My name is Walter Barry and welcome to my non partisan public policy blog, The Ownership Society. I share solutions to achieve three key objectives necessary for a free, prosperous society: reduce income inequality, protect individual freedom, and achieve fiscal solvency. I ground the solutions on observed evolutionary science and behavioral computer modeling about the proven conditions for the stakeholder cooperation required to achieve these objectives. My priority is to provide you a forum to share your own fact-referenced solutions for these objectives. The reason for the blog is simple: I am exasperated at: 1) spiraling government spending and debts as societies feast on entitlements and public benefits that a viable economy can’t sustain; 2) our increasingly polarized society caused by rising income inequality and related ‘remedy’ politics; and 3) the marked loss of individual freedom and respect for constitutional law as government encroaches on our free choice, work product, and risk investment with new taxes, regulations, mandates, and law-changing executive orders. I decided to publicly advocate for the creation of a real Ownership Society built on two core natural rights vital to achieving those three objectives: 1) the exercise of free choice in all areas of our life and 2) the ownership of the fruits of our labor with limited government taking.
My hope is we can establish common ground on solutions faster if we can generally agree on the science driving human behavior that brings us to today’s fiscal crisis. Charles Darwin’s pioneering ‘survival of the fittest’ natural selection thesis in 1859 demonstrated any life form in a species will act in strict self-interest to outcompete peers and exploit available resources (public, private, or natural) to improve their fitness and ability to propagate to the next generation. Our genes own and survive us so ownership is an innate genetic mission of life. Safe to say that centuries of self-interest explains world history. Today in the new academic field called Evolutionary Dynamics, sophisticated computer modeling can now accurately measure behavioral outcomes based on changing environmental conditions and human decision making patterns. Harvard Mathematics Professor Martin Nowak runs the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. Their modeling demonstrates people will cooperate in enlightened self-interest, just like our cells do, around five rules of natural selection: kin selection, direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, group selection, and spatial selection. Nowak’s 2012 book, SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other To Succeed, is a thorough review of evolutionary science from Charles Darwin to today’s evolutionary modeling. The good news is we can already observe successful micro Ownership Societies in places like Silicon Valley, greater Seattle, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin, Nashville, Boston, Minneapolis, and other cities.
I encourage you to read the Evolution of an Ownership Society for my suggested science foundation and then review my proposed solutions that reward cooperation over competition in all areas of our lives:
- Work: increasing ownership in our labor through tax-advantaged stock ownership at work and/or expanded personal retirement accounts.
- Home: expanding home ownership to all productive citizens by privatizing public housing; protecting private property from private use eminent domain; and supporting market-based home mortgages.
- Education: ending education discrimination and achieving excellence with school choice, tenure reform, and private-public trusts to identify and reward best practices.
- Health Care: expanding individual ownership in health decisions with price and quality transparency; securing Medicare with personally-owned and directed health savings accounts funded by taxing our benefits; privatizing Medicare/Medicaid management to increase benefits, improve outcomes, and guarantee savings to taxpayers; and rewarding providers to deliver high quality, cost-effective care with risk-based reimbursement.
- Retirement: privatizing retirement accounts in a government administered system similar to Sweden and eliminating gift and estate taxes on previously taxed assets.
- Immigration: offering earned citizenship with the Dream Card to all productive contributors while strengthening border enforcement and intelligence.
- Relationships & Rejuvenation: protecting personal privacy and relationships and rejuvenating reformed convicts to become productive contributors in society.
The slides below are an overview for my Ownership Society thesis. I hope my thoughts resonate with you, and welcome your engagement on this critical conversation. Let’s give everyone, especially the most disadvantaged in our society, the best chance to own a happy, prosperous life with free choice and independence from government. Ownership is our most natural calling.