Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Work by Pop

Rep by Pop and Work by Pop
One foundation of a just political order is the principle of representation by population. Rep by pop makes sure that each citizen, no matter where he or she happens to live, has a vote, and that it counts the same. Each voter places a fair number of representatives into his or her local government. Such proportionality assures that neither rural nor urban voters predominate, and that those living in wealthier districts do not lord it over poorer districts. Unfortunately, as we all know, the political playing field in contemporary democracies is far from even in this respect.

In a cosmopolis there are tube transit lines built into the infrastructure of every street, which makes travel cheaper and tourism -- already the world's largest industry -- more frequent. Every citizen has a right to a ROO module, making it even more convenient to pick up roots and move from city to country and back again, as needed. Quicker turnover between urban and rural will blur the cultural lines between city, town and country. Such mobility, along with expanded rights as world citizens to roam across borders, will make everything, not only the political order, completely dependent upon representation by population.

The equivalent principle to proportional representation in the world of work is known as capitation. At present, this is only applied to medicine, but it will be generalized in a cosmopolitan order. Capitation is:

 "A fixed fee or payment per person. For example, a health maintenance organization pays a physician a fixed monthly fee for each patient included in the program regardless of the services provided." (The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms, <>)

Cosmopolitan capitation formulas work out the minimum and maximum number of posts that can be allowed for a given profession in a given population. Just as representation by population is sometimes shortened to "rep by pop," capitation might be called "work by pop." For example, a "work by pop" capitation in a hillside development decides how many doctors and teachers provide optimum health care and education in each neighbourhood and region.

Because hillside housing is identical in infrastructure around the world, a vast store of experience makes it very easy to know how many essentials workers to have, and how to apply sanctions and incentives to assure that optimum levels are maintained in each neighbourhood. Such capitation applies to some extent for every line of work, although it loosens as the work becomes specialized or when it proves to be non-essential.

The hillside superstructure assures high population density even in rural areas, and that farmers have first shot at cultivating the sunny side of buildings. This reflects the environmental necessity to reduce the size of the human ecological footprint, and the fact that agriculture is the most essential calling, since everybody has to eat. This design assures that even the most specialized urban neighbourhood still maintains a minimum number of farmers and cooks, who grow and serve fresh meals of locally-grown produce to residents.

This might be called built-in capitation, and it is done wherever possible in the universal civic society.

Keeping food at the base of the labour pyramid, along with a neighbourhood design featuring ubiquitous plants, gardens, viticulture and horticulture, assures that everyone has constant contact with nature -- all this provides a conservative, agrarian outlook to even the most urban community. This provides a center of balance to the labour market and orients the moral compass of each neighbourhood to a sustainable future. Although less visible, proportional work capitation applies for every other essential trade and profession, starting with doctors and teachers but not restricted to them.

The workplace is liable to imbalance if too many or too few essential workers exist in a given region. We can rely on market forces to determine the exact number of doctors and teachers, but central planning using universal capitation formulas are also needed to assure that the bounds of moderation, too many or too few, are never violated. For example, every populated area undoubtedly needs health care and education, as well as police, firefighters and so forth. Even if housing is made fireproof, there will still be a need for rapid emergency response workers. This need is unlikely to change. As a result, justice in the workplace will only be possible if the number of posts in essential professions remains directly proportional to the number of clients.

The specific work-by-pop formulas vary not only with technical means but also with the standard of personal morality. For example, if the proportion of saints in a region goes up and sinners drops, fewer police officers will be needed. If the improvement proves permanent, the nature of police work itself will change. But as long as there are flawed human beings and greed, envy and ill-will are not totally banished, we will always require specialists in protection and deterrence.

A non-obvious point about labour capitation is that it only works well if everybody participates in the workplace and if all ply a trade or profession to the extent of their ability. Another point is that trades be more open, less jealous in protecting their own bailiwick. Like all groups, they need to put the general interest before their own narrow concerns. A reader of my blog recently pointed out the following quote, from the Dalai Lama's official facebook page:

"Because self and others can only be understood in terms of relationship, we see that self-interest and others' interest are closely interrelated and there is no self-interest completely unrelated to others' interests. Due to the fundamental interconnectedness which lies at the heart of reality, your interest is also my interest: in a deep sense, "my" interest and "your" interest basically converge."

One implication of reciprocity of interest in the labour market is that the professions permit a certain number of amateurs, part-timers, temporary and borrowed personnel to work alongside, and sometimes even in the place of career professionals. Such proportions can be capitated too, as experience shows what works and what does not.
This goes along with a non-obvious right of workers, the right to variety as well as essentials, to change and flexibility along with universality and standards. Some workers thrive by plying the same trade all their life, but others learn from taking on a succession of unrelated jobs. The workplace needs to accommodate both types of worker. It can do so by flexible work-by-pop legislation and labour agreements.

Even if the need for a given line of work diminishes completely, or if a trade shifts from essential to non-essential, this does not mean that it is desirable to get rid of it completely. Service improves the servant as well as those served.


Capitating Art


Art in a Capitation Nation

Another non-obvious point is that an entire sector may be essential, while any one of its many branches may not be. This is true of the arts. As a whole they constitute an essential service. They are not a frill that can be dispensed with lightly. We conceivably could dispense with one particular art, as English speaking peoples did with poetry, but even that is debatable.
I think the fact that my children, educated in an English speaking school, cannot recite a single English poem represents a loss, a loss that may not be as shocking as species loss and environmental degradation, but it points to a lack of linguistic vitality. We need literature and the arts to reinforce culture, and culture bolsters our will to save ourselves from the many corruptions threatening our collective survival. That ultimately is the mission of artistic expression. Unfortunately, artistic expression itself is becoming as polluted as the natural environment.
Plato made this point, that art is an essential service, in his great utopian works, the Republic and the Laws. For example, in the later, more severe work, the Laws, he held up the extreme permanence of Egyptian civilization as an exemplar. Even in Plato's time the pyramids were the epitome of all that is ancient. The Egyptian civilization remained an independent kingdom until Cleopatra's time, well into the Roman Empire. He attributed their astonishing stability -- which we now would call sustainability -- to the strict control that its leaders kept over artistic expression. A hieroglyphic on a tomb wall did not vary in the slightest over many centuries.
I think that Plato was aware that most cultures would regard the strict censorship of artists in Egypt as a stifling straitjacket. Their artistic contribution rightly is thought of as a kind of suspended animation in most people's minds. However, his main point remains valid today. It is undeniable that freer and more experimental societies, brilliant as they are, all proved short-lived in comparison to Egypt. None, including the Roman Republic, lasted longer than half a millennium, while Egyptian civilization endured for several millennia.

Plato's reason for bringing up the Egyptian question was, I think, that we must consider the overall role of artists as essential to sustainability as a culture. We should not bandy the word "sustainability" about without realizing its full implications. That is, you cannot say sustainability without mentioning the parameters of rep-by-pop and work-by-pop.
The arts do an essential service -- not just cultural but political, religious and educational -- by grounding common experience between young and old, by setting a base line for continuing the best of the past into the future. Too much novelty, or too little, disturbs its ability to do this smoothly. Musical regulation in Egypt froze the forms of music into a sacred, religious expression, and this provided stability. If this is set up properly new art can innovate without doing harm to the past. Plato wrote,

"... if we can but detect the intrinsically right in such matters, in whatever degree, we should reduce them to law and system without misgiving, since the appeal to feeling which shows itself in the perpetual craving for novel musical sensation can, after all, do comparatively little to corrupt choric art once it has been consecrated, by deriding it as out of fashion. In Egypt, at any rate, its corrupting influence appears to have been no-wise potent, but very much the reverse." (Plato, Laws, 657b, Collected dialogues, p. 1254)

We may not want to regulate, limit and censor art as severely as the ancient Egyptians did, but a universal civic society will have to find some way to exercise much more control over all the arts than we do now. For humans to survive permanently, artists more than any other trade or profession can assure that each new generation improves upon the one before. Artistic activities cannot be allowed, deliberately or inadvertently, to corrupt the very sensitive tastes, sensibilities and morals of the new generation. Every artist needs to consider carefully this heavy responsibility. Teachers should train them to effectively censor themselves before corruptive expressions go viral.

Capitation of the artistic labour market can direct art to beneficial ends while avoiding any arbitrary measures or overt restrictions to artists' freedom. As with other essential callings, adjusting work-by-pop formulas are an effective tool for senators and elders to steer artists towards social good and away from corruptive extremes. Thus the senates of households and neighbourhoods can regularly commission young, local artists to make new monuments, poems, songs and other commemorations of their more memorable achievements. Artists can be asked to design eschutcheons (discussed later) and other rewards for excellence. Also, remuneration, reputation and other incentives can be tied to the actual, long-term influence of a work of art in the community.

Such indirect guidance of art and literature may influence neighbourhood culture in the way that central banks steer our complex modern economy. By raising or lowering interest rates central banks adjust the cost of money. This in turn influences much broader economic conditions, such as employment and inflation.
What is the artistic equivalent of the central bank?

I think that the main candidate is the Localized Broadcasting Cooperative, the locally run arts council and production company that we have been discussing in recent chapters. Unlike senates, governments, religions, schools and other outside groups who make use of the arts from outside, the LBC is owned and managed by artists themselves. Just as a central bank is run by an independent insider, a banker, so the LBC is in the best position to apply work-by-pop to posts that artists fill in a neighbourhood.

As we shall see next time, a new profession, unique to hillside communities, will play an important role in applying capitation formulas. This is a sort of philosopher practitioner known as the dialectician. We will discuss the nature of this job next time.


Friday, June 25, 2010

lbc IV

Show and Tell Documentaries

By John Taylor; 2010 June 25, Rahmat 01, 167 BE

Every dollar that we spend on a video game, Hollywood movie or cable television broadcast is money that could support cultural activity on the missing levels of governance, the family and neighbourhood. Even larger levels of government, town, city, county and regional governments, are starved for funds and left in obscurity, far from the limelight. Casting a vote in a municipal election, for most citizens is a joke, since candidates are all but unknown to them.

The LBC reverses the flow of money, attention and talent now bled away from the local level by Hollywood and large media conglamerates (nor should we forget that these voracious centers also bleed away from the global level as well, diminishing our identity as world citizens). Even more important, from a political point of view, the LBC is designed to turn passive consumers of pre-digested information into active producers and entrepreneurs in the knowledge industry.

As such, this local broadcaster is every bit as important a part of the infrastructure of the local fact as roads, sewers, electric wires and telephone and broadband cables. It cuts across all media, radio, television, the internet, covering live events, theatrical presentations and even spontaneous productions and demonstrations in local parks and open spaces. Everything it does is designed to turn a cultural desert into a rainforest by enabling full, participatory democracy.

The LBC's charter demands that it feature, dramatize and publicize the experience of local people. One way the LBC does this is through documentary television and film making. Here are some ideas about how the LBC might do this.

The technology of hillside structures is such that it is already easy, even automatic, to electronically document one's own investigations. As we have seen, the individual's tool for investigation is the drawing board, which is not only a smart white board for doodling and connecting to the Internet, but it also records its use for later assessment and summary by the user.

A weekly LBC "show and tell" television program features an individual going over the record of his or her investigations, showing not only what was discovered but how it was done and offering hints and advice that the user wants to share with younger investigators. Another, similar program features how local institutions used the consultorium, their equivalent of the individual's drawing board. A name for these programs, produced continually in every locality, might be "Back to the Drawing Board," and "Consultorium Consult." The best of this material, as always with LBC affiliates, is rebroadcast and given wider exposure by LBC's responsible for the region, nation, continent and world.

As well, another genre of reality shows may develop that is designed to publicize gains and losses in the consensus of general opinion. These will be under the aegis of an entirely new profession known as the dialectician. Whereas other knowledge workers deal with information and knowledge, the dialectician is concerned with the gleanings of all that: wisdom. Next time we will discuss this wisdom worker in more detail.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why I Am Writing People Without Borders

Democracy as Talent Mixup


I have always been fascinated with the universality of human talent, perhaps because living under constant threat of a migraine attack circumscribes my own talent in such a strange, invisible way. 
To me it is a tremendous, fascinating mystery why things are the way they are in the human condition. No, that is not what I mean. What I want to say, what mystifies me is that, as Shakespeare said, "We all have our entrances and our exits," but what if we switched the actors around, so that we had different entrances and exits with every performance? What if "all the world is a stage," but the actor playing Hamlet had to play Polonius, Polonius played Gildenstern, and so forth? Okay some actors would be the wrong age or sex, but assume an audience that did not care about that. Would some casting arrangements work better than the original one? Or perhaps a play could be written designed so that the roles can be switched around randomly with every performance... I also wonder if such experiments could be made in the real world, with actual people. Take twenty or thirty people from your community. One may be a postal delivery person, another a cook, another an electrician, and so forth. They are all fairly successful and happy with the way things turned out for them. But imagine you could run their lives over again ... no, you do not even have to do that, just throw them all on into an empty city block and mix up their jobs randomly. Give the postal delivery person the job of cooking, the cook the job of wiring buildings, the electrician the delivery job, and so forth. Make sure they get good training, of course, so that the new cook or electrician would not burn the place down, or that letters get to their destination. Would the city work better or worse than before? I am sure that, given how universal human talent is, there would be some randomly determined mix-ups of workers that would operate more efficiently than before. Even those arrangements that did not work out, I think that most participants would learn from the experience and glad of the attempt. Of course, in the real world, most people are not all that happy with their lives and many would be more than pleased to have a reset button they could push. 
Probably this is one reason I am so fascinated with democracy, and how to improve it. What I just described, a switch in roles, is essentially what happens every time you have an election. One candidate is working at one job before and if elected she suddenly is doing another job. A reset button has been hit in her life, and she may do better or worse. Nobody can say if a person will thrive in another job, not even the candidate herself. So what does democracy do? It leaves the decision up to, well, everybody, all at once. If it is a Baha'i election God comes into the mix. If you are elected, God was the one who hit the reset button. This is democracy sacralized, made into a divine mystery, like the Oracle of Delphi for the Hellenes. And talking about ancient times, in Athens the democratic reset button was in some ways better than democracy today. A public service position, such as judge, was rotated among citizens, the decision as to who served next being determined by lot. Everybody served, if only temporarily. By the way, the job of judge I mentioned combined judge and jury with a genre of television show that we now call court TV. Hundreds of citizens would gather together in a large group, hear the evidence and finally vote on whether the accused was guilty or innocent. When Socrates gave his famous speech in the Apology, he was making his case for hundreds of judges. I suppose you could say that they also were the victims of his supposed crime, since the accusation was of corrupting their youth. Lately I read the Apology to our kids for our daily study session and I noticed something else about Socrates' defence. Every learned commentator talks about how Plato never forgave the democracy of Athens for condemning his beloved teacher, but all through the speech you can see how much Socrates learned from his hands-on experience as a member of a democratic city. It tested his metal. He made a decision as judge that almost cost him his life, but he refused to bend his integrity as amateur judge to outside pressure. In what democracy today would an ordinary potter's son get the chance to have his integrity tested in this way? Certainly no so-called democracy of our day. Maybe hundreds or thousands other citizens of Athens failed these tests -- they certainly did when they condemned Socrates -- but even a failure as judge shows one's lack of worth, and such self-knowledge, bitter as it is, can be useful for self-improvement. The fact that Socrates shone his day as judge no doubt led on to greater things, and helped make him one of history's greatest teachers. His trial, like the trial of Jesus, judged the judges more than the accused. Our present democracies took up one of the worst features of Athenian democracy, voting, and left aside its greatest features, universal participation and random choice. The vile representative democracy that we have now should be thrown onto the toxic dump of history, along with other failed experiments like Nazism and Communism. After all, it is not Mao or Hitler who are turning the Gulf of Mexico into a dead zone. Stalin did not push over a billion poor into slums and favelas, or initiate the massive disaster of global warming. No, representative democracies did all that. One reason I am writing People Without Borders is that I think that it is urgent that we start experimenting with participatory democracy, working out something closer to what was briefly tried in Athens. And when I say experimenting, I do not mean superficial switching of data streams. Cell phones and hand held computers are endemic and offer a sham, an appearance of change that changes nothing. "For better or worse, the consumption of media, as varied as e-mail and TV, has exploded. In 2008, people consumed three times as much information each day as they did in 1960. And they are constantly shifting their attention. Computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour, new research shows." Instead, we need substantive, controlled, ongoing experiments in democracy in every neighbourhood and locality. The big reason for coming together now is to pool our resources as neighbours in order to put a solar panel on every roof, and a wind turbine on every home's antenna tower. But beyond any specific purpose, I mean the amateurism of Athens. We should be habitually mixing up jobs and roles, making waves on the talent pool. Who knows who, given a chance, might, like Socrates, prove to be a better judge than those trained professionally. Put amateurs alongside trained professionals, and watch how they interact -- and not just how they perform but what each can learn from the another. We should rotate the actors on life's stage. We should give those in a rut a shot at jumping into new situations. Socrates learned from his democratic city that we are here to enquire and seek the truth, not just to "perform," or even to innovate. He looked forward to doing the same thing in the next world too, "What would not a man give, O judges, to be able to examine the leader of the great Trojan expedition; or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! For in that world they do not put a man to death for this; certainly not. For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true." (Apology) Socrates became the greatest teacher precisely because he was an inquisitive amateur, not a specialist, and had the chance to try many careers, judge, soldier, manual worker. He was the reverse of the overspecialized teachers of today, jealously fencing off their own territory. Today's experts are weighed down, like Marley's ghost, with chains, deeds locks and torts of their degrees and qualifications. We need to train inquisitive, generalist citizens, universalistic thinkers, who are not afraid to get their hands dirty making things better. The hillside housing design described in People Without Borders will offer living spaces that move around themselves, specifically designed to make such experiments in amateur, participatory democracy easy and natural.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An interesting question

Check out this question on Yahoo answers:

Open Question

Baha'i Faith and the Principle of contradiction?

quote from official Baha'i website "The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, the followers of His Faith firmly believe, is that religious truth is not absolute but relative."…

So essentially what is true for you may not be true for me. Does that make any sense? If I believe X and you believe not X, both of us can't be right. It violates the laws of Logic.

so if you accept relativism aren't you being illogical?

My answer would be that this summary of the principle of progressive revelation by the Guardian packs a lot into a few words, and would be incomprehensible if you do not already understand the concept well, that is, if you have not read the Iqan. Prima Facie, it makes no sense, it contradicts itself. You would have to expand the sentence fragment quite a lot to know what is meant, for example, by adding "relative to the age in which the truth was revealed..." or something like that. Of course religious truth has to be absolute in some sense, or there would be nothing to be relative to.

In any case, the answers already posted there seem inadequate, so perhaps some of my learned readers here would like to go to the site and comment...

Localized Broadcasting Cooperatives, III

The Garden of Democracy

By John Taylor; 2010 June 23, Nur 18, 167 BE

A quick, reliable stream of information will always be needed by decision makers in defining the situation, in arriving at decisions and getting feedback on the effects of actions. The more democratic a society becomes, the more local these decisions must be, and the more dependent localities will be on reliable information. As technology advances, this dependence will become greater, and the more power and wealth will center around the use of information. As a result, the cosmopolitan order will have to be very sensitive to the flow of information. Its leadership will have to take the matter firmly in hand, doing all that is necessary to keep power diffuse and localized.

The potential influence of the arts and news media today is diffuse because of financial dependence upon outside interests. Vast sums of money are bled out of localities, which become passive consumers of data, cultural deserts. Money spent for news and entertainment goes into large, national arts centers, such as Hollywood and Bollywood, and into media empires centered in New York and London. This over-centralization came about because companies and institutions are, by definition, narrow and limited in their objects. When they gain power, they are liable to manipulation, monopoly and corruption.

Another result of this over-centralization is that we are used to art, literature and print media that at best play a peripheral role in decision making and at worst obstruct or distract from it. However, a hillside community consciously places the creative impetus of literature and the arts at the center.

Role in Decision Support

The great distinction of the Localized Broadcasting Cooperative is not just that it is local and diffuse, but rather that it plays an intimate role in the decision making process itself. Journalists will learn early in their apprenticeship a set of established procedures to aid the many individuals and groups in the neighbourhood to decide where to seek out knowledge, what conclusions to draw from it, what data to foster and broadcast and what should be -- if not suppressed, then at least ignored. Once a consensus is reached among citizens and their institutions, the LBC publicizes active goals and plans, and marks for later discussion alternatives that did not make it past the post.

As a locally-owned, worker-owned cooperative, the LBC has very close ties to the community, yet it is designed to be distant enough to act as an impartial mediator among the many institutions working side by side in the neighbourhood. The constitution of the LBC assures that knowledge will be a tool wielded by the community as a whole, and that other interests are subordinate to their interests. Only the entirety of citizens can decide whether to maximize profit from information, or whether other revenue streams are to be preferred while leaving the LBC as a not-for-profit utility.

Ownership, Staffing and Management

According to the hillside constitution, local residents are majority, controlling owners of the LBC cooperative. Their investment in the LBC consists of preferred, voting shares that reap most of the LBC's dividends. That way, there is nobody, no matter how politically unengaged, who does not have an interest in this entity.

This assures that the Localized Broadcasting Cooperative will always remain a community trust, neither a private nor an entirely publicly owned corporation, although organizations can and indeed must buy a limited number of its shares. Groups are permanently relegated to minority, non-voting shares, since only individuals vote in a cosmopolitan world order. Local institutions of all kinds do own a minimum number of shares in the LBC cooperative, but not so many as to give them undue influence over that of individuals. Groups cannot vote or be represented in shareholder meetings, and their shares reap few dividends. This keeps the institutional stake disinterested, assuring that they do not depend overly much upon that revenue stream.

All residents must be stakeholders in the LBC as a condition of permanent residence. This ownership is lifelong, since newborns automatically receive a bank account and are allocated a minimum number of LBC shares, which increase as the child grows older. A residents stake is only partly liquid, and a minimum amount of stock must be transferred from a former residence into whatever community he or she chooses to move to.

Each local worker has an inalienable right to vote for the managers of the LBC, as well as a collective veto over certain of their policy decisions. Along with such rights, however, come obligations. They need to participate in some way in the LBC, either directly or by proxy; failing that, everybody should at least support the cooperative press and arts through funding, attendance or other accommodation. Among knowledge workers -- that is, artists, writers, teachers, scientists -- direct participation in the LBC is expected. As in Ancient Athens, where every citizen was expected to fill certain public posts and the next citizen to serve was chosen by lot, many jobs for the LBC are continually rotated among knowledge workers, the choice either appointed, elected or chosen by lottery from among their peers.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The Localized Broadcasting Cooperative


Manufacture and the LBC

By John Taylor; 2010 June 22, Nur 17, 167 BE

Neighbourhood Manufacture

The hillside community strives as a matter of principle to see to it that everything that can possibly be made nearby is manufactured with local facilities by local talent. We have seen how this was applied to agriculture and food preparation, but this is only the beginning.

There is no limit to what can come out of small, local workshops.

The recent development of the three-dimensional printer makes it possible already to replace any manufactured part by downloading the specifications into a small "printer" that uses dot matrix technology to spray plastic into an object of any shape or texture. At the same time, tiny factories can now design and rapidly assemble entirely new automobiles using a fraction of the tooling up expenses and other resources that earlier, centralized industrial processes demanded. Thanks to the Internet, a product can be designed rapidly by distributed, open source designers from around the world, who may never see one another's face. This empowers the local workshop in ways hardly understood as yet.

As the World Belt was being built and occupied, the trend away from large assembly lines back to a pre-industrial cottage industry accelerated. Soon a very diverse hillside labour market was redesigning just about everything that came out of large factories. Specifications of open designs were kept in databases that could be downloaded as needed by a local workshop. A small fee was paid to insure that the original designer, and her household and community, profited from every use of the innovation.

Local Intellectual Production, the LBC

These localized initiatives are not restricted to making physical objects. Early on a not-for-profit corporation known as the Localized Broadcasting Cooperative, or LBC, was formed to assure that similar distributed support from around the world was extended to local artists, writers and journalists.

The LBC is a combined arts council and media outlet that, as the name states, is a cooperative, locally owned institution founded and operated by residents in the neighbourhood. Affiliates have close obligations to and depend intimately upon their relationships with other LBC affiliates, both locally and around the world.

The LBC's chief mandate is to promote locally-produced art and literature, and to host visiting artistic productions. Its mission is to publicize any and all local initiatives and activities, and to offer a forum and market for all local artists, playwrights, actors and other performers in the neighbourhood. Each neighbourhood in the World Belt started its own affiliate of the LBC broadcasting network, spanning all media, including radio, television, art galleries, museums, cinema and theatres. The best local productions earn the right to broader exposure in the LBC multimedia network, either by taking the production on the road or by re-broadcast.

The home base of most LBC affiliates is in the Worker's Palace, a specialized market and mall for local products located on every street corner. Others, dedicated to more theoretical pursuits, may locate themselves in the consultorium or a local laboratory. There are many specialities in the corner worker's palaces, but a Palace with a theatre will broadcast plays, both locally made amateur productions and visiting productions, live to the community. A Palace with a sports facility will broadcast local matches, games and other activities to the entire neighbourhood. All announcers and broadcasters come from the area served by that palace, which may be several blocks or an entire sector of the city, depending upon how specialized it is.

Each venture or event in a neighbourhood is covered by the LBC. Most are partly sponsored and regulated by the trades unions of those whose talents make the production possible. Some events are sponsored by the consultorium, with the goal of edifying local citizens and informing them about their civic duties. These are covered by a local television or movie production company. Other events may be put on by a local religious or cultural group to publicize their values and commemorations.

 Usually a journalist or broadcaster's professional association cooperates with local schools to select and sponsor young apprentice anchorpersons for local television and Internet broadcasts. The best of these young people gain a qualification in that area of expertise. However, many if not most productions are put on entirely by amateurs. Others are semi-professional enterprises, with the best plays and shows traveling from neighbourhood to neighbourhood earning both prestige and an income for themselves, their households and community.


Monday, June 21, 2010

ROO Drawing Boards, the trunk of democracy

Back to the Drawing Board
By John Taylor; 2010 June 21, Nur 16, 167 BE

ROO sub-sections have standard software interfaces, connecting the individual into larger entities such as the Consultorium and the Worker's Palace.

The Hillside Labour Market

If we could visit a hillside development we would be overwhelmed by its vibrancy, creativity and complexity. Many enterprises are set close by one another, with several levels of feedback and control operating simultaneously. If these were ecosystems, it would be like walking out of a sandy desert or the frozen wastes of the Antarctic ice shelf straight into a rainforest in Borneo or the Amazon, stepping out of an environment with no visible or audible life forms to where eye and ear are confronted by a startling profusion of life, exotic species of trees, insects and birds of all kinds all around. A few steps in such an ecosystem puts the visiter into contact with a greater diversity of species than a week's journey anywhere else.

There are several reasons that a hillside neighbourhood would support such a prolific outpouring of cultural life. As we have seen, residents live in a full-service home, with cleaning and meals served on a "just-in-time" basis. This frees up time and energy for creative pursuits, especially for mothers and homemakers. Having most food grown and prepared nearby, and most other products crafted or manufactured in the neighbourhood, there is a ready and diverse labour market close at hand. Unlike our labour market, it is not a battlefield among rival trades, although there is a moderate degree of competition among guilds, unions and professional associations -- the most active and useful earn the right to a stall or office in the local Worker's Palace.

As soon as everybody was required to learn a trade in primary school and be fully apprenticed by the age of 15, there ceased to be any distinct lines between worker and non-worker. Everybody became a skilled trades-person. Even those who chose later on to get a liberal arts education and enter one of the learned professions were still expected to maintain amateur status in a trade of some kind. Thus, trades unions compete with one another for temporary, amateur work as for full time jobs. And since ownership is shared and cooperative, that means that clients, owners, managers and workers all are local people, and can even be the same person, or members of the same household, there is no room for the distancing between management and labour that leads to acrimony.

The Drawing Board

As we have seen, the individual starts off with a great deal more autonomy than now, yet learns early to work with others for mutual benefit. Each dweller of a hillside lives, works and plays in sub-sections of a modular, mobile unit called a ROO, for Room of One's Own. The living room, reception area and bedroom sub-section of the ROO module connects physically into larger family and household compounds -- which themselves move around in the hillside complex. It is possible to put one's living room ROO into an apartment in order to live alone in a single apartment. However, but many rewards, financial and honorary, are built in for those who join forces with others in a household. So in practice, single apartments are rare.

The recreational sub-section of the ROO fits into whatever hobby or avocation an individual has chosen at the time. If the person is playing a sport like swimming, it acts as a change room at the nearest pool. If they practice a hobby like sewing or woodworking, the ROO sub-unit fits into a local garment making factory or wood shop.

The professional sub-section of the ROO fits into the workplace, which can be in the household itself, or in a local workshop or office, or at the closest appropriate Worker's Palace, or indeed it may be moved overnight among these locations as needed. The centerpiece of this work ROO sub-unit is the drawing board. This drawing board may start off as a simple whiteboard for brainstorming. But as technology advances it will become a smart board, a sophisticated computer interface that defaults as a blank slate. The drawing board would then plug into open source software tools that the worker learned and earned during his or her apprenticeship. These ROO drawing boards are only partly owned by the worker; they are also regulated and supervised by their own chosen trade or profession.

While the drawing board starts off with this professional function, it also plugs into the consultorium. Each time a worker walks into a consultorium a virtual version of their drawing board appears at a work station in the consultorium. Changes made here also modify the physical board at work -- this auto-syncing among many computers can already be done with outlining programs like Microsoft's OneNote in Office 2010. This link to the consultorium permits the drawing board to act not only as a tool for practicing one's trade or profession, it also becomes the hub for the worker's other principal roles as citizen, believer, advisor and researcher.

This further limits and dissipates the political influence not only of corporations but also of trades unions and professional associations. Only individuals vote, and only they decide where their loyalties lie, be it their employer, their trade, their household or their neighbourhood; indeed only they decide if the situation need be understood in such a way as to see any conflict among loyalties in the first place. A trade group that treats its workers well can hope that they will support their agenda, but it can never take it for granted as now, now that our education is so narrow and our world view so conflicted. The same dependence is true for households, employers and other levels of authority.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Empathy, by Jeremy Rifkin

May 06, 2010 — Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.

Baha'is will recognize many of the conclusions and logic in this argument for Oneness of Humanity.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Local Broadcasting Cooperative


By John Taylor; 2010 June 18, Nur 13, 167 BE

The Need for Wisdom in the Media and the Arts

I think the most distinctive feature of the cosmopolis will be its news and information media, the arts, entertainment, sports and especially how the broadcast industry and the profession of journalism are organized. I agree with Buckminster Fuller that our most polluted resource is the press. Surely, as society evolves from our present knowledge economy into a wisdom economy, the first thing to take in hand is the question: how can we purify our sources of information? How can we be clear about whatever forms the world view of humanity?

The stakes could not be higher. Fortunes are won and lost based on who controls information.

A few days ago, the American president spoke from the Oval Office to take in hand the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Among other things, he announced his intention to wean the country off its addiction to oil, coal and other fossil fuels. This move, he said, is "long overdue." True enough. A little over thirty years before, another U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, had announced a similar but more detailed and ambitious plan to end America's dependence on oil. In both cases, there was a strong consensus of expert opinion that this was exactly the right thing to do. However, Carter's plan was quickly abandoned, in large part because neither politicians nor expert opinion have control, or even much influence, over the print and electronic media.

Such vacillation over an unavoidable step would be inconceivable in a wisdom economy. The ideas of experts would be decisive. As we have seen, expert opinion about agriculture and diet informs both the design of hillside buildings. As well, the opinion of energy specialists decides whether a neighbourhood block's main source of energy is local geothermal, turbines or solar panels, or whether electricity from the outside grid would be a cheaper and more efficient energy source.

In our present setup, the press is a privately owned corporation manipulated by the richest vested interest or the noisiest pressure group. Entry level journalists are paid less than hamburger flippers at a fast food restaurant; the few that can continue as reporters learn fast who writes their pay check. Both local media outlets and large newspapers and radio and television networks are bought and sold by influential magnates and large media conglomerates. As if being a commodity were not enough, the media depend upon advertising for revenue, which further increases dependence upon business before the public.

This corruptive influence took hold just when information became the key factor in both power and wealth. Over the past century, geopolitics increasingly centered upon information. In business, the two richest individuals in the world, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, did not gain their fortunes by inheritance as in the past but through clever manipulation of information. One wrote software and gained a monopoly on the operating system that runs personal computers, the other chooses bargain stocks. Knowledge dominates politics as well as finance. After the Internet took hold, the most crucial decisions relate to who mines what data, what information is owned by whom and what military gets the quickest picture of troop movements on the ground.

As we have seen, the first act of a world government will be to uplift our knowledge economy to a wisdom economy. Wisdom is knowledge that takes in the whole picture. With that in mind, decision making will tend to shift national and international centers of power outwards to the continental and global scale, and inwards, towards the local level, where several new levels of government will form, each integrated into the World Belt and its web of hillside housing developments. Each of these levels of government will be responsible for a media outlet and a broadcasting entity. On the local level, this entity will be called the Local Broadcasting Cooperative. We will discuss how the LBC will be organized in detail next time.