23 April 2012

A decentralized path to development and freedom

An update on this earlier post

Many politicians, intellectuals and bureaucrats have presented programs for world peace, but none have succeeded. I reckon that failure is the result of two big forces. First, it's difficult for any leader or organization to reconcile the various wants and needs of billions within a program of peace. Second, other leaders have the ability and inclination to block moves to peace that undermine their powers. That's because many leaders define themselves (and their followers) in opposition to another leader with followers -- an enemy. World peace, like a market, pits none against none, as everyone either ignores the others or makes favorable deals with them. That's why markets are peaceful but politics are conflicted.

My idea for reaching world peace (rather, helping more people to achieve happiness) addresses these two problems by putting nobody in charge of a process that is flexible enough to accommodate many individual needs. My suggestion has two parts:

First, give everyone in the world a second passport. Citizenship in another country allows people to take an interest in one's second home, travel there, and pay attention to the good and bad sides of each home country. This knowledge will make it easier to improve local institutions by holding them up for comparison, as well as allowing people in the worst-governed places to escape. There's nothing like the absence of an oppressed proletariat to undermine a dictator's abuse of power.

Second, require that anyone migrating to his second country work for 1-2 years in national service (paid with room and board). Such service will simultaneously remove the objection that "foreigners" are out to take local jobs, introduce the foreigner to his second homeland, allow information exchange on different ways to approach similar problems, and provide the labor to address these problems. There's no doubt that a Dane can teach a Kenyan something about recycling -- and vice versa.

This idea faces two barriers to implementation. The first is that bad leaders do not want their citizens to leave (escape). The second is that nationalist leaders are not going to be happy if strangers citizens take an interest -- or residence -- in their country. New ideas can lead to regime change.*

From a logistical perspective, it would be easy for a SINGLE country to implement this idea: issuing passports to people from other countries (one or less for each "home" citizen). Russia and some other countries already do this for nationalist purposes; the difference here is that new passports would be awarded to citizens of ALL foreign countries, in proportion to their global weight, i.e., more Chinese than Andorrans.

Bottom Line: The best way to help people is to give them choices. Politicians (and monopolists) don't like giving people choices, i.e., a way to escape their poor leadership.
* Paradox: Nationalists who claim their country is great don't want others to join the greatness -- or question it.

5 comments:


  1. Second, require that anyone migrating to his second country work for 1-2 years in national service (paid with room and board).


    But this would probably be widely perceived as "paying people to move here with tax dollars." It would be a tough sell.

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  2. I don't think that giving citizens a second passport/nationality as a routine procedure would necessarily inspire them to develop an interest in that country's culture and political situation., when if you look at the percentage of voters in a country's election, many do not even bother to vote.
    A telling example is that the large expat community here doesn't necessarily follow Belgian politics and current affairs in general. Some do, of course, but that is subjective.There are many dual nationality individuals here and all in all most seem to feel they belong to either country not both. In my view it might be related with most people's inner need for identification with a specific culture, i.e. set of reference values and beliefs.

    I agree with your statement about the absence of an oppressed proletariat to undermine authorities in an ill-governed country, but the reverse of the medal is that if the oppressed escape, bad govts might be never overthrown or revolutionary change never be strongly called for.

    On what basis would the govt decide what country would become your second home? And second home might be an overstatement, since for many people it would only be an administrative matter (see my first point). You might be interested in what takes place in another country if you have emotional or financial ties with it (origins, family living there, property...).

    But with your bottom line you of course hit the nail on the head.

    "Such service will simultaneously remove the objection that "foreigners" are out to take local jobs, introduce the foreigner to his second homeland, allow information exchange on different ways to approach similar problems, and provide the labor to address these problems"
    Good point :-)

    "Paradox: Nationalists who claim their country is great don't want others to join the greatness -- or question it."
    True!! Never thought of that

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  3. I am going for my third passport and am still living in two countries. However, I have to deal with lots of bureaucracy ... 3 last names and declaring taxes and incomes in three countries :-/

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  4. you're very optimistic. Most people go about in life with their eyes closed and brain switched off, unfortunately.

    Oppressed countries from which people would like to leave (and where those in power would NEVER consent to dual citizenship) AND countries that are ok but that could do with some improvement, hence the advantage of comparing how things work in one with the other. But if I am Italian and they gave me a Liberian passport, I am not sure what I would do with that. :-)

    Those are SOME people, but others pay attention. What would you do with a Libyan passport? A chinese one? I expect that you'd probably visit, maybe eat the food, or read the papers... There are many ways to be involved...

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  5. @Wainstead -- good point, but that's better than "they took our jobs" -- esp. if ANYONE is allowed to "earn those tax dollars."

    @CM(1) -- I prefer that SOME people escape than be trapped. WRT second homes (and paying attention), I think that some people pay more attention than others. Citizenship (like voting) would help them think more about local policies. Some would participate, to improve things.

    @Anon -- yes, there's a need for countries to acknowledge that their citizens may live elsewhere.

    @CM(2) -- Those are SOME people, but others pay attention. What would you do with a Libyan passport? A chinese one? I expect that you'd probably visit, maybe eat the food, or read the papers... There are many ways to be involved... Involvement would lead to change at home and freedom abroad.

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