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The fast elevator

By Eric Gribble - posted Thursday, 4 January 2018


Currently there is a justifiable general belief that human society is heading for a calamity. Population growth, climate change, lack of economic and technological progress and a decline in social values are all factors that are fuel for this pessimism.

It can be demonstrated that many of the issues facing us may not be insurmountable. The solutions offered however will only be achievable if many change their views on much that they have believed in for a lifetime.  

It is considered that a lack of lateral innovative thinking within institutions has led to inertia. We need to look at the factors that promote innovative thinking.

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There has been virtually no reform of the basic structure of our Government and our major institutions since the nations formation. In the meantime, our societies knowledge has steadily increased. Technology, and in particular information technology, has totally changed how we go about our everyday lives. The number of man hours dedicated to administration is still high even though computing power has increased exponentially. This is primarily as a result of Governments taking the easy option, just introduce more legislation to address every perceived wrong. Layer upon layer of regulations seem to be increasing the administrative burden at the same rate that computing power has reduced that burden. Major structural reform of societies institutions is the next big step the democratic world needs to make if the initiative for economic growth is to be regained.

It is easy to criticise, criticism should be accompanied with viable alternatives. We need better solutions. The federal system is not good for Australia. Both a simple single layer Democratically elected House of Representatives and a simple tax system will reduce administrative costs, delays and add to the economic growth rate. Tax reform focusing on exemption free GST would be possible as part of a total package including education accounts for education, compulsory health insurance subsidised for low income families, deregulation and a reduction in the size of Government. The tax reform described cannot stand alone and is only workable as part of a total package. The problems with income tax is that it is discriminatory, a whole estate planning industry has evolved to reduce individuals tax burden and also that the income tax system is complicated and difficult to administer. Income tax is a blunt instrument when used as a means of redistribution. A mentoring system and a restructured centre link will be better equipped for assessing peoples needs. The merits and failings of a guaranteed minimum income scheme is something that should be debated.

High taxes can reduce Government income in the long run by reducing growth of the tax base. There is an optimum tax rate, excessive taxes in the long run reduce Government revenue.

We are wrong when we say the conflict in society is between Capitalism and Socialism. Terms like Capitalism, Socialism, right wing and left wing are meaningless and simply confuse.

The real conflict is between central planning and control verses handing power back to society. Central planning and control has given us the worst of Government. That Government does not have the answers, there are to many variables. No entity can determine consumer preferences into the future. No entity can predict future technology and what products will become redundant. No entity can predict the future input costs when manufacturing a product, input component prices change due to scarcity. Only the free market price mechanism can test what should be manufactured. The free market (as harsh as it may seem) weeds out failed ideas and inefficiency. Government subsidies and protection tends to transfer resources from more profitable organisations to the protected industry. We need to do the opposite to grow the economy (In Australia for years all businesses have paid more for motor vehicles due to high tariffs on imported vehicles. In addition to this protectionism the motor vehicle industry has been bailed out on a number of occasions. The industry still failed to become competitive, failed to find a niche market and continued to ask for even more help. This is a story of lost opportunity; the free market would have weeded out this industry years ago and redirected resources to more profitable enterprises).

 Public perceptions, that are often misguided, can be reinforced by a rating driven sensationalist news media. The ultimate example of this is the mismatch between public perceptions regarding the hazards of nuclear (fission) electricity generation and the reality. After years of research on survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima (people that were exposed to extremely high levels of ionising radiation) the health impact is significantly less than expected. Quoted research also suggests that an increase in ionising radiation that does not increase above 100 milliservents is actually beneficial to human and animal health and reduces cancer rates. Early life evolved in a high radiation environment. Widespread misinformation can lead to faulty decision making.  Always question what is being said, for example the term “Highly radioactive” is meaningless sensationalism. It does not quantify the radiation level nor explain the proven health effects. We need to encourage people to question everything, look for genuine research and listen to what those qualified to speak on a subject have to say. Check that trials have been properly conducted. Don’t be drawn into accepting what is generally accepted. Be an individual and step out from the crowd.

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Society can be frustrating, we need people to recognise that big brother (Government) does not have the solutions. Solutions come from the combined enterprise of individuals, that central Government only constrains that entrepreneurship. There are alternative pathways, there are solutions, we don’t need simple opposition without solutions. Let’s encourage people to question the institutions and beliefs they have known for a lifetime.

Lack of mentoring in modern society is a major cause of social decline. In the past older generations tended to stay close to younger generations. Parents and Grandparents mentored the younger generations on life skills and values. The sad reality in modern society is that often young parents, often solo parents, often with the aid of welfare payments, are left without any mentors. At the same time, we have a large number of retired people with a lifetime of skills that are left alone and are no longer valued. With training and a focus on personal safety, there is no reason why many elderlies cannot become part of a mentoring scheme (maybe a small pension top up could be an inducement). The added advantage is that the elderly will again become valued and a part of society. This is only one of a number of possible options.

There are solutions and those solutions will come from society at large, Government does not have the answers. Opportunities are everywhere, it is when opportunities and expectations meet that solutions are found. The aim is to increase expectations.

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About the Author

Eric Gribble is the author of Placing Australians on a Fast Elevator to the Future and previously operated a capsicum-growing business in Tasmania. He has particular interest in economics, horticulture, astronomy and New Zealand and Australian politics. Eric currently resides in Wardell, New South Wales.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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