Sony Corporation was hacked resulting in much confidential information leaked to the public. It may have been done by a foreign national, which in itself is problematic. I believe we all agree that it was wrong, it was illegal, and it was unfair. The principle violated was the rule of law. If this was in fact the result of an authorized cyberattack by the North Korean government, then it may have been a further example of the wrong relationship between sovereign states. Pyongyang is an example of authoritarian rule which has no regard for anyone else’s rights or beliefs but their own. They are the opposite of principle based leadership.
The three other stories involve Russia, China and Cuba. The common element of these countries is that they are all communist or were a former communist government. The issues raised by these stories are integral to our discussion of binding principles. In the case of Russia and Vladimir Putin, the lack of respect for another nation’s sovereignty (Ukraine) by Putin’s leadership caused the imposition of sanctions on the Russian government. This was a great miscalculation on Putin’s part as to the consequences of his actions. He violated two principles: respect for the rule of law and the economic principle of a reasonably balanced budget.
A majority of the Russian government’s revenue comes from the single sector of energy and oil & gas sales. They have no backup. They have been living on a knife’s edge for a decade. To spend beyond your means ultimately will catch up with you. The mindset of communist doctrine is that you can dictate market prices and volume. It just is not true. Yet the communist theorists continue to pursue it. Even though Russia is not formally communist, its governmental attitude is still deeply steeped in communist doctrine.
News continues this week on China’s declaration by certain regional economic organizations and the International Monetary Fund that it has surpassed the United States in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). I question this analysis. In the 1990s I was involved with helping China make the transition from a communist economy into a free enterprise capitalist economy. I was associated with Deng Xiaoping. His economic theory was presented to me. He believed that communism did not work economically, but it still did work governmentally. I believe what he meant by this was that open markets were a necessity for China’s stability, but a controlled society was equally as important to that stability. He had decided as early as 1976 that three things must occur for China to grow economically. One, they had to establish a federal reserve system integrated into the world’s banking system. Two, the Shanghai Stock Exchange had to be reopened to provide for liquidity of investments. And three, (and probably the most important) a Chinese peasant family must be able to buy the basic food staple of the country, in this case rice, at the same price point of every other family in the world. They tied their strategy and the new currency for calculation to the Taiwan dollar.
The one thing they did not do, which will ultimately lead to economic problems, was to tax profits at the local level. The federal government dictates a quota to the regional governments of what must be paid to meet the federal budget, much like a lease payment. The overlords of these regions are a remnant of the old warlord culture. The provincial governments must produce this payment no matter what. That is why it is very difficult to get a standard rule of law mentality at the local level. Why? Because a set sum must be paid to the king (the communist government) just like in Medieval times. The payment is not based on profits. Therefore it must be obtained or extracted by whatever means.
What should occur is that the government apply the rule of law at all levels, protect intellectual property and contract rights, and tax profits. The debate should be about whether or not taxes are fair, not whether the lease payment is too high. The government is then incentivized to allow for economic freedom so that businesses can make a profit. If the revenues to the government fall short, the government borrows money through the process of issuing T-bills. Again, this communist mentality that you can dictate prices and volume violates the rule of living within your means, enforcing the rule of law, and promoting general freedom. We have not heard the end of the Chinese economic story.
The final news story involves Cuba. The President has taken steps to pursue normal relations. The premise is that the embargo has been long enough. They are our neighbors and we should have free trade, travel and exchanges. These are worthy ideas. What’s missing in the debate is, what are the principles that we want for both societies of Cuba and the United States to ensure the principles of individual liberty? Cuba is still a communist state. There is no private ownership. Under what terms and what principles will Cuba take its place among the nations of the world? This discussion about binding principles is absent from the debate. Human rights violations, prisoners, reparations, still beg the question, what principles do we pursue as citizens of the world?
To determine what we want for each other, we must first determine what principles we believe in that bind us together. What principles are we willing to advocate and hold ourselves accountable for each other? The answer to this question requires a new thought process. What do we want as the foundation for principles to guide each of us in our pursuit of happiness?
This pursuit of happiness that is fair to each of us requires the pursuit of a higher calling greater than ourselves.
The Christmas season produces an attitude of peace and unity. Each of us must define what is our faith, what is our purpose in life, what is our desire in principles for the next generation to inherit. And in providing a legacy, what is our calling?
For my own personal testimony, I am a Christian. I believe as Thomas Jefferson that we were created by our Father equally and granted unalienable rights, that we should pursue principles and policy that allows each and every one of us to maximize our potential as we see fit with our God-given abilities. This is to be accomplished without trespass on anyone else’s rights.
I believe in pursuing justice that’s greater than justice just for myself.
As we continue this discussion on binding principles, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas.
My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.
What do you believe?
P.S. For more information on the discussion of binding principles, please visit the New Horizon Council website www.newhorizoncouncil.com