By Dave Gresham
The first principle of reason is to treat others as you would be treated. The concept is innate knowledge, and even infants understand it, though they lack the ability to articulate the concept. Indeed, by the time a child can talk, the idea is the first wisdom that they can express with words. In fact, so exceptional is this one single principle, it is literally the only thing that all rational adults agree on.
Certainly many people do not obey this “golden rule,” especially among the young, for we all cling to selfishness, but no one denies it. To do so would publicly humiliate oneself, since the idea carries its own authority.
Reasoning also concludes there is another facet to this universal principle, which is that we should love each other. This also becomes self-evident, for no rational person wishes others to be unkind to them.
More than anywhere else in our lives, love and reason are seen in their fullest flower within the family unit. Our spouses, children, parents, friends and relatives are the happiest part of our lives. So the concept as it applies to society is clear: The golden rule and love must be the core foundation in any proper system of governance – and the most loving and reasonable structure is a family.
What are the basic rights of every family member? Food, shelter, clothes, and to be cared for when one is unable to provide for themselves. In other words, one’s basic rights are one’s basic needs. Therefore, these are the basic rights of every citizen. And this is altogether fair, since every one of us lives under a government that we did not design, but are subjected to, just as we were born into a family over which we had no control. And note, taking the principle further, anything that controls others must be benevolent in its design and behavior, or it forfeits the right to lead, just as bad parents lose custody of their children.
The family principle always applies, whether at the top where the system is designed, or at the bottom in prisons, where citizens are sent to reconsider their violations of the golden rule and spare the innocent further suffering, just as wayward children are punished by being confined to their room.
The government must reflect that we are all one family – the most loving societal structure we know – or the system is wrong.
And herein is a fundamental problem with raw capitalism. When a system allows the domination of peers, then this is not family, but slavery. In fact, pure capitalism is essentially a form of war, since it not only allows taking advantage of others, it rewards it. Insult to injury, it even punishes charity, for any generous act is a step towards one’s own poverty without the safety net of minimum standards. “Everyone for themselves” fails miserably without a counterbalance for the entire group.
On the other hand, communism, with its imaginary equality of every member, also falls short. Though everyone may be equal in value, not everyone is equal in abilities. A dandelion is not the same as a sequoia. Moreover, if everybody receives an equal share of the fruits of labor, no matter what effort they contribute, then laziness flourishes and creativity dies. In short, the system collapses under the weight of freeloaders, while the lack of tangible reward for extra effort is demoralizing. “One size fits all” fails miserably without a counterbalance for individuality.
Ultimately, the idea of a nation being a family is better reflected in socialist governments. This is because they do a better job of incorporating the universal truth of love and the golden rule. In other words, a socialist nation more closely resembles a family and therefore succeeds where the other systems do not.
The family principle also makes it easy to see how citizens should pay for government. Obviously, the higher the income an individual has, then the higher percentage of taxes they must pay for the upkeep of the family. Those who earn very little should pay the lowest percentage. Parents always spend a much greater percentage of their money on the children, rather than the other way around.
What about maximums or minimums on how much income a citizen can earn?
First, the idea of a maximum is contrary to the idea of life itself. Limits to an individual’s growth should be subject only to fairness and the needs of fellow citizens. While peers must not suffer hardship because of another’s prosperity, restricting someone’s growth out of envy is profoundly wrong. So there should not be income caps.
But if an individual is fortunate enough to earn a billion dollars a year, then obviously he should be paying at least 90% in income tax, which is the way our government once was. After all, everyone earns their living with the direct and indirect help of countless other people. And only being able to keep 100 million dollars for oneself is a problem most of us would like to have.
As for minimums, even though babies burden the upkeep of the home, (meaning criminals and those who refuse to pull their weight), they are still granted the basic necessities of life. And if one is unsure exactly what those minimums should be, then the place to start is by guaranteeing that law-abiding citizens are entitled to at least whatever is granted to prison inmates. This principle is self-explanatory and carries its own authority.
But “everyone will freeload” say our greedy capitalist masters. Nonsense. Think it through. Rooming in a jail-sized space, little privacy, public showers and toilets, rules and curfews, doing community service work for your upkeep. The concept is more of a halfway house – a bridge. The point is, family members would not be cast out. Who among us would willingly allow their selfish teenagers to perish, even if they were lazy and self-indulgent?
And never forget, some of these people in such dire circumstances are innocent, perhaps even sainted. We’ve all seen people who were injured or infirmed by accident or by the hand of others, while some precious individuals are suffering because they voluntarily interceded to help someone else!
Yet, while this goes on, some wealthy people are making 200,000 times more per year than minimum wage. Who on earth is worth that much more than their hard-working employees? These are peers we are talking about! Equal human beings! Who can justify such an obscenity with so many broken people that cannot support themselves, much less their families?
And none of this begins to the address the tens of millions of citizens that are unemployed or underemployed, or the hundred million people who are underpaid through no fault of their own. In fact, minimum wage should be doubled, perhaps even tripled.
How can anyone with great riches ignore the poverty of their neighbors? Only capitalists and their sycophants even try to justify it, though every wealthy person attained their lofty position with an incalculable amount of help from the rest of humanity.
But all people will never be wise, for there will always be children, so selfishness and crimes will continue, and sometimes succeed, to the detriment of many innocent people. And though punishment may come to pass, in this age or the next, the remedy for victims is often beyond our mortal power to resolve.
So what choices do we have?
Should we leave it to god to provide assistance to our brethren? Or is that just a miserable excuse we use to justify doing nothing?
Or should we emulate the highest principle in every day and age, which is love and the golden rule, and become the family we were meant to be?