The One Law Principle can be defined with the utmost precision. This ability to define the guiding policy precisely would create a new, and very different relationship between citizens and government. It allows us to locate the boundaries of law very precisely between the twin confines of obligation and limitation.
The One Law Principle obligates government to prevent any and all forms of injury by one citizen against another. Where there is an identifiable injury of one person by another there is an obligation for action at law.
The One Law Principle limits government from initiating any law or instruction which is not clearly and demonstrably in prevention of an identifiable injury. Without an identifiable injury there can be no protective law.
The adoption of such a clearly defined Principle or Policy affects, and indeed fundamentally alters the process of legislation and government, as well as the very status and function of legislators.
The OneLaw Principle becomes the ultimate criterion of right and wrong in social conduct. Legislators become Interpreters of the Principle, the legislative process directed, not to satisfying the demands of sectional interests, the career aspirations of individual legislators or the whims of the moment, but to the honest and consistent interpretation of the Principle based on a clear understanding of it. Legislators become the servants of justice, not the manipulators of it.
The clarity and transparency of the OneLaw Principle also provides a simple check on the resultant legislation itself, for the Principle can be described with such a high degree of accuracy that anyone having a basic understanding or instinctive sense of liberty can comprehend it, monitor its progress, and defend it whenever necessary.
Government secrecy and prevarication would no longer be possible; indeed, accurate Interpretation of the OneLaw Principle would require a more open legislative process, which might be visualized along the following lines.
The legislative process is initiated when a professional legislator, a parliamentary or congressional representative, a single individual citizen, a group of citizens or a special interest society brings to the attention of the legislature a suspected injury, either caused by citizen and permitted by insufficient legislation, or caused by the Political Administration through excessive or intrusive legislation.
The purpose of law is to prevent injury. Thus the need for law is initiated by an injury, either actual or immediately anticipated. The identification of an injured party either actual or potential is essential to initiate the process of legislative debate. The formulation of legislation which will prevent that injury either totally or as nearly as practicably possible is the object of the legislative process, and its fulfillment will conclude the process.
The debating of any injury and its legal remedy must involve everyone who has an interest in the matter. Injuries can be simple, or a very complex issues involving several conflicting interests, and it is vital that every aspect should be taken into consideration. Similarly any remedy proposed for the avoidance of a specific injury may itself cause new infringements and involve other parties. It is only through the widest possible debate and participation that the ultimate objective can be reached: the minimization of injury.
Today ordinary people are as well informed as their governments on those issues which affect them, their land, their businesses, their welfare and their prosperity; indeed there is much truth in the saying that "when the people lead, the leaders will follow", particularly in these times when governments seem to lack any sense of direction. And yet governments, perhaps in a vain attempt to conceal that very emptiness of purpose, still appear to believe that they "know best", a myth perpetuated by an increasing use of secrecy, mis-information and manipulated statistics.
Thus governments frequently do what is fundamentally unwise and fail to do what is necessary while contriving to obtain the uninformed support of their citizens.
Under the OneLaw Principle the prime object of all legislation is to minimize injury. It is therefore important in the process of legislation that all pertinent facts should be assembled and publicly set out, and that all points of view should be heard and taken into account. It may also be observed that citizens more readily respect laws when they understand the need for them and have observed, or participated in, their formulation.
There are three main groupings of participants who might be involved in the overall legislative process.
Full-time professional legislators, with proven expertise in the different aspects of resources use, personal liberty, economics and commerce, will be constantly scanning events and activities in order to identify possible infringements of liberty. They will also review existing laws on a scheduled basis to ensure their continuing relevance. It may also be necessary to reconsider or rephrase a particular law resulting from a request by the judiciary for review.
Elected Legislative Representatives based in local constituencies will act as a bridge between citizen and legislature, listening to people's concerns, explaining the law, and bringing to the attention of the Legislature possible areas where new legislation may be needed, or existing legislation may be excessive. Citizens perceiving themselves injured can bring the matter initially to the attention of their Representative if they so wish.
Citizens can also contribute to the process themselves directly, either as individuals, or perhaps more advantageously as members of special interest groups and societies representing every shade of interest, opinion and expertise from civil liberties to environment, heritage preservation and transport.
These societies or groups frequently represent an assemblage of considerable expertise, of informed users or consumers, retired professionals, and people devoted to their respective causes. The societies are genuinely democratic in that they are supported by the subscriptions of members and are thus responsible to members and responsive to their needs; if they fail in their purpose they simply die through lack of subscriptions and support. Conversely, as new issues and new concerns develop, new societies are formed. Citizens can rely upon their societies to monitor legislative proposals in their specific area of interest, and to draw members' attention to any need for action.
Recognition of such societies and special interest groups as participants in the legislative debating process would improve participation and could contribute constructively by bringing forward information and expertise which might otherwise be overlooked.
It is particularly important that young people in their teens should have a much greater opportunity to participate in the legislative process, through parallel debates in schools, or through their own societies participating in legislative debates. It is frequently said of young people by their elders that they are irresponsible. Insofar as this may in some instances be true, the simple way to make people responsible is to give them responsibility. Young people should have the right to participate in the framing of tomorrow's world: it is after all, they who will have to live in it.
One particular example of concern to younger generations is that of the National Debt; since this will have to be paid by future taxpayers there would seem to be a clear case here of "taxation without representation"!
A wider degree of participation in the legislative-interpretive process, however, should not be confused with the activities and influence of the now-infamous Political Action Committees in the United States. Participation would not mean promoting self-interest at the expense of others; participation must be motivated by an honest desire to make all pertinent facts and points of view known, so that in the end a fair and just solution will be reached, a solution which will reflect the Principle as accurately as circumstances permit. The ultimate objective must always be kept in view: the correct and consistent interpretation of the OneLaw Principle, the minimization of injury.
A further check on the activities of government, together with safeguards for society, will have been established in the OneLaw Constitution, instituted at the outset of OneLaw government and set at the apex of the legislative process. Not only the content, but also the status of the Constitution is significant.
In current constitutional practice, legislation is formulated in the Debating Chamber, then passed for ratification by the Head of State, HM the Queen in Britain, the President in the USA, who as Executive "executes" the proposed legislation into law. This process of "execution" is a formality only, and there is no constitutional verification at this stage; it is therefore possible for un-constitutional legislation to pass formal enactment. It may subsequently become apparent that certain aspects of a particular law may be considered unconstitutional, in which case the law itself or a provision thereof can only be challenged through the courts, rising if necessary to a Supreme Court which is the ultimate arbiter and interpreter of the Constitution. Thus it is entirely possible for un-constitutional legislation, or laws blatantly defying the constitution, to be enacted, and to remain in force for some considerable time while protesters wait upon the pleasure and delays of the legal hierarchy.
When laws are motivated and guided by a Principle so clearly defined and universally understandable as the OneLaw Principle, the status of the Constitution may be elevated to a higher position, at the apex, not of the judicial, but of the legislative process. Placing the Constitution at the apex of the legislative system would result in the following procedure.
The Legislature would formulate proposed legislation which would then be passed to a Constitutioal Executive similar in character and stature to the Supreme Court, charged with the interpretation of the Constitution. This body might, in view of its executive function, should be referred to as the Constitutional Executive rather than Supreme Court. Here the proposed legislation would be verified to ensure that its content and the procedures of its formulation comply fully with the Provisions of the Constitution. Proposed legislation would be ratified only after a process of Constitutional Verification assuring that it complies with the terms of the Constitution.
Following Verification by the Constitutional Executive, Legislative Proposals are then passed to the Enforcement Agencies, thus giving "force" to "law". But once again there must be Constitutional Verification, for the Enforcement Agencies must also be subject to Constitutional provisions in their procedures and must be constantly monitored to ensure that they so comply.
In this way the Constitution would take its true place as the Supreme Law of the Land, laying down through its Articles the procedures of, and disciplines upon every branch of government, and through its position as Legislative Executive, subjecting every proposed law to scrutiny before it is formally enacted.
The legislative process must also allow for review of any law at any time, by the legislature, the judiciary, or by the Constitutional Executive. When all legislation is based on and committed to a clearly defined Principle, the law must at all times be open to review. Its original validity may be questioned; it may have become outdated, or a particular law may be inapplicable in certain specific circumstances.
The ultimate test of the fitness of any law under the OneLaw Principle is simple: without this law, would there be a clear opportunity for any individual or corporation to cause injury to another individual?
If there is injury, the immediate and effective protection of law is an obligation; but if there is no injured party, there can be no law.
When the sole object of the legislative process is the accurate reflection of the OneLaw Principle, its laws must always be open to review, by the Judiciary or by any aware and observant citizen with an instinct for the preservation of liberty.
Under the OneLaw Principle, it is the Principle itself which gives sole authority to law; it is the Principle itself which imposes obligation and limitation upon the law and the process of government; the Principle becomes the source and focal point of law, taking precedence over government in all its aspects.
This clear line of authority and responsibility extending from the Principle itself, down through all branches of government, contrasts with the current condition of near-autocratic governmental powers.
Under the clearly definable OneLaw Principle, Government becomes answerable not to itself, not to any "leader", not to its members or supporters, not to those who try to influence it with verbal or monetary persuasion, not specifically to majority or minority. Government under the OneLaw Principle is answerable to the Law itself, not Dictaror, President, Majority or Minority, not votes or money.
How does this relate to democracy? The question provides an interesting answer, but must be preceded with a question: Precisely what is democracy, what does it entail, and what does it do for us?
Democracy gives power to the people, the word being derived from the Greek words kratos, "power", and demos meaning "people". Democracy means power to the people. But this has never been more than an ideal, and does not reflect the way democracy works in practical reality. It is a matter of simple definition that we cannot have real and genuine power to the people unless all of the people are of one mind. And in practice, they never are.
Democracy, or power to the people, we do not have. What we practice today is majocracy, or power to the majority of the people. In this sense we still give power to the powerful; but now "the powerful" are those in the numerical majority, or increasingly those with the greatest financial support.
Thus democracy can be defined as "a process whereby the will of the majority can be ascertained, influenced, or even created". Some people will make up their own minds. Others will be influenced by the opinion-makers. But whatever their choices, it is unlikely that the motivation either of the voters or of their "influencers" will be anything other than self-interest.
True, some interest-groups are fighting for principles. But most political decisions are based on the simple criterion "what's good for me". Whether people are influenced by political or economic expertise, or by the personalities of media icons, whether they vote every few years or vote electronically on each debate..... the motivation has not changed. We are still, in the main, voting for "what's good for me". Never mind if others suffer as a result of unjust laws, or whether others (including the next generation) must pay for what we demand now but cannot afford.
True democracy, or power to the people, can only exist when all of the people are of one mind. Perhaps the time will come when all of "the people" will indeed be of one mind, when we all accept the Principle that we should respect one another, that we should limit our freedom to the extent necessary to allow the same freedom to others.
When the people are agreed on the Principle, then, and only then will the ideal of real and true democracy be realized, as all of the people, being all of one mind, will be united in pursuing individually, and collectively through the processes of government, the ideal of non-imposition, of non-injury, of non-infringement of the liberty of one by another.
Under the OneLaw Principle the People will also enjoy a power of a different kind: the Power of Principle. When the OneLaw Principle is accepted and universally understood, the people will find real power in ensuring its accurate, just and consistent application – the Power of the Principle by which all government action or inaction can be called to account. The OneLaw Principle gives the power of remedy to those whose liberty is being infringed; the OneLaw Principle gives the power of remedy to citizens wronged by oppressive government.
Too much government "interference"... not enough government "programs"... government is "too expensive"...
The criticisms of government in most developed countries today can be listed under these three headings, though clearly they are all mutually contradictory. So what DO citizens want of government? Or, as others might say, what DON'T they want from government? Or yet again, how can government be made more efficient, producing the same output with less people and less cost?
In order to maximize government productivity it is essential, first and foremost, to set specific goals, together with measures of their attainment. In the case of any commercial business or service, the customer-need has already been identified, the product or service is already being provided, and presumably appreciated by its buyers or users. What the business needs to do now and continuously, is to try and upgrade the quality while holding or reducing the price. Provide more and better tomorrow with less work, and therefore at less cost, than yesterday. In commerce and industry, the challenge is clear. The first problem we encounter with government however, is that its purpose has never been clearly stated.
Let us begin with what can be called the "Core-Function" of government, its essential, fundamental purpose, which is quite simply the debate, formulation, application and enforcement of laws regulating conduct between citizens.
Under the OneLaw Principle the purpose of government and of its laws is more precise: specifically it is to ensure the protection of citizens from harm or injury by other citizens, without going further and creating government intrusion or oppression. The function of government under this Principle can be defined with total accuracy.
This function in itself should not take more than 10% of the nation's income.
So what about the rest of government's complex web of activities - and their costs in terms of taxes? Citizens traditionally make a number of demands on government: laws, welfare, subsidies, and often the operation of essential and infrastructure services. Each of these functions must be considered separately, for each has a different bearing on both liberty and taxation.
As to provision of law, this is the essential "core function" of government. Under the OneLaw Principle government confines itself to the provision and enforcement of law, or more specifically, those legislative, protective and constitutional services essential to and directly related to the protection of liberty. In the execution of these duties, government under the OneLaw Principle would be constitutionally required to maximize its own productivity, offering the best possible service at the lowest possible cost.
Essential and infrastructure services should be separate from government, financially and managerially autonomous, though subject to government coordination and supervision. Many governments and their people believe that certain major and essential economic services, such as healthcare for example, should be performed by government, simply because the private sector cannot be relied upon to provide them responsibly or at a fair price. The OneLaw Principle, applied in the area of Economics and Commerce as a policy of socially responsible free enterprise, sets high standards of quality and productivity, together with fair pay and prices. This invalidates the need for the provision of government-operated non-political services.
It must also be observed that the essential function of government is to examine personal and commercial conduct and to legislate where injury to others is apparent or anticipated. This function requires judgment, and judgment must be exercised without bias. Government cannot judge without bias the operation of industries and commercial enterprises which government itself owns and operates. To whom does the citizen complain about industrial pollution when government owns the industry? Those who experienced life in East Germany during the Socialist Era will know that there is no answer to that one.
Infrastructure investment is also widely undertaken by government out of current revenue, a thoroughly improper accounting practice which distorts government finances. Infrastructure should properly be undertaken by drawing investment from a National Infrastructure Investment Fund which in turn is part of and draws from the national credit flow, investment which will be repayable through local service charges.
The origins and growth of government welfare, together with the ever-growing accumulation of subsidy-programs supposedly justified on the grounds of social necessity, were influenced strongly by socialism and under-laid with class prejudices inherited from the nineteenth century.
Since the days of slavery in Greek and Roman times, those with intelligence and initiative have always taken advantage of those less fortunately endowed. In the medieval times landowners exploited their tenant farmers, and in Victorian England factory owners grew wealthy while their near-starving workers subsisted in urban slums. Though socialism has been discredited in eastern Europe, its origins lay in justifiable causes, and indeed it is still tacitly assumed today that the rich should be held responsible for the upkeep of the poor.
Socialism required that support for the poor be paid for by taxing the rich, so funding necessarily became a government issue; and since government was collecting, it was only natural that government should control the handing-out process by providing education, healthcare, pensions and welfare facilities.
In present circumstances the basic justification for public welfare is that there is still considerable and permanent unemployment and poverty even in the wealthiest countries today. This is the fundamental problem we need to address.
It can in fact be shown that correct and consistent application of the OneLaw Principle in the field of Economics and Commerce creates the conditions in which the economy can be expanded to permanent full employment without inflation, while also assuring fair pay and improved employee protection.
Welfare can only be minimized when everyone has the opportunity to do a rewarding job for a fair wage, to buy quality goods and services at fair prices and to live in a decent affordable home in a pleasant and healthful environment.
A Welfare State may be a current necessity. Better a Well State.
Moving on to the subject of subsidy, this can have a number of motivations. It is often advocated that we should subsidize services considered appropriate to a cultured society, such as sport and the arts. But we should be quite clear as to what is involved in subsidy.
"Vote for a New Swimming Pool" a community billboard by the roadside commands, in what amounts to a gross misuse of democracy. A group of citizens has decided that they would like a new swimming pool. Unfortunately there is doubt as to whether it could be financed commercially since not everyone would use it and it would not be financially viable. What the pool's advocates are doing is attempting, through the democratic process, to force others to contribute to its cost, others who have no interest in a swimming pool nor any desire to use it. I can't afford what I want, so I use the democratic process to compel others to pay for it. Is this really what democracy is all about?
Essential services which form a structural part of the community such as paving, lighting, planning, fire services and the like, services which everyone in the community uses, may be paid for as a service charge levied on the whole community. But optional services should be supported financially by those who use them. Or to put it another way, no one should be compelled to pay for a product or service they have no wish to use or consume.
In reality, the ability to compel non-users of a service to subsidize its cost is a form of enslavement, since one person is providing a service to another under compulsion and without reward. "Democracy" is often used to justify subsidy: a majority votes for a service, therefore a minority of non-users must pay for it. But there is a better, truer form of democracy we can employ here. The freedom to spend your money as you wish is a clear expression of democracy: those who want a product or service "vote" for it by freely using it and by paying its viable cost; those who don't are left in peace to spend their money elsewhere.
On the other hand, at the risk of confusing our terminology, it can be said that the fundamental problem with current subsidy payments of any kind is that they have been thoroughly democratized. They began by helping the poor and needy, and as temporary support for the odd problem-sectors in the economy. But when everyone asks: if they get it, why shouldn't we? – the spread of subsidy programs over time becomes inevitable. Thus in practice almost everyone has now managed to jump on the bandwagon. It has been estimated that in North American and European societies only some two percent of citizens are living totally subsidy-free. Everyone else is getting a subsidy from some program or other – if for nothing else, then through the infamous farm-price supports, a political minefield in USA as much as in the European Union. Indeed this program offers yet another example of abuse; although US farm-price supports were reconfigured in the last Congress, it is estimated that America's 30,000 wealthiest farmers still take in $50,000 a head in subsidies each year. All told, the huge array of farm supports costs $16 billion while the EU figure is set to double as new entrants join from central Europe.
Large-scale income-transfer and subsidy by governments is a dangerous practice; it distorts markets and encourages inefficient industries. More unfortunate is its effect on political conduct and morals, as evidenced in the USA where vast amounts of money are spent by lobbyists and Political Action Committees in order to influence the course of law – and to an even greater extent the flow of funds. Citizens tend increasingly to look upon government as a source of unlimited wealth just waiting to be milked; they overlook the fact that government can "give away" only what it has already taken – minus a substantial "handling fee"! Yet another negative aspect is the distortional effect which huge subsidies have upon government accounts, by rendering them so huge and so unintelligible that no one can see precisely how wasteful they are – a situation which may give quiet satisfaction to government but is hardly conducive to transparency and productivity.
By returning all non-legislative, commercial services to the private sector and subjecting them, not only to the natural laws of competition, but also to the economic disciplines of socially responsible free enterprise, government can concentrate on its core, legislative function. But how can we ensure that this function itself is as productive as possible, fulfilling its duties and responsibilities with maximum effectiveness at minimum cost?
A nation such as the United States which consists of semi-autonomous States is in a position very similar to the European Union of existing nation-states, a position which offers a golden opportunity for real government productivity. An agreed Standard for identifying and precisely defining different government functions, and for measuring both input cost and output service, can without great difficulty or controversy be established. Each department of each government would then be required to produce quarterly reports. As a result, the performance of individual departments of individual governments can then be compared on a standard base. This would bring government and its many departments as near to competition as it can get. It would provide a clear comparison of departmental productivity, with the resultant challenge to bring each and every department of each and every participating government up to the highest standard.
A system such as this is essential to counteract government's unique status as an absolute, enforced monopoly, a status which by its very nature provides no incentive for productivity or customer service, and every opportunity for self-aggrandizement and self-enhancement. There is in the economically developed west an instinctive mistrust of monopolies, based on long experience which has proved that monopolies tend to encourage over-manning, low productivity and little concern for consumers. In North America the Bell Telephone Company was always held as a prime example of all that was bad about monopolies. For all its sins however, Ma Bell, though a monopoly, was not an enforced monopoly. It might have been very inconvenient to do so, but if one felt really strongly one could, as a last resort, rip out the phone, terminate the service, and write letters instead. In many economically developing (or stagnant?) countries today, business people are turning more and more to internationally operated cell phone services, in order to avoid the long waits and incompetence of their national, generally monopolistic phone services.
Monopoly phones can be thrown out, electricity service can be terminated and substituted with candles and wood stoves. All monopolies can be avoided if absolutely necessary, albeit with a degree of personal inconvenience. Government however cannot be avoided, for it is not just a monopoly, it is, quite uniquely, an enforced monopoly. You may terminate your phone service at your own discretion; attempt to terminate any of government's "services" and legal proceedings will result, followed by fine and imprisonment. This unique status, leaving government totally bereft of any kind of commercial, competitive or consumer discipline, combined with a tradition of intellectual superiority no longer real but stubbornly kept alive by government itself, results in the over-manned, largely ineffective, and arrogant institution we know as government today.
Regrettably it is not practical to have a multiplicity of governments working concurrently and offering a true choice. But clearly defined standards of departmental description and performance measurement together with regular and open publication of data would at least bring some measure of simulated competition to the process of government.
Together with the Constitutional Executive which checks all legislation for consistency with the OneLaw Principle, a Constitutional Audit would check every department, every expense, every activity of government to ensure that it is necessary and that it fulfils its specified function with the maximum productive efficiency. The goal of government must be to provide its customers with the best possible service at the minimum possible cost.