Printer Friendly Page Concepts Underlying Solutions

Concepts Underlying Solutions

by Alan F. Kay 2006

Controlled by political leaders' interests in themselves and their backers, the US has been a mature capitalist country increasingly drifting away from democracy. Almost all wealthy individuals and corporations devote their time, energy, and skills to increasing their wealth. Not beset by obstacles encountered by the less fortunate, their annual revenues grow at an increasingly higher rate than "ordinary" people achieve. The people's influence on government policy slowly withers as the influence of the wealthy grows.

The long, hard development of this website's seventeen Solutions is aimed at turning around this drift and make capitalism socially responsible, i.e., work in the interests of all people.

It a badge of honor to examine social innovation ideas that are unknown, taboo or untouchable by both political parties. Government failures occur by overly relying on our US military, great for war fighting, but poor when top priority should be on building peace and cooperation. More government failures are endemic in overseeing the country's Federal Reserve System, in outdated anti-trust legislation, in accepting serious weaknesses of the Internet and of the criminal justice system, all of which will be greatly ameliorated upon adoption of the various Solutions.

Information Technology (IT)
Take advantage of the explosion of information technology (IT) so that capacity, bandwidth, processing power, etc., are no longer limitations on any innovation that needs to be undertaken systemically. Using technology to make government work more responsibly seems to be unthinkable by national political policy-makers. Among the 17 Solutions, good IT is useful in #2 "How Public-Interest Polling Works" and #12 "New Thinking on SR Corporations", but is essential only in #7 "FXTRSSM and #13 "Best Practices National Election System".

Often the fully automated, totally software controlled approach to an IT-based system is inferior to one that has really good human customer service and allows well-trained carefully selected and carefully motivated humans to have opportunities to control key parts of the system and, at times, to make change decisions during system operation based in part by system-provided information and in part by their own vast and relevant human experience and understanding.

Conflicts of Interest
Seldom thought of this way, the need to handle conflicting interests is in all of us starting the day we are born. Yes, really:

As a newborn every few hours mother was not giving us food, drink, cradling, and clean-up when we needed it. Her interests of the moment were not ours and 15 minutes could seem forever.

Interest conflict is perhaps the biggest factor that retards the search for improving innovations. People from childhood through adulthood, particularly publicly successful individuals such as political leaders, work out their own individual ways to best get what they want and have learned well over the years - this: How they handle conflicts suits their own purposes. Interests of representatives of different mainstream countries and organizations, whether friend, neutral, or foe, when looked at broadly are always in conflict. Paragraph 6 of "What is a Social Innovation?" is repeated in the following two paragraphs because of its relevance to the issue of interest conflicts.

Think of two or more heads of state (and/or their deputies) seeking agreement on working together. Or imagine two or more corporate CEOs similarly seeking such an agreement. In either case, or in a mixed case (heads of state agreeing with corporate CEOs) none of the parties agree to anything until each party is sure that it is in its own interest. With agreement reached, both parties are satisfied that it is in their mutual interests. This is standard practice. Anything else would be crazy, right? Well maybe not. Look at it this way.

Suppose they all went much further and only made agreements that would be beneficial to all countries -- or all companies -- or, better still, most of the people in the world. The world would be a better place for everybody including the deal - makers. Imagine how you would feel if you knew that every deal - maker in the world was selflessly agreeing only to arrangements that produced a better world for all! Click on the Social Innovation button to learn how that is extremely difficult but possible.

More can be done in developing innovations where conflicts of interest are within a single individual or within his/her organization that requires entirely different duties at different times, often back and forth several or many times a day. Successfully handling conflicts of interests between their differing needs at different moments, most such people pay a price. They are forced into duplicity and secretiveness, leading to lying and, for a few, to criminality. Pride in being able to do this well keeps many leaders, particularly political and corporate leaders, working hard and often for a long time, without notice, concern, or challenge by supervisors and colleagues, who may dismiss as minor such conflicts of interest, apparently unaware of the stress produced by these conflicts or perhaps aware, but in their own interests cover-up and stop any public airing. Either way, we the people, hear little about such conflicts. The solution is that a new structure needs to be introduced.

Illustrating how this works is #4 "UNSIA". The Security Council (SC) of the UN since the founding of the UN has the full authority to pursue all of the activities that have been assigned to UNSIA in #4. The ambassadors and their associates representing the 15 member states of the SC, whenever responding to a matter brought to the SC for consideration, represent their country's own interests, but like all diplomats have to consider and reconcile the interests of other diplomats and as necessary attempt to persuade them to reach agreement. The conflicts of interests that arise in this process are not so complex or exhausting that the members come to a poorly examined or poorly thought through conclusion. But what is certain is that without UNSIA the SC does not have the staff, time, money, energy and even authority to do what the for-profit UNSIA can do. The introduction of UNSIA is the change of structure that makes all the difference to what the outcomes will be.

Conflicts of interest ubiquitously aggravate every policy issue. Other examples of structure change, ameliorating conflicts of interest as UNSIA does, is the Congressional Office of Public Opinion Research and Assessment presented in #2.2.7a, "Giving up sovereignty, Full Story", #6 Betternet , and #7 FXTRS.

Public/Private Partnerships
Creating public private partnerships can make a lot of sense. The public partner can be (a) a government organization, the US at the national, state, or local level, or the UN, that has power and authority that could be utilized by the private partner and satisfies the mission of the government organization or (b) a non-government organization (NGO) that has expertise in a variety of issue areas. Collectively NGOs cover virtually all issues and collectively represent the views of the general public more fully than it is practical to expect from a specific US administration and congress or from the UN General Assembly .

Either the public or the private partner can seek out the other but to reach an agreement, if the public partner is type (a) above, the private partner has to agree to a charter that limits its operations compared to new business opportunities allowed by typical corporate charters. This is required to prevent the private partner from using the agreement to expand into business areas for which the public partner has no authority or interest. In compensation for disallowing such expansion, the public partner must allow the private partner the opportunity to create a business plan sufficiently robust and attractive to public-spirited investors. The private partner may also have to accept competition if the public partner insists on an open bidding procurement.

NGO(s), type (b) above, can play the role of a public partner, particularly over the long term, offering oversight and increased popular support that can be very valuable for the private partner. The private partner can make agreed donations to the NGOs, compensating them for their support. As in #12 "New Thinking on SR Corporations" the private partner may wind up being owned by the NGOs, after all investors in the private partner have had reasonable returns on their investments.

In addition to #12, other Solutions that utilize the public-private partnership in some form, are #3 "Anticipatory Risk-Mitigation", #4 "UNSIA", and #8 "Truth in Advertising".

Oversight Structure
People and organizations are required to abide by legislation that typically includes fines, penalties, and sometimes jail time, for violators -- often in amounts that prove to be, over time, obsolescent. Often many do not obey a law on the grounds that (a) the legislation does not clearly apply to them or (b) on the willingness to chance that the fines or penalties will never be slapped on them or (c) their unwillingness to hire costly defense lawyers. This enforcement method is burdensome on all parties, guilty or not, clogs the courts, and burdens judges often unequipped and poorly informed on the technical details of specific legislation and thus unable to make fair, thoughtful, optimal judgments. The fact that most members of Congress are lawyers may help explain why Congress handles enforcement in this way. Often only the lawyers profit from the litigation that follows almost every piece of new legislation. Arbitration sometimes reduces this mess but does little to change these basic problems. Is there another way?

Yes, sometimes creating and including in the legislation new structure that allows persons and organizations that have no stake in the issue, but have, or can easily acquire, adequate knowledge of the function of the legislation to produce a good outcome for all. None of the 17 Solutions rely on litigation and enforcement of new legislation. Accepting that Solutions will often eliminate the need for old legislation which if repealed reduces the burden of paying and adjudicating fines, penalties, and jail-time that had been loaded into the repealed legislation.

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