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Vol. 4, No. 7, July 2008

Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

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Editor's Note: Human history is at a turning point. Either nonviolence prevails, or violence will prevail. Either human solidarity prevails, or the addiction to extravagant consumption will prevail. And if violence and consumerism prevail, we mignt as well forget about the U.N. MDGs, the integrity of the human habitat, sustainability strategies, and sustainable human development, among other things. In the midst of pervasive lack of awareness, apathy by many, and painful realities such as the the widening gap between the very rich and the very poor and the resurgence of politico-religious terrorism, there is a sign of hope: humanity is increasingly embracing freedom and democracy as the best way forward. But democratic governance must be equipped to handle the newly emerging challenges, such as managing the transition from unsustainable to sustainable development. The invited paper this month, by Robley E. Goerge, defines tools that could be used to enhance democracies so that they can ensure not only political freedom but policy-making principles and practices pursuant to social and environmental justice. Consider the following information:

GREEN = democracies, ORANGE = semi-democracies, RED = non-democracies (in both charts)
Trends (1972-2005) and distribution (as of 2007) of democratic governance (Source: Freedom House-Wikipedia)

The trends on the left show the number of democratically governed countries, 1972-2005. The green trend clearly suggests an increasing preference for democracy. The map on the right shows how these democracies are geographically distributed as of 2007. Democracies are prevailing in the West (except in Africa), but not so in the East (except in India, Japan, and Oceania). How can the democracies in the West be reinforced to make them sustainable? How can people in the Eastern countries be influenced so that they recognize democracy as the best form of governance? The answer to both questions is basically the same: democracies must be icons of both defending human rights and fostering social justice. Modern communications (plus globalization and migration) ensure that people worldwide are aware that democracy is best from the standpoint of freedom and human rights. But what about fostering peace by fostering social justice, both within countries and between countries? Environmental issues are pointing toward the eventual need for some form of global governance. How can global governance be democratic if 50% or so of the countries on the planet are not experienced in democracy? The work of Robley E. George does not provide definitive answers on these questions, but it does define basic principles and practices that "marry" the political and socioeconomic dimensions of governance at the local, national, and international levels. This "marriage" could become a "nuptial covenant" between humanity and the human habitat, between consumption and conservation, between Western and Eastern peoples and cultures. This possibility makes George's work worthy of careful study and a source of new initiatives for sustainable development.

in search of a

Robley E. George
Center for the Study of Democratic Societies
14 June 2008



Political Platforms
Democratic Socioeconomic Platforms
Essential Aspects of Socioeconomic Democracy
Economic Elements of Socioeconomic Democracy
Economic Incentives Created by Socioeconomic Democracy
Democratic Resolution of Socioeconomic Problems
References and Links


Part II is scheduled for publication in the August 2008 issue


Prelude [back]

It seems a different country about this glorious globe experiences/undergoes a "crucially decisive" election practically every few months. Not that many (any?) countries about this polluted planet ever approach, in any meaningful sense, the ideal (whatever that is) of a democratic society.

Not infrequently, the election results are relatively closely decided, e.g., 51/49, up to a 'divergence from balanced-difference' of, say, 54/46, regardless of whether 10, 33, 49, 51, 70, or 98 percent of the eligible voters vote.

Then, of course, there is the matter of "Who is eligible to vote?" and the matters of "Who says so, and why?". There is the very wide variation in the confidence of the meaningfulness of participating in some or any particular political process in order to help realize peaceful, just, appropriate and desirable personal benefit, as well as equally farsighted overall societal benefit. And there is the matter of the quality of the questions, even if to be decided democratically, proffered by many contemporary politicians, political parties and political processes.

And all the above is regardless of considerations such as the magnitude, frequency and extent of the accidental as well as intentional alterings of any supposed democratic voting process outcome by strategically placed technological capability employing a wide variety of ingenious new inventions, as well as all the old tried-and-true traditional ploys of vote intimidation, shaving and fraud.

In those relatively fewer situations where a large majority of the eligible voters, which in turn make up a large portion of the "adult" population, vote for the same person or plan, it can be assumed, or at least strongly suspected, that the society is either doing something very, very good (relatively speaking) or experiencing something very, very bad (in an absolute and no-doubt painful way). More frequently, the latter situation prevails -- at least until the Transformation.

Political Platforms [back]

As the title concisely conveys, presented here is a Democratic Socioeconomic Platform looking for a (necessarily) Democratic Political Party.

This Democratic Socioeconomic Platform is respectfully submitted to all participants in, and/or those affected by, all the present local and global politicosocioeconomic systems and processes, as well as all political parties (presently "democratic" or otherwise), scattered about the carnage, outrage and desperation, frantically attempting to "organize" all these puzzling political processes and puzzled potential participants.

The purpose of this Democratic Socioeconomic Platform is to put forth a new, fundamentally just, democratic and systemically consistent political platform capable of democratically enhancing the General Welfare of All Citizens of a Democratic Society.

Expressed in other terms, the purpose is to indicate how Socioeconomic Democracy can and will resolve or significantly reduce a wide variety of already-acknowledged, serious, costly yet unnecessary societal problems -- and do so simultaneously, a natural gift/property of a successful systemic solution.

A further gift/property of Socioeconomic Democracy is that it will immensely increase facilitation of the realization of many of the other fundamental changes that are necessary and must and will be made by and for human survival, sustainability, grateful satisfaction and spiritual/humanistic development.

At least for example, "debt-creating" created money has got to go, for all the now-obvious and incontestable reasons, and Socioeconomic Democracy -- aided and abetted by the now-undeniable multidimensional global economic crises -- will get far more people to start seriously thinking about the who, what, where, when, why and how of Money, which is but a logical hop, skip and jump from successful democratic monetary reform.

This Democratic Socioeconomic Platform could be considered by, and is hereby most respectfully submitted to, the brave Bhutanese, who recently voted with 80% of the eligible voters voting almost unanimously (this, in a very high altitude and remote country, just below Heaven) to follow their 28-year-old king Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck's "vision" of an all-encompassing political philosophy that seeks to balance material progress with spiritual well-being for all, quantitatively and qualitatively characterized as "Gross National Happiness," to be determined democratically.

This Democratic Socioeconomic Platform will undoubtedly be welcomed in Zimbabwe, where that charmed and painful President Robert Mugabe, who recently "won" or "lost" his latest in a long sequence of "re-elections," and who is well known for his particular policies and implementation tactics regarding "land ownership reform and redistribution," will likely direct his reportedly democratic ZANU (PF) Party to now embrace the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), mostly (but not completely) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, so that together they and all Zimbabweans can reduce Zimbabwe's orbital-altitude inflation and violence and increase its gross national happiness, democratically.

Then, of course, there is the United States of America (Thomas Paine's phrase), which is, alphabetically, among other criteria, currently much closer to Zimbabwe than Bhutan. With its seemingly years-long run-up to the much-anticipated and extremely educational global event, the US Presidential Election of 2008 is already and increasingly historic in a number of significant ways. All it needs now is a Democratic Socioeconomic Platform.

One of many important differences between this Democratic Socioeconomic Platform (DSeP), and the typical run-of-the-mill political party platform laundry list of independent and not-infrequently inconsistent political promises often offered yet seldom satisfied, is that this DSeP proposes and describes how to democratically realize/accomplish a peaceful and societally beneficial transformation of the world's obviously malfunctioning, not to more than mention decidedly undemocratic and deadly, present patriarchal politicosocioeconomic systems.

More specifically, the presently harmful economic incentives, invariably, inevitably and inextricably created by contemporary economic systems, with their sorry-or-not socioeconomic consequences dramatically displayed daily, are, with this DSeP, democratically redesigned to create economic incentive that positively encourages the simultaneous reduction of society's many painful, costly yet unnecessary socioeconomic problems, as well as contributes significantly to the Positive Empowerment and Healthy Development of All Citizens of a Democratic Society.

Socioeconomic Democracy, which is the essence of the proposed DSeP, can be viewed as engaging in (among other things) Transformational Politics, that is, an Evolutionary Politics that consciously, openly, honestly, forthrightly, publicly, thoughtfully and successfully works to realize significant synergetic inclusive societal improvement.

On the other hand, or rather likewise, Socioeconomic Democracy can be viewed as engaging in Transformational Economics, that is, an Evolutionary Economics that is dedicated to unabashedly maximizing the overall well being of all humanity. This implies and requires, at a minimum, a fully understood and appreciated concept and practice of Sustainable Development for All, which in turn implies and requires Bounded Inequality of Essentials for All. In a democratic society, such decisions are made democratically.

On the other hand, or rather likewise, Socioeconomic Democracy can be viewed as engaging in Transformational Economics, that is, an Evolutionary Economics that is dedicated to unabashedly maximizing the overall well being of all humanity. This implies and requires, at a minimum, a fully understood and appreciated concept and practice of Sustainable Development for All, which in turn implies and requires Bounded Inequality of Essentials for All. In a democratic society, such decisions are made democratically.

Similarly, SeD can also be viewed as engaging in Transformational Sociology or Evolutionary Sociology, as well as Transformational Psychology or Evolutionary Psychology. The latter perspective may ultimately prove to be the most descriptive and productive.

For this, public and democratic (as opposed to presently private and/or unrepresentative, secretive governmental) socioeconomic system design, with democratic approval and implementation, are clearly essential. Clearly also, these essentials should be readily available in a meaningfully democratic society.

This DSeP can be contrasted with many contemporary political party platforms, which, at best, primarily practice Transactional Politics, such as, for example, quibbling over, attempting to agree upon and finally deciding just how much and what percentage of the local, regional, national, international and global budgets should be devoted to getting the kids killed in the wars, compared to the amount and percentage devoted to getting the kids killed in the classrooms, compared to the amount and percentage devoted to getting the kids killed by denying them available but (unfortunately!) "unprofitable" medical and health care, and so on.

In a fundamental sense, Transformational Politics concerns democratically determining and implementing significant and necessary improved survivability, sustainability and quality-of-life measures and realities, while Transactional Politics is quibbling over Change.

A scientific metaphor might be a Kuhnian "scientific revolution" vs. Kuhn's (certainly not completely contemptuous) "standard incremental science." But to make the metaphor complete, it is acknowledged that even Kuhnian paradigm shifts are gradual and not instantaneous.

Democratic Socioeconomic Platforms [back]

Socioeconomic Democracy (SeD) is a theoretical and practical socioeconomic system wherein there exist both some form and amount of Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) and some form and amount of Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (MAW), with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of a democratic society.

The definitive document describing Socioeconomic Democracy is the book Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System (Praeger, 2002) [1]. The website of the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies provides a wealth of further information regarding Socioeconomic Democracy [2]. The specifically defined idea of Socioeconomic Democracy was first presented in this writer's initial, self-published book in 1972 [3]. The subject of Socioeconomic Democracy is now conveniently discussed on numerous websites and Internet newsletters and journals, locatable by the usual procedures. See, for example, [4-20]. A sampling of supportive or related material for the various ideas of Socioeconomic Democracy may be found in the much abbreviated further reading list [21-35].

In this material and elsewhere will be found anthropological, historical, philosophical, psychological, and human rights justifications for various locally appropriate forms of Socioeconomic Democracy.

Numerous practical political approximations to the ideal theoretical democratic socioeconomic system model have already been outlined or detailed. One simple, obvious and meritorious practical political approximation is characterized by different political parties advocating different amounts for the two crucial and extreme socioeconomic boundary parameters, with the "winning" political party or coalition then implementing their particular understanding of the General Will and suggested magnitudes for these boundaries.

Striking similarities and two intriguing minor differences between SeD and Zakat, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, have been indicated and internationally discussed. Considerable progress can be made simply by developing this relationship logically.

Relative costs and benefits studies for the four basic generic forms of SeD, as well as important considerations of the effect of variations in the particular magnitudes of the democratically set tolerable bounds on personal material poverty and personal material wealth have likewise been provided. System realizability, feasibility and implementation requirements have also been identified and shown to be quite satisfiable. Again, essentially all that is required is a thoughtful democratic society.

Essential Aspects of Socioeconomic Democracy [back]

We begin by examining each of SeD's democratically set bounds, i.e., UGI and MAW. Following that is an important yet simple differentiation between qualitative democracy and quantitative democracy. The latter, justified by elementary Social or Public Choice theory, is used to allow society to democratically decide the amounts of these two fundamental economic bounds, UGI and MAW. Some of the many possible theoretical variations of SeD are then outlined.

After this introduction of the important elements of SeD, Economic Incentive and Self-Interest are considered. Following a brief review of the strong, positive and societally beneficial economic incentive created by Socioeconomic Democracy, we then consider the possibilities of democratically resolving, or at least significantly reducing, simultaneously, humanity's many painful socioeconomic problems.

In Part II of this Democratic Socioeconomic Platform, a number of the myriad simultaneously occurring beneficial ramifications of a democratic socioeconomic system are described. That is to say, it will be shown just how a locally appropriate democratic socioeconomic system can and will solve serious societal problems by democratically establishing societally acceptable bounds on Inequality of Essentials.

Economic Elements of Socioeconomic Democracy [back]

UGI.  With Socioeconomic Democracy, each Participant of the democratic society would understand that some form and amount of a democratically determined minimum amount of societally guaranteed personal income or support would always be available.  Put another way, society would guarantee each citizen some minimum amount of purchasing power, one way or another.

To be sure, this basic idea dates back at least to antiquity, and has, in recent decades, been increasingly explored and richly developed by numerous individuals, organizations and governments at all levels. The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) and the United States Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network are but two of many dedicated productive groups exploring, advocating and introducing the general concept around the world.

Depending upon available resources and the degree and direction of technological development, this democratically set, societally guaranteed minimum income for all could be sufficient to satisfy the typical individual's minimum subsistence and/or personal healthy growth needs. Alternatively, other societies might democratically decide to set the guaranteed amount at a partial subsistence level, for a variety of legitimate reasons.

There are, of course, as many different names and forms of UGI (ranging at least from Basic Income (BI) to Negative Income Tax (NIT) and including Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI)) as there are reasons to establish some form of UGI, or, for that matter, as there are ways proposed to fund different forms of UGI.  Indeed, a democratically set UGI could logically be called and considered Guaranteed Sustainable Development for All.  An increasingly popular public policy perspective referred to as "Socioeconomic Affirmative Action" is clearly related.

MAW.  Further, with Socioeconomic Democracy, all participants of the democratic socioeconomic system would understand that all personal material wealth above the democratically determined and established maximum allowable amount would, by due process, be transferred out of their ownership and control in a manner specified by the democratically designed and implemented laws of the land, and transferred in accordance with other laws of the land to fund, say, various forms of Sustainable Development for All.

Do note that all the wealth above the democratically determined maximum allowable amount, now to be devoted (after SeD is established) to the sustainable development of all, could be either transferred in some sense directly to a democratic government to be deployed as democratically determined, or be dispersed and deployed as the present wealth owners desire and think best, satisfying, of course, a few reasonable laws, rules and regulations on the matter.

This latter procedure has many merits, of which one would be that the present wealth holders might in general be expected to more fully appreciate their "earned" opportunity to direct their democratically determined excess wealth toward focusing on specific legitimate societal problems that particularly interest and concern them.

Yet again, this "privilege" to personally deploy one's "excess" wealth for the betterment of society, as personally preferred, could be extended to those who had personal wealth in excess of the initially established, democratically decided MAW limit (a "Grandfather" clause, as it were), while all excess personal wealth periodically trimmed off after the system is well established could be directed toward a democratic government's General or Specific Welfare Fund.

Perhaps needless to say, the primary benefit of SeD to enhance societal well being and the General Welfare is the result of the economic incentive the democratically set MAW limit creates, and not the amount of wealth periodically trimmed off and donated toward the worthy cause of insuring sustainable development for all. (But everything helps.) This Economic Incentive is discussed below.

Democracy. There is a simple procedure by which each individual participant in a democratic society (or each member of a democratic legislative body) can directly vote her or his particular preference for an amount, magnitude, or quantity of something in question, with the democratically determined, societally or legislatively desired amount unequivocally resulting.  As if to emphasize the significance of the discovery, Duncan Black and Economics Nobelist Kenneth Arrow independently and more or less simultaneously established the important yet simple mathematical result and procedure more than a half century ago.

Their now-classic Social Choice contributions have provided the theory which shows that the Median Value of the participants' (citizens' or legislators') Personal Preference Distribution is the amount the democratic society or body, as a whole, is "for" -- assuming the minimal operational one participant, one vote; majority rule" decision-making process.  Roughly speaking, this means that the democratically determined amount is such that half the voters want that much or more while the other half want that much or less.

Note that the objective is not, definitely not, and should not be "equality in and of everything" (whatever that might mean), but rather acceptably bounded inequality of essentials, with the particular democratic society democratically determining the degree of inequality it will tolerate.

Note that Rush Limbaugh, the popular and much self-beloved, self-designated "Doctor of Democracy," will undoubtedly meet this concept of an advanced functioning democracy with high approval. This is especially the case considering Rush's not-infrequently-expressed concern regarding excessive CEO "Compensation" and the many problems this is exacerbating.

Variations of SeD. Note that any participant in the democratic political process, who might be opposed to any UGI, for any reason at all, could vote to place the lower bound on universal, societally guaranteed assistance at zero. If a majority of voters so voted, it would be the democratic desire of that particular society, at that particular time, to have no UGI.

Likewise, anyone who might be opposed to some finite limit on allowable personal material wealth, for any reason whatsoever, could and should vote, at election time, to place the upper bound of MAW at infinity. If, for any of a variety of reasons, a majority of the voting public were to prefer and vote to place MAW at infinity, then it would be the democratic desire of that society, at that time, to have no upper bound on personal material wealth.

Socioeconomic Democracy is thus seen to embrace, present and facilitate all four of the generic variations of democratic socioeconomic systems. That is, there can be democratic societies wherein there is a nonzero UGI and a finite MAW (the standard and most effective form of SeD); zero UGI and finite MAW (a system with many merits!); nonzero UGI and infinite MAW (legendary problems: how and how much to finance the UGI, and who says so?); and finally, zero UGI and infinite MAW (similar to the current situation, but at least then democratically approved, with such skewed and problem-producing wealth maldistribution apparently acceptable).

Beyond these four theoretical and fundamental variations of Socioeconomic Democracy are, of course, the wide ranges of possible magnitudes of the UGI and MAW levels, both democratically established. It is in the act of the societal setting of these two societally acceptable wealth and poverty boundary magnitudes that proper attention to the particular societal situation can and will be expressed.

Perhaps needless to observe, the same voting procedure (quantitative democracy) can be used to democratically resolve a wide variety of other serious societal questions concerning magnitudes of important societal parameters, arising in many different realms and levels of society. These might include, for example, a societally set upper bound on allowable personal income and/or an upper bound on the allowable ratio of maximum-to-minimum income, or wealth, in either a company, corporation, or country, etc. Thus, many societies, all fundamentally democratic, could nevertheless display their democratic differences.

Economic Incentives Created by Socioeconomic Democracy [back]

Consider first the economic incentive created by a democratically set Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth limit. We have observed earlier that, with SeD, all wealth above the democratically set upper bound on personal material wealth could either be given to the government as taxes (to either enhance the General Revenue Fund or be mandated for specific projects and purposes) or be disposed of as the present wealth "owners" so choose (again, satisfying reasonable, democratically established societal restrictions and opportunities).

In either case, all rational, self-interested and insatiable (as the current dominant-though-fading neoclassical economic assumptions/theory goes), extremely wealthy, law-abiding participants in the democratic society with its democratic socioeconomic system, who still desire increased personal material wealth, would be economically motivated, that is, have economic incentive, to actively and seriously work to increase the welfare and well-being of the less well-off members of society.  Only in this manner can these (still-wealthiest) participants persuade a majority of the citizens/participants of the democratic society to see the wisdom in and democratically vote to raise somewhat the legal upper limit on allowable personal wealth -- everything considered.

There is, in fact, strong economic incentive for those who are at or near the democratically set upper bound on allowable personal material wealth to be successful in improving the General Welfare.  For if the current level of MAW is not producing sufficient improvement in the General Welfare, as democratically determined, there is the possibility and probability that the democratic society will democratically decide to reduce the MAW limit even more, in order to enlist even more still-wealthy participants (with their unique and valuable knowledge, know-how, contacts and "can-do"-ness) and their extra wealth in the proper and noble task of seriously improving the welfare and well being of all society, humanity and posterity.

The ultimate effect of such economic incentive, as experienced by those at or near the democratically set upper bound on MAW, will be to transform their very real, primitive and originally quite justified (individual survivability) concept of "self-interest" to instead, and in effect, interpret and include larger and larger segments of society and humanity as "self," insofar as calculations of "self-interest" are concerned.

This is because such a perspective will be appealing to that still-functioning, primitive, individual-ego-informed self-interest. Put another way, global and higher consciousness will be increasingly appreciated, encouraged and demonstrated by the emerging realization of the very real benefit to personal self-interest resulting from considerations of inclusive "self-interest."

Note also that a not-insignificant amount of this effect would be manifest, even if some particular democratic society democratically decided and voted to initially establish the upper limit on allowable personal material wealth (MAW) at, say, twice the amount of wealth presently possessed by the currently Richest of the Rich. Verification of this observation is an amusing exercise.

Another informative and amusing exercise is to consider the effects and ramifications of many different levels of MAW, democratically set in, say, contemporary United States of America -- though the general idea is, of course, applicable everywhere. For example, consider what different situations would obtain in the USA (as well as globally, for that matter) if the MAW limit in the USA were democratically set at, say, $1t, $100b, $50b, $10b, $1b, $500m, and even $100m (also known as a "Texas Unit").

A further question might be: Just what does the Gentle Reader think/feel the MAW limit should be in the USA? Another, as instructive, question is: Just what does the Gentle Reader think/feel the MAW limit ultimately would be, if democratically established in the USA today, or, say, in 2012?

The economic incentives created by various forms of UGI have long been theoretically examined, practically tested and adequately documented. The results are easily available, though anyone not familiar with the subject could conveniently begin with BIEN or USBIG.

Of course, except for Thomas Paine's no proposal for some form of UGI has ever yet been seriously linked directly to either democracy or some form of upper bound on allowable personal material wealth. Hence, in spite of its promise and potential, the present state of this very sick planet.

Insights parallel to those regarding a democratically set MAW limit, above, can be obtained by considering implications and ramifications of various possible democratically set UGI amounts and approximations, in the USA and elsewhere.

The incentives, economic and otherwise, created by establishing these two crucial economic bounds, i.e., UGI and MAW, democratically, will, among many other desirable developments, significantly encourage and enhance the informed political participation of all citizens in their finally meaningfully democratic society -- here assumed a positive and progressive political development. This, again, is basically because of very real and undeniable self-interest in all of us. After all, the only way to democratically establish the UGI and MAW limits is to participate in the political process that would change the de facto settings of zero and infinity, respectively.

Democratic Resolution of Socioeconomic Problems [back]

Socioeconomic Democracy would thus create economic incentive and provide necessary funds to encourage and effect significant reduction in an almost surprisingly diverse array of unnecessary yet painful and lethal individual, societal and global problems.

As is described at length in the referenced material, these problems include (but are by no means limited to) those familiar ones involving: automation, computerization and robotization; budget deficits and national debts; bureaucracy; maltreatment of children; crime and punishment; development, sustainable or otherwise; ecology, environment, resources and pollution; education; the elderly; the feminine majority; inflation; international conflict; intranational conflict; involuntary employment; involuntary unemployment; labor strife and strikes; sick medical and health care; military metamorphosis; natural disasters; pay justice; planned obsolescence; political participation; poverty; racism; sexism; untamed technology; and the General Welfare.

It should be kept in mind that these highly desirable outcomes of reduced societal problems are not simply "Goals for a Better World." Rather, they are the direct and predictable ramifications of adopting various forms of locally appropriate Socioeconomic Democracy.

As indicated earlier, the individual, extremely wealthy people (all those democratic participants in the democratic society who are at or near the democratically set MAW limit), with their different skills and knowledge sets, if serious about their self-interest maximization, can all be expected to utilize and apply their gifts/talents toward reducing or resolving the problems of others.  And wanting to do so efficiently and effectively, these individual, still extremely wealthy participants of their particular democratic society can further be expected to devote their gifts/talents to reducing those classes of problems that particularly interest them -- for any of a variety of reasons.

This is one of a number of reasons why so many different societal problems will all be seriously addressed and significantly reduced, and why they will all be addressed simultaneously and successfully. Whatever societal problems are not addressed adequately by the "private sector," as democratically determined, can and should be successfully addressed by the democratic government, which will now have available sufficient funds and motivation to do so, appreciatively provided by the democratically set MAW limit.

This might appear, at first glance, revolutionary. But remember; only in this way can these still wealthiest members of society persuade a majority of society to democratically raise the upper limit on MAW, which the law-abiding wealthiest of society presumably still desire (at least according to the assumptions of momentarily dominating, though fast-fading, contemporary economic systems theory and practice). Even in this "worst-case scenario," the societally desirable and beneficial behavior is obtained -- democratically, peacefully and with all that other good stuff.

Far more common, it is predicted, will be the increasing number of those who now see the undeniable light of day at, dare it be said, the end of humanity's terrifyingly dark tunnel of transformation.

As a matter of fact, one can easily picture the following lovely littoral scene. Beautiful waves and magnificent rhythmic sets are rolling in, spotted three sets out, at an angle to the golden shell and sand shoreline to create and display such exquisite shoulders with such sensuous shapes.

Further out, above the waves just starting to hint of their growing strength and beauty as they rush eagerly toward shore to place their individual and unique kiss, lines of formation-flying Pelicans surf the updraft preceding the incoming and rising walls of water.

Inside the outer developing swells, where those exquisite and enticing shoulders beckon, happy human surfers also play with and make love with the waves.

Staring from the shore, enthralled, at such a sacred sight will be, among others, more than a few now-democratically-limited-material-wealth-types who, knowing that everyone else in their much-beloved democratic society is likewise democratically limited (wealth-wise) and extended (happy-human-heart-wise), and further knowing that the same thing is safely and surely happening all about her/his/their/our glorious Gaia, will heave a sonorous sigh of relief, yelp of joy, and grab their surfboards to join the growing groups of advocates in the local lineups for locally appropriate forms of Socioeconomic Democracy (actually, just another example of "Appropriate Technology"), now that the perfectly shaped democratic socioeconomic sunrise surf's up and so inviting!

After all, the surf -- and the wind, for that matter -- is "free," though a "lunch," surfboard or sailboat may not be. The continuing question, of course, is just how much should a (delicious, nutritious and environmentally friendly) lunch and the other necessities of life cost, and should these and the other necessities of life be obtainable by all humans or simply by some small subset of society -- especially since there is a sufficiency of essentials for all.

References and Links [back]

[1]   Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System. Westport: Praeger, 2002. (Praeger Studies on the 21st Century.) [back]

[2]    Center for the Study of Democratic Societies. [back]

[3]   Common Sense II: On the Further Design of Government in General. Jericho, New York: Exposition University Press, 1972. [back]

[4]   "Socioeconomic Democracy and Sustainable Development." Solidarity, Sustainability, and non-Violence, v.3, n.12 (Dec. 2007). [back]

[5]   "Socioeconomic Democracy and Sustainable Development." DEVELOPMENT 4 ALL.

[6]   "Socioeconomic Democracy & Energy." Synthesis/Regeneration, No. 43 (Spring 2007).

[7]   "Share the Wealth with Socioeconomic Democracy." Physics, Economy, New Energy (Mar. 2007).

[8]   "Socioeconomic Democracy," New Paradigm, v.1, n.2 (Sep. 2006).

[9]   "Socioeconomic Democracy: A Democratic Basic Income Guarantee." Paper presented at the USBIG (US Basic Income Guarantee) Congress. New York, March 2005.

[10]   "Utopia or Oblivion." Future Positive. (Mar. 2004).

[11]   "SOCIOECONOMIC DEMOCRACY: A Realizable Democratic Socioeconomic Utopia." Utopian World Championship 2004.

[12]   "Socioeconomic Democracy." ahp Perspective,  Association for Human Psychology, Dec. 2003/Jan. 2004 (17-19).

[13]   "Futures of Socioeconomic Democracy." Journal of Futures Studies, v.5, n.4. Tamsui, Taiwan, Center for Futures Studies, May 2001 (31-48).

[14]   "Socioeconomic Democracy and the State of Welfare." Democracy & Nature: The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, v.5, n.3, London: Carfax Publishing, Nov. 1999 (pp. 469-484).

[15]   "Socioeconomic Democracy: A Synergetic Amalgam of New and Ancient Ideas in Political Economy." Paper presented at the 5th International Congress of the International Society for Intercommunication of New Ideas (ISINI), Mexico City, Mexico, August 1999. In Ortiz, Edgar and Alejandra Cabello (eds.), Economic Issues and Globalization: Theory and Evidence I: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1999. Article essentially reproduced at the CSDS web site.

[16]   "Socioeconomic Democracy and Islami Economics." Some Significant 21st Century Trends and Issues: Poverty, Population, Peace and Sustainability, Dr. Ikram Azam, ed. Islamabad: Pakistan Futuristics Institute (PFI), 1998.

[17]   "Socioeconomic Democracy." In Pak Futurist 6. PFI, Sep/Oct 1992.

[18]   "The Developing World and Socioeconomic Democracy." Paper presented at First International Pakistan Futuristics Institute (PFI)/World Future Studies Federation (WFSF) Conference entitled "The Future of Democracy in the Developing World," Islamabad, Pakistan, October 1992. Later in the "PFI/WFSF First International Conference Special Souvenir." Islamabad, Pakistan, October 1992.

[19]   "An Introduction to Socioeconomic Democracy." Journal of World Education, v.16, n.3. Association of World Education, July 1985 (7-10).

[20]    For a more complete historical development and presentation of the ideas of Socioeconomic Democracy, starting in the early 1070s, please see the CSDS Bibliography.

Suggested Further Reading    [back]

[21]   Paine, Thomas. Everything you can get your hands and eyes on. He remains at once current, prophetic and empowering.

[22]   Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.

[23]   Black, Duncan, The Theory of Committees and Elections. London: Cambridge University Press, 1958.

[24]   Arrow, Kenneth, Social Choice and Individual Values, 2nd Edition. New York: Wiley, 1963.

[25]   Ulatowska, Lisinka, FEARless: Ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a world gripped by fear. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2005.

[26]   "Health and Illness in Relation to Dignity and Humiliation in Times of Global Interdependence" by Lindner, Evelin G., Solidarity, Sustainability, and Non-Violence, v.4, n.6 (June, 2008).

[27]   "About Altruism" by Lichtenberg, Judith. Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly, v.28, ns.1/2. University of Maryland:Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, Winter/Spring 2008 (2-6).

[28]   "Can Democracy Save the Planet?" by Elkington, John & Lotherington, John. Open Democracy: free thinking for the world (21 April 2008).

[29]   DoWire/DemocraciesOnline.

[30]   Democratic Governance Practice Network (DGP-Net).

[31]   "Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality".

[32]   Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).

[33]   U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG).

[34]   Livable Income For Everyone.

[35]   Alaska Permanent Fund.

Robley E. George, Director
Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions

Copyright 2008 by Robley E. George


Robley E. George, Founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies, was born in Indiana in 1931 and was graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis. He then studied engineering at San Diego State and Sacramento State Colleges and was graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a B.S. Chem. Engr. in 1954. After serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, he entered Purdue University and was graduated with a M.S. Chem. Engr. in 1957. He completed his formal education at UCLA, specializing in applied mathematics, automatic control theory and nuclear engineering.

Mr. George entered the aerospace industry and participated in the conception, design, analysis, implementation, operation and maintenance of various sophisticated computerized systems. His work through much of this period was classified, though scientific articles did result in the general area of mathematical optimization, specifically nuclear rocket thrust optimization and complex scheduling algorithms.

In 1969, Mr. George left industry to create the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies, a research and educational institution dedicated to the examination and explanation of the properties and possibilities of democratic societies. Mr. George has lectured, presented workshops and short courses as well as given TV and radio interviews on various aspects of present and potential democracy and advanced, democratic socioeconomic systems. He has presented his seminal work on Socioeconomic Democracy at a number of international conferences and is the author of numerous articles published in the U.S. and abroad. He has further developed the concept and discipline of Economic Engineering, first articulated by Keith Roberts. His honors include the Dr. Khurshid Ahmad Khan Memorial Award from the Pakistan Futuristics Institute for his "long-standing services to the Futures Field".

Feedback is kindly requested: Robley E. George

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