their pernicious strategy of divide and control. If they can divide you from your very self, you then are so busy being on conflict with yourself and nature you cannot see who your REAL enemy is, the ones pushing these narratives which enslave us.

    This process carries on in the so-called age of science. Now your supposed to think of yourself as a passive chemical-producing robot consumer living in a mechanical nature whose only purpose is to produce and consume. They dull, deaden you this way.

    What can we do to undo this?

    Take psychedelics. NOT under their author-ity, but with the understanding that psychedelics can help us reconnect with ourselves and nature, and THIS means they start losing your total dependence on their plastic virtual world. you stip feeding it your money, and joining its war machine.
    This starts grass roots.

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  6. Jeremy/others – absent faith-based public policy groups, professional societies, trade unions, civic associations, etc. getting behind this, it will go no where. And absent people advocating for these changes openly accepting that absent some good people being murdered annually while others lose their jobs because they non-violently confront institutional evil – law-breaking by corporations and government agencies – to me, it’s kayfabe – just a superficial show for entertainment value.

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  7. A lovely utopia! But wealth will gravitate to countries that don’t comply. There has to be a major collapse to trigger a world-wide reaction, as the 1930s and 40s produced the Keynesian post-war consensus (which lasted only until the Vietnam War destroyed the international monetary system).

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  8. New rules such as Jeremy proposes could work, but they won’t be enacted or enforced unless enough of us really care and especially enough of the upper class elite, and PJ Stewart is right as well that new rules are in vain unless all the players follow them. He’s also right about the need for a crisis, the kind that’s clear and impossible to deny, but then even after such a crisis is there any certainty that a universal set of rules approved by a large enough consensus of the power holders could be agreed upon and globally enforced?

    Could we even hope to agree on just one single fundamental rule such as: “All economic activity must be resource sustainable.” ??

    I doubt that we humans in our current situation as less than fully human components in a massive socio-political-economic power machine can even agree to do that, but I’m certain that nature/physics will do it for us involuntarily.

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  9. I’m afraid we are talking about an alternative universe of “if only”. Who and how will make it happen with victory over the oppisition. Runaway climate change and past peak oil are other problems with no solution. Industrial civilization will collapse soon in the world of diminishing returns. Fact. I understand those who who don’t accept it withought a fight but do not expect anything because you might be dissapointed. -to use a light word. Expect instead a gradual decline followed by extinction.

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      1. Absolutely right PJ! Humanity will most likely survive, unless we do something really over-the-top stupid…nuclear warfare, AI tech out of control (read that as the “Terminator”), genetic manipulation tech or chemical pollution disasters, et al.

        What will happen is one of two basic outcomes, long-term over the next two-three hundred years: 1) a transition to a 100% resource-sustainable economy with full and increasing “modernity”, or 2) a return to the H&G way of life that our genomes were thoroughly adapted to follow…On a 24-hour clock of human (homo sapiens) evolution we only started doing food production (agriculture and animal husbandry) a few minutes ago. We really do have the science and tech that, IF implemented in a timely enough manner, could keep us on the road of modernity, but it is far from certain now that we will get it implemented before it’s just too late to make the investments at the same time we keep the whole airplane (so-called “civilization”) of modernity flying.

        What I often wonder is this: As a species, will we really be better off overall, all aspects considered, if we do manage to keep on the modern path, or would it be better to go back to H&G?? Time to re-read Jared Diamond’s essay…http://discovermagazine.com/1987/may/02-the-worst-mistake-in-the-history-of-the-human-race.

        Really folks, there is no choosing in the matter, unless you can still believe in free will, and we will do what we will do while nature /physics works out the consequences. As for me, I’ll keep trying to transition to a resource sustainable modern way, but I don’t have high confidence that this will be the way that things will go in the long run ahead, and I sure don’t think it would be the end of the world if we default back to H&G.

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      2. Transition to sustainability would be great, but against it are 1) capitalist need to maintain profitability, 2) billionaire control over political systems, 3) ‘pro-life’ religions, especially RC, Islamist, Zionist (Buddhists and Hindus not guilty – and is there still religion in China?!), 4) tribalism/nationalism. All these are summed up in Trumpism.

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  10. These are excellent proposals, but as the author, and those who have commented say, they are most unlikely to be implemented. But there is a way that has a real chance of making them happen.
    The idea is to address the basis of power of the transnational corporations; their ability to severely damage the economy and competitiveness of any nation by simply moving their activity to another one. Governments are thus compelled to favour company interests.
    If however enough of the World Governments were to make the badly needed changes simultaneously, the companies power would be negated.
    This can happen through SIMPOL, the Simultaneous Policy of John Bunzl. It is spreading World wide, with over sixty members of the Westminster Parliament having pledged to it already. Some very eminent clever people support the idea.
    We as individuals are asked to commit by pledging to vote for any candidate (within reason) who pledges to the policy. So we use our vote, not for party policy, but for the changes the World needs.
    It’s about international cooperation.
    It can happen!
    Please check it out.
    http://www.simpol.org/index.php?id=8
    Murray McGrath

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      1. Members of Parliaments/Governments who have been voted there for their pledge to SIMPOL are committed to it and depend for their place on fulfilling it. If they don’t, they’re out. Money cannot influence that.

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      2. That’s 10 of MPs in a relatively democratic country. How many US congress-people are not influenced by money? And how many relatively democratic countries are there?

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  11. It’s growing. More and more people are seeing the sense of SIMPOL. All sitting members of Parliaments, Congresses etc are influenced most of all by whether or not they will get voted in at the next election. Support the SIMPOL policies and you will keep your seat.
    Even dictators have to cow-tow to transnational corporations. They are likely to join in too when support reaches a certain stage.

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      1. From the very beginning, with the partitions of Palestine and Korea, the UN has proved impotent to protect the general interest against factions and bullies. Humans are short-sighted and have limited memories, and that will apply to any high-minded institutions.

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  12. Yes, I can see no reason yet, though admittedly not fully understanding what the SIMPOL folks are doing, to expect any such effort to have greater success than the UN, and history does show that the UN has been virtually impotent, a wonderful but yet unfulfilled vision, humans being humans.

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  13. The difference (between the SIMPOL approach and the UN) is that National Governments, voted in by SIMPOL supporters, would be able to actually make the changes they know the world and humanity needs, because enough of the Nations of the world would make them simultaneously. Thinking voters like you and me would achieve enough influence to change the world for the better.

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    1. One more thing: selection of changes and their sequence priority would be decided by the votes of SIMPOL supporters. Could be real democracy for the first time anywhere!
      Read John Bunzl’s book: The SIMPOL Solution.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We went through all this in the 1940s and 60s. Democratic socialism in Scandinavia and Britain was making converts everywhere and even America had 90% to income tax rates. The State still had great assets, which it used to provide services to the poor -and to poorer countries. Then came Friedmanism and the belief that free capitalist competition would solve the world’s problems. Why were we converted so quickly? We just don’t remember.

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      1. SIMPOL is not an ‘ism’. It is a movement with the objective, ultimately of bringing about the changes that the world and humanity needs, that do not suit the transnational companies, whose power currently is overwhelming.
        Please read John Bunzl’s book.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. So, is SIMPOL like an international political party? If the SIMPOL party has enough members in enough countries, and if (that’s a big if) those members have a consensus on the policies they want enacted (the SIMPOL party’s “platform”), then the representatives elected for the SIMPOL party will do their best in each respective country to get those policies enacted? How can this guarantee that SIMPOL’s platform policies will be the ones enacted, or that they will be the best/right policies? After all, the SIMPOL party people will not necessarily be in a dominant position relative to other parties, and may not always be trying to do the best things, but only the things that SIMPOL has decided it wants, right?

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    1. SIMPOL is a little bit like an international political party except that political parties are power structures motivated chiefly by their need to get into, or stay in power. It is charged with bringing about changes that the world and humanity needs, as chosen and prioritised by its supporters, who vote in the candidates who undertake to do that. If they do not, they do not get voted in again. Nothing will happen till it has grown enough, but it is growing internationally.
      Please read John Bunzl’s book.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I think we should reflect on what is politics, and here’s a definition I’ve take from Jay Hanson’s website, dieoff.org (a must read website for all),..

    “POLITICS: n 1: social relations involving authority or power.
    We swim in “politics” like fish swim in water; it’s everywhere, but we can’t see it!”

    SIMPOL is very definitely a political party or maybe more of a movement than a party in its current state. A movement I’ll say is a nascent party that does not yet have enough political power to support and maintain a structure, and SIMPOL is one that is growing. It must have a platform, a consensus on various issues and policy change proposals. Its power can only grow if its platform is judged as being the right one by a sufficient number of people with sufficient amounts of funding (money…tokens for earth and human resource exchanges…energy flows…power).

    How will those people who are members/potential members of SIMPOL make their decisions as to what they consider to be right? Genetic and cultural programming and informational inputs/experiences/circumstances combine in an ongoing cognitive and behavioral feedback process to determine what people will think is right at a particular place and time. Political parties then only reflect or represent their members current judgment of what is right. If enough people, with enough political power and supporting financial power, have awareness of our common humanity and the fact that we live on a spaceship called Earth and if they care enough, then all political parties will align their platforms (their desired “rule sets”) toward the goal of sustainable economics, or they will lose their power and dissolve.

    SIMPOL is a great concept in that it recognizes the global economic-sustainability-critical need to have rules enacted and enforced by all nations, but in itself it does not ensure that we will have the right rule set for sustainability, or that enough people will care enough, i.e. that there will be enough power aligned to do the right things for sustainable modern economics to be actualized. Since one of those right things is that we have right rules enacted and enforced by all nations, and since that sounds like what SIMPOL’s main focus is, then I’d say it’s a party worthy of support, but I can only say that I wish it will do better than the UN.

    As I see it what we really need is to keep and increase using media and cultural power to promote the two basic awareness I mentioned above: Common Humanity + Spaceship Earth, and to show how principles and policies in line with these awarenesses are power-increasing policies for all of us, from the corporate board rooms to the slums.

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    1. Party members of any persuasion can commit to SIMPOL. It’s aim is eventual world wide international cooperation to opose the destructive interests of the transnational corporations who effectively rule the world with their power to wreck any country.
      The Westminster Parliament has members of all parties who have pledged to SIMPOL. Voters who support SIMPOL are thinking people who understand the power-play at the root of most of the World’s problems. When the time comes they will vote for the actual changes that are needed and to prioritise their implementation. This is democracy, unlike party politics we have now anywhere.
      Please read John Bunzl’s book, or check SIMPOL.org It’s all beautifully described there.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. OK, I’m onboard. If we truly can establish and enforce the right rules and do it worldwide so that all of the players in the global economy on a level playing field, that would be a great thing. If we cannot do this, our chances of making a smooth transition to truly sustainable modern economics are much lower. So, why would anyone not support the SIMPOL concept? Even if its mechanics may not be any more effective than the UN’s or other political party efforts, its basic principles are right on.

    Liked by 1 person

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