FLOW Priorities by Michael Strong

  1. Open the world.
  2. Free education.
  3. Create institutions to prevent “tragedy of the commons” problems.

These three priorities represent the most effective, rapid path to a world characterized by peace, prosperity, happiness, and sustainability. I will explain each in turn and why each will lead to dramatic improvements in human well-being.

Open the World

Free institutions based on the rule of law have allowed individuals to create truly staggering gains in human well-being while creating ever-growing spheres of stable peace. Our top priority must be to increase the rate at which these institutions are developed around the world.

While various top-down forces, including multi-national corporations, the U.N., the U.S. government, IMF and World Bank, and others have attempted to impose institutions on nations, a bottom-up approach is likely to be more powerful and more sensitive to local conditions. The best way to release the powers of a widespread bottom-up approach is to reduce or eliminate restrictions on the global flow of goods, services, capital, and people across borders. Restrictions not only limit the growth of wealth, they also favor vested interests within wealthy nations and favor large multi-nationals in the developing world (unlike individuals, large corporations have the ability to get around restrictions).

Opening borders would allow billions of individuals to sell their services on an open market more easily. By participation in a global market, these individuals will begin creating significantly more wealth than they create at present which will provide immediate benefits to their locales. They will also create a related market in human capital development as people around the world discover which capacities lead to dramatic increases income. And finally, they will create a bottom-up initiative that supports stable government.

Mass participation in the market-dimensions of the civil society of the developed world will seed an understanding of and demand for the kinds of institutions that have allowed for the creation of wealth in the developed world. This mass demand for rule of law, education, and civil society, in combination with massive mutual dependence on global trade, will create a steadily thickening culture of peace around the world. This bottom-up approach, with the implied gradual irrelevance of national borders, is the fastest and surest approach to lasting peace on earth.

FLOW Idealist Action Items:

  • Support massive entrepreneurial creation through microfinance, De Soto property rights reforms, cyber off-shoring and cyber education, and ever-expanding free enterprise zones around the world.
  • Greatly increase immigration into all developed nations, with the eventual goal of open borders around the world.
  • Reduce or eliminate all tariffs and subsidies in the developed world.
  • Support structural changes as outlined in the Fraser Institute’s “Economic Freedom of the World” report.

Free Education

Just as government control of the“commanding heights” of the Soviet economy left the Soviet economy in a shambles, government control of education is leaving human life in a shambles. It has been abundantly shown that governments lack the capacity to make millions (or billions) of individual decisions wisely. Institutions, including educational institutions, which are the spontaneous outcome of billions of individual human decisions will be vastly more responsive to real human needs than are collectivist educational institutions.

Existing educational institutions egregiously fail to educate many young people; do a mediocre job of educating many more; and provide a limited, one-dimensional, and often soul-destroying job of educating even those who appear to succeed within the system. As billions of human beings become exposed to global market forces, they have a right to the best possible education. And only by means of billions of individual decisions, each reflecting specialized local circumstances, can adequately responsive educational institutions come into being. In order to reduce the inevitable backlash against global competition, it is crucial to allow everyone an opportunity to obtain an education that will allow them to earn a decent income. As long as governments remain the dominant player in the educational marketplace, most people will be handicapped by a sub-optimal educational experience.

FLOW Idealist Action Items:

  • Reduce or eliminate government involvement in education at all levels.
  • Reduce or eliminate all government restrictions to occupational entry.
  • Support entrepreneurial initiatives in education at all levels.

Create institutions to prevent “tragedy of the commons” problems

If the world is opened up in the manner recommended above, global wealth and economic growth will increase at a truly remarkable rate. In any circumstance in which there are resources that are not owned by private entities, those resources are likely to be destroyed due to the “tragedy of the commons” problem.

Our oceans and our atmosphere are probably the two most significant unallocated resources at present, though there may be others. In order to ensure that ongoing economic growth does not result in widespread environmental degradation, it is important that we develop a system for assigning property rights to unallocated resources. In addition, unallocated resources may trigger old-fashioned wars even as peace is spreading around the world through commerce. Therefore it is important to begin a process of creating institutions that will allocate those resources that are currently unallocated.

FLOW Idealist Action Items:

  • Investigate proposals to allocate global resources to prevent tragedy of the commons problems.
  • Support entrepreneurial efforts to create institutions that support the best of those proposals.

Conclusion

By means of focusing our energies on achieving these three goals, we can rapidly create a better world. The first one will result in dramatic increases in global prosperity while spreading peace around the world. The second one will distribute the benefits of prosperity to those who would otherwise be trampled in the global competition while simultaneously allowing people to re-create lives based on meaning and community. The third one will ensure that the dramatic rate of global growth does not result in serious environmental degradation or resource wars.

FLOW

  1. Open the world, and let goods, services, capital, and people flow across all borders.
  2. Free education, and let authentic learning and well-being flow into the human community.
  3. Create institutions to prevent “tragedy of the commons” problems, to ensure that ever-increasing global flows are peaceful and positive for humanity.

 

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