Transparency

transparency

When we know what's going on we can change it.

 

Knowledge

knowledge

The more we know, the better ideas we have.

 

Rationality

rationality

The more objective thinking we do the better decisions we make.

 

Compromise

compromise

We all live together and and depend on each other.

 

Liberty

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world (higher than, for example, Russia and Rwanda). Most of these inmates are in for non-violent offenses. Thanks to irrational drug policies, mandatory sentences and jail industry lobbying (much of which is privately run) we're overburdening our judicial system, breaking budgets, ruining families and creating hardened criminals. A few facts:

  • The U.S. prison population to overall population ratio is 5 times that of the United Kingdom, 8 times that of Germany and 12 times that of Japan
  • The total state-level population of inmates in 1970 was 174,000. By 2009 it was 1.4 million
  • Almost half of all federal inmates are in for drug offenses, yet the U.S. has no greater rates of drug addiction than other countries
  • The two largest private prison companies in the country earn $3 billion a year (of taxpayer money) and are major donors to state political campaigns where they have facilities
  • Some prisons are so over crowded that courts have deemed the conditions "cruel and unusual punishment"

Our innate human tendency to control and punish has gone out of control.

The death penalty still used in some jurisdictions is more expensive than life in prison, clogs up law administration for years and sometimes executes innocent people. It also harms our image and self perception as an upholder of human values.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

The U.S. push for free elections around the world is misguided because it skips a couple of steps. Majority-rule elections without individual protections is just another form of dictatorship. The many can abuse the few. Egypt is a current example of what happens when elections come prematurely.

To promote governance that conforms to the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, requires steps in this order:

  1. A constitution that protects the rights of individuals and minorities.
  2. A government structure with a balance of power
  3. A mechanism for ensuring compliance with the constitution, such as an independent judiciary
  4. Free and fair elections

“Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” ― Herbert Marcuse

Human organizations (governments, political groups, religions, protectors of self-interest), both to perpetuate themselves and to give them the power to force their views on others, try to control the behavior of people.

Though it is a natural tendency of people to want to control their environments, once coalesced into a group, the organizations become a purpose and power unto themselves such that they develop a momentum, direction and overreach that often extends even beyond the intent of the individuals that created them. Generally this is from co-opting of the organization by the more extreme true-believers.

The best way to counter this tendency is to err on the side of individual freedom. Unless an action harms other people directly or harms the environment we all depend on, the starting point should be that the action should be legal and allowed.

“To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” ― Nelson Mandela

Wars against drugs, gambling and prostitution have drained trillions of dollars and demanded monumental law enforcement effort from us. These efforts have ruined innumerable lives and families while providing huge income opportunities for criminals and large illegal enterprises. These "Vices" should be legalized, regulated and taxed.

Among the benefits of this approach:

  1. Treatment rather than punishment of the small proportion who have problems
  2. Decreased street crime
  3. Decreased violence world-wide
  4. Less corruption
  5. Decreased income for criminal gangs/businesses
  6. Decreased incarceration and fewer prisons
  7. Reallocation of law enforcement and prosecution resources
  8. Fewer broken families
  9. Income for government
  10. Economic growth
  11. Greater safety for participants and those near to the activities
  12. Adherence to Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for our citizens

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” ― Thomas Jefferson

top