The essential problem for most people is how to gain enough money from their relationship with business to have a good life. It is the problem of obtaining sufficient wealth.Most people obtain money by selling their working time and skills to business. These businesses are created by people who sell their product to customers. In the UK most businesses are created by people who have a combination of skill, motivation and access to money and some of these businesses become ongoing companies that outlive their founders. Karl Marx reasoned that the solution to the problem of sufficient wealth was to turn the entire nation into a single business run by the government. This idea failed for a variety of reasons but the most important was that it did not recognise that business is founded by
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Most people obtain money by selling their working time and skills to business. These businesses are created by people who sell their product to customers. In the UK most businesses are created by people who have a combination of skill, motivation and access to money and some of these businesses become ongoing companies that outlive their founders.
Karl Marx reasoned that the solution to the problem of sufficient wealth was to turn the entire nation into a single business run by the government. This idea failed for a variety of reasons but the most important was that it did not recognise that business is founded by people with skill and motivation and that businesses are born, prosper and die.
Businesses are diverse and have a life cycle. Business is organic. Managing an economy of businesses is like gardening and entirely different from Marxism. What Marx identified as the natural evolution of business towards ever increasing size and market domination is actually a disease that requires constant intervention from the regulators of the business environment. It is the failure of regulators to trim the overgrowth of Multinational Corporations that is the greatest threat to the business and physical environment today.
The principle doctrines an economy needs are to gently regulate the market so that new and existing businesses have the space to thrive, to ensure the fair distribution of the proceeds of business amongst its participants in a way that also accounts for their contributions to the business, to ensure safety at work and to ensure that taxes and regulations do not suppress activity and diversity unnecessarily.
The taxes levied on business and workers should provide sufficient wealth for those who are unable to work. Sufficient wealth is very important for those families who do not have it. It is the first requirement to live a good life. However, even when people have sufficient wealth they are not necessarily happy.
The happiness of individuals depends to a large extent on the individual. However, for most people happiness also depends on a nebulous sense of life being worthwhile, happiness needs a ground on which it is based. This ground happens where people believe that they are doing the right thing in a good place with good people.
Many people solve the problem of the ground for happiness by being part of a "cause". Socialism is a cause which, although it preaches that when we have sufficient wealth we will all be happy, it is actually being a part of the cause itself that is the happiness of the socialist. The problem with causes such as Socialism is that if they achieve their aim or exist in a society where the aim has been largely achieved their members will still never be satisfied. How does a society create a ground for happiness that is guaranteed to persist and does not lead to perpetual dissatisfaction?
The historical method of providing a ground for happiness was religion. Religions allow people to believe that they are doing the right thing in a good place with good people. Unfortunately religion is too easily criticised for having spurious foundations and too easily co-opted by the ruling classes to support their agenda. A substitute for religion is to educate children to behave well, have social manners and have a clear mind. This was generally pursued in many countries in the past century or two and allowed people to believe that they were amongst fellow British, German etc. people whom they could trust. Unfortunately this early training could also be co-opted by the ruling classes and was used for the purposes of imperialism and war, even World War. Notice that it is the power of the ruling classes that always undermines the ground for happiness. A happy society must deal with its ruling class.
Power has always been linked to wealth. In Britain the wealthy are closely linked to business, especially to large companies. The rising power of the Corporate directors and bosses in the 21st century is due in no small measure to the unfair pay that they receive. As an example, Tony Blair receives millions of pounds a year for simply being a director of JP Morgan, the American investment bank.
The way to reduce the power of the Corporate sector is to introduce a maximum wage by using taxation to limit pay (including payments in kind) to thirty times the average wage. Another way to remove Corporations from power is to ban contributions by Corporates/Unions to political parties, political movements and politicians. The maximum amount of contributions should also be limited. The way to limit the power of the Corporate broadcast media is to bring its content under the gaze of an independent committee which would adjudicate on fairness and balance composed of people with long tenure who are individually appointed by the House of Commons at different times.
The most important further changes would be to introduce draconian anti-corruption laws such that senior civil servants and MPs lose all of their wealth and serve prolonged jail sentences for corruption. Corporate lobbying should also be banned. Well paid corporate posts accepted within 10 years of leaving power or Parliament should be regarded as corruption and the financial affairs of MPs should be open to inspection for 10 years. As compensation for their integrity MPs should be paid the maximum wage.
Those who govern must view the world through the eyes of ordinary people. Ordinary people do not engage in war unless it is thrust upon them because they cannot bear to lose a child. Ordinary people want fresh air, space, health, rest, security and predictability in their lives. When the ruling classes have been reduced the aspirations of ordinary people will rise to the fore.
Having reduced the ruling classes it will be possible to create a national ethos that is taught in schools based on good behaviour and manners ** but without political or moral overtones, to inculcate respect for other people and their views without teaching any particular view. This will provide a ground for happiness. It will allow the British to trust each other even if their neighbour has differing class, politics or religion.
A ground for happiness is not sufficient for individual happiness. Individual happiness also requires freedom. Freedom of thought and its close relation, freedom of speech, are the starting point for any happy society. Laws should attempt to maximise freedom within their necessary constraints.
The Internet should be treated like any other publishing enterprise. Attacks on the UK from abroad via the Internet should be treated with seriousness so that criminals, Multinational companies, US Investment Banks and other foreign players cannot declare open season on our society in the hope of profit, subversion or peaceful conquest.
Respect is the basis for foreign relations, not unity.
We can have it all. We can have wealth and happiness so long as we pull back from the ideologies fed to us by the ruling classes and those addicted to "causes". If we attend to the well being of our neighbours and work colleagues and rank this above the siren calls of the Corporate Media all will be well.
Although it may be possible to provide sufficient wealth in large Nations such as China, the USA or EU, it is probably not desirable to provide a common ground for happiness on such a scale: humanity needs diversity and the seed of diversity is locality..
** A common purpose can be taught without suppressing spontaneity - all of us can learn how to switch from being spontaneous to polite without removing either from our being.
From the start of schooling children should be asked to consider how they would feel if they were to experience their own behaviour towards others and so taught how to treat others. They should be taught not to steal and not to cause harm and introduced to the idea of fairness and fair play through games. They should be taught not to lie because it undermines their being and relationships, how to forgive and to apologise, how to listen to others, how to say please and thank you and how politeness is caring for and respecting other people's feelings. They should be taught how to be patient and how to be patient out of respect when people are saying or doing things for others that you personally do not want to experience, how to all pay attention together when requested by teachers and elders, how to shun those who bully and how to support the bullied, how to take turns and enjoy fairness, how to pay attention to tasks and how to look another in the eye. The importance of work, play and rest. They should be taught how to win with grace and how, when we lose, our essential being as a decent person is still intact. They should also be taught the importance of posture and how to sit and stand to produce least strain and damage to the body in later life as well as a five minute regime of gentle exercise to perform daily after waking. This is a simple grounding for happiness that would be devalued if extended much further.
None of this is political. None of it should be taught in such a way that happy play and shared good humour is suppressed. It is the shared grounding for a modern British person. It is knowing you are doing the right thing in a good place with good people. It is simply a tool set for later social and employed life but this set of behaviours should be taught from an early age and be what modern British people believe nowadays so that it is a mark of solidarity and common purpose. If we are asked what it is to be British we should be able to honestly reply that it is a deep sense of fair play and respect for others. Non-British people might well believe these things too but the British should expect them of each other. Most schools attempt this type of education but it should be elevated to the top of the curriculum in pre-school and the early school years with strong reminders in later education.