Lies that we tell ourselves and others. We all have some guiding set of principles we believe in and more or less try to live. Not that we have examined these principles too closely lest we discover them to be false or contradictory. I was watching the film In Bruges last night, one of those overlooked gems in a world of extreme special effects and celebrities posing as actors with scripts written by a warehouse full of monkeys with typewriters. We don’t dare trust those monkeys with computers, just think of the harm they could do in the real world. One of my favorite posters is one with a ten year old child and his pet chimpanzee on a rope around its neck. The chimp has an automatic weapon in his hands. The caption is: No matter how trustworthy he looks, never give a chimpanzee your weapon. Now substitute a cop for the chimp…well, I digress. Back to the movie. The two main characters are hitmen and they have been sent to Bruges to enjoy the former medieval fairyland. And indeed, Bruges is a wonderful place to visit, a theme park that predates Disney. Had old Walt gone there first he might have altered his plans for L.A. The boss has sent the two men there for a reason. One of them, in completing the hit of a priest, we don’t know why the priest had a contract out on him, accidently shoots a small boy and kills him as well. Now the upshot of the plot is that the boss is incensed that one hitman who killed the boy did not immediately commit suicide on the spot. therefore the other hitman will have to kill the one who messed up. Of course familiarity breeds resistance and the boss decides to come to Bruges and finish the job. He feels his honor is at stake. During the course of the shooting the boss kills a bystander who just happens to be a midget in a primary school uniform (a low budget euro trash film is being shot in the square). The boss, who holds his principles never sees that he has shot an adult and not a child. So the boss commits suicide there on the spot. If only our politicians would hold their honor so dearly when they fail. Of course the idea that life for children is so sacred while for adults it’s not seems to stretch the idea of principle.
So we endure calls to soak the rich and give to the poor. Yet if the real problem of society is a lack of jobs, of opportunities for good education and skill training, simply moving money from one set of hands to another with no more thought that it all should be equal will accomplish almost nothing. If we give a math test and only two or three score a hundred out of a hundred and most of the class scores less that fifty each, merely redistributing the points from the brains of the class to its dummies does nothing. Besides, there aren’t enough points to rob from the smarties to pass the others. Well, how about we lower the standards? My god, we have been doing that for the past six or seven decades. Where has that gotten us? You send your kid to college and they spend the first two years receiving a remedial education that they should have obtains in the public school system. Meanwhile we constantly hear from those educators and administrators that they don’t make enough money and need more, lots more. And we need bigger schools, large campuses with lots of bells and whistles because that is how children learn. Well, tell that to any Nigerian who has scrimped and saved enough to come to the US and is already better educated and speaks better English that Tupac. They do more education with one and two room school houses and basic cheaply printed books than we can do with our billions.
Why is it that every politician who is so terribly concerned with education of the poor wants to build edifices to him or herself? Centennial High School in east San Jose was complete in 1976 and I think Gerald Ford came to dedicate the facility. This high school had everything. There was a state of the art electronics laboratory.a full size olympic swimming pool, a gym that was larger than the one for San Jose State University, an auto mechanic’s shop with all the latest tools, a planetarian, a student center, a facility center with a wet bar, a state of the art theater better than anything else in San Jose or the surround cities. The enrolment was expected to be initially excess of two thousand students. There was a daycare center for unwed mothers. There was a health clinic. And around this two block long monstrosity was a eight foot high chain link fence with two feet of ribbon wire on top. Do you think there was a problem with the collective vision of the school board and the educators in general? Hell, even the police had a detention center on campus. Do we not understand the contradiction in terms here?
Our problems around the world is not the divergence between rich and poor. It never was. It is about the lack of opportunities available to the many and yet restricted to the few. Yes, it is a political problem of our own making, of our own stupidity. Somehow children are deprived if there are thirty of them of varying ages stuck in a one room school house. You know, I’ve never seen the research that positively correlates lack of learning in such situations. So here’s what we do. We put limits on growth. Bigger is not better. We put caps on personal income. Quarter of a million dollars a year is more than enough for any one. We put caps on the size of houses. Why do you need more than 3000 square feet? Why do we need corporations? We will not allow the formation of any more corporations and those in existence will have ten years to sell themselves off, whole or part to partnerships and sole proprietorships. The owners can make all the money they want but they will be taxed on what they withdraw. And they must withdraw at least one twentieth of the business income as personal income. If that personal income exceeds $250,000, then we take the excess.
As for schools, we will tear down all those industrial factories of education. Schools will be located in neighborhoods and will be very small. No more than one grade of twenty students each. You want to stop drugs in schools? You want to stop the violence, the sexual misconduct? In small classrooms everyone knows everyone else. You stop the bullying, the stupidity of social competition. Everyone wears a uniform, including standard footwear. There will be no public service or teacher unions. Parents will be expected to contribute to the maintenance of the facilities. They will help to paint, repair, or pay for repairs. Books will be standard and reproduced cheaply. Now if you are a private school, I don’t care how you spend your money.
Banks will no longer be allowed to issue credit based on nothing but good credit scores. The bank may only lend one dollar for every dollar of assets. The banks will no longer be allowed to lend more that 70% or the appraised value of any asset, such as a house or machinery being financed. Automobile loans will finance no more than 50% of the car’s used value. Now why do this? Because it is the issuance of credit, which has turned into debt, that is totally out of control. When credit is issued there is a corresponding affect on inflation. This is why the price of houses has exceeded any possible or reasonable value. This is why the basic transportation of a used car cannot be made affordable to those with limited incomes.
Put a cap on the incomes and assets of those who run for elected office and those who are appointed to public office. It is not the job of the taxpayer to make these people millionaires. And there will be no public service unions, police officer associations, or any other fraternal organizations by which income and benefits can extracted by collective action. There many more ways we can reduce the size and cost of government. The fact remains that in order to increase the number of opportunities for all individuals we must reduce the size of our activities. Economies of scale only benefit the organizations that engage in such actions. Yes, extremely large tractors pulling extremely large tilling devices and ever larger harvesters can produce huge numbers of bushels of wheat. But when most people lack work, then who will buy the crop? When you do more with fewer employees, then you employ fewer people and fewer people have jobs. At some point there ceases to be any gain at all. Economics, the economy of the world, is a zero sum game. All the national economies are in a form of competition with each other to see who can steal, in the name of economic growth, the most from each other. Kill off the global corporations, insist on a gold and silver standard, restrict banking practices to one dollar of capital instead of excessive credit creation, restrict private capital accumulation for the simple purpose of personal enrichment. That is how you do it. Stop the bigness. This means deliberately changing our cultures to value smallness.