The Immodest Proposal

It is not the place of this author, nor the intention of this paper, to put forth a better system than that which currently exists. It is, in fact, the opinion of the author that all men and women are thoroughly self-interested, and therefore only a system that happens to serve the interests of enough that control can be maintained will be stable. And, to paraphrase Asimov's Foundation hero, Harry Seldon, even an empire is better than anarchy, in that at least the former allows for the advance of humanity in some way, while the latter generally results mostly in destruction and back-peddling. It is the position of this author that any system, no matter how elegantly constructed, will result in the same general kinds of variously inequitable outcomes. The solution, at least in the mind of the author, then is not to be found in any new or old system of government or in any economic theory.

The only thing that makes any real difference, it seems, is the individual or small group. One need not think very hard to find dozens of examples of this, both for better and for worse: King, Jr., Gandhi, Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Malcolm X, Hitler, Stalin, Marx, Mussolini, bin Laden, and the list goes on. The history of humanity is the history of great and terrible individuals who change things. But some of these individuals focused on shifting society to a new system, and others focus on trying hard to tear down their enemies. A few were mostly interested in change on the very smallest scale: the individual. Imagine an extraordinarily wealthy person founding a newspaper that exists to break even, only so that it can perpetuate itself once his wealth is consumed, but that owes that billionaire no loyalty in its reporting. The billionaire sets up this paper's mandate is simply to report the most objective, complete truth possible. The billions used would be on promoting the paper so that it gets the widest possible distribution. Think, alternatively, of another billionaire convincing his wealthy circle of friends, his board of directors, or whomever else, to pool their resources and set up education and health centers in poor, urban and rural areas. Pay for teachers could be far higher than what is available in public or private schools, attracting ever more qualified candidates. The provision of health services could break the institutional cycle of oppression at one of its most critical points, while the proper education of youth could be another strong force working against the cycle of failure for the poor. None of these ideas would be especially revolutionary. They do not involve any assassinations, any revolts, or any bloodshed. Not even a rally cry. All that is necessary is for a specific individual to make a choice to do something for the benefit of other people.


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