With the ongoing struggle of the US economy, the inner unhappiness and the many questions arising every day in the public web, I was thinking back and forth over the past 2 years about the essence of democracy and the top priorities of a democratic leader. The list is obviously almost with no end. But running a country is all about focus and complexity management.
I think there are three things a well run democracy provides for their citizens:
Lowest cost possible education is essential. Education drives innovation and innovation drives the economy. Nobody can predict who are the next innovators. But one thing is for sure: limiting top education to a top class in the society is reducing the amount of possible innovation by order of magnitude. Most of the big tech leader and tech innovations in the US were essentially stemmed by people from middle class or lower families. If a country can’t support broad education it cripples its ability to innovate and as such it essentially reduces its competitiveness on a global scale.
An omnipresent basic infrastructure for clean water, energy, public transportation and communication (i.e. mobile networks and Internet) is essential for a society to work and deliver a high value to the society. Communication, knowledge transfer and interaction via the Internet and mobile communication is in today’s world as important as air traffic was in the 60’s and 70’s. If you can’t go there easily you decouple yourself from the rest of the business world. If you don’t make it easy and encourage people to leverage the global Internet you disconnect yourself from the global business flow.
3) Common sense law
A law is helping citizen to collaborate and live with each other, keep freedom and prosperity. However like education models and infrastructure if it is not well maintained, there is a high risk of permutation that makes the law not the law for the people but against the people. The Headline in Wire Magazine a year or so ago: “Need cash – sue Google” is a funny yet devastating testimony for a law that is out of control.
All the other key needs including Jobs, Healthcare, Freedom…. will fall into its place if the above is a top priority. To the contrary if any one of the above responsibilities are a low priority, there is a high risk a society is at jeopardy.
Separation of state and capital
Very much like the separation of state and church back in the 1700’s a modern society need to care about the separation between state and capital. Societies in capitalistic nations are particularly at risk to outbalance democracy in a way where poor get ever poorer and less and less people get ever richer to a degree that the capital eventually controls what happens in a country and not an elected government.
Jobs & Innovation
If we have many well educated kids from all kinds of levels of our society we will see a lot of creativity and start-ups driving the creativity to new business and new jobs. Jobs can’t be “created” for people to have a job. Jobs can only be created by demand to do things we haven’t done before. Innovation means developing the ability on a global scale and build more than we can consume ourselves.
If we have jobs we can pay for healthcare and if we have agile and creative people, they find new ways to make health care more affordable, less complicated, more variety and more option. We can’t “generate” healthcare unless we put it back to a government function.
If the laws of a country help keeping the balance between a young generations innovation and mature capital we alleviate the risk of monopolies and support the growth of a middle class – which is essential for a stable and well balanced economy. If like in some countries over 80% of the food supply is concentrated in 350 brands that are essentially owned by 10 companies who have all one major shareholder in common, we live in a very dangerous system that allowed the prosperity development to get out of synch. It doesn’t make sense to finger point to people and call the greedy – when the system is build to make it happen.
Well – is our democratic model no longer working? No – our world and it’s needs and haves have evolved dramatically and our democratic answers need to evolve as well. Public companies for instance were a great innovation about 100 years ago to let the public participate in the gains of larger companies. Today public companies ruin more individuals than other investment opportunities, or no longer even give access to many citizens and investments have grown to a level of complication that it just doesn’t make sense any longer. Neither the laws to protect investors or businesses nor the laws and rules to run businesses kept up with the evolution of our globally connected business world.
While this is all very complex, if we distill it down to Education, Infrastructure and Law we can start working on it and get out of trouble easily within a few years. Just thinking