23 Apr 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.