Fundamental Principles

Saving Communities

Bringing prosperity through freedom,
equality, local autonomy and respect for the commons.

Fundamental Principles

Saving Communities is organized around the following key principles. We apply these principles to our own behaviors as well as to the behaviors and reforms we advocate.

Decentralism and Freedom

Choice is essential to freedom, and decentralized government is essential to choice. One can far more easily choose a municipality that suits one's preferences than choose a country. Wherever possible, we advocate reform at the local level, and that higher levels of government refrain from preventing those reforms.

We believe that the degree to which wealth is concentrated and centralized is an unnatural byproduct of centralized government. We see big government and big business as partners that are necessary to each other, and differ with those who see big government as a check on big business.

Power vs. Reason

We see reason as the basis of legitimate power, and the lure of power as the enemy of reason. The lure of power causes people to substitute utility for principles, and expedience for utility. Just as "truth is the first casualty of war," so is reason the first casualty of power struggles. We have not found a single national issue in which either side has stuck scrupulously to the truth. Rather, desire for victory has led both sides to distort the truth to suit potential allies, media impact, and public decision-makers.

By reason, we mean a reconciliation of logic and intuition. While logic comes up with better answers to well crafted questions, intuition comes up with better questions. On one hand, applying logic without calm, intuitive reflection leads to rationalizations of suppressed desires and justifications of that often do not bear examination from those whose desires differ. On the other hand, irrational emotionalism lets desires and hidden agendas run roughshod over logic, subordinating reason to the chore of coming up with supportive half-truths.

Moral Rights vs. Legal Privileges

Legal privileges are often described as "rights," whether or not they are morally right. Quite often, these privileges are based on power, status or favoritism, and are morally wrong. When we speak of rights, we speak of those things that are morally right. Government has the duty to recognize and uphold moral rights, not to impose legal rights that are morally wrong.

Government as Neutral Referee

Government violates the public trust when it goes beyond the role of neutral referee. Referees are charged with two tasks - to make certain that all players are treated equally (i.e., fairly), and to insure that the game itself is safe, enjoyable and productive for all concerned. By extension, those who create and maintain playing fields have the same two charges as the on-field referees - to provide a field that will allow for a good game, and that isn't rigged to favor some players, or teams of players, over others.

The maxim of classical liberals, "a fair field and no favor," is perhaps the greatest sports metaphor ever applied to governance. Government has the same obligation with regard to citizens that referees have with regard to players, an obligation it must neither shirk nor exceed. That is, it must provide infrastructure, but must do so in such a way as to benefit all, rather than to favor some at the expense of others.

We recognize that government will never be perfect, any more than referees will ever be free of making bad calls. However, this does not excuse "public-private partnerships," any more than a referee would be excused for having made side deals with some of the players.

The biggest cost of government involving itself in the affairs of private interests is that it forces those interests to involve themselves in governing. For example, where rulers develop real estate, real estate developers find that they must rule government.

Arbitrary taxation violates the neutrality rule, and requires instead that, to the degree possible, those who enjoy privileges pay what those privileges are worth, rather than allowing some to benefit at the expense of others.

Government Subordinate to the Governed

Contrary to popular belief, "democracy" does not mean "majority rule." Indeed, the Athenians, who coined the term, did not even have elections. Democracy means, above all else, that government's only legitimate role is to serve the governed. That means all of the governed, not just the majority. It therefore means each individual, not just the aggregate. Except where an individual is restrained from (or punished for) violating the moral rights of others, government has no right to take more value from him than it has given him, nor to restrain his liberties nor take the fruits of his labors.

By this standard, most of the great democracies in name are not so in fact.

Legitimate Property Derives from Labor

Morally, property begins when someone applies labor to land (including natural resources). By "labor," we mean not merely wage labor, but any human effort, including entrepreneurship and management. All legal property that does not originate in labor originates in privilege, at the expense of labor. There are many legal privileges, but the greatest are land titles that go beyond recognition of occupancy and use, and banking privileges that give legal sanction to privately created money.

There is no moral right to tax labor while giving a free ride to bankers, franchised monopolies and other holders of privilege.

Earth as a Commons

The earth, which was here before Man, is not the fruits of anyone's labor, and is not private property in the same sense as labor products. Everyone has a right to access land, limited only by the equal rights of others to do the same. State-issued titles to unlimited property in land, which allows some to hold vast amounts, often without use or with a merely nominal use, and without continual compensation of those dispossessed, violates this principle.

There is a fundamental difference between common rights and collective rights, and between common property and collective property. This distinction, which has been obliterated in the polarized struggle between socialists and anti-socialists, was essential to classical liberals and classical progressives. It is also essential to justice.

Money as a Common Medium

Money is a common medium of exchange, without which modern production and exchange methods are impossible. Government, which demands money in taxes or as payment against necessary privileges, violates its charge if it forces taxpayers to resort to privately created money, and further violates its charge if it guarantees the value of privately created money or credit. Government's demand for money requires that it issue enough money to satisfy the demand for money, and that newly issued money be distributed in a way that is fair to all citizens.

Government should issue enough money to maintain stable prices, with neither significant inflation nor deflation. However, it is even more important that government issue money directly into circulation rather than lending it to banks or granting banks the privilege of lending money they do not actually have.

Once money is rightfully issued, the exchange of that money is private matter, and the money itself is morally private property until it is redeemed by government.

Justice Begins with You

Each of us has an obligation, not only to advocate justice, but to be personally just toward ourselves and toward those with whom we interact. In this regard, charity without justice can be a device for substitute for sustaining injustice. That is, if you demand justice and another thing, you will get the other thing, and only the other thing.

In the aggregate, there is no such thing as "more than fair." That is, it is impossible to be more than fair to some without being less than fair to others, or to yourself. In every human interaction, other than that of punishment or restraint against those who had violated the rights of others, all parties should come out ahead. That is the minimum standard of justice.

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Fundamental Principles

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Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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