Fuelling the future

In January 1999, the world witnessed the end of a century of cheap oil. It then cost less than $20 per barrel. Few predicted it would reach the $100+ levels of today. Some are predicting $500 oil by 2020. This would be devastating for Mauritius, not only for tourism but for most of our industries and our quality of life. Well before this level is reached, it will be cost effective to convert coal into oil, as South Africa has done for decades, causing coal prices to increase too. Is it possible to avoid catastrophe and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? Continue reading

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Fair taxation

Two objectives:

Pay for public services
Redistribute wealth

Discourage unsustainable behaviour

Proposals:

  1. Eliminate corporation tax
  2. At source tax on income (including company benefits – cars, share options, but excluding dividends, capital gains, interest) – self-assessment for low incomes (rebate), high incomes (additional contribution – fat cat – necessary?) and self-employed (including moon-lighting public sector workers)
  3. Eliminate VAT
  4. At source tax on dividends
  5. At source  tax on capital gains (including share sales, but not for IPOs)
  6. At source tax on interest (including interest charged by banksters)
  7. Regional property tax – excluding registered residence
  8. Sustainability import duty (depends on type of item, efficiency – if machinery, local substitutes, etc)
  9. Sustainability operation tax (resource extraction, CO2 emissions, pollution, “waste” etc)
  10. All business activities must be registered (excluding self-employed)
  11. Strict penalties for non-compliance (eliminate grey economy)

Consequences:

4 & 5 would kill the offshore unless they were exempt or tax was low, but it would provide a one-off windfall tax ūüėČ

Chagos and UNESCO

The Third German Empire sought to ethnically cleanse its homeland, rule its neighbours through vassal governments and plunder the world to enrich its Nazi elite. Why? Because it was God’s will for His chosen people? No, that was propaganda to recruit an army and justify genocide. The real reasons were avarice and vanity ‚Äď the Nazi elite were not satisfied with what they already had, like a cancer in the body of humanity. And they were not alone. Of course, some empires are more ethical than others and exterminating alien peoples can be substituted with racial apartheid or merely discrimination.

Dominant empirical elites can only be defeated from without by a coalition of rival empires or from within by popular revolt. Historically, the former leads to a new dominant empire and the latter to a new ruling elite. With the advent of nuclear weapons, a club of empires which possessed them was established to prevent a global holocaust. The first agreement was to only engage in proxy wars on the territories of non-aligned states not in possession of a nuclear deterrent. Ensuring non-proliferation was the second.

The Chagossians are just one more indigenous people, on a very long list, who have been the innocent victims of expansionary empires. However, they are exceptional for the ecological value of the islands they once occupied and the matriarchal society that arose there. Both need to be preserved in their own right and to prevent the ecological and cultural impoverishment of future generations. If the Chagossians were to return en masse, both would be doomed. So what’s the answer? Surely not UNESCO? Continue reading

Republic 2.0

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While some peoples are overthrowing dictators in favour of a democratic dream, traditional democracies are facing popular calls for fundamental reform. Representative democracy was widely adopted in the post-industrial revolution era and now the internet era is revealing its flaws. But what could replace it? Before redesigning the system, it is essential to reflect on the foundations of good governance.

Laws

Laws regulate how society functions, define how citizens should expect to be treated and set limits on individual freedoms. Fundamental laws, such as human rights, have longevity and apply universally, some laws may be relevant only to specific segments, while others need to evolve to take account of changing circumstances and aspirations of the population. Law reform should be a fundamental societal process involving the citizens that the laws affect, facilitated by legal experts and tested, when necessary by referenda.

The process of resolving alleged of violations of  laws could follow the current adversarial court system or reflect a new legal framework more appropriate for the consensus-driven, collaborative society of tomorrow. Continue reading

A new legal framework

The societal contract

Is it not time for society to mature beyond the egocentric concept of individualistic human rights and define a contract of reciprocal responsibilities between society and its individual members? In essence, this would mean that society has a set of responsibilities that define its duty to nurture and care for its individual members and individual members have a set of responsibilities that define their duty to contribute to and live in harmony with society.

If we define nurturing as providing equal opportunities for every individual to explore and develop their talents and care as something that is given in proportion to the needs of the individual, while taking account of the constraints on our physical resources, then we do away with the requirement to define a separate equal opportunities act and establish the foundation for social security. Fundamentally, citizens would be guaranteed food, shelter and safety but not for doing nothing. An unemployed citizen would be required to engage in whatever social work he was capable. Continue reading

Renewable Energy

We are delighted to freely share with you the on-line presentation of our roadmap to energy self-sufficiency (click on the image and then the “play” symbol). This was an outcome of our contribution to the Working Group on Energy which held workshops during June and July of 2011. It was first presented at a workshop of the Green Buildings Council Mauritius in the offices of the Mauritius Research Council on 23rd September 2011. It was then due to be presented at the University of Mauritius, however, it appears that this was subsequently vetoed by Khalil Elahee.