1. Measuring the right things
GDP and Stock market growth are not the only measures of success. We need to measure violence, happiness, equity and so much more.
What you measure you pay attention to. What you pay attention to, you work on and change.
2. An explicitly agreed minimum standard of living
Any group of any size — including a society — will determine (either implicitly or explicitly) a set of basic rules and goals.
Any set of rules and goals will naturally be suited to some, and not to others. Members of the group will naturally fall along of spectrum of competency. Some will be very good at living within the rules and achieving the goals. Others will be less good or very poor at it. This creates a hierarchy with effective people at the top and less effective people at the bottom. This is basically unavoidable.
At the top end, this is a good thing. We want people to strive, create, and move the world forward.
At the bottom end, however, people will struggle.
The answer is not to limit the rich, but rather to…
- Determine and comprehensively describe a baseline level below which people should not be allowed to fall
- Set up a social safety net that protects people from falling below that level
- Fund the net by redistributing some wealth from the top to the bottom. (Yes I said redistribute intentionally)
- This is crucial: we need to do this explicitly. Right now it’s a constant philosophical fight over whether or not people should be helped. This argument serves no purpose. We need to name this phenomenon and debate the minimum line. Not argue over the philosophy.
3. Modern, publicly funded elections
Right now, particularly in the US, elections are rigged by the electoral college and gerrymandering. Policy is corrupted by fundraising.
Fix this, and the will of the people can assert itself again. Don’t fix this and a civil war is almost inevitable
4. A common set of facts
This one is the hardest to fix and maybe the downfall of it all. Without a common set of facts shared by an authoritative source(s), society cannot act from a common starting point and with a common purpose. With news outlets, independent operators, and foreign forces Intent on confusing voters, it’s difficult to see how anything constructive will emerge.
5. An educated electorate
This one is also difficult because it takes decades or perhaps generations to implement. It is perhaps the number one reason why I am so pessimistic about the United States right now.
Children need to be taught how to rationally seek out, digest, and make decisions based on data. They need to be informed about history and the role of institutions, and they need to be inspired to demand the truth and to imagine a better future.
Without this, they can not understand the facts and vote in their common best interest.
6. Sustainability and scalability as a core value
Nothing matters if society’s collective actions are serving to burn the planet to the ground.
Note that each of these things contributes to a feedback loop that either accelerates positive improvements or creates a death spiral into oblivion.
In the US, many of these things are currently failed or failing. I fear the US is currently experiencing a death spiral.