By Roy Harvie
I believe that we have all the resources, technical ability, and knowledge to solve the world's major problems. I'm talking about eliminating poverty, solving our pollution problems and many others. I am a Canadian, and Canada should be able to do this easily and set an example for the rest of the world. Canada is blessed with huge area of natural resources such as forests, lakes, minerals, farmland and has a well educated and low density population. If any country has no excuses for pollution, poverty, and national debt, Canada is it. Instead our leaders squander our resources, allowing any and all foreigners to own land, businesses and take most profits back to their home country. Our politicians miss-managed our finances to a disgraceful degree and have put us into trillion dollar debt. Other countries may have a valid excuse for debt with high population density and scarce resources, but not Canada.
The problems are not technical, but political. As I see it, the ruling class are wealthy, and generally very happy with things just the way they are. They do not want to risk changes that would diminish their privileged position. I read things like 5% of the world's population hold 95% of the wealth. I wouldn't be surprised if it was 1% holds 99%. Part of what I propose is to spread the wealth around more. But I don't think it would take a huge chunk out of the very wealthy, certainly not enough for them to experience a lower standard of living. I am a socialist at heart, but appreciate the capitalist system and do not want to diminish the entrepreneurial spirit promoted by capitalism.
A significant part of the world's population enjoys a nice home to live in, with many convenience appliances, a car, etc. How is this possible? By billions of people hand crafting every item? No, by automation. Who benefits by automation? The wealthy who own the manufacturing plants with automated equipment and robots. This is part of my rational that the wealthy need to be taxed more, that is the benefits of automation should be shared by all. Some have complained about automation taking away their jobs and some unions have even tried to stop automation, but all that does is eventually force the company out of business as they can no longer compete.
Low Cost Pollution free Energy:
Build LFTRs. See flibe-energy.com and energyfromthorium.com. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors are already possible to build, but are still undergoing development slowly to improve life as reactors must run minimum 20 years to be useful and preferably 50 years. Work is also being done to improve the separation process of thorium and uranium within the breeder jacket. LFTRs naturally follow load so no complicated electronic control or mechanical control rods etc. required. LFTRs cannot experience a melt down as the fuel is already in liquid form. Fail-safe design is totally passive, that is if all power is lost it just shuts down via clever frozen drain plug. When power to keep the plug frozen is removed, the plug melts and the liquid flouride and uranium drains into a catch tank that allows the fluid to spread out, only when the fluid is contained in a more spherical container can the reaction continue, when spread out reaction drops to safe-to-handle levels and as it cools it hardens so it will not contaminate water table or flow far from the reactor even if the containment basin is broken. LFTRs are highly efficient and burn up almost all their fuel so there is only a tiny amount of radio-active waste to dispose of, and this decays in a few hundred years as apposed to uranium radio-active waste from conventional reactors that must be burned or stored for tens of thousands of years.
The LFTR was invented in the 1960s by Alvin Weinberg, the inventor of the most common Light Water Reactor (LWR) running with uranium today, but he knew there was a better way and came up with the LFTR. LFTRs are a breeder reactor that uses safe-to-handle thorium. Thorium is literally free as it is found in rare earth mines and is considered a nuisance product that they have to dispose of. Easy and cheap to refine and introduced into the LFTR in powder form. One rare earth mine produces enough thorium to power all of USA and there are many mines so the whole world can be powered by thorium without any more mining resources for thousands of years.
LFTRs have additional benefits of being able to produce radio-active products used in medicine and space travel. They can also be used to burn spent uranium and solve the radio-active waste storage problem. One product it cannot produce is plutonium used to build atomic bombs, and this is the reason the USA cancelled the LFTR project in the 1970s. Only China is working on creating LFTRs today.
LFTRs do not require the huge containment building like LWRs because there is no water to boil off creating steam pressure. It uses a liquid flouride instead at normal atmospheric pressure, and a far more compact gas turbine to convert the heat energy to electricity. This results in much cheaper and smaller building costs. LFTRs could be installed in all large ships eliminating the pollution caused by the bunker fuelled diesel power used today.
Canada should honour its Paris Accord agreements regards pollution. The most controversial pollution source is the Alberta Tar Sands oil production. This pollution comes from burning oil to heat and liquefy the tar so it can be pumped out of the ground and also heat is required for refining. By using LFTRs to produce the required heat the pollution should be reduced to near zero. All factories and housing that currently use fossil fuels for heating should be converted to electrical powered by LFTRs, hydro, wind or solar energy. And of course all ground transportation electrically powered via batteries or transmission lines such as trains with overhead power wires.
Discuss here: Pollution Free Energy
I believe that automation has made it possible for most of the world to live at a comfortable standard of living working less than 40 hours per week. We can also support unemployed without much strain. I like the Canadian balance of free medical and mostly free education. I suggest adding free dental to the free medical service. Selected university level education should be free based on the courses leading to employment and improving world living conditions. Qualification for free education based on passing grades. I also promote Guaranteed Annual Income high enough to provide basic level of living, including food, clothing, and housing, with a computer and internet access. Everyone over the age of 18 gets this but the wealthy pay it back in taxes. This system would allow a student to go to university at no cost.
But where does the money come from? I prefer the Robin Hood method of take from the rich and give to the poor, this I believe should be a basic tenant of government. I do not want to make the rich poor, or destroy the capitalist system, but the very wealthy need to contribute a higher share in taxes. There are certain sectors I would target more to achieve this goal. There should be no difference in tax rate for capital gains via stock market, simply counted as part of income. Losses in the stock market would therefore be deducted from other income to lower tax rate. Possibly it would not require higher tax rates on the wealthy, just closing “loop holes” that allow deductions that only the wealthy can take advantage of.
And finally the biggy, governments need to take over the printing and creation of money. This has been given over to banks and through a system that allows banks to “borrow” 10 times as much money from the central bank as they have in assets and pass this on to their customers with interest. Basically giving the banks 90% free income. Governments need to take this over, banks should only be able to loan what they have, no extra. Banks claim that the way to control inflation is through interest rates and in high inflationary times raise interest rates to slow down inflation. This puts the burden on the poorer class needing or wanting to borrow money while enriching the wealthy able to lend the money. Instead the government should control inflation by introducing new money into the economy by printing and paying created money directly for government expenses such as government employee pay cheques. The amount paid for via this method would be voted on by the government in terms of desired inflation rate and the government owned bank would then create only the amount of new money required to meet the inflation goal.
Governments need to pursue a zero debt policy and work at paying off all loans. Businesses can justify borrowing money by using it to increase their profits say by hiring more sales people or buying more automation equipment, but governments are on a fixed income and cannot continually raise taxes to pay for borrowed money.
Discuss here: Social Economic
It should not be possible to patent common sense ideas. Right now the only restrictions is that the idea is not already in common use or not already patented. Patents should not be renewable beyond 10 years and patents need to have a use it or loose it policy. Companies should not be able to create or purchase patents just to sit on them so as to not have to compete against it. Other companies would be allowed to challenge patents in court that they think violates these policies.
Discuss here: Patents
In Canada, any foreigner can own Canadian land or businesses without restriction. I believe only Canadians should be allowed to own Canadian land and foreign ownership of businesses be limited to 50% non-Canadian. This would vastly reduce the loss of profits leaving the country. A partially foreign owned company would be required to lease its buildings from a Canadian person or 100% Canadian owned company.
Discuss here: Land Ownership
With the previously stated economic changes, governments would be in much better financial condition and one major benefit could be more money allocated for police work. Right now 90% of all theft goes unsolved. Criminals know this and it emboldens them. If instead the odds were changed so that 90% of criminal activity is solved with the criminal required to pay restitution as well as jail time, criminally minded would quickly learn that crime doesn't pay. Crime rate would be sharply reduced. This would in turn reduce insurance costs. Long jail times are not required for theft, but restitution is. Only murder and rape justify long jail terms and I believe the death sentence should be brought back with some caveats. Only if the criminal admits to being guilty and the court gives a death penalty verdict. If the accused maintains his innocence, then only jail time as he may be eventually acquitted.
Most theft is simply convenience, easier than working. But some is driven by need such as hunger. The Guaranteed Annual Income should eliminate the later reason for theft. Other crimes such as homicide are more emotional and I can only hope that GAI will reduce stress levels and have some reduction of homicide as well.
Now that we have many satellites in orbit taking pictures of earth it is possible to set up a system that would record all cities at a high enough resolution to follow people around. This could be done at a 1 frame per second rate and stored for one week. Police would then be able to view the time and place of a robbery and determine the get away vehicle and follow it, thus greatly helping their investigation.
One of my pet peeves is the practice of business alarms going to an alarm service. I once complained to a Chief of Police about this and said that the alarm should go to the police station so the police can be first at the crime scene. He said they don't have the budget to do this. The way it is now, thieves break into a store or industrial manufacturer and set off the alarm, they know that in about 5 to 10 minutes a guy from the alarm monitoring company will show up and when he does he will not get out of his vehicle, but will inform the police about robbery in progress. The thieves know they can leave with their loot and not be followed by the alarm company employee. This gives them accurate timing on when to get away without being caught. If the police were the first at the scene, their business is to catch the criminals, not just observe them. Police budget needs to allow this. Current system aids criminals.
Discuss here: Crime
The stock market needs to have much more strict government control and the primary difference is to eliminate the advantage of high speed trading as this only takes money from those unable to participate in high speed trading, There is no economic benefit of high speed trading, and it penalizes those who invest their hard earned work income and don't have time or inclination to trade frequently. I propose a 100 day minimum trade time where a stock cannot be sold for 100 days.
Discuss here: Stock Market
Age for Rights:
As stated I think the Guaranteed Annual Income and right to vote should be given to all Canadian citizens 18 years and older. Driver's licences at 16 years and alcohol drinking at 20. I think it is very important not to allow alcohol at the same time that GAI is implemented.
Discuss here: Age for Rights