Category Archives: Proposals

Automation: challenges and solutions

Automation is a bless and a curse. On one hand it liberates humans from dangerous, monotonous and boring work, while on the other hand it takes jobs from people and hence their source of income. The latter is not without consequences. Continue reading Automation: challenges and solutions

Outline Penal Code

Below an outline of our proposal for a penal code. The proposed code is under construction and will with crimes, while lesser offences (calles contraventions) are treated in the offences code.

In the comment section you could propose specific provisions for this code, but recall that those should fit into our commitment to secular, liberal humanism. More specific we do not believe in victimless crimes, i.e. a crime should impose harm on either individuals or on society at large.
Continue reading Outline Penal Code

Employee-Shareholders

Self-governance is one of the key principles of classical republican thought. In line with our commitment to classical republicanism we are in favour of self-employment, whether it is through sole proprietorship, partnerships or cooperatives. Ideally being an employee should be a temporary phase between school and self-employment. Continue reading Employee-Shareholders

The Association of Lagrangian Nations

When multiple sovereign communities will be established at the 4th or 5th Sun-Earth Lagrange points (SEL), there will be a need for an intergovernmental platform. The leaders of the several Space Settlements will regularly meet to discuss their common interests and to settle their own disputes.

We propose the establishment of the Association of Lagrangian Nations (ALN). This organization will not be a military alliance, nor will it be a free-trade area. Rather it will be the Lagrangian alternative for the united nations, but with several key differences. Continue reading The Association of Lagrangian Nations

Temporary housing: a suggestion

When the first space habitats are constructed, the furnishing of the interior will start. Trees need to be planted and many buildings have to be built. Houses, offices, hospitals, schools and so on have to be constructed. It might take a decade or more before all these building will be finished. The construction of buildings with a public function will have a priority.

Hence we should consider temporary shelters till the time permanent establishments have been arranged. One idea could be to house the first settlers in “army” tents. Though they could be established quickly and at low costs, their appearance will be too provisional. Further tents are also quite vulnerable.

A better option, in our opinion, is the use of quonset huts, prefabricated structures of galvanized steel designed to establish temporary shelters in short time. Quonset huts were developed during the second world war by the US military. After the war they also proved to be useful for civilian purposes.

Quonset huts are quite durable, and could be used for decades. Therefore the are preferable to tents. Because they are intended for temporary use, they will dismantled when permanent buildings will be available. Thereafter the huts could be reused at other locations.

250px-Quonset

Quonset huts in the US, 1946

Interior including human powered airplane

The interior of a Bernal Sphere

Positive discrimination

In employment positive discrimination is the policy that if in case of a job vacancy there are two or more equally qualified applicants, the job will be awarded to those applicant who belongs to a disadvantaged group (such as ethnic minorities or women). At first sight positive discrimination seems to be attractive, but positive discrimination, as well the related concept of quota, has several issues.

Positive discrimination necessarily also implied negative discrimination, of those who are not a member of a disadvantaged group. If an employer has a preference (whether or not as result of government policy) for underprivileged applicants, than applicants of more advantaged backgrounds will have a lesser chance of getting a job. Though positive discrimination and quotas might be a good temporary measure to correct past injustices, if such policies are, however, pursued to long it will backfire.

A second concern of these, well-intended, policies is that they might actually reinforce those social attitudes which caused negative discrimination of certain groups. When there is in case of (more or less) equal qualifications, a preference for (say) either women or ethnic minorities, some people might think that one has received his/her job only because of his/her background and not because of his or her qualifications. Such attitudes, however unjust they might be, could be disastrous for an employee of a disadvantaged group.

If neither positive discrimination nor quotas might have adverse consequences, are there alternatives? Instead of positive discrimination, we could use random selection (a.k.a. lottery) as a procedure of rewarding a job in case of multiple more or less equally qualified applicants. This method is fair, in that it gives all qualified applicants an equal chance to get the job regardless of their background.

Sport vouchers

Classical republicanism is build on a few basic concepts, on of these concepts is vita activa [1]. Vita activa is Latin for active life, but what is active life in a classical republican sense? First of all for classical republicans an active citizen is someone who is active in the public domain. Second an active works together with others to further the common good (res publica).

For centuries small city states with only a few thousand citizens, have been the ideal of classical republicans. Because of its limited size, a city-state would allow all its citizens to participate in politics. In larger political structures ( such as nation states or empires) its more difficult for individual citizens to participate in the political system. We see that in larger political structures a shift from self-governance to bureaucracy.

Since a return to small city states seems to unlikely in the modern world [2], classical republicans face the question whether we have a way to pursue the vita activa even in larger political structures. We believe that there is a way.

Voluntary associations are essentially miniature republics. Voluntary associations differ from other organizations in that VAs are run by their members: the members of the association appoint its board and can dismiss them. Even more importantly, in most voluntary associations activities are organized by their members. Voluntary associations are established to serve a certain purpose. It is this purpose that unites the members, as they usually join the VA because the support this cause. For these reasons voluntary associations are a good occasion for people to pursue the vita activa, and really active citizens can be active in multiple associations.

Citizens who are active in public life, are essential for the survival of a free and democratic society. Private citizens with experience in voluntary associations form a counter-force against career bureaucrats. Also publicly active citizens will be more interested in public affairs. Apathy is lethal for any free and democratic society.

If we want to promote active citizenship, we should stimulate people to join voluntary associations. But that is easily said. The difficult question is how we can stimulate people to join VAs? It is important that people should be familiar with voluntary associations from a very young age. It seems to be a hard task to seduce children to join a VA.

In order to stimulate children to join voluntary associations we propose the introduction of sport vouchers. A substantial portion of all voluntary associations are sport clubs. Most people who join a sport club do that in first place because they want to practice some sport (it’s hard to play football or hockey alone), while being a member of a VA is only of secondary importance. That is, however, no big deal, because once they are a member, they might become more enthusiast about being in a VA.

How will sport vouchers work? The idea is that all children will be able to join a sport club, regardless of their parent’s ability to pay membership fees. Instead the government will pay the fees for youth members. Our system has two important features: first children will be free to decide which sport they will do and at which club, and secondly the government will pay the fees to the sport associations directly rather than to the parents. The latter rule is meant to prevent parents from embezzling this money. Consequently signing up your child for a sport club will be free. Important to ad, is in our proposal the government will not only cover youth membership fees, but also the purchase of personal equipment (hockey sticks, shoes, clothing and so on).

It is essential that children are free to choose the sport they like most, because coercion to do a particular sport will have an adverse effect. How would children now what sport they will like most? One suggestion is to organize regular “sport fairs” at which children can try different sports.

Due to our commitment to secularism, we propose that only secular sport clubs (i.e. clubs which are not based on a certain religion) can participate in this program. Also clubs which discriminate against certain groups of people, will be excluded from the program.

[1] Other concepts are self-government, mixed government, the separation of the public and private domain.

[2] Space settlements could, however, cause a revival of classic city states.