We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Internet Voting and Direct Democracy

The active and engaged consumer will transform into an active and creative political actor through omnipresent ability to conduct online voting and with the help of rogue NGOs

There is a current semi-troubling trend that will evolve and mutate into a much more benign trend of direct democratic electronic voting and popular societal management. It starts with today's process of far sighted corporations allowing their customers to crowdsource creation and design of not only products but marketing for these products (thus saving money and bypassing scientific research and focus groups) . However these "creative consumers" as the linked article calls them need not be useful idiots for shareholders of large transnationals forever.

[Sidenote: Deeply sorry for linking to The Economist. The Pragmatist usually has a boycott against that neoliberal mouthpiece magazine for a variety of reasons.]

[Sidenote #2: This process of consumer participation, direct democracy over some narrow corporate market design aspects, immediate feedback, beta testing, etc. IS actually dramatically improving quality of products and raising the standard of living for millions even if certain modern corporations try to gloss over the free labor provided as some sort of empowerment. Encouraging a paying customer to vote on the shape of his or her favorite vitamin juice bottle shape for a chance to win a spot on some volunteer designed free commercial still leaves an odd and not entirely pleasant feeling about the whole process.]

Considering that political candidates throughout the world are increasingly becoming glossy packaged well marketed human products onto which much of the public can project their societal aspirations and psychological states (as was the case with recent examples of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Barack Obama), a certain disconnect is growing. The disconnect is between:

1) On the one hand, the world of actual consumer products like electronic gadgets and restaurant food stuffs over which the masses have substantial growing voting clout (at the very least, influence over the products once they are forcefully introduced into the public domain)

2) On the other hand, the world of political consumer products like Obama and Berlusconi that the public has no influence over and in fact has diminishing influence over (how can one have crowdsource voting power over an amorphous multifaceted postmodern Ronald McDonald-esque corporate shill?)

The psychic frustration from this disconnect is so far manifested in the same way that many other frustrations are. That is, snarky sardonic memes about the political "products" and people voting on popularity of the memetic criticisms or viral praise of candidates. In this regard, a modern political product is akin to a movie as well as the actor playing within this movie (both being examples of popular consumable entertainment products). The e-voting currently is no more effective than people deciding whether shareholders of studio A or B will get the money for delivering a certain blockbuster.

But we knew that already.

The breakthrough in direct democracy (primary goal and hope of Internet voting) will NOT occur when creative people outside the establishment start delivering blockbusters of their own and when the establishment begins to co-opt the way new things are done (another analogy to movies is current embryonic trend of crowdfunding of an independent movie with substantial popular control over the content and direction). The breakthrough will have to come from outside actors that tap into the disconnect frustration mentioned above.

NGOs spreading democracy in the "free world"

The last article mentioned the concept of a virtual polis that acts as a sort of massive shadow government/cabinet that eventually begins to co-rule with existing legislatures. Something like this does not appear overnight.

Once the generation trained from young age in pro-active consumerism, social network voting, and embryonic e-democracy reaches a certain age, it will then be possible to then evolve the concept of pro-democracy NGOs into directly democratic parallel micro governments with various pools of physical resources and power projection abilities. They will then be in position to negotiate with power.

The ironic thing is that many political scientists and the educated youth in the Western world currently serve as foot soldiers in destabilizing foreign countries and foreign governments via Western government/think tank/elite funded NGOs. See the examples of color revolutions in Serbia, Thailand, Ukraine, Georgia, and current work in the Middle East. These foot soldiers (many children from well to do and/or intelligentsia families) are getting experience in parallel governance that will be turned against their sponsor masters eventually by some of them.

Today, Washington DC and London and various global think tanks are encouraging democracy/neoliberalism spreading NGOs to get creative when wrestling with authorities abroad. US state department went as far as to fund portable high speed Wi-Fi/satellite devices. This is so NGOs and opposition groups they work with in the Middle East can create mini Internets in case authorities totally block net access as happened in Egypt. Native groups and NGOs helping them are pushed by circumstance and need to cooperate to find better and better ways to find consensus, engage in direct action, network, and market destabilizing viral propaganda. Of course the various governments not yet in the neoliberal fold also get creative in suppressing such activity and we see a process of each side learning from each other rapidly.

The political science/international relations majors that today find meaning in their lives by destabilizing governments in Africa and Eurasia in the name of Anglo-American style "democracy" will grow up and return home eventually. That is when things start getting interesting.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Direct Democracy in the 21st Century

New communication technology driven democratic institutions are already in their embryonic stages and will grow to co-rule many societies in parallel with the current legislatures ( that are morally and ideologically bankrupt and losing their legitimacy) 

Direct democracy enthusiasts brought us a few innovations in the 20th century such as the recall and the referendum. The use of these mechanisms is increasing through the Western world but that doesn't necessarily mean that direct democracy is increasing. Moneyed interests just found ways to utilize these mechanisms. We saw the engineers of the European Union integration use the referendum as a popular legitimacy providing rubber stamp for their top down projects. Whenever the people voted "the wrong way" such as in France, the Eurocrats saw it as a failure on their part in terms of not marketing ("explaining") the referendum offering properly enough rather than the offering being unpopular. We thus see signature gathering efforts and popular majority approval fall under the same corporate interests as everything else.

Nonetheless, even a  broken clock is right twice a day. Just as current oligarchic legislative systems in the Western world are able to occasionally deliver what the mob really wants, referendums (such as the one that will be held on Scottish independence) may genuinely create popular breakthroughs once in a while. However, for very interesting psychological reasons that predispose 80% of the population towards the status quo, these genuinely and massively popular satisfactions are even more rare and more difficult to achieve in Western oligarchies (that call themselves democratic) than in oligarchies elsewhere in the world that don't bother with the pretense. The minority of elites that seriously know what is in the people's interest and who actually want to work towards it are always outnumbered by majority of other elites who use majority of population as rubber stamp proxies. Thus, paradoxically, in the parliamentary/referenda Western world, in some ways it is more difficult to achieve macro-level political progress than under some monarchies in the later 19th century (see the relatively advanced pre-emptive welfare and safety net provisions offered in Kaiser's Germany in late 19th century). Considering the modern need to create people's approval through mass scale marketing, there is always intra-elite battle of marketing that progressive faction loses in a more spectacular way than it did in prior times.

Therefore the future of direct democracy will not be in referendums (that come about as a result of very expensive research and marketing efforts) since the people fall under the same top down informational spell as during the election season. That is not to say that the effort should be completely abandoned since the Internet currently allows the masses to massively fund not just individual candidates via small contributions (and other tricks like moneybombs) but also to fund large scale propaganda commercial campaigns. However, even if there is a more level playing field for the money versus money game, and the propaganda versus propaganda game, the ones likely to win most of the time are those who are much more experienced, connected as a block, and resourceful. I'll leave it at that.

Direct Democracy that is not a Rubber Stamp

Let's explore some directions that are increasingly possible in the 21st century (where manufacturing your own surplus electrical energy, acquiring water from air, and making objects via 3D printing down to nanoscale level are possible not to mention more sophisticated participation in governance). The focus should be on direct democratic systems that can be scaled up somehow to be capable of ruling continental federal unions. That is more imperative than ever in a consolidating technologically complex world that is beginning to resemble ant colonies.

We should also focus on expanding direct democracy not just vertically but horizontally to areas where democracy is not usually found. That primarily means the workplace. Often to vote on in a new area, the people should also own that area (which is a whole different topic for discussion but just as necessary in this century). That means anything from residential buildings, to fission reactor facilities, and to expanding upon the cliche of worker ownership of a factory/hospital/school. Worker's self management of an industrial plant is good and all but these workers should be able to run the entire transnational industrial chain. Same applies for counties, countries, and the above mentioned EU (we're watching you Brussels). Horizontal expansion of direct democracy experiments and systems is critical since it brings greater quantity of direct democratic units, greater experimentation with different methods (to see which can be scaled up better), and since quantity has a quality of its own. In a world where 1 billion people are trained to "like" something on a social network and where their liking and disliking is increasingly brought to other areas, there develops a sort of psychological diffusion that can potentially turn an increasingly proactive consumer into a citizen of the world (in a practical  and not 1960s cliche sense).

One of America's greatest political scientists, Robert Dahl, wrote 20 years ago in Democracy and its Critics that the Internet and the jury system offers an interesting way out for mass scale direct democracy. Let's dig into but one example that could be extrapolated from his work (the web was very new at the time and Dahl couldn't have imagined the level of connectedness we have achieved so far):

One example of a transitional process: The Case of New Jersey. Yes we went there.

New Jersey has a population of 8.8 million, 13 representatives and 2 senators to federal congress, 120 members in its bicameral legislature, and access to the Internet. Mr Dahl would say that a virtual polis can be created where for example, 1,000 New Jersians are randomly selected by a computer to serve as a sort of shadow government for every state representative. This means 120,000 people or 1.36% of population are selected to serve their state as either a consulting body that suggests course of action or serve as actual co-representative collectively.

Let's see how this might function.

If Billy Bob from district 3 is elected by people of district 3 to serve in state assembly, then 1,000 random people from district 3 are notified that they are now part of a virtual district 3 polis where after deliberating for a year they can vote on what course of action Billy Bob should take. Collectively the wisdom of 1,000 individuals from all walks of life make this body as smart, coherent, and authoritative as Billy (since we're being metric for simplicity, lets call this mass of 1,000 individuals a kilopop).

Now, being in this virtual polis isn't a full time job and doesn't require too much energy (although some mild monetary and/or honorary compensation for participating for that year can be found, and no! you can't trade or sell your position to Coca Cola. More on the impossibility to bribe everybody later).

The polis can either vote thumbs up or down on various proposals in the state assembly via secure Internet connection as proposals come up or there can be certain days when proposals accumulate such as every Sunday or the first Sunday of every month. There of course can be online forums where the kilopop can debate and argue among each other. This way, the state of New Jersey has 120 popular assemblies (polises, councils, people's cogresses, however you want to call them) for each of their 120 state reps AS WELL as 15 randomly selected assemblies for each of the 13 representatives and 2 senators that New Jersians send to the federal congress.

The assemblies can vary in size of course so perhaps a state senator gets, 5,000-10,000 to shadow him while a senator to US senate gets 100,000 New Jersians to shadow him or her. There is enough people for all, no worries. Then, when the popular 1,000 or 5,000, or 10,000, or 100,000 person assembly votes an an issue one way and the assemblyman, or representative, or senator, votes an this issue another way, he can   rapidly and easily be shamed into losing the next election as having gone against the will of the people from his or her locality. Of course the politicians elected will be acutely aware of how the virtual polis is leaning on a day by day basis so the votes made via the old system are already preemptively influenced. 1,000 people have many links between them and the wider community and a lot of influential members in places one may not expect. A whole range of measures and pressures could collectively be found to deal with completely bought politicians who always vote "the wrong way" (the shoe is on the other foot now!).

Polling is done with sufficiently representative samples and these assemblies will definitely be mathematically representative of different parts of New Jersey. Mundane technicalities of encrypting computer systems to do genuinely random jury type selection, whether you had to born in district 3 or lived there for a number of years, etc can be worked out rapidly. The assemblies are not parliaments with a ruling entrenched clique and since the people who participated in them will not be able to after a year, corruption can't take hold. If, after certain amount of time, due to population of the state, one is called up again it will be for a different virtual polis altogether. In ancient Athens, almost every citizen sat on a temporary committee of some sort (usually for a year) and was never to sit on it again. This constant rotational system is easier than ever to implement online with a large population that has the a rather short attention span as of late. Lots of retired people will feel a renewed sense of importance as well as people typically excluded from public life.

Taking a step back and looking at the entire population of United States (or France or Germany), you see that there are now millions of individuals engaged in civic duty with their sense of civic duty and education rising all the time. On a long enough timeline after testing it out (or short timeline if you're less conservative), you can have the virtual assemblies evolve from consulting bodies into co-legislative (being able to veto or override the assemblyman with sufficient votes or vote requiring both assemblyman AND the virtual polis tracking him to vote the same way). Co-legislative function of course paves way towards replacement of the system constructed by 18th century aristocrats.

Software systems can make this process as cartoony, simple, and pleasing to the eyes as facebook with big red reminders popping up concerning something. And there is no need to worry about the elderly people selected without Internet access (they can vote via TV that is all digital now) or busy bodies who monopolize the forum discussions due to not having any lives. Such problems pale in comparison to the collective wisdom of 1,000-100,000 individuals producing a decision (maybe even 500,000 person polises can be assembled in times of national emergencies that could deliberate for much shorter amount of time).

Although of course it is difficult for corporations to bribe so many millions of people, we are still left with a number of unanswered questions. The Virtual Polis system though is a bit better at corruption fighting than some other proposals that just scale up existing dysfunctional systems (such as proposals to expand federal congress to 30,000 bought off stooges rather than 435 corporate monkeys currently). Whereas the latter proposal decreases class size so to speak, the former brings additional teachers into the class to teach and watch each other.

Surely there is more?

Yes dear reader, there is more but this is turning into a multi-part article. Next we will look at actual physical assemblies consisting of roughly 10,000 people living in a locality (even if they are inside a city of 5 million). These assemblies then select a number from among themselves (say, 10) to participate in a higher Assembly #2 that can be either 1,000 or 10,000 reps (see how we're keeping it metric?). In this we can have a bottom up process where direct democracy creates a super assembly that covers anywhere from a million (megapop) to 10 million people without a middleman. Of course this would all be lubricated by the Internet and integrated with a virtual polis system simultaneously or in parallel if need be. There are a number of countries in the world that have experimented with rather advanced political systems in the last 30 years.

But more on that later.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Economic Case for Scottish Independence

The 2014 referendum on independence organized by the Scottish National Party may create one of the world's wealthiest and most socially oriented republics.

SNP now holds majority in the newly created Scottish parliament. Their postmodern "quality of life" arguments for sovereignty (rather than those based on primordial blood roots and culture) are already being criticized by imperialist publications as having potential to set a negative precedent worldwide. Whenever self determination comes up, the popular consciousness still brings up images of a particular ethnic group, coalition of clans, an/or an occupied/splintered nation, etc as fighting for its chance in the sun. Kurdistan is one of the better known examples currently.

However, what if a part of the population convincingly argues that being their own nation will not right some prior wrong but just improve their quality of life and consolidate a certain regional and primarily socioeconomic and ideological cultural tendency. The people of Vermont with its (and only) socialist senator Bernie Sanders or New Hampshire with its libertarian "free state" streak are examples of regions that can offer this new type of argument. The example would go like this: "We want to be independent not because we have millennia old history as a unique ethnic group and long history of revolts and serious grievances (such as Kurds in eastern Turkey) but we feel that we do have different values that we evolved and that our way of life can become dramatically more efficient, streamlined, consolidated, and materially better if we ARE independent".


1) Scotland's population of 5,200,000 people with 66 people per sq kilometer out of  78,387 sq km land area versus 345 people per sq km in the rest of the UK.

2) GDP per capita (nominal and PPP) being higher in Scotland than in the rest of UK on average (which is $38,591 and $36,728 respectively outside of Scotland)

3) Scotland has more claim to North Sea oil than the rest of the UK due to closer proximity and expertise in extraction.

4) Long tradition of socialist and social democratic government mindset and expenditures on the local population that makes Scotland closer to its Scandinavian neighbors in some respects than to its austerity pushing English master.

With these conditions, it may not become a new Norway (that only has 12 people per sq mile and PPP GDP per cap of $53,470) but it can definitely give Denmark a run for its money (which has 128 people per sq km and $37,000 PPP GDP per cap).

European Union has nothing to lose or fear by Scottish independence. Indeed, secession, separatism, and sovereignty questions begin to have less meaning when Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are both in the EU. When Basques may form their own country and still be in the Eurozone, independence does not have as much of a ripple effect anymore considering the current tendency of the world towards continental supranational economic unions. If anything, Eurocrats should encourage Scottish independence as it would declaw the old militarist UK a bit and the anachronism that is the British monarchy. 5.75%  of UK's GDP and 8.36% of its former "subjects" would be gone and the Trident submarine base near Glasgow either kicked out or charged rent. UK would become a more pliable (and hopefully less murderous and swaggering abroad!) partner with the EU if it is cut down to size. Its population would also be positively influenced by a republic being shared on one island giving anti-monarchists a boost. The remaining monarchies in Europe are becoming an embarrassment in 2012 not just for the continent but for the wider Western world.

The relatively domesticated population of UK needs a wake up call for reform themselves. Independent Scotland can have positive effects that go beyond its internal domestic politics. UK has long been the ringleader and legitimacy provider for many of the world's hereditary mafia "monarchies". UK's poodle of Qatar sending out mercenaries to Libya and currently to Syria to do UK's dirty destabilization work is but one of many examples. Middle East is currently in a free for all struggle between republican and monarchic blocks with UK playing the most unhealthy role in terms of which forms of government emerge victorious within the region (mentality appears to be that if you cant own it then you break it for the rest of the world).

The people of Scotland in 2014 thus have a unique chance to send a message that will be felt in ways we can't yet conceptualize. No longer will they be asked to fight abroad every few years and if London financial establishment wants to saddle them with some of its absurd debts, then perhaps SNP's Alex Salmond can provide an Icelandic answer to boot.

if only it was this easy more often

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Technocracy Movement Becoming Popular Again

There is a potent reason why the Western world is seeing alternative samizdat publications and sites spread like wildfire. The quote below encapsulates it and is from the online Technocracy Study Course (Available in PDF.  Emphasis on pages 121-143 if you don't have much time.) 

What is all the more shocking is that Technocracy Movement was very popular in the 1930s (the quote above is from the 1947 version) and stood as an all American alternative to some of the more European systems being proposed at the time. Educational conferences like the one pictured below were common and many prominent technocrats went on to serve in helping build the new FDRist state in the 1940s-1960s period.

The continental plans at the time appear grandiose to a post-industrial, post-cold generation but considering the pace in construction of continental economic unions and mega engineering being back in vogue due to China, we may return to similar thinking soon.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Eurasian Railroad Development

in a bit saner world...
Beijing to London freight delivery in 2 days as well as peaceful integration of Middle Eastern economies are some of many possibilities. Recent APEC meeting in Vladivostok should accelerate the long awaited development of Trans-Asian Railway project. 

Developing infrastructure has always been risky if you're not well protected by geography or by standing armies. The German-Ottoman/Baghdad-Berlin railroad link construction plans threatened British shipping interests and thus helped start the 20th century. And as Libyan experience shows, any small country outside Western alliances determined to become the "next Norway" of this or that particular region has a high chance of being bombarded by warplanes.

Having said that, transportation links are as essential as monetary unions when it comes to strengthening regional political integration. This point has been brought so often on this site that we may as well be called The Infrastructuralist. In fact, current political gridlock and disunity within USA would be a lot less intense if this union put as much effort into high speed freight/passenger delivery as is usually put into decades long military occupations. Transcontinental railroad continued being built even during American civil war and was instrumental in political integration of United States. That was big for its time but the key issue of the 21st century is connecting and creating harmony between the various poles of the multipolar world.

This primarily means socioeconomic and cultural integration of Asia and the West the way California, Texas, and New York (and more recently, France and Germany) have been united by transport. Elites understand the supranational symbiosis that transportation links bring and even the potential for a larger and more dynamic economy to swallow up neighbors. Because of that, we often even see reluctance to begin projects such as the Korea-Japan undersea tunnel even if it is mutually enriching.

Such notions need to be put to rest. Fears of freight links are not the same as fears of removing all trade protectionism. Tight railroad links and busy rail arteries can co-exist wonderfully with 20% tariffs (as shown by repeated successes of protectionism over the last 200 years). What is more dangerous than easy freight movement among neighbors is not so much mutual digestion by historical enemies. The danger is that lack of cooperation on transnational freight movements creates:

1) Economic and popular disharmony potentially leading to violence (some blood vessels in the regional body blocked, some deprived, some oversaturated, some non-existent, etc. inefficiencies, inequalities, bottlenecks, and chaos is the order of the day)

2) Stops spin off processes from getting off the ground whether economic (creating cooperation where economies of scale can be tapped) or political war averting ones (see below)

Full high speed railroad Eurasian integration is the obvious next step that United Nations saw as an essential violence preventing project for the largest land mass on earth. Projects of this nature always require soothing relations beforehand. Obviously Pakistan and India need to find ways to cooperate, as well as South and North Korea, Japan and Russia, Japan and South Korea, Iran and Arab neighbors, Israel and Egypt, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia, Turkey and Russia, and Afghanistan sufficiently stabilized so as not to build railroads and pipelines around it.

In effect, in a world with nuclear weaponry, the shareholders of various railroad monopolies have to pressure for peace in order to get more business. High level governmental working groups approaching something as mundane as transborder high speed railroad development create a foot in the door towards preconditions for peace. Seoul and Pyongyang seem to be the early adopters of this understanding with railroad construction connecting their two countries (along with a free trade zone lubricating the project) being used as an ignition towards eventual reunification. Although some critics point to France and Germany being the most interconnected in terms of transportation in 1913, interdependence before conflict appears more of a historical exception rather than the rule.

post-scarcity civilization will think of how to tap
and transport resources from still
overlooked northern peripheries
Considering the current historical conditions in the Middle East (a patchwork of barely consolidated "states" each in its own historic development that roughly mirrors Europe anywhere from 1850s to early 20th century), a supranational government approach combined with links to indigenous civil society and business groups with infrastructuralist mindset and demands is essential to potentially prevent early 20th century Europe 2.0.

Let's quote from a previous article that compared 3 fastest rail lines in the world to better grasp a future Eurasian land bridge.

"The "best" is determined here by a combination of:

A) Average speed in between terminating points since the faster the distance covered, the more a train system cuts into air industry's profits. This in turn pushes airplane makers to conceptualize cheap travel by hypersonic passenger aircraft which in turn benefits humanity.

B) The distance that the high speed line covers since the longer the line, the bigger the project in terms of resources and parts and the more economies of scale are utilized. A society's commitment to triggering economies of scale for heavy industry shows its determination to improving the welfare of its citizens. Ultimately, going as big as possible with infrastructure projects (see Erie, Panama, Suez Canals and Transcontinental/Trans-Siberian railroads) is not just cheaper but creates mass employment (during transition to post-scarcity mechanization), rapidly stimulates real physical economy, and gives a super boost in wealth creation."

Industrial cartels behind the Chinese government also seem interested in free trade zones at the end of 3 major high speed Eurasian railways that are being proposed. India and southeast Asia being China's South America and Russia being China's Canada appears the immediate future for the region. Beijing needs to approach the situation in an integrative developmental language that FDR would have used to build common prosperity and avoid the imperialist mindset. The possibilities of freight entering North Korea from Russian Federation and then entering South Korean land to continue on via the underwater tunnel to Japanese consumers would do more for peace than 6 party talks ever did. Recent decision by the Kremlin to forgive 11 billion dollars of North Korean debt appears to be part of this particular mission. Energy and transportation projects can go through when borders are finally delineated and decades long issues forgiven. The Christian Orthodox Patriarch on a visit to Poland recently used the word he considered the most important. It was "forgiveness".

An economically booming region connected by Beijing, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, Pyongyang finally healing with high speed transport links would be an example to follow across the world from central Europe to Middle East to Africa. It is said people get used to a good thing very quickly and the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan demonstrates that as passengers don't worry about being searched and stopped as their train crosses the border. As Mexico continues to grow in economic power, eventually the planners behind North American Union need to consider similar easing of restrictions and add high speed rail in addition to the high speed highway linking the continent.

Besides break of gauge, the way high speed tracks should be constructed should take into account possible future conversion to Mag-Lev standard. This means wide clearance around the track to allow parallel Mag-Lev construction once sufficient number of fission reactors are built to support it. Dual use construction or built in expansion for potential dual use is essential. Any type of transcontinental infrastructure built in 21st century should have major upgrades in mind to save on costs. Historically, once a major project begins, the tools for it itch to find use elsewhere as the pipe laying ships for Nord Stream already want to be used to lay pipes between Russian far east and South Korea and Japan. Initial investor capital creates a critical mass and a snowball effect for specialized machinery built for the original task. Governments and sovereign wealth funds are essential to create this type of ignition. Elites like Sarkozy, various think tanks, and The Pragmatist itself have already discussed an international Tobin tax to fund a truly global infrastructure development bank. It would rapidly help in what was previously thought as unapproachable "mega" projects such as terraforming the Sahara Desert, Gobi Desert, Central Asian Desert, etc.

2-3 trillion dollars (or 4% of world's GDP) to properly connect the far East and Western Europe will rapidly pay for itself through reversal of austerity mindsets, direct energy savings for the most populous landmass on earth, airplane construction cartels finally pushed towards development of cheap hypersonic freight and passenger jets, and greater lubrication for business than even economic and monetary unions. Even if European Union got its finances in order, it wouldn't function well if people still used horses and buggies. At the risk of the article sounding like another high speed commercial, there are also possibilities for passenger (and even freight trains!) that are always in motion and that unload their cargo onto another regional/city train system. Schemes like this can make high speed function smoothly with normal speed as well as allow experiments for non-stop high speed train systems of smaller size to operate within large urban areas.

As Immanuel Wallerstein's World Systems Theory and global climate change efforts (requiring world climate system approach) take hold in popular imagination, we'll see world systems finally applied to planetary transport and energy grids as we progress further.

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