Equality of opportunity for each individual to achieve their full potential

All of the reforms outlined in Against Our Night (Part 4) are ultimately aimed at existentially and practically maximising the opportunities and conditions necessary for every individual, who exercises their free will to make socially and personally responsible decisions, to have a fulfilling life – within a sustainable, healthy environment.  Specific policy changes in health, welfare and education and the environment are included in this reform group to round out the other 11 reforms.

 Fulfilling individual potential is unachievable until individuals are expected (and helped) to make the right life decisions leading to self-reliance and social responsibility – according to the responsible adult and rational citizen attributes set out in Part 2/22.  Demographic decline must also be turned around. Moving in these directions must include:

Supporting the economic and social life of local communities and accepting the need to help those in need – as an act of good will and concern for ‘our neighbour’, without coercion from, or control by the state.

The responsible and active participation in referenda and the responsibility to be well informed prior to voting.

Taking steps in education and with regard to parental responsibilities to transition children progressively into adulthood from age twelve.  Allowing youth to slip into the habitudes of modern teenage adolescence cannot be allowed to continue.  By age 18-20 all youth should have moved well beyond adolescence into mainly adult attitudes and behaviours.

Taking moral rectitude seriously by supporting the police in every way possible to fight and prevent crime, acting justly and without false pretences in all spheres of life, respecting others, reaffirming the moral and attitudinal imperatives in the Ten Commandments and accepting personal responsibility for poor life decisions.

Taking the care and protection of the environment seriously.

Working to nurture marriages as lifelong monogamous relationships in which the couple determines to have at least two children and raise them to play a full part in civil society.  To that end all employers will be required to positively select, as a first priority, married men and women with two or more children, when making employee selections.

Living healthy lives to reduce health care costs.

Reversing policies that give women the choice to have children as solo mothers knowing they will receive welfare support for each child they have.  Marriage must be encouraged to ensure children are raised in more stable, less deprived circumstances.

Parental responsibilities: Making sure children behave responsibly at school and in the community and support schools by ensuring a high quality education is every child’s top priority. 

Actively pursuing orders, through the people’s courts, requiring individuals, groups or businesses to be socially responsible, with regard to the environment, health or social responsibilities. The orders shall carry legally enforceable sanctions, or incentives and can include activation of the outlaw provisions.

 Heath: Health policies must shift to prevention and achieve a dramatic reduction in hospital admissions from all causes.  Healthy lifestyle choices should be incentivised using the my choice– my risk–my cost formula (see Part 2/32). The oversight of medical ethics and policies must be broadened to include social values, education, parenting and life choice issues.  Disease prevention and health promotion must, in the first instance, shift from doctors and hospitals to individual responsibility.

All food products known to carry health risks in either a processed or pre-prepared state, should be labelled as ‘undesirable consumables’ (UCs) – in the same way cigarettes are sold with a danger notice. Suitable criteria should be developed for determining a product’s undesirable status.[1]  UCs should be subject to health cost deterrent pricing via an extra sales tax loading.    

UCs should be regularly exposed in advertising campaigns that include constructive advice about alternatives.[2] The health cost loading, added to the sales tax on these products, should be directed to medical research and other health initiatives designed to combat obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  Schools and parents should be encouraged to exclude UCs.

All the common causes of life stress known to promote the risk of physical or psychological ill-health should be identified and initiatives introduced to reduce their likelihood.  There would be a swath of possible initiatives in this area, including policies that address issues like workplace stress and bullying, noise, working hours, family dysfunction, substance abuse, building design and consumerist pressures.  These should be tackled without recourse to government regulation.  They can be addressed in the people’s court system (e.g. mediation) or through the democratisation (Semler) of the workplace and referenda.      

Edible landscaping and local food production should be aimed at reducing food purchased in supermarkets to less than 30% of total consumption in any locality.[3]

All forms of corporate monopoly practices in the food industry must be eliminated with the emphasis shifting to local and seasonal food production. Seed collection, storage and propagation must be open to anyone. Governments must ensure all forms of food are as free of life-threatening additives, substances and treatments as possible.  No food should be produced in one country and processed in another before being returned to the country of origin.  

Food and vitamin supplements must, after testing, be freely available to the public.

The environment: The people are the people of the land.  Everyone must have the right to access, use and enjoy the land, providing it is done responsibly.  Governments must not deny public access to large tracts of land, other than for short-term management reasons. The status of existing environmental legislation will be opened to people’s (but not business sponsored) referendum.

Degradation of the environment will be prevented, or identified and stopped. Natural resources will be used on a sustainable basis. Commercial activity, affecting the environment, must not be permitted unless that damage is only temporary, does not involve toxic pollutants and can be quickly ameliorated by the company concerned.   

The people’s right to high quality food and the right in perpetuity to produce their own, will not be compromised by industrial farming practices, legislation, or other activities pursued for corporate benefit.

A ‘food revolution’ will be encouraged, shifting food production to local producers supplying local markets, with mostly organically produced food, wherever possible.  Food should be sold on a short supply chain independent of large-scale food dispensers (supermarkets).

Food additives, genetic modifications and air pollutants, known to be health risks, will be either eliminated or dramatically reduced.  Governments must take bold legislative steps to do this and then leave it to the people to determine, by referenda if those initiatives are acceptable.  

Homes should, using simple, common technologies, become self-sustaining spaces to reduce dependence on large utility companies.  Homes should be designed or converted to capture, store and filter much of their potable water and generate some, or all, of their power.  Wherever possible human waste can be processed using domestic recycling systems, or local community processing plants, before being recycled as green space irrigation.  Local and national governments must ensure existing utility companies do not attempt to thwart this process while promoting the research needed to make domestic sustainability affordable option.

Education: Children’s Education must be about essential life skills and knowledge that are generic and transferable, including critical thinking skills, general knowledge, problem solving, historic contexts, the nature of truth, empiricism, collegial and individual decision-making, communication, change as a discipline, leader-followership, effective team work, the western world view, civic responsibility, emotional intelligence and self-discipline. Information, skills and knowledge acquisition should revolve around these disciplines, with the ultimate aim of encouraging all the elements that allow human nobility, in fully realised human potential, to flourish and contribute ably and fully to civil society.

Children must, through mastery of these disciplines, become effective, legitimate, free, cooperative and mutual actors.  To that end assessment methods will rank achievement, reward excellence and encourage interdisciplinary learning.

At all levels the education sector must be subject to parental and community oversight.  The centralised national control and delivery of schools curriculum will be curtailed and returned to local communities. Individual achievement in education will be emphasised. There will be a suitable balance between individual self-paced learning and group-based activities.  

Achieving all of the human potential characteristics, Douthwaite’s-12, Rossiter’s social competence model and Aneilski’s GPI  will be foundational to raising children, through a working partnership between communities, parents and schools/universities.  The government’s role will be simply to facilitate this process.

More specifically, these reforms will be instituted:

Universities will return to being centres for free enquiry. Staff appointments will reflect the need for ideological balance.  Transferrable tenure and independent appointment oversight will be introduced until this balance has been achieved over a five year period. Genuine free expression of ideas and openness to all forms of relevant and socially valuable research must replace the widespread intolerance for anything outside the knowledge and disciples protected and promoted by those with a liberal bias. 

An appropriate world view balance at all levels in school education must be restored by affirming the need for ideological balance in the appointment of teaching and administrative staff, consistent with western civilisation’s historic culture and development. 

Controversies in education related to ‘values’ training, sex education and learning to read, write and do maths will be opened up to local community evaluation with changes made, according to the will of local communities.  To that end local school board decisions should be open to local, or district citizen referenda. 

Given advances in behavioural science and information technologies existing educational methods will be opened up to alternatives. Committing children to institutional teacher-centred learning requiring a 10-12 year period in classrooms will change, with other options introduced, or used to supplement the existing system on a replacement-where-wanted basis. 

Parents must be given more choice in the way the education system helps them prepare their children to be responsible and self-reliant citizens. Independent schools, home schooling and other forms of distance education, to replace a one size fits all education mandated by the state, will be introduced.

The education system as a whole will encourage young people to engage in adult behaviour and responsibilities from age twelve. Self-paced learning will facilitate this process.

Education must be approached as a self-disciplining skill that instils self-reliance, self-motivation and the traits associated with emotional intelligence (EI). A move away from teacher and class centred learning, by placing an equal, or dominant, emphasis on individual self-paced learning and real world experiences, with recognition for diligence and progress, will be introduced.

Motivated, or gifted students, either on their own, or in cooperation with others, will be allowed to advance in their education at their own pace from age 12.  If that means a 14 year old can cope with university level material then that should be possible, with credit given to that person when they enter the university system.  By contrast, if some 14 year olds are clearly unsuited for a more academic education they should be appropriately stepped into more vocational and experiential environments using internships and apprenticeships.

The educational process must start with basic skills and knowledge before moving into a heavy emphasis, from age 8, on individual and team projects, decision-making, problem solving, the use of systematic thinking tools, interdisciplinary research, real world experiences, situational analysis, individual adult responsibilities and the integration of traditional knowledge-based disciplines into those areas.   Robust assessment regimes will reflect these skill areas.

The tenets of natural law, its reflection in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the traits of fully-actuated individuals will be embedded in school curricula.

Each child will be required to carry a special-interest portfolio in one or two areas through their school years, developing high levels of knowledge and expertise in their chosen fields. Gaining deeper knowledge and skills in one or two areas will encourage greater respect for all disciplines.

Partnerships built between educationalists, parents and local communities, with apportioned responsibilities, will be designed to ensure learning environments are largely free of student misbehaviour, truancy, bullying and a distain for learning.   Parental responsibility for their children’s education must be given a high priority.  Parents cannot be allowed to divest themselves of their obligation to raise children who are assets to their community and a credit to them.

The educational achievement of boys must be brought back on a par with girls, without reducing commitment to the latter’s education.  This will require trying different forms of learning for boys and may require the re-introduction of traditional forms of discipline – if a school’s parent body calls for it.  How local communities choose to discipline their children must come from those communities and not the state. Boys must be encouraged to read using books that engage boys according to their specific gender interests.  Space and permission for boys more robust and active behaviours must be provided.  Intellectual and practical pursuits more naturally appropriate to the male gender will be introduced.

Social welfare: In principle people should not be responsible for the poor life decisions of others, unless they voluntarily want to help them.  Welfare dependence must be actively discouraged. Other than for special cases, social welfare assistance must be short-term. A three tier support system must be established starting with the family, then the local community and finally, as a last resort, government. Families should be required to help their own, while local communities will be expected to provide for the genuinely poor and disadvantaged, aided by the changes to the tax system.

The essence of these reforms is to personalise the welfare system by largely dismantling the state-centred system of depersonalised entitlements. Local communities must know who is struggling and take some responsibility for them. Removing social welfare anonymity will be used to deconstruct belief that welfare is a right and an entitlement, while encouraging recipients to accept they have an obligation to their community to be self-reliant.

Whenever possible and applicable welfare assistance will be tied to mandatory unpaid work and vocational training, in ways that build good working habits, enhance the volunteer community, support the welfare sector and strengthen local businesses (e.g. internships). Sweat equity programmes that help put the poor into houses and build their transferable skills should be common.

Welfare expenditure will be pegged primarily to personal development and self-help, administered locally and monitored, by the community for accountability purposes. Local people in need must register. A proportion of the sales tax collected in the area would be placed at the community’s disposal to bridge any gaps between voluntary assistance and need. A community no longer paying income tax and freed from undue regulation would have the necessary resources to contribute to local welfare need. Where local communities will not, or cannot, meet need a monitoring process should trigger a temporary increase in the local sales tax to bridge gaps.

Those refusing to leverage themselves out of dependency should have their rights of choice reduced.  Five-year limits on welfare access should be considered. In the first instance welfare intransience should be met with a move to a community card system for essential commodities and food only. The requirement to gain life skills should become more prescriptive.  Their local communities must be informed of their failure to take advantage of opportunities provided for them.

The local people’s courts will have powers to make orders requiring intransient individuals or families to engage in assistance and self-help programmes, or face a range of consequences. For example, young men may face drafting into the military, or a process of public shaming may occur. The courts may also impose the outlaw sanctions (see the next reform group) on individuals, or families, corroding community life.

Volunteers in the community, actively supporting the poor, shall have access to tax discounts on their purchases, under the new single ‘fair tax’ system.

Local churches should be expected to play a lead role in the administration of this local and largely voluntary welfare system.  This may include managing the support fund, coordinating volunteers and managing centres for food, clothing and recyclables.

[1] These criteria would relate to fat content, refined sugar levels, chemically or heat modified processes and those chemical additives proven to carry health risks. 

[2] These would target food wholesalers, restaurants, fast food outlets and kitchens supplying food to school children and workers.

[3] Todmorden, a town in England, has received international intention for its ‘incredible edible’ food producing community initiatives.