In my early eighties, our current political discourse is making me feel like the little boy who knew and proclaimed that the Emperor was indeed naked.
What is so patently obvious in our sabre rattling posture toward North Korea today? To ask the question is to find the answer. The question is this.
What does Kim Jong-un, North Korea's Supreme Commander, want?
Kim Jong-un - Caricature Posterized
(Image by DonkeyHotey) Details DMCA
By extension, What do North Koreans want?
The immediate answer is that they want to become a nuclear nation.
But, wait a moment. Are they not already a nuclear nation?
Should not this reality defuse the sense of urgency under whose cloak the discussion is held these days? Let the United States Congress ask President Trump to stop the "armada" right where it is. Let the US Congress exercise its constitutional obligations toward the choice between war and peace.
The urgency of stopping North Korea from carrying out the next nuclear test does not exist. What is the difference between an arsenal of 21 and 22 nuclear bombs? It is estimated that North Korea already has 21 nuclear bombs in its arsenal.
Let us again ask the question, What does Kim Jong-un, North Korea's Supreme Commander, want? What do the people of North Korea want?
The answer is that they want respect. They want to be treated with respect on the international scene. They want to be treated with respect by the international media.
Then the question becomes, Why not?
One fear we have is that North Korea will attack us and/or our allies, first. A deeper fear is that North Korea will arm terrorists with nuclear devices. This is a real threat, which can be properly faced, not in the context of North Korea, but in the context of solutions to the international terrorist movement.
The solution to international terrorism, undoubtedly the most serious question on the international scene today, resides within the United States.
The solution to international terrorism does not lie in bombing the hell out of them. It does not lie in taking their oil.
The solution lies in removing the threat that the United States, by its very existence, presents to terrorists.
The solution lies in demonstrating in facts, not words, that we are indeed a peace-loving nation. The solution lies in a three-step approach: First, we need the United States Congress to pass a resolution that American foreign policy doctrine is, and forever will be: Defense, not Offense.
This Doctrine means to be expressed as a solemn promise to the world that the United States of America will never--ever--carry out a first strike.
We must refuse to keep "all options" on the table. We must impose self-restraint on ourselves. This is the way we will gain the respect of the world.
The second step in our international posture will have to be the gradual implementation of Representative Dennis Kucinich's proposal to build a Department of Peace. As I have pointed out elsewhere, "The most important element in the chain of needs is that the Department of Peace, without resources, would be a mockery. But where do we find the resources, especially at a time of substantial deficits and budget cuts? Well, the first candidate is a voluntary--free and willing--transfer of, say, ten percent of resources from the current budget of the Department of Defense. The experts in this department will candidly tell you that it is impossible--with their means--to stop terrorism. What the voter has to see is that, given the proper means, it is possible to stop terrorism. We cannot give in to pessimism and despair. We must indeed stop terrorism."
In addition to the binary issues of war and peace, there is a third solution to the horrible condition of the terrorist threat today. Again, we have to ask, What is that terrorists want?
The answer is simple, but it leads to a long conversation. Terrorists want to be treated with the respect that any human being deserves; above all, they want a fair share of the wealth to which they are entitled by their very existence as human beings.
The United States of America should implement such policy within its own borders, first; and then it should help all people of the world--all potential terrorists--to have such policies implemented in each and every nation of the world.
Yes, Pope Pius VI was absolutely right: "If you want peace, work for justice."
Economic justice, I have forever specified, not social justice. The kernel of social justice is composed of two corrosive practices: First, it allows bullies to take full advantage of the weak; then it suggests to rob Peter to pay Paul. Through the Doctrine of Social Justice, we instruct our representatives to be robbers. Any wonder that some weak constitutions fall to the demands of their own needs, first, and the needs on friends and relatives, thereafter?
The solution to today's sorry condition of the world is economic justice; it is the implementation of four economic rights and responsibilities. These ERs&ERs arise, not out of whim, but out of the needs of the economic process: To create real wealth, we need access to natural resources, labor, financial capital, and physical capital in the form of machinery, equipment, organization, and innovation.
Legal tools to acquire access to these resources are mostly already in place within the spirit of our public institutions. Mostly, this spirit needs only to be made manifest. Its specification might be slightly different from place to place; but the needs are universal, and the spirit is universal.
The natural resources of the world belong to all people of the world. This is a discussion that needs to be carried out within the United States as well as abroad. As I have recently pointed out, all nations of the world should not "sell" their natural resources: they should "own" and develop them to the benefit of all the people.
In this regard, I have just received information about the vision of Self-Sustaining Family Farms, a compelling vision of a hopeful reality that ought to catch fire and spread throughout the world in no time.
How to acquire natural resources? The entrepreneur needs to buy them, and needs to buy them at the lowest cost possible. There is only one means through which the government can help keep the price of land and natural resources as low as possible: We need to raise taxes on land and natural resources: Classical economists knew this truth; 8 Nobel Laureates in economics (mirabile dictu; an exceptional declaration of unanimity) agreed to that much. The reason is simple: Land value taxes discourage hoarding of land and natural resources. Hence, their market supply is increased; hence, their price is lowered.
Before proceeding, an important observation: Taxes on land and natural resources are the only just taxes. All other taxes should gradually be reduced to zero. This, obviously, is a long-term goal. It is inextricably related to the need for gradual shrinkage of the operation of the government to its natural function of providing the rules within which the market must operate and then getting out of the market.
Labor ought to be rewarded fairly, not be exploited. To achieve this goal, workers have to be transformed into owners. Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are fabulous legal instruments to achieve this transformation--this revolution really--in an ordered and peaceful way.
Where can entrepreneurs get financial capital? At the source, of course. All central banks have the power to create money. They ought to issue: 1. Loans for the creation of real, not financial, wealth; 2. Loans at cost, not at variable interest rates: and 3. Loans to benefit everyone. Hence, ESOPs are so important. Loans ought to be issued to individual entrepreneurs and to cooperatives and to corporations with ESOPs. Incorporating the principle that "public works ought to be funded with public money," all entities with taxing power that are involved in the creation of public infrastructure also ought to have access to national credit.
Student loans, the pillars of our intellectual infrastructure, also ought to be issued at cost.
Consumer Stock Ownership Plans (CSOPs) are even more fabulous legal tools to distribute money among people who do not want or cannot work for a living. CSOPs recognize that consumers make the corporation viable all year long.
And then we need to resolve the issue of inordinate accumulations of power in a few hands. Levying taxes on land and natural resources will do much in this field; ESOPs will be powerful instruments for the fair distribution of wealth as it is created; loans from central banks only for the creation of real wealth will contribute much to the prevention of inequality. But sooner, rather than later, we need to face this issue head-on. As I have advocated for many years now, we simply need to prevent--voluntary or involuntary--mergers and acquisitions. Corporations are creations of the state; the state wants healthy organizations, not monsters. And when the behemoths of industry and finance fall, governments ought to let them fall.
They ought not to be rescued through infusion of taxpayer's money, or, worse, through expropriation of bank deposits. And the behemoth can be allowed to fall without much disruption in the economic life of the country, if central banks are ready to issue loans as pointed out above.
The natural resources of the world belong to all people of the world--all the local people of the world. And it is the people themselves, not any external entity, that ought to determine the sizes and the shapes along which they want to organize themselves. As Elinor Ostrom taught us, tribal organizations solve their own problems; it is patently evident that, beyond the glitter of "culture" for the few, megalopolises mostly foster addictions, homelessness, and loneliness.
There is a natural symbiosis between the people and the land. That is why emigration is such an unnatural and painful solution for economic and social problems. Local problems must be solved locally.
Economics is not a "pure" science. Economics is an integration of many things: natural resources, social institutions, legal institutions, and, above all, morality--all directed to the betterment of mankind. Economics is a moral science; otherwise, to state the obvious, it is an immoral practice.
The international policy of the United States is, not only that corruption of government officials is prohibited, but even doing business--unknowingly--with corrupt people is punishable to the full extent of the law.
It is through the promulgation and implementation of policies such as these that the United States gains the respect of the world. It is through the promulgation and implementation of policies such as these that the United States becomes the guarantor of peace in the world. Without peace, we have nothing.
Carmine Gorga, PhD, is president of The Somist Institute.