Common welfare essay

To make them operational, resource users and producers may develop a legal entity or fiduciary association of citizen stakeholders which operates as a trust. Commons trusts are generally created to preserve depletable resources (natural, material), but many replenishable commons (social, cultural, intellectual, digital, solar) can also benefit from trusts that ensure their regeneration. Trustees set a cap on the extraction or the use of a resource according to non-monetized, inter­generational metrics such as sustainability, quality of life and well-being. For example, trusts can be developed for oil fields, aquifers and the atmosphere to ensure their long-term viability. Having protected a commons safely for future generations, the trust may rent a proportion of the resources under the cap to the private sector or to state businesses and utilities for extraction and production. A percentage of this rent could be taxed by the state and redistributed to citizens as dividends or subsistence income, with emphasis on the poor and socially marginalized. Rental or user fees may also be reinvested in the rehabilitation of depleted resources (such as land, rivers, oceans, atmosphere) and the enhancement of replenishable resources (arts, collaborative knowledge, digital codes, solar energy). A full-spectrum, commons-based economy could thus be created through a variety of such trusts: the commons would be protected for the future, the private sector would profit from producing the resources which they rent, and the state would tax these rents to restore degraded commons, fund social dividends and encourage free culture.

Finally, appeals to the common good are confronted by the problem of an unequal sharing of burdens. Maintaining a common good often requires that particular individuals or particular groups bear costs that are much greater than those borne by others. Maintaining an unpolluted environment, for example, may require that particular firms that pollute install costly pollution control devices, undercutting profits. Making employment opportunities more equal may require that some groups, such as white males, sacrifice their own employment chances. Making the health system affordable and accessible to all may require that insurers accept lower premiums, that physicians accept lower salaries, or that those with particularly costly diseases or conditions forego the medical treatment on which their live depend. Forcing particular groups or individuals to carry such unequal burdens "for the sake of the common good", is, at least arguably, unjust. Moreover, the prospect of having to carry such heavy and unequal burdens leads such groups and individuals to resist any attempts to secure common goods.

Common welfare essay

common welfare essay


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