With love of country and a will to make our home better, “Both Liberty and Justice” is an attempt to reconcile the disparities of “freedom” and “responsibility” within our constitutional framework. I examine disparities between: 1) a growth economy and the impediments of property rights; 2) the disparity between who benefits and who pays the costs of any economic exchange, and 3) the disparity between the promise of freedom and the realities of racism, classism, and inordinate incarceration.
Without authoritarian measures, I am proposing “peer accountability” with tax responsibility to address the “seemingly intractable problems” of our foundational conflicts mentioned above. I am suggesting we can maintain freedom while addressing injustices, our environment, economy, maybe even making our country great again. As one example, “taxation with representative responsibility” raises money from pollution, creating jobs while supporting transitions to sustainable industries, offering both industry and citizens options for tax relief.
This framework can be applied to many present-day crises, like reconciling public safety with injustice concerns, possibly more effective than command-and-control enforcement. In each of the following essays, there is a repeating theme of a kinder, gentler, proactive approach that might contribute to criminal justice reform, healthcare reform, and environmental repair.
Representative taxation takes “taxation without representation” one logical step forward where responsible taxes represent a commensurate cause-and-effect link to the source of a problem. A “tax shift off our backs and on our side” can raise revenues from fees on science-assessed “externalities” (second-hand costs), revenues that can be applied to our most pressing problems, where incentives and deterrents support “both liberty and justice.”
In our new-COVID-abnormal, we can create equal opportunity jobs, AND save human, environmental and economic health. Let’s start with a back-to-work program long overdue:
Essay 1: Save our Forests, and our Economy.
Without a carbon tax, climate change will torch our forests. Without property tax incentives to motivate land stewardship (prescribed burns, thinning, reforestation, and noxious weed control), we will lose our forests to megafires or epidemics of invasive plant infestations. Fire-safe forest treatments plus noxious weed control create livable wage, COVID-safe outdoor jobs. Make a deal with taxpayers: Exchange carbon tax hikes for property tax breaks – a tax shift. Use taxes are optional taxes. Responsible taxation with tax-break incentives create jobs and mitigate climate change.
Essay 2: “Donate your diet to Science” is an example of responsible taxation: cause-and-effect taxes that link unhealthy junk foods to the funding of health care.
Essay 3: The “Policing Reform” page offers a “purse-string” proposal that could save lives of both the public and the police. Yes, black lives matter, and all lives are precious. Let’s find a way to move beyond argument and retaliation. Can we consider win-win proposals, and treat each other like family, better than family, with civility even if we disagree.
Essay 4: The “Jury of Peers” essay is a conservative response to our lock-em-up mentality. The essay is an exact copy of a handbill that has been handed out at the entrance of a county courthouse effectively monkey-wrenching jury pools. Jury disobedience is a suggestion to prosecutors that “jury nullification” is a constitutional check and balance on hypocritical laws and overzealous prosecutions that have resulted in tragic numbers of citizens behind bars.
Essay 5: “Fare Enforcement and Riders’ Rights” is my pet peeve to a local issue with constitutional implications. I hope our political leaders can rethink Sound Transit 3, with its flawed taxation and policies that disrespect citizens, doing little to keep our economy flowing.
Essay 6: “Eminent Domain” examines the conflict between property rights and the demand for land to support a growth economy. It’s currently in draft.
These writings are a response to reactionary populism and our slide toward authoritarianism, whether from the left or the right. The proposals share fundamental concepts: free will, personal and peer accountability, respect for science-based statistics, and a conviction that Responsible Market Economics (full-cost accounting) can have better social and environmental outcomes than caps-mandates-goals-standards-targets and regulations… all political compromises that will be too little, too late.
At its core, the root challenge of liberty is its conflict with social injustice and environmental degradation. It goes back to our country’s original sins: the “plunder of not just the bodies of humans but the body of the Earth itself (author Ta-Nehisi Coates).”
It is the core unwillingness to accept responsibility, the unwillingness to pull our weight and pay as we go, and the unwillingness to compensate for damages done to others.