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How We Can Apply Systems Thinking To Get Rid Of Politicians And Change Our System Of Government

Our system of government is no longer working for us. It produces unsustainable levels of spending, increasing amounts of debt that can’t be repaid, and a torrent of regulation that makes all of us criminal in ways we don’t fully understand. It doesn’t keep us safe. It propagandizes, rather than educates, our kids. It conducts unjustified foreign wars. It confiscates large chunks of our income and wealth.

Our political system, which is embedded in our system of government and supplies it with its elected officials, is similarly out of control. It produces hyper-partisanship and conflict  and is eroding our trust, the low supply of which will make government even more dysfunctional because citizens will not obey when there is no trust. It is destroying the institutions that have supported our way of life for over 200 years, and it leads the way in undermining and cheapening the culture.

Can we use systems thinking to point the way to a solution? Systems thinkers believe they can.

To Change A System, Look For Its Function.

A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. That definition tells us that a system consists of three kinds of things: elements, interconnections, and a function or purpose. A football team is a system with element such as players, coach, field and ball. Its interconnections are rules of the game, the coach’s strategy, the players’ communications and the laws of physics that govern the motions of the ball and the players. The function of the system is to play and win games.

A government is a system with executive, legislative and judicial bodies, administrative departments, a military and a central bank. Its interconnections are laws (which it self-manufactures) and regulations, and the processes to produce them, and its function is to produce more laws and more government.

In Thinking In Systems: A Primer, Donella Meadows told us how to identify the function of a system.

If a frog turns right and catches a fly, and then turns left and catches a fly, and then turns around backward and catches a fly, the purpose of the frog has to do not with turning left or right or backward but with catching flies.

If a government proclaims freedom and efficiency and spending control but produces more and more regulations and more and more spending and more and more debt, freedom and efficiency are not, in fact, the government’s purpose. It may turn left and it may turn right, but it is always producing more government, and that is its purpose. The least obvious part of the system, its function or purpose, is often the most crucial determinant of the system’s behavior.

Self-Organizing Systems.

A system can, to a large extent, cause its own behavior. It can be self-organizing. A system’s function or purpose is not necessarily spoken, written, or expressed explicitly, except through the operation of the system. The best way to deduce the system’s purpose is to watch for a while to see how the system behaves. We have watched the behavior of government over 200 years and it consistently produces more government, more spending and more debt. Government exhibits what systems thinkers call a problem-generating structure.

Understanding problem-generating structures is not enough. Putting up with them is impossible. They need to be changed. The destruction they cause is often blamed on particular actors or events, although it is actually a consequence of system structure.

Blaming, disciplining, firing, twisting policy levers harder, hoping for a more favorable sequence of driving events, tinkering at the margins—these standard responses will not fix structural problems.

In ascending order of effectiveness, the places to intervene in systems are:

Goals: If we can change the function or the purpose of the system, its processes and interconnections and flows will change. Can we change the goals of government to governing less? Ronald Reagan attempted to. Reagan said over and over, the goal is not to get the people to help the government and not to get government to help the people, but to get government off our backs. He changed the discourse about government – testimony to the high leverage of articulating, meaning, repeating, standing up for, insisting upon, new system goals

Paradigms: the mind-set out of which the system—its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters—arises. Today’s paradigm is acceptance of government. We pay our taxes and tolerate our sons and daughters fighting on foreign soil and coming home maimed, disfigured, traumatized and, sometimes, dead. We put up with the government’s propaganda mill schools. We tolerate the disgusting behaviors of elected officials and the intrusion of bureaucrats into our everyday lives and decisions. We should correct the paradigm to one of non-acceptance. We should treat government, politicians and bureaucrats as an alien, invading, occupying force. We should fight to reclaim our lives and our culture and our safety. We should not tolerate.

Transcending Paradigms: The most powerful way to change systems is not just to shift the paradigm, but to replace it entirely. The new paradigm is no government. It’s what the systems thinkers call self-organization and the economists call spontaneous order. Systems can learn, create, design and evolve. Self-organizing systems can produce heterogeneity and unpredictability. They can come up with new structures through freedom and experimentation, which might include a certain amount of disorder. Self-organizing will be resisted by bureaucracies and education systems and governments who prefer their subjects to be subjugated. But the most overbearing power structure can never fully kill self-organization, because it is a basic property of living systems. A few simple organizing principles – what F.A. Hayek called general rules – can lead to wildly diverse self-organizing structures. Self-organizing starts from the bottom of hierarchies – from the pieces to the whole, from the individual to the group, from the production line to management of production. If the hierarchy is not functioning well from the top down, the solution is to change from the bottom up. If there is over-control from the top, the bottom must become the source of change.

Organization from the bottom up – from individuals, families, neighborhoods, towns, small cities, tax-free enterprise zones, free cities, floating cities, local banks or blockchains issuing their own currencies – can be our new paradigm to replace central government.

Center for Individualism

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Creating job creators

Sara Gon writes on the misdirected resolutions of the Jobs Summit

The real jobs challenge is helping job creators, from kota stand to construction company

The Jobs Summit discussed many things, but job creation was not one of them. That is because jobs can’t be created – businesses have to be created, which will then create jobs. And there was little apparent discussion of how best to create or grow businesses.

We all agree that unemployment is our most pressing issue (after unity in the ANC!). We don’t need to get the parties to a summit to agree on how to do it. We all know, as does President Ramaphosa, what is needed for this economy to grow.

To create jobs, the country needs more than anything an environment where the state does less in order for more to happen. This has been talked about ad nauseum.

Ramaphosa is not a pragmatist. His public speeches are clichéd and refer constantly to issues of race, the poverty of ‘our people’ and land. He never acknowledges that the African National Congress (ANC) is almost entirely responsible for these ills as well as the dire state of our economy.

Twenty-two practical actions were agreed to by the Nedlac parties at the Summit through a ‘Framework Agreement’.

The agreement includes commitments to support local procurement of goods and services to boost employment and job retention. This is an idea we thought had long died a deserved death.

As Ivo Vegter says: ‘Saint Cyrils campaign to “buy local” in the hope of creating jobs is just like imposing trade sanctions on the country. Its insane and self-defeating. The idea of making a closed economy self-sufficient is called autarky.’ Vegter refers to autarky being most recently practised by Nazi Germany and North Korea. (Even the meagre promises of the Jobs Summit are emptyDaily Maverick, 8 October).

He points out that buy local campaigns ‘actually impose costs on an economy, raise consumer prices, reduce choice and quality, and only benefit special interests’.

Other agreed matters concerned various existing and future schemes to nurture entrepreneurs. This all exists in a reality which fails to recognise that entrepreneurs are an extremely scarce breed. Very few people have the gift of entrepreneurship.

Certainly, we need to do everything to nurture entrepreneurs, but you can’t make people entrepreneurial who are not entrepreneurial just because we haven’t provided them with proper education and training.

Most young people need to be employed by other people. Some with sufficient experience, usually about ten years, may be able to start businesses of their own. Growing in employment is less about knowledge when first employed and more about getting experience.

The references to the waste economy, putting money into black enterprises, a network for job seekers (when there are no jobs to seek), and references to early childhood development, say nothing about business development.

‘Worker equity and representation on company boards’ says nothing about business development.

Reporting by businesses on executive pay ratios in annual reports is an emotionally and politically manipulative idea, and is none of the government’s business. It also says nothing about business development.

The extension of the Employment Tax Incentive is a risible attempt by the government to offer business an incentive – it’s barely an incentive and no new incentives are offered to encourage business development.

Other items that have nothing to do with business development are measures to address customs fraud and illegal imports, and ‘community-based and owned approaches to fast track rural water access’.

The agreement to establish a Presidential Climate Change Co-ordinating Commission will provide jobs, but only in the already bloated public service.

How does commitment to support the anti-corruption strategy and implementing a zero-tolerance approach to corruption create new business? Dealing with corruption doesn’t just mean establishing anti-corruption commissions.

The agreement offered nothing to the people who are trying to set up small construction companies, coffee shops, kota stands and fashion studios. Nothing else will matter if ordinary people are not put front and centre of business creation.

Trade unions do not create jobs; they protect the employed and fight for job retention. Yet most of the big federations are part of the Nedlac team.

By and large, they have been very reactive to the inevitable deterioration in sectors of the economy and very belligerent in doing so. They should be standing shoulder to shoulder with business to push for as many businesses to be created. More jobs mean more members and more members mean more dues.

The union movement’s contribution, however, is to the preservation of existing jobs only. That’s absolutely fine, but let’s not pretend that they help to develop businesses.

Ramaphosa and his cabinet know full well that the only way to improve the economy is by opening up competition, let the private sector lead the way and remove a myriad of administrative stumbling blocks to doing business.

The government’s job should be focused on creating the infrastructure

necessary for companies to do business. But it can’t achieve this just by increasingly taxing the few companies there are, along with increasingly pressed individuals. The government needs more taxpayers and this can only be done by developing businesses.

To make a difference to the economy, the ANC can’t continue to run complex national, municipal and provincial institutions with people whose criterion for appointment is fealty to the ruling party. Cadre deployment is the original state capture.

Sara Gon is a Policy Fellow at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), a think tank that promotes political and economic freedom. If you agree with what you have just read then click here or SMS your name to 32823 (SMSes cost R1, Ts and Cs apply).

“A full-blown Tax War on the citizens of the country”

While Maimane gives a correct diagnosis, he fails to present a remedy apart from electing the DA to govern the country in next years election.

He fails further to realise that taxation is just another form of Expropriation Without Compensation.

We await the political leader who takes a radical diametrically opposite position to that of the ANC, EFF etc …

 

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Not every part of the fuel price is beyond government’s control

Wednesday’s massive 99c fuel price increase – the biggest ever in the history of our country – will have calamitous implications for millions of economically distressed South Africans. We’ve become so accustomed to this news that it is easy for us to miss the true scale of these implications. For many it will seem like just another petrol price hike, followed by some more hand-wringing from government, more calls for South Africans to “tighten the belt” and then we must simply get on with life until the next wave hits us.

But the truth is, there is no more belt left to tighten for many families. And not only families – small businesses too. We often hear how poor families spend a disproportionate part of their household income – up to a fifth of it – on transport. Well, the same goes for many small enterprises. And when this input cost rises beyond a certain point, telling them to tighten the belt is not a helpful piece of advice. Often, all they can do is shut their doors and cut their losses, leaving their own families as well as those of their employees with no income at all.

While it claims to commiserate with struggling South Africans, our government could not possibly be more out of touch with the real-life challenges of our people. In a series of tweets following the fuel price hike, the government’s first piece of advice was to “consider replacing your vehicle with a more modern, high technology, fuel efficient product”. As many people pointed out to them, this was Mary Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” all over again.

But government’s biggest mistake is not its ill-considered petrol saving advice on Twitter. Its most glaring shortcoming is its unwillingness to take any responsibility for this situation, choosing instead to blame “outside forces” for a string of increases that has seen the inland price for 95 octane petrol climb from R13-76 in March this year to R17-08 on Wednesday. If you take a step back and look at our petrol price over the past decade, you get a true sense of just how badly poor South Africans have been affected. The same litre of petrol that now costs R17-08 would have set you back R7-01 in 2007.

I know full well that there are many factors that determine the fuel price, and that some of them are beyond the control of any government. The price you see at the pump includes the cost of crude oil, the cost of refining fuel from this oil, the cost of distributing this fuel to depots and stations, the margins added by filling stations and the two government taxes, the General Fuel Levy and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) Levy. I know that Brent crude oil has increased dramatically this year, and I know that our currency has tumbled sharply against the Dollar. I have a very realistic view of what can and can’t be done to rein in the fuel price.

But for government to now wash its hands of the effects of the plummeting Rand – said to be responsible for more than half of Wednesday’s increase – is more than a little disingenuous. Our currency has weakened by almost 30% since President Ramaphosa took over, and much of this has been in direct reaction to ANC policy. When the President made his late-night television announcement on Expropriation without Compensation in July, the Rand immediately plunged by 31c to the Dollar. Yes, the weakening of our currency is a factor in the rising fuel price, but it most certainly is not an external factor over which the ANC and President Ramaphosa have no control.

And while government might want to debate its culpability in the weakening of the Rand, there can be no debate whatsoever over the tax it levies on every litre of fuel. The combined government tax now accounts for almost a third of the price of a tank of petrol or diesel. And, when measured against rises in the other input costs, this is the portion of the fuel price that has increased more than any other – 165% over the past decade. The RAF levy alone increased by more than 300% during this time. Keep in mind that the corruption-plagued RAF’s debt (R29 billion) is fast approaching the total revenue (R37 billion) it received from the fuel levy this past financial year.

The General Fuel Levy isn’t a ring-fenced tax either. It simply gets dumped into the fiscus to try and help plug the ever-widening gap between our tax revenue and our expenditure. This is the reason for the extraordinary increases over the years. The ANC has no plan stop our economy from shrinking, it has no strategy to collect taxes more efficiently through SARS and, less than a year from the elections, it seems intent to carry on spending at its current rate. Which explains increases in the tax component of the fuel price, increases in VAT, increases in personal income tax plus a host of new “sin” taxes.

This is a full-blown tax war on the citizens of the country, and it is the poorest who will end up suffering the most. The AA estimates that this latest fuel price increase will extract a further R2.5 billion a month in transport costs from an economy that is already on its knees. This will be felt across every industry.

I know there is nothing we can do about the oil price, but there is plenty we could do immediately to reduce the tax on fuel. However, judging by the limited scope of the technical team set up by government to look into the fuel price (the fuel levy does not even make up part of this investigation), it would seem that the ANC has no intention to do so. They’d rather you just bought a new car and stop complaining.

There is even more we could, and must, do in the long run to ensure that our economy grows and our currency strengthens. But this would require a complete ideology and policy shift from an ANC government so firmly rooted in the past they cannot even imagine our future. And so it will fall to a new government to revive our economy, stabilise our currency and turn our country around. Only the DA can be this government.

Mmusi Maimane
DA Leader

Crime Free Zone

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Economics Everywhere, Politics Nowhere

Economics Everywhere, Politics Nowhere: Switzerland’s Six Pointers Towards Hope For Western Civilization.

September 18, 2018 / by Hunter Hastings

Is there any hope in the Western World that individual citizens can win some release from the relentless and imprisoning growth of government? In the US, government spending, a reasonable proxy for their power over us, increases every year, except for a few minor blips. The citizens’ situation becomes more and more dire. We have precious little say and little influence over our taxes, our health care, our energy and water supplies and costs, not to mention the social rules with which the government constrains us. The number of rules and regulations, using the proxy of pages in the Federal Register, also increases every year, and very few rules are removed. The government closes in on us more and more every day.

There is one western country that we might look at to see a glimpse of hope. That country is Switzerland. In a small landlocked country with precious little in the way of natural resources except water, the people have created a high level of prosperity based on innovation and creative capitalism.

100% Economics, Zero % Politics.

Prior to its 1848 constitution, Switzerland was a confederation of states, each of which was sovereign and independent, bound together by a treaty of mutual defense from external aggression. As a country, it was the most economically developed in Europe. It was religiously and ethnically diverse, highly innovative and highly productive. Huguenots expelled from France in religious wars started the Swiss watch industry, and German protestants escaping Catholic oppression founded major industrial companies. There was a focus on knowledge and education to compensate for the lack of natural resources, and the Swiss were globally networked and energetic traders.

“Economics was everywhere and politics nowhere” was a phrase used to describe this productive, energetic, innovative, decentralized trading nation in the mid nineteenth century. What a wonderful picture of economic freedom unencumbered by political extraction is conjured up by that description.

Switzerland has been able to retain some of these characteristics despite the predations of the twentieth century. It stayed on a gold standard until 1999, and resisted internationalization until it joined the UN in 2002. In fact, internationalization is what has eroded Switzerland’s uniqueness as a nation. The influx of internationally-oriented MBA’s and the McKinsey mafia is dragging Switzerland down towards the lowest common denominator of statism and interventionism. The EU aims to get Switzerland to sign a bilateral agreement which will inevitably lead to Brussels gradually imposing its multicultural socialism, just as it did on the UK.

Nevertheless, Switzerland has at least six structural advantages which will keep it ahead of its mediocre peers for a while longer.

1) Decentralization.

Switzerland remains a confederation of 26 cantons. Its more centralized than prior to 1848, but the functions of the central government are limited. There’s a national constitution, a national military and security force, a single currency and a central bank, and a national foreign policy. But the people have been able to keep the powers of the central government enchained to a greater extent than in the US. James Madison promised, but his Constitution was unable to deliver. The Swiss have done better.

2)   Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity is the principle of resolving all problems and issues at the lowest level. Most taxes are imposed at the municipal and canton level. The federal take is limited to about 20% of total tax payments. This starves the central government beast. Citizens are more engaged around their local governments and their taxing and spending decisions. And they can vote with their feet, moving to another town or canton if they feel it will improve their circumstances.

3)   Direct Democracy

In Switzerland, the people are sovereign. One way their sovereignty is maintained is through regular referenda, in which the people vote on matters of national policy, laws, and proposed constitutional changes. There is typically a high voter turnout for these referenda, and the people take direct democratic control of their government seriously.

4)   Free Trade

There is little debate about free trade in Switzerland. It’s an imperative. It’s a country heavily dependent on imports of basics – energy, food, commodities. It therefore developed a strategic exporting industry strategy: unique high value products and services meeting global demand. Watches are the famous example. Today, it’s biotech and other technologies. Always, free trade has been the binding condition to Switzerland’s prosperity.

5)   Neutrality

In foreign policy and diplomacy, Switzerland is famously neutral and non-aggressive. It goes with global free trade – creating enemies would be counterproductive. Switzerland has a military, and compulsory military service, but for defense against external invaders only. War is the number one barrier to economic progress, and political reconstruction after war is often a worse disaster than the physical destruction of war itself. Switzerland has avoided all this.

6)   Entrepreneurial innovation

Switzerland ranks fairly high in the list of countries for ease of doing business, although its ranking has deteriorated in the 21stCentury. It’s easy to start a company, taxation is relatively low and laws are transparent. Numerous international companies choose Switzerland for their headquarters. Innovation is embedded in education and in a network of research centers, representing investments in people and knowledge. It’s in the individual psyche and the nation’s institutions.

Not perfect, but better.

Switzerland is by no means perfect as a nation state. The whole concept of nation states is detrimental to the individual lives of the people who live in them and form them, and the concept calls for a lot of disruptive innovation. Maybe it’s the Swiss, with their tradition of decentralization, subsidiarity, individual initiative and a free trade in ideas who will be the ones to implement the innovation. That is, if they’re not overwhelmed by the internationalists at the EU, UN, IMF and McKinsey before they can break out. It’s economics versus politics. We hope for economics everywhere and politics nowhere, but it’s proven impossible to maintain. The fact that economics once prevailed in Switzerland gives us hope to believe they could re-establish its primacy.

Free the Market

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ACDP wants Ramaphosa to apologise for ‘no killings’ statement

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe. Image: ANA

The party’s Kenneth Meshoe is disappointed in Ramaphosa allegedly denying that land grabs are taking place, and that farmers are being killed.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Kenneth Meshoe has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to apologise to the farming community for his alleged “no killings” statement, saying it is “a national disgrace”.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has disappointed most of us who trusted him by denying that land grabs are taking place in SA [South Africa] and denying that farmers are being killed,” Meshoe said on Saturday.

“How can we trust a man who blatantly lies to the international community under our watch? This is a national disgrace. We call on him to apologise to the farming community,” Meshoe said.

The ACDP was deeply disappointed with Ramaphosa’s statement during an interview at the United Nations in New York in response to US President Donald Trump’s controversial tweet in August regarding killings of farmers in South Africa.

The latest crime figures released by SAPS showed alarming levels of crime and violence in the country, with 19,016 murders recorded between April 2016 and March 2017. Significantly, they also showed 62 farm murders during this period – with 52 of those murdered being the owners or occupiers of farms. This refuted Ramaphosa’s statement, Meshoe said.

“While the presidency has tried to explain away the comment, and claims that President Ramaphosa’s words have been distorted, the statement is deeply disappointing and shows a lack of sympathy for the families of murdered farmers and farm workers,” he said.

In addition to the murders, many farmers and their families had been brutally assaulted and even tortured. The post-traumatic damage caused to the families of murdered farmers and farm workers, as well as those who survived brutal assaults, was inestimable. Agri SA had also reported that farmers lost R7.7 billion in 2017 due to crime on farms. This was totally unacceptable.

“It is clear that the government is failing in its primary task of ensuring the safety of its citizens, in this case vulnerable farmers, farm workers, and their families,” he .said.

The ACDP called on Ramaphosa to ensure that police minister Bheki Cele implemented additional measures to ensure the safety and security of farming communities. These communities were not only critical to ensure food security in the country, but also contributed significantly to job creation and economic growth, Meshoe said.

– African News Agency (ANA)
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