“No, no, say It’s not so, we only came to sleep, we only came to dream.”
“Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream” (Traditional nursery rhyme)
The Law in interesting times – Part five- waking up is hard to do
Previous columns (Aug 16th through Sept 6th editions of the D.C. Herald), introduced Adam Smith’s concept of altruism in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in an attempt to balance an unresolvable conflict between original intent, and case law. Corporate “persons,” by creating, then exploiting gaps in law for profit and power, have accelerated the demise of individual Liberty to the point of crisis.
Native people factored the environmental and economic impacts of their actions on unborn human generations. The Great Law was their sacred contract with the planet; in our system it’s not. It is dastardly to exhaust the resources vital to the happiness of our descendants but exhaust them we do. The world has resources for everyone’s needs but never enough for even one man’s greed. Unfortunately, the history of greed and the history of law run together. This series began with the question: Can the protection of future life as humanity’s silent partner be instituted in a form of legal altruism?
The most common answer is “not a snowball’s chance.” Simply, law relates the history of power and money, extended as necessary through war. The prerogatives of hereditary ruling elites determine the absolute limits of justice through the concentration of wealth. Today’s juggernaut of global corporatism signals the end of democracy in the West and a sense of betrayal hangs heavy in the air. Or as Deep State students might put it: “Politics is the Entertainment Division of the Military Industrial Complex.” (F. Zappa)
One might easily conclude that neither judicial activism nor legal positivism will suffer a partnership with the planet on behalf of mankind’s health and future; no more than law suffers everyday people to declare war or negotiate peace. Continuing to seek reformist linkages within a hierarchy of greed, to somehow redress the conflict in law defies the obvious: the law has evolved as far as it can.
Or maybe not. The declaration that “law is at a dead end” only delimits the current paradigm of knowledge; more than ever our challenges underscore the objective need to create a modern understanding of law. The law will evolve when it recognizes the economic claims of the future are moral, and the fate of our freedom lies in restoring balance to the process of new wealth creation. Justice must serve a bigger vision. But we can’t expect a buy-in from those at the top: “Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches as to conceive how others can be in want.” Johnathan Swift.
To expect a movement in law back in the direction of original Constitutional meaning, back into realistic legal regulation, requires introducing a new economic element at the Main Street level. The FRC’s 20 Year Plan, recognizes that three distinct human relationships make up the social organism, and must necessarily balance for there to be a sustainable economic future. These relationships can be formalized in types of currency; they can add moral and ecological dimensions to the marketplace, for obtaining better results than through fiat.
The Plan is like a contract with the future. A Charitable Foundation, as a well-established fiduciary mechanism for reinvesting donated Transfer of Wealth capture, can facilitate the development of a geographically defined community. The Charitable Foundation’s assets are not subject to rules of government taxation and redistribution; the Foundation can operate under the participatory control of its donor-stakeholders (along with any restrictions and provisions in non-profit law as may apply).
The big leap forward: very considerable assets would become and available to a direct democratic process, and locally reinvested to further the peoples own affairs. Such Foundation(s) would employ all the requisite elements of law needed for initial development and subsequent operations, as dedicated to the mission of social, economic and ecological improvement.
The economics of altruism already operates through law in land use covenants, conservation restrictions and protective encumbrances in lease agreements. Some people tithe ten percent to their church; others donate land to the Nature Conservancy, to the Missouri’s Conservation Department, or to charitable causes. Acts of giving clearly redound to the greater good, but fail the larger aim of advancing a culture of self-sufficiency; there is no inherent reciprocity in mission.
If larger considerations informed such giving, the loss of our food and energy sovereignty wouldn’t be at issue. In a direct democracy the people’s ownership of food resources is always the case; in representative democracies it is just the opposite: Juvenility is the requisite condition for life in the Nanny state. “Control the food, control the people. Control the oil, control the money.” Henry Kissinger
Moreover, randomly donated assets remove natural capital from circulation. As the administrative state grows ever bigger at the citizen’s expense, the time has come to adopt a more sophisticated perspective. We need to control the disposition of our own assets, in a dedicated manner by our own Charitable Foundations, all for better navigating the future for ourselves.
And, given a 5% donation or so, we’re not talking peanuts. Missouri’s residents will undergo an asset turnover of more than $1.5 Trillion dollars over the next 50 years. We also have large stewardship responsibilities: The United Nations evaluation of the current genetic value of the biological diversity in the Ozarks has been estimated at $4.5 Trillion. We have lost ownership control of our vital resources through the impoverishment of imagination, not for a lack of riches.
As we age and the fact of our own mortality looms, the notion of stewardship begins to play a larger role in our way of thinking. If only a fraction of landowners donated to their watershed Charitable Foundation, the asset base for a local economic revival would dwarf the kibble and bits returned by politicians. There’s no longer a need for middlemen. To shrink government, to pay less in taxes, we should back the mission to Feed Missouri First! We’ve got this.
The bioregional approach of the FRC 20 Year Plan monetizes stewardship of the land through the will of collective participation. I know of nothing else that speaks to this degree of citizen empowerment; there is no competition for unleashing economic potential at this scale. The Plan is an economic answer to partisan polarization; it employs economics to rebalance the power disconnect between ordinary citizens and the Washington behemoth.
This asset base of a given watershed-based Charitable Foundation can collateralize food processing hubs in tandem with the introduction of local currencies. In Basque speaking Spain, a land comparable in size and population to the Missouri Ozarks, people have created a largely self-standing economy within a larger national context. Called the Mondragon Experiment, it has successfully created scores of businesses, thousands of jobs and they built their own university campus. I’ll save a discussion of the pros and cons of their creation for a later edition, but will just note that they ran aground when they tried to fabricate refrigerators for global export. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
For now it’s enough to say the FRC TOW approach begins with an uncommon appeal: use a small portion of your own assets in a highly intelligent way, and work to multiply the benefits towards securing a freer future. You don’t have to die to magnify these donations, which are fungible, but can remain fully active in the planning, recruitment and build-out phases if you so desire. But there’s another good point: the Plan can reunite the minds of rural and urban Americans.
Equally, we must take into account more than just the positive conditions that contribute to the results we hope for. A complete understanding of the law also requires knowledge of what can go wrong. To give an example, a TOW provision might be challenged by a shirt-tail relative, claiming undue influence or misrepresentation, or an invalid contract. Litigation is always a fact of life.
To conclude, law relates the history of power. Our heritage is at stake; we must try bold new things to get new results. “Voting to revive government for and of the people will no more bring it back to life again than one spoonful of water thrown upon a rat already drowned would contribute to his death.” Johnathan Swift.
Next: Part Six- Peasantry.