Parliament is where potential for change must be tapped…

By John Courtneidge

In the first two articles of this series, I suggested that the creation of a new, non-authoritarian, non-capitalist system — Co-operative Socialism — required a seven-point action plan (given here in an alternative order):

Co-operative Commonweal Action Plan

Objectives:

  1. Make capital grants (not loans) to developing countries and communities
  2. Maximize human needs provision on a co-operative, free­at-the-point-of-use basis.
  3. Introduce guaranteed fair income for all, including a guar­anteed Liveable Citizen's Income, and, in doing so, elimi­nate personal, income, and sales taxes.

Methods:

  1. Reintroduce international exchange controls to end global exploitation through financial speculation.
  2. Abolish money-lending and credit-creation for profit and transform banking into a public service.
  3. Set up not-for-profit Community Co-op Banks, for the pre-distribution (not re-distribution) of wealth.
  4. Replace coercion with co-operation by converting all work­places into appropriate co-operatives.

Economic equality for everyone is the key necessity for
personal, family, social, and international well-being and peace.

For up-to-date evidence that economic inequality is bad for everyone, at all income levels, and bad for the planet as well, see the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, and their on-line videos (at www.equalitytrust.org.uk) and Richard's 2009 Salter Lecture audio file (which was) at www.bmblog.org. (This book was reviewed in the June 2009 issue of The Monitor.)

Profit-seeking and hierarchy have to be abolished if we are to quickly and sustainably limit human impact on the planet. (See the following Ideas for Local Action.)

The Seven-Point Co-operative Commonweal Action Plan outlines an initial general approach, and in the next article in the series I'll tackle a comprehensive plan of legislation, along with thoughts on how to evolve the social decision-making process so that the bickering and trench warfare that we now know as politics is replaced by a social process that is values-and principles-led, rather than personalities-dominated.

For now, since time is short, I'd like to offer two specific suggestions for parliamentary action in the form of key resolutions, followed by some ideas for local action.

Two Draft Resolutions for Parliamentary Action

  1. DRAFT Interest-free money Resolution for the House of Commons

The following resolution could be used to create interest-free, inflation-proofed, sustainable funding for appropriate housing, public services, and green infrastructure:

WHEREAS this House is concerned that the costs of deal­ing with the recent credit crunch is only a foretaste of the much larger sums that will be necessary to cope with climate change, extreme weather conditions, an ageing population and physical infrastructure, increasing education and ill-health expenditures, and social discord costs; and

WHEREAS the Government of Canada, instead of raising the needed additional revenue by raising taxes or borrow­ing commercial interest-bearing debt, should now increase the proportion of publicly-created money in the economy by issuing interest-free credit to capitalize sustainable public services; and

WHEREAS the use of such publicly-created, interest-free money would substantially reduce the cost of public invest­ment by eliminating the need to pay interest;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this Government in­structs the Bank of Canada to create sufficient interest-free money for deposit as interest-free credit to the Federal Trea­sury for allocation by this House as, from time to time, it shall determine; and that the Bank of Canada also be instructed to re-mortgage interest-free all Provincial, Territorial, Township, Municipal, and other public debts.

For related UK House of Commons activity, see: http://www.forumforstablecurrencies.org.uk/index.htm

For two on-line books with free downloads, see: Margrit Kennedy: Interest and Inflation-free Money

Joseph Huber and James Robertson, Creating New Money: http://www.jamesrobertson.com/books.htm#creating.

2) DRAFT Citizen's Income Resolution for the House of Commons

The following resolution could be used to create a "Canadian Citizen's Income" as a guaranteed, liveable, humane income, payable to all persons normally resident in Canada.

WHEREAS this House recognizes the adverse effects of eco­nomic inequality, both for all humans and for the whole global commonweal, and the consequential economic insecurity and ecological damage; and

WHEREAS constructive individual and social action for eco­nomic equality and ecological care require access to economic resources; and

WHEREAS such resources are beyond the reach of the over­whelming majority of Canadians;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Canada enact two pieces of legislation:

  • Firstly, to immediately create a "Canadian Citizen's Income" as a guaranteed, liveable, humane income, payable to all persons normally resident in Canada, and payable at such a level that all Canadians can be active in their communities for the security and well-being of the whole of Canada, through the creation of sustainable economic equality, and so that all Canadians, and thus Canada as a whole, can play their part in helping create global well-being; and
  • Secondly, and concurrently, to immediately establish, and fully fund, an Annual Conference of a Canadian Federal Citizen's Assembly, randomly selected from all those normally resident in Canada, to determine the level of the said "Canadian Citizen's Income" and make relevant annual recommendations to the Canadian Federal Government for annual implementation.

.But we can all help individually to hasten needed reform

For Canadian activity on such a guaranteed income scheme, see:

  1. Two local initiatives, with plenty of resources: Citizen's Income Toronto - no longer working, but check out recent links — and Living In­come for Everybody 'LIFE'
  2. There was also a well-crafted on-line petition: http://www.com/gai08/petition.html
  3. A new network, BIEN Canada, is an affiliate of the Basic Income Earth Network — It has recycled a CCPA 2009 report, "Possibilities and Prospects: The Debate Over a Guaranteed Income" by Margot Young and James P Mulvale — https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/possibilities-and-prospects — and has a joint conference at the Universite de Montreal on 15 & 16 April 2010 with the USBIG network, hosted by Centre de ReCherche en Ethique a l'Universite de Montreal (CREUM): Basic Income at a Time of Economic Upheaval: A Path to Justice and Stability?"

Ideas for Local Action

Here are some suggestions for practical, co-operative, and peaceful action. For other examples, see the paper presented at the CAOS Conference, May 2005: www.letslinkuk.net/papers/CAOS-Workshop.pdf.

  • Generally, you could discover and explore the world of economic and social co-operation, locally and globally. You could, for example, join, become an active member of (or create!) your local co-op food shop (that way you'll tap into the world of co-operation). Your co-op might, for example, like to take up the "Annual Co-operative Audit" idea, and perhaps start a "Friends of our Co­op Shop" group. See, for example, The Canadian Co­operative Association http://www.coopscanada.coop and, for a directory of co-ops in the UK, http://www.uk.coop/directory
  • You could help create a local interest-free credit union (that way you'll be challenging usury, locally, and helping include people of all cultures in the local financial economy).
  • How about joining with others to set up a local branch of the Woodcraft Folk? That way, you'll be encouraging peace and co-operation for kids — see http://www.woodcraft.org.uk. You could also, perhaps, discuss starting a local group of Friends of the Co-operative Ideal (which now also exists in the UK Houses of Parliament), a local Co-operative Social Forum (or some such name), or a local group of the Guild of Co-operators (it does exist), or of the Co-operative Women's Guild (ditto).
  • Fancy local good food? You could, perhaps, lobby with local co-operators for a local Community Greenhouse/ farm/market garden, and a local Community Land Trust (like the Chattanooga experience: see Dolores Hayden's, excellent book Redesigning the American Dream, and look on the net for details of Transition Towns, Community-supported Agriculture, and of urban agriculture).
  • What about helping set up a co-operative community co-housing project? Check "co-housing" on the net or look at Co-housing by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett.
  • Co-operative learning and travelling? How about lobbying for local free public transport and realistic support for your local libraries?
  • How about setting up a Co-operative Café as a useful meeting/discussion/bookshop/poster/leaflet display place.
  • Alternatively, additionally, you could publicize a local "open round table" at an accessible coffee shop, every week at the same time, as an open-to-all point of One such round table was originally at the Global Café in Golden Square, London, England, then in the Basement Cafeteria at Friends' House, London, and now called The London Global Table — http://www.globaljusticemovement.net/home/global-table.htm — It's an open meeting held every Wednesday, 12 noon-2 p.m., for the past 15 years, at the School of Economic Science, 11 Mandeville Place, Westminster, London — and provides a stimulating way of keeping on-track and on-going.
  • The Social Forum movement is worth studying: a Local Co-operative Social Forum might bring active people together and produce... who knows what? There is now in the planning stage, for example, a U.S. Social Forum to be held in Detroit, Michigan in June. 2010 — (Perhaps there could be a friendly Canadian presence in solidarity there...?)

If we can use, modify, and adapt these co-operative resources, inequality can be eradicated and peace sustainably delivered. A Fair World, indeed!

The Fair World Project Campaign, contact: John Courtneidge john@courtneidgeassociates.com. (John Courtneidge is a scientist, writer and teacher, with a PhD in chemistry and experience as a researcher, co-educator, small-scale farmer, and community organizer.)

Original date of article: December 2009/January 2010