Introducing Do-it-Yourself Democracy
The ultimate civic engagement iPhone application
Tired of the direction of the country, and looking to do something to actually change it? Now, there's an app for that.
The Do-it-Yourself Democracy app is the most powerful app available to empower the free society. As the only app that connects you at the federal, state, and local level, DIY Democracy makes self-government a reality.
With DIY Democracy, the power of change is in your hand. You can do everything from complain about a local pothole to protest a statewide tax. You can email your representatives, including your Congressman, State Representative, Mayor, and more. You can report police misconduct, challenge a law as unconstitutional, or even run for local office - all from the palm of your hand.
The app tells you the amount of spending in your local area, with a direct link to challenge the budget as unsustainable. It gives your constitutional rights in plain language, as well as unique laws and local projects in your community. The app even features Reason Foundation research on innovative transportation alternatives in your local area.
The Prometheus Institute asks everyone who values freedom to download this app and make limited government a reality.
Check out our site at our iPhone app page for more information and screenshots.
What Darwin Can Teach Us About the Economy
Today is the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's publication of The Origin of Species, and it's worth recalling the central lesson of his revolutionary contribution. As philosopher Daniel Dennett argues, Darwin's "dangerous idea" was the concept that complex adaptation can occur spontaneously. Or put another way, that Design can evolve without a Designer.
These lessons have important applications to all Americans as we face difficult challenges in health care, education, alternative energy, and the economy at large. It's tempting to rely on economists and policy experts who assure us they know how to Design a solution to every problem, but evolution teaches us that they don't. Evolution is unpredictable, spontaneous, and randomly generated.
To evolve, self-organizing systems need only variation among options, a selection mechanism to determine which options are most effective, and an ability to preserve successful variations.
In the economic context, variation simply means the competitive freedom to introduce new ideas into the marketplace. Selection simply means the freedom of consumers to choose which options work for them. And preservation simply means a system of secure property rights to protect investments.
As a leading evolutionary scientist put it, “We have more than just a few little hints that, for Darwin, the driving force behind all sorts of evolutionary change, including progress, is the sort of competition that goes on in the natural economy and the political economy alike.”
Unfortunately, our political leaders have ignored Darwin's great lesson. Policies like the Fed's interest rate cuts and money supply expansion, as well as Congress' indirect inducements to invest in certain industries (such as encouraging mortgages to subprime buyers), were atrociously failed economic Designs. These policies blunted the forces of evolution, artificially diverting activity toward unproductive and unwise investments.
Not surprisingly, the result was an economic extinction on a Permian level. To compound the problem, the politicians responded with more grandiose Designs and a spate of bailouts, resuscitating the failing corporations who have proven their inability to adapt to difficult times. As anyone reading this paper knows, this "solution" has only made things worse.
The "too big to fail" concept is not only anti-American, but also anti-evolution. Over 99.9% of species over time have gone extinct over time. Natural selection itself is defined as "differential reproduction", meaning some variations survive while others (usually most) perish. With this context, it's no surprise that we're facing record unemployment while the artificial stimulus is not working. Our economy can't evolve.
Of course, to many, this smacks of Social Darwinism. But Social Darwinism has been wholly discredited by the modern understanding of evolution. True social evolution thrives on reciprocity, which means protecting people while letting unfit ideas (specifically in the form of businesses, government programs, and other institutions) die out. It's "survival of the fittest" ideas, not people. This means while we can take care of people who need help outside the marketplace, government shouldn't interfere with the competitive process itself.
To help America evolve again, we should start by letting failing businesses fail, preserving the opportunity for new solutions to emerge. We should reduce the tax and regulatory burdens on entrepreneurs, freeing them to introduce new variations into the marketplace. We should cut business and personal taxes across the board, freeing the American people to make more choices and do more with their money. And in health care, education, and the environment, enact policies that increase consumer choice and competition among various options.
Self-organization is the fundamental law of nature. 150 years after Darwin shook the world with his insights, Washington has yet to be convinced. It's time for us to use his ideas and preserve the American evolution. Otherwise, we'll just continue to go the way of the Romans - and the dinosaurs.Tuesday, 24 November 2009 |
Politics Turns Friends Into Enemies
The political process is a sure-fire way to take people who otherwise have no reason to be upset with each other and make them bitter foes.
In the real world (the free, private, voluntary non-political world) I have friends with completely different tastes, preferences, and priorities. This does not prevent us from associating and it rarely results in heated debate or offense. Others can express their preferences by their lifestyles and personal choices - if they believe in something they will support it and encourage me to do the same. If I disagree I simply don’t support it. Rarely is this reason enough to sever a friendship.
There are those who love certain types of music or certain sporting activities; they would be willing to spend a great deal of money and time to sustain those activities - and they do. The fact that they care more about the activities than I do is no cause for alarm or enmity.
Every one of us has had money taken from us, whether we wish it or not, via taxation. The looters then “offer” us a variety of ways which they could spend our money. Since every person has different values and preferences, it is inevitable that each of the proposed expenditures make some people happy, since they get more value from them than the taxes they put it, and make others angry since they were forced to pay for something they value less than the taxes taken. Both sides advocate their position (although those benefiting from expenditure, though smaller in number, will always lobby much harder than those who are harmed, since the harm is spread in small bits among millions and the benefits concentrated in large chunks on the few) and in the process become political enemies.
The debate becomes, wrongly, about the merits of the proposed expenditure. Proponents describe how much better the world would be with project X; opponents describe how project X is a waste. Both argue the wrong thing. The project itself need not be bad or good and we needn’t attempt to settle such a subjective question once for all people. Yet advocates of the project will claim that any who oppose tax-funding oppose the project itself or even it’s noble goals. This is simplistic and incorrect. Music is a wonderful thing. Does it follow that if I prefer not to have my money taken by force and spent on the symphony that I hate music and therefore I hate wonderful things?
Both proponents and opponents of particular government projects should realize that it is not the project itself that deserves to be debated, it is the fact that it’s funded with money forcibly removed from innocent citizens. Without government getting in the way, supporters can promote their favorite projects by soliciting voluntary donations and public interest. Opponents can simply choose not to fund them. Both can remain on peaceful terms. Not so in the political market.
I was reminded of this sad reality earlier this year when the old Tiger Stadium was to receive several million in tax dollars. Those who loved the stadium were offended by those who voiced opposition to this use of tax dollars. Stadium preservationists tried to make it a debate about the merits of the project, knowledge of the details involved and the love of baseball, Detroit and history (and even about economic development - the silliest argument of all for government spending).
To call opponents names and claim they simply didn’t know or didn’t care about the rich history and heritage of the stadium or the particulars of the project was wrongheaded. The debate was not about the project itself, but about the way it was being funded. I loved old Tiger Stadium yet I believe it is immoral to force taxpayers across the nation to pay for its restoration, even if it would benefit me. Nor do I want to pay for similar projects in the other 49 states, which were inevitably included in the same massive budget.
That is what the debate should have been about - freedom and choice vs. command and control.
If you still insist on forcing others to pay for things you think are wonderful, remember; politics is a fickle game. Even if your favorite hobby or project is benefiting from government largess today you can rest assured that tomorrow another competing project will be the political flavor of the month. Do you really want to spend your time stooping and groveling before the political class begging for money to continue your project instead of everyone else’s?
I prefer to keep my dignity and go out and raise support and awareness peacefully and voluntarily. If a cause is worthy it will survive without the use of force; the last thing a noble cause needs is the muck of politics to drag it down.Monday, 09 November 2009 |
Introducing People for the American Dream
A campaign to empower young entrepreneurship
The Prometheus Institute is proud to announce the public launch of People for the American Dream. The project is dedicated to empowering entrepreneurship among the younger generations, especially through policy advocacy and creative outreach. People for the American Dream seeks to maximize economic freedom in order to ensure a prosperous future.
Unique among other young entrepreneur sites, we offer:
1) High-quality video interviews of successful young entrepreneurs in diverse fields, from music to technology, sharing their experiences and advice. Current videos include Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora Internet Radio; Rakaa Iriscience, musician from the rap group Dilated Peoples, and DJ Skee, music producer and marketing consultant.
2) Useful tips and resources on how you can transition from your life as a student, 9-5 worker, or underachiever into self-employment. From learning how to get your internet startup in Fortune magazine to exercises to develop your entrepreneurial skill set, you'll learn useful advice for living the American Dream.
4) Interactive features allowing users to share stories, interact, and help others live their Dream.
In this time of economic uncertainty, the need for entrepreneurial innovation is paramount. Entrepreneurs are the chief drivers of the American economy, spurring job creation and economic growth. They introduce new ideas that can become life-changing improvements.
Over half of young Americans desire to start their own business, according to polling data. At the same time, over half of all Americans believe that small business will lead America out of the recession.
PFAD is dedicated to empowering young aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools, knowledge, and inspiration to pursue and achieve the American Dream in their own lives. Through video interviews, campus outreach, and informational resources, we help keep the American Dream alive for the next generation.
Unique among entrepreneurship sites, we're not trying to sell someone's get-rich-quick recipe. We're a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and empowering young entrepreneurs. We realize entrepreneurship is about more than money - it's about a lifestyle of independence and personal freedom. We promote the values of entrepreneurship to all young Americans, whether they end up starting a personal blog to supplement their income, founding the next million-dollar internet company, or a nonprofit to save the world.
Help support the future of the American economy by visiting and contributing at People for the American Dream today!